Jefferson Market Public Library Completes Necessary Upgrades

Jefferson Public Library. Image Credit: NYC DDC.

On July 14, 2022, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was hosted celebrating the completion of a $10 million project for vital upgrades to the Jefferson Market Public Library located in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. This project began in 2019, is part of a $600 million project for capital improvements across the New York Public Library system and was led by the NYC Department of Design and Construction in conjunction with NSP Enterprises, Inc. and was designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design.

The ceremony was attended by Anthony Marx, the NY Public Library President, Iris Weinshall, the Chief Operating Officer of the Library, Brian Bannon, the Merryl and James Tisch Director of The New York Public Library, Frank Collerius, the Jefferson Market Library Manager, and many other community members and local elected officials.

The Jefferson Market Public Library located at 425 Avenue of the Americas is a National Historic Landmark since 1977, is part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, and is a cultural touchstone for the Greenwich Village community. Branch Manager Frank Collerius described the Jefferson Market Public Library as a “beautiful iconic building” within a “vibrant community” and a “second home” for the Library’s staff.

Former NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and State Senator Brad Hoylman described the Library as Greenwich Village’s “Crown Jewel.” Former NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson further stated, “While certain places around the country have targeted books being banned, free speech being squelched and open dialogue being undermined — New York City and the New York Public Library remains a sentinel for what’s good and right. Jefferson Market is an important node and outpost in those values.”

The Library building was originally constructed as a courthouse in 1877 and only officially opened in its present form, as a Public Library, in 1967. It was designed in a Victorian-Gothic style by architects Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux. The first-floor Children’s Room originally housed a police court, the second-floor Adult Reading Room originally housed a civil court, and the Reference Room in the basement originally housed a holding room for prisoners going to jail or trial.

NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley stated, “Working on a 150-year-old structure that is also a National Historic Landmark is a great responsibility, but our team was very cognizant of the historic nature of the building and the end results enhance usability while highlighting the beauty of the building’s timeless design.”

The library now features: a reconfigured Library entrance by 6th Avenue, a new elevator accessing all floors of the Library, ADA compliant restrooms, renovated staff spaces, increased public space, better data, power and overall high-tech in the Library, and additional exterior accessible ramps with lighted handrails and enhancements.

WXY architecture + urban design AIA Principal Layng Pew, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, and Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi expressed their joy in having the Jefferson Market Public Library more accessible for community members and library visitors.

Manhattan Community Board 2 Chair Jeannine Kiely stated, “May the newly reopened library resurrect our neighborhood melting pot and serve as a source of inspiration for exploring books, escaping summer heat, getting a jump start on homework, researching the great history of Greenwich Village and enjoying the many free New York Public Library sponsored events.”

The Library still boasts a magnificent firewatcher’s tower that oversees Greenwich Village.

With the Jefferson Market Public Library’s reopening it will join the “Summer at the Library” program that provides all New Yorkers with access to different events and programs as well an opportunity to receive free books. Various options are offered for babies and toddlers, kids, teens, and adults. For more information on the “Summer at the Library” program, click here.

By: Malka Amar (Malka is a CityLaw intern and New York Law School student, Class of 2023.)

DDC: The New York Public Library’s Jefferson Market Branch Reopens Following Significant Improvements to Historic Building (Jul 14, 2022).


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