no chocolate, just books
Wed May 16 2007
Jersey Street in Soho is just two short blocks long, and few people have any reason to walk down it. Now they will: the city's first public library to open since 1989(!)--and the neighborhood's first library, period--is set to open in just a few days. What's cool about this 12,000-square-foot branch, aside from its very existence, is that the building was formerly the Hawley & Hoops candy factory, with a history dating back to the late-19th century, producing such healthful products as chocolate cigars. Turns out that the logistical challenges in designing this branch are a benefit for visitors: for example, the low ceilings (due to having to accommodate pipes) make for a cozy space for story-hour time, with upholstered chairs provided. And there lots of other corner nooks where your kid can curl up with a good read. One of the architects on this project recently told the NY Times, "We wanted to create a Harry Potter dungeonlike atmosphere." (Most of the library's space is below ground, at basement level.) So if a public library could be considered "kid-friendly," this is it. The look is industrial, with original cast-iron columns, exposed brick walls, and concrete and original oak flooring. What was once the boiler vault is now the main reading room. It's all very cool! Come for the sleek design, stay for the books. This is a great gathering space for kids and adults alike, and it doesn't involve shopping or TV, so that's nice. Come enjoy this brand-new library before too many other people do. For now, it's sort of a secret.