The New York Public Library’s Jefferson Market Branch Reopens Following Significant Improvements to Historic Building
A ribbon-cutting held on July 14 announced the completion of $10 million project that included important upgrades to accessibility
Sara Beth Joren | firstname.lastname@example.org
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July 14, 2022—The New York Public Library hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony today for its Jefferson Market branch to mark the completion of significant updates to the historic building, including vital accessibility upgrades. The $10 million project—led by the New York City Department of Design and Construction with NSP Enterprises, Inc. and designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design—featured the addition of an accessible exterior ramp with lighted handrails and enhancements throughout the building to create greater access and entry.
The event held Thursday morning celebrated the reopening of the branch with New York Public Library President Anthony Marx, Chief Operating Officer of the Library Iris Weinshall, Merryl and James Tisch Director of The New York Public Library Brian Bannon, and Jefferson Market Library Manager Frank Collerius, along with local elected officials and members of the community.
“The Jefferson Market Library is a historical and cultural touchstone of the West Village community that has provided exceptional resources and services for over 50 years,” said Anthony W. Marx, President of The New York Public Library. “The improvements to this beloved branch are a testament to its enduring role in the neighborhood and the patrons who will rediscover their love of reading and learning in its contemporary, accessible, and inspiring spaces.”
Construction on the project began in April 2019, with the landmark building receiving a series of substantial updates, which included:
- Reconfiguring the Library's entrance on 6th Avenue
- The installation of a new, more effective elevator serving all floors of the library
- Reconstructed ADA restrooms
- Renovated public and staff spaces, increasing public space and complementing the landmark building
- Improved data and power to support high-tech needs in the community
“This classic building is now ADA compliant and better able to serve all users, with an upgraded lobby, improved access, a larger elevator and modern restrooms,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley. “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.”
"Today is an important day for Jefferson Market Library as we celebrate a new chapter of support and access for this beautiful iconic building and the vibrant community we serve," said Frank Collerius, branch manager. "For the staff, it's a return to our second home and all of us are excited to welcome patrons new and old and invite them to enjoy everything the Library has to offer."
The improvements at Jefferson Market Library are part of the institution’s efforts to create spaces that meet users’ evolving needs. This project is part of over $600 million worth of capital improvements happening across the NYPL system.
Since its opening in 1967, the branch has provided the Greenwich Village community with essential library services. Upon its reopening, Jefferson Market Library will participate in the “Summer at the Library” program, which offers New York kids, teens, and their families a series of free programs at branches throughout the system designed to entertain, spark a lifelong love of reading and learning, and help students combat “summer slide”—when they forget what they learned in the summer months while outside the classroom. A centerpiece of the summer festivities is a big-time book giveaway: the Library is distributing 500,000 new, quality, librarian-approved books—for families to keep—giving them the opportunity to start or build on their home library.
Originally a courthouse erected in 1877, the building was erected as a courthouse—along with an adjacent prison and market—between 1875 and 1877. A New York City landmark designed by architects Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux in a Victorian Gothic style, the building consisted of a civil court on the second floor, now the Adult Reading Room, and a police court, now the first-floor Children's Room. The beautiful brick-arched basement, now the Reference Room, was used as a holding area for prisoners on their way to jail or trial. Looming a hundred feet above ground was the firewatcher's tower, which is still intact and commands an uninterrupted view of Greenwich Village, and houses the bell that would summon volunteer firemen.
The Library is grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, Council Member Erik Bottcher, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, former City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and former Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for their support of this project. The significant investment has ensured that Jefferson Market Library can best serve New Yorkers now and in the future.
“The City is honored to be a part of bringing to life NYPL’s vision for the Jefferson Market Library,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “With these changes, more New Yorkers than ever before now have improved access to a beautiful landmarked public space.”
“Jefferson Market is one of the Crown Jewels of the New York Public Library system and is a local, treasured gem. I’m so grateful to NYPL for their hard work and diligence — even during a global pandemic — in getting this project to the finish line. 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. Congratulations to the NYPL and to my successor Council Member Erik Bottcher who worked so hard to get this completed” said Corey Johnson, former NYC Council Speaker.
"I'm thrilled that the Jefferson Market branch has become more accessible and modern while preserving the amazing history of this building,” said Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President. “This renovation ushers in a new era of New Yorkers who will discover a love of reading, be able to use the NYPL's cutting-edge research tools, and turn to the branch as a vital community resource."
State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "The Jefferson Market Library Branch is one of the crown jewels of Greenwich Village and the New York Public Library system. I'm delighted that this branch will soon be more accessible, modern, and welcoming than ever. I'm grateful to Mayor Adams, the NYC Council, and the Manhattan Borough President for their support of this project, as are my two daughters, who can't wait for this re-opening!"
“I am delighted to join The New York Public Library in support of their newly renovated Jefferson Market branch, as it opens its doors to members of the community to celebrate upgrades and greater accessibility of this historic landmark in Greenwich Village,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. The new IT room and essential ADA upgrades will be wonderful additions, helping our constituents stay connected through technology in an inclusive space, open to all.”
“With long-awaited and improved accessibility, all residents and visitors to our neighborhood can now enjoy the wonders of the Jefferson Market Library, '' said Jeannine Kiely, Chair, Manhattan Community Board 2. 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.”
"This subtly innovative reimagining of Jefferson Market Library takes a step back into its past as it steps forward as a modern urban library, with true civic spaces for art and access for all,” says Layng Pew, AIA, principal of WXY architecture + urban design. “We applaud New York Public Library’s vision and dedication to this community touchstone and irreplaceable landmark. Their commitment to design for accessibility has become the key to accessing history.”
About The New York Public Library
For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.