Greenwich Village Public Library reopens after $10M facelift


The Jefferson Market Branch of the New York Public Library, a prison-turned-library, is finally open following a three-year renovation. 

“Jefferson Market is one of the Crown Jewels of the New York Public Library system and is a local, treasured gem. I’m so grateful to NYPL for their hard work and diligence — even during a global pandemic — in getting this project to the finish line,” former NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson said of the Greenwich Village landmark, which had a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, marking the completion of construction, which began in April 2019. “ While certain places around the country have targeted books being banned, free speech being squelched and open dialogue being undermined — New York City and the New York Public Library remains a sentinel for what’s good and right. Jefferson Market is an important node and outpost in those values.”

jefferson market library reopens after facelift
The renovation included the addition of a wheelchair-accessible ramp.
New York Public Library
jefferson market library reopens after facelift
The facelift also included the reconfiguring of the building’s Sixth Avenue entrance.
New York Public Library
jefferson market library reopens after facelift
The building was initially constructed to serve as a court and prison.
New York Public Library
jefferson market library reopens after facelift
A ribbon-cutting to celebrate the reopening was held Thursday.
New York Public Library
jefferson market library reopens after facelift
The $10 million renovation took three years to complete.
New York Public Library

The $10 million project reconfigured the library’s Sixth Avenue entrance, installed a “new, more effective elevator,” reconstructed disability-accessible restrooms, added a wheelchair-accessible ramp, renovated both public and staff spaces within the building and improved “data and power” to support the community’s “high-tech needs,” according to a press release. The multimillion-dollar revamp was part of more than $600 million in capital improvements currently happening across the library system.

This specific project was led by the New York City Department of Design and Construction in conjunction with private studio WXY Architecture + Urban Design. 

“This classic building is now ADA compliant and better able to serve all users, with an upgraded lobby, improved access, a larger elevator and modern restrooms,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Thomas Foley.

The branch is among the NYPL’s more iconic, and has been serving the Greenwich Village since 1967. When it was initially built in 1877, though, it served as a courthouse with an adjacent prison and market. Where once stood a civil court and a police court there are now, respectively, an adult reading room and a children’s room.

The brick-arched basement — today the reference room — was once a prisoner holding area. A bell within the building’s still-intact tower was once used to summon volunteer firemen.



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