Who knows what Henry Kissinger, Lou Gehrig, Maria Callas, Ralph Ellison, Marianne Moore, and Jacob Javits have in common?
They were all kids who checked books out of their neighborhood library, the Fort Washington Branch of the New York Public Library. It is one of the original 67 New York City Carnegie Libraries. Designed by Cook & Welch Architects, it opened in April 1914. Walter Cook, along with George Babb and Daniel Willard, designed the Carnegie Mansion on Fifth Avenue and 91st Street – today’s Cooper-Hewitt museum.
Sage and Coombe Architects were retained to modernize the second floor children’s room. Giant lampshades and custom carpets create kid-sized story circles with themes drawn from the neighborhood context. My favorite is the one I call “Run, bunny, run,” with “Ant Farm” a close second. Graphics for the shades are collages of images from the digital archives of the New York Public Library. These fun spaces inspire young and old alike. I think I’ll just curl up for story time! Cynthia Kracauer.
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