The New York Public Library, glass negative from 1908 depicting horse carriages and trolleys. Late stage construction: trademark lions not yet installed. Image: Library of Congress  

Technically speaking, the term “New York Public Library” refers to the four research libraries and eighty-seven branch libraries—forty-four in Manhattan alone—that comprise the city’s vast and enviable library system. But New Yorkers stubbornly use the term to mean the central library on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, refusing to call it the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, after the donor who gave $100 million in...


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