Jefferson Market Courthouse in New York

A Love Affair with a Landmark in Manhattan: An Arresting Drama in Greenwich Village. [Opinions expressed are the views of OLD JEFF unless attributed to other - - potentially less-reliable - - sources, i.e., newcomers who have not been around since 1832 on Sixth Avenue.]

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NYPL Pinocchio Licks His Nose

The unofficial motto of the N.Y.P.L. is: "Read between the lies." According to Herb Scher, a library spokesman, he was only doing his job when he LIED to N.Y. Times reporter Steven Kurutz.
• • Consider this simple timeline:
• • 2003 scaffolding goes up after bits of loose masonry fall onto pedestrians walking by Jefferson Market library;
• • 2004 City Councilmember Christine Quinn gives library $645,000 for improvements;
• • 2005 City Councilmember Christine Quinn gives library $645,000 for improvements.
But ha-ha-ha-ing behind his hand as he spoke, Scher fibbed that $1.7 million of financing for the interior renovations was secured before the facade's problems developed. Invite this comedian to your next party because he's as hilarious as a whole vaudeville act. Have you seen him lick his nose as it grows? Too talented.

- excerpt: "The City" section • The N.Y. Times -
West Village: At Age 128, Looks Still Matter
Published: 20 November 2005

Among Village residents, said Marilyn Dorato, secretary of the Greenwich Village Block Associations, there is a "visceral affection" for the building, a 128-year-old landmark. So when news came in 2003 that the New York Public Library would renovate the library's interior, and this year when $1.7 million in financing for the project was secured, it was perhaps inevitable that close scrutiny would follow.
• • The renovations themselves - better access for people with disabilities, more computers, moving the check-out desk to the first floor from the second floor - are hardly controversial. But residents have expressed concern over a center for teenagers that would take away space from adults who use the facility, and, more pressingly, the withering condition of the building's exterior. The New York Public Library erected scaffolding more than two years ago, when part of the red brickfacade began falling off, but no repairs have been made.
• • "Repairing the library's bricks and mortar should be a priority ratherthan initiating an unsolicited interior design," Ms. Dorato wrote last month in a letter to Paul LeClerc, president of the New York Public Library. "Unless the N.Y.P.L. can promise a future free from rain, snow and other inclement weather, it seems cavalier to institute interior alterations when the worsening exterior may impact them."
• • According to Herb Scher, a library spokesman, financing for the interior renovations was secured before the facade's problems developed. [Tee-hee! My gag reflex went into overdrive, Herb!] The library, he added, can proceed only with projects for which specific financing has been obtained.
• • As for the teenagers' center, Susan Kent, director of the branch libraries, said that once renovations were completed, there would actually be more space for adults.
• • Completed in 1877, Jefferson Market Library is one of the city's only remaining examples of High Victorian Gothic architecture, an ornate structure of pinnacles and gables, capped by a clock tower that looms over the low-rise buildings around it. After falling into severe disrepair by the 1950's, the building was saved from demolition by a group of village residents that included the poet E. E. Cummings.
• • According to Ms. Kent, the interior has not been renovated since the 1970's. This was after the building became a library in 1967. The exterior, she said, would most likely cost $2.5 million to $3 million to repair. Currently, there is no timeline for the repairs, but, Ms. Kent said, "Having that façade repaired and restored to its former glory is a high priority for us."
[Busy taking notes, Steven Kurutz did not see that clever Li'l Suzie had her fingers crossed behind her back.]
- excerpt: "The City" section • The N.Y. Times -
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Jefferson Market.

PHOTO: 1877 Old Jeff family album