Sunday, October 07, 2007

A Little Piece of Heaven

I have to admit that I've never done the tourist thing in New York. I've just never had the time as I passed through for business meetings or when rushing to get from one airport to another to make flights. But this article in the Miami Herald makes me want to hang out near the intersection of Manhattan's East 41st Street and Madison Avenue. From the sounds of it, a bibliophile could happily spend an entire vacation within a few feet of that spot.

He would walk on Library Way, reading the author plaques embedded in the sidewalk every few feet, find shade in the shadow of the grandiose New York Public Library on the next block, revel in the rare manuscript collection at the Pierpont Morgan Library a few steps to the left and sleep in a book-lined room at The Library Hotel.
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The Library Hotel is a civilizing oasis of comfort and care. Vacant for six years prior to its current reincarnation, the former office building, constructed in the 1920s, was renovated into a boutique hotel of 60 rooms.

Within the 14-story hotel, floor and room numbers are dispensed with and replaced by Dewey Decimal code. Following the traditional library cataloging system, each of the 10 floors corresponds to one of the 10 categories originated by Melvil Dewey. Floors are devoted to math & science, technology, philosophy and literature among others. Upon each floor are subclassifications.

On the religion floor, room number 1200.005 is devoted to Native American culture and spirituality. The titles on the bedside floor-to-ceiling shelves include Crazy Horse by Larry McMurtry, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen and Southern Cheyenne Women's Songs by Virginia Giglio. A colorful print of a Native American topped with a war bonnet adorns the wall between two large windows.
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Along East 41st in front of the hotel is Library Way, where 96 bronze plaques embedded in the sidewalk celebrate renowned authors and their words.

The former New York City resident and essayist turned Maine saltwater farmer E.B. White is memorialized with this witticism, ``I don't know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.''

Library Way may be followed to Patience and Fortitude, the two lions guarding the entrance of The New York Public Library. Inside are 88 miles of shelves, an extensive rare book and map collection and a glass case enclosing one of the few extant Guttenberg Bibles.
I'm particularly intrigued by The Library Hotel, but with room rates beginning at $379 per night, I'm not likely to ever experience it. But who said that a little piece of heaven would be cheap?

12 comments:

  1. I do like the sound of that hotel. But I guess we will both have to win the lottery to be able to spend a night or two there.

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  2. Well, since I always travel with a mini-library, any old hotel room will do. ;)

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  3. I love being a tourist in NYC!! One of my favorite places to vacation. The MOMA, Soho, the galleries, the bookstores, the diners...wonderful! And that section of Manhattan (lower 40s) is one of my favorites, because there used to be two awesome bookstores there, but they have moved and gone out of business in the last two years. Bummer.

    The room rates drop drastically in August in NYC. That's because it is very hot and some galleries don't have air conditioning. So most New Yorkers leave the city in August and go to "the shore" for a vacation. Then the rates jump back up very high in October for the opening of the theater season. But you can get some great hotel rates in Manhattan in August if you check the web.

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  4. I remember reading about the Library Hotel a few years ago - I'd love to stay there! Sigh, maybe someday...

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  5. Pablo sent me this link a few days ago...sigh...wonderful!

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  6. My husband and I just spent our honeymoon at the Library Hotel this past June! It really was lovely, and such a great idea. We stayed in the Erotica room (hey, it was our honeymoon!). The room was lovely, but teeny tiny. The best was one of the floors had a dining room-type area, with floor to ceiling shelves full of books all the way around the room, and huge windows overlooking the public library. Truly lovely.

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  7. Well, Sylvia, it looks like neither historia nor I will ever be staying there, so your mini-library idea will have to do for me also. :-)

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  8. Laura, I suspected from reading your book that you knew NYC neighborhoods well. That must be nice. At this point in my life, I doubt that I will ever get to spend any time there. I do count myself lucky to have spent some years in London and I've always imagined that was a lot like living in NYC...only surrounded by more posh accents. :-)

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  9. It sounds great, anonymous. It would be very soothing to me to be surrounded by so many books, in so many different rooms and for so many hours of the day.

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  10. Keep dreaming, TLB and Bybee...it makes planning a vacation a lot easier when you know exactly where you want to spent it..."maybe someday" might become your reality someday.

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  11. Sam, the place is GREAT! I took my mom there for her birthday and we spent a Thr/Fri/Sat in one of the nicest rooms. I could sit in the box bay window and see the horizon at the end of Madison! I think I could see the lions at the NY public library, too. Although, I may have just remembered it that way. We felt like we were in a B&B atmosphere with modern furinture. :)

    Oh, we stayed there in mid July, 2005 and I am sure we didn't pay that much.

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  12. Sounds truly wonderful, Maggie, and I'm glad to hear that the price quoted in the article may have been on the high side. I'll have to research the place...what a great rest and hiding place it would be.

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