GCP has transformed East 41st Street between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue into a dramatic promenade to the majestic New York Public Library Humanities and Social Sciences Library displaying bronze sidewalk plaques featuring quotes from literature and poetry known as “Library Way.” The Library Way project is being undertaken by GCP with the assistance of the New York Public Library, the property owners and commercial tenants along 41st Street, library organizations, and the New York City Department of Transportation.
When the Library Way project was first initiated by the GCP, 41st Street from Fifth Avenue to the Park Avenue/Pershing Square Viaduct was a shadowy street that served as a delivery-entrance “backstage” to nearby 42nd Street. But new development, including some of the city’s hottest hotels and coolest restaurants, along this thoroughfare has made 41st Street one of the Grand Central neighborhood’s more exciting and active streets.
With lions “Patience” and “Fortitude” guarding its doors, the New York Public Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Library presides majestically over the head of the street. Once the former site of a city reservoir, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library is known throughout the world for the extraordinary comprehensiveness of its collections, as well as for its commitment to providing free and equal access to its resources and facilities. It houses some 15 million items, among them priceless medieval manuscripts, ancient Japanese scrolls, contemporary novels and poetry, as well as baseball cards, dime novels, and comic books.
In 1996, GCP, along with the New York Public Library and New Yorker Magazine, convened a distinguished panel of literary experts and librarians to select the quotations from prominent works of literature.
These quotes have been brought to life by urban sculptural artist Gregg LeFevre in beautiful bronze plaques installed in regular intervals in the sidewalks along 41st Street leading to and from the Humanities and Social Sciences Library. The Library Way bronze plaque initiative was subsequently honored with an “Excellence in Design” award by the New York City Arts Commission in 1998.
In honor of the project, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed into local law legislation sponsored by Councilmembers Christine Quinn and Eva Moskowitz, and Council Speaker A. Gifford Miller in 2003 that officially designates this two-block stretch of East 41st Street as “Library Way.” The legislation was overwhelmingly supported by Community Board #5.
To view images of the bronze sidewalk insets along Library Way, click here.