Walking on words – Library Way

Library Way - New York


Sometimes it really pays off to watch where you’re walking over here. Whilst feeling a bit cross to find that the famous New York Public Library’s Reading Room is closed for renovation, I stumbled across a beautiful collection of bronze quotations set into the pavement outside.

New York Public Library seen from Library Way on East 41st Street
New York Public Library seen from Library Way on East 41st Street

There since 1998, the plaques along Library Way have been kept bright by sixteen years’ worth of pounding feet. Described on the library’s own blog as ‘a celebration of the world’s great literature’, there’s a broad range of authors and poets represented. Lewis Carrol, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, Virginia Woolf. One artist, Greg LeFevre, designed them all.

The first to catch my eye was a beautiful bird depicting a quote from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; ‘The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings’.

Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Immediately stopped dead in my tracks, causing a minor collision with the people behind me. Then proceeded to slowly work my way up the street and down the other side, fastidiously photographing each plaque. Other pedestrians then paused to see what I was studying, and slowed their pace to read them too.

Smiled when reached one by William Butler Yeats, as I always think of that line from Educating Rita: “Do you know Yeats?” “The wine lodge?” Low brow, I know.

Here are some of my favourites.

This week’s Highs & Lows:

High: Watching the city prepare for ‘the holiday season’ (that’s Christmas to the rest of us), with ice rinks, Christmas trees and twinkling lights appearing by the day. Interesting to see great big branches being nailed to the trunk of South Street Sea Port’s tree in order to fill it out. It’s enormous, surely on a par with Trafalgar Square’s tree. The kids enjoyed watching a team of men on a crane go up to start wrapping the tree in fairy lights.

Low: T’s accent has finally started to slip. She said “mask” with a long a-is-for-apple vowel sound, and told me that something or other was “super-awesome”. Sigh.





Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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