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NYPL’s Rose Main Reading Room should be an interior landmark, say officials

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Two state senators have appealed to the LPC to consider the library’s newly renovated spaces

There just 119 interior landmarks in New York City—the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and the UN Plaza Hotel’s lobby and Ambassador Grill were the latest two to get the distinction—but if two New York lawmakers have their way, the list may soon grow.

State Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Kreuger have asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider the New York Public Library’s newly renovated Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalog Room for designation, according to DNAInfo. The two rooms had been closed for two years to facilitate repairs and a much-needed restoration (of the reading room’s plaster ceiling and the catalog room’s celestial mural, among other things), and reopened last fall.

Now that those two rooms have been spiffed up, Hoylman and Kreuger argue, landmark status would be appropriate the preserve the spaces. “We must now recognize the Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room as the historic interior spaces that our city has come to treasure in our beloved library,” they wrote in a letter to the LPC, obtained by DNAInfo.

The NYPL’s Fifth Avenue building was designated a landmark 50 years ago, with the LPC writing at the time that the Carrère and Hastings-designed structure is “one of the masterpieces of the Beaux Arts style of architecture … a magnificent civic monument and fully justifies the pride of its generation and ours.”

But that designation protects only the building, not the specific rooms within. While the library’s grand entrance (known as Astor Hall) and its adjacent staircases were given interior landmark status in 1974, no other rooms have since been protected. “Now is the perfect time to protect these spaces in perpetuity and continue the process that began decades ago with the landmarking of the building’s exterior,” Kreuger told DNAInfo.

For its part, the LPC is apparently now exploring the possibility of landmark status for the Rose Reading Room and the Bill Blass Catalog Room, per a spokesperson. And the NYPL seems open to the idea, too. “These spaces have always been treated with the dignity, respect, and care that they deserve, and in that spirit, we look forward to the public landmarking process and continuing conversations with the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” the library said in a statement to DNAInfo.

Fingers crossed.

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