Library Walk on 41st Street

Leading from Park Avenue and stopping at Fifth Avenue, right in front of the New York Public Library is a nice little memorial/salute/whatever. It’s Library Walk. On the sidewalk, in fact on both sides of the sidewalk, are brass plaques with literary quotations.

Well, the first one doesn’t have a quote. It simply states that the Walk is a celebration of the world’s greatest literature and that it was sculpted by Gregg Lefevre in 1998.

I still stop and read one or more when I walk on the street. And I walk on that street a lot. It’s a little sad that most people on the street don’t seem to notice them at all; but I do enjoy seeing a few people stopping and reading them each in turn.

Some are long; the one below by Gu Cheng is about the longest, and some are really short.

Some are old. The one below is from Francis Bacon. It reads: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”

The next one is a bit desceptive. And I like it. It’s from Willa Cather and despite looking long, there is really only one message to it: “There are only two or three human stoires, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before…” It’s from “O Pioneers!”

There is an underlying theme to these plaques: literature and the human condition. I have probably read each of them a half dozen times, and some a lot more than that, and it’s always pleasant.

Like I said, literary in nature. Well, in the below case it gets philosphical (“Information is light. Information, in itself, about anything, is light” from Tom Stoppard). Okay, they are all philosophical, too.

Incidentally, there’s one of these plaques about every 10 feet or so.

Literature and international counterfeiting! These aren’t real coins. If they were, the homeless in the area would have chisled them out a long time ago.

There’s a dirty little secret to Library Walk, though. The plaques on the south side of the street and the plaques on the north side. Well, they are duplicates. The artist appears to have run out of grant money or literary inspiration.


Explore posts in the same categories: Manhattan, Mid-town, Wanderings

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