A Walk Along Library Way

Pedestrians traveling 41st Street in Manhattan between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue may notice special street signs if they pay close attention – that two-block stretch is known as Library Way. Embedded within the sidewalk at regular intervals you will find 96 unique bronze plaques. The plaques were designed by sculptor Gregg LeFevre, and each one contains a literary quote. The quotes were chosen by a committee of literary experts picked by the Grand Central Partnership, New York Public Library, and New Yorker magazine. Although the plaques were installed in the late 1990s, the two blocks were officially renamed Library Way in 2003.

Library Way’s location is not an accident. The street leads straight to the main entrance of New York Public Library’s historic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, which I’ve previously written about here.

Here are some of my favorite plaques. I think that many of my book-loving and library-loving friends and fellow bloggers, including Anabel of The Glasgow Gallivanter, would enjoy this literary-themed public art.

And I’ll end with this one final quote, which will be particularly meaningful for Americans enduring our current political situation.

There are many more for you to discover if you go to Library Way. I hope you have the opportunity to do so!

32 thoughts on “A Walk Along Library Way

  1. Talk about food for thought! It’s a wonder you ever got back to your computer to write the post. I can imGine you in front of each one in a state of deep meditation. I’m not sure the decorations on the plaques are always suitable!. Are those doileys for Emily Dickinson??? There may well be some significance I don’t understand.

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    1. I so enjoyed these plaques – and it took me forever to go along and read them all, as I had to wait for a bit sometimes for people to pass. Such a rich treasure, and so few people were taking the time to read them at all. I do think those were doilies with the Emily Dickinson quote, but I don’t know the significance either.

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  2. Absolutely brilliant! I’m with Hemingway all the way (with a smattering of ‘Alice’ for fun 🙂 ). You’d need to allow a full morning to do this walk, and you’d have a hunched back at the end of it, but I love it! Pinching it for tomorrow 🙂

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! I feel like it’s one of those unexpected gifts that just goes on giving. It’s a short walk – I hadn’t even thought about a Monday’s Walk – I’ll go back and add a link.

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  3. Ha ha, I looked at the title and started reading thinking “oh, I’m going to love this” then I saw my name! You are so right. Another reason to go back to NY, though hopefully after you’ve got rid of That Man. I love the quotes, the majority of which were new to me. I was so entranced by the words that I paid little attention to the background so had to go back and look at them all after reading Meg’s comment. (I don’t get the doilies either.) I think I like Emily Dickinson’s words best, but my favourite graphic is the first one – molecules made of books, genius!

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    1. As soon as I found the plaques I immediately thought, “Anabel is going to love them.” Just imagine – there are 96 of them, all different! I was there reading them for a long time, although I wasn’t able to get photos of many because it was a very sunny day, and the glare and shadows made it challenging. So many treasures, both in terms of literary value and art. So glad you enjoyed! (And I’m fervently hopeful that That Man doesn’t stay in power too long!)

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  4. What a treasure. I realize there is no need to pick favourites, yet I find myself trying to do so… Honourable mentions to Willa Cather, Lewis Carroll, and Albert Camus (with its unexpected note of optimism), and my personal top honours to Wallace Stevens. And my vote for that moment just after the blackbird’s whistle…

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      1. Yikes, I just looked up the list of his published works, saw one entitled Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, seemed worth pursuing, and then saw this: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is a double accordian style book built into a clam shell box constructed with mahogany, black walnut, Japanese silk over boards with a bas relief copper sculpture forming the top cover of the box. The book unfolds from the center with six sheets moving to the left and seven sheets to the right and may be displayed closed, partially…” I wasn’t brave enough to check price!

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  6. Since I don’t go into the city that often , I don’t get to see some of the interesting things going on and to see in the city that you’ve highlighted on this blog . I LOVE IT! Never knew there was even a place called library way. Keep those wicked interesting things about New York City that tourists and even Native New Yorkers don’t know about .

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  7. I particularly liked the quote from “Forever Parted: Graveyard.”
    These plaques remind me of ones that used to be in the pavement in front of London’s south bank centre by the river, relating to nautical things or the Thames itself. Ripped up years ago, sadly.

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  8. Love how the quotes are given a plaque that highlights the meaning. You certainly chose some interesting ones. I was glad to see the Kate Chopin quote–never enough women writers. Emily Dickinson was great too. I would love to see all 96–one day!

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    1. I was excited to see the women writers also – as well as a diverse group of writers otherwise. I hope you get to come to NYC someday, and if you do, you must let me show you some of my favorite things. I know you would love it here – street art, but also the many other things that are available.

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