Landmark 103-year-old NYPL branch remade

Landmark 103-year-old NYPL branch remade
Photo courtesy of NYPL

An 103-year-old library celebrated its reopening after major renovations.

The two-year, multi-million dollar renovation to the New York Public Library’s Woodstock branch in Morrisania was topped off with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, May 15.

The landmark 3-story building on East 160th Street was remade top to bottom, attendees said, with its 18,000 square feet completely rehabbed during a gut renovation.

The changes to the building include a new interior that will permit full-use of the building’s second floor and the creation of a dedicated area for children’s programing, said Corey Rodriguez, branch manager.

The upgrades included improved mechanical and plumbing systems, the installation of an elevator and a wheelchair ramp for American With Disabilities Act compliance, a new staircase and updated electrical systems, according to the NYC Department of Design and Construction.

The changes also provided an additional rehabbed outdoor area with seating that will allow outdoor programming, said Rodriguez.

Previously the backyard had been closed off, she said, adding that during the renovations the greenspace to the rear of the building was landscaped and now looks beautiful.

Councilman Rafael Salamanca told a crowd, which included P.S. 130 children and the Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Center, that the building was one of the city’s first libraries donated by steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, a worldwide library patron.

The councilman said the new library would accommodate the needs of the growing community, where he has already approved 2,400 new units of affordable housing.

His predecessor, former Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, put together the funding for the project and the councilman’s role was one of support, he said.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. also contributed about $1 million in capital funds to complete the project, the councilman said.

“This is one of four libraries that we have in my district, and just last week we made announcements of $40 million for the Hunts Point and Melrose libraries,” said Salamanca, adding he is also looking into making capital improvements at the West Farms branch.

Rodriguez said that second floor of the three-story building is perhaps the most significant part of the renovation, because ever since she was a branch patron as a teenager, it has not been used.

“It was mostly closed down. We used a little bit of the space for programming, but (the rest) was not usable,” she said.

The dedicated children’s area on the second floor will allow for larger groups and have an area where children can be a little bit louder, she said.

“Now we have space for programs that will not interrupt the adults or young adults,” she said.

The elevator, said Salamanca, will make sure that all patrons, regardless of their physical status, can access all of the building, and overall, the renovations will usher it into the 21st century.

Tony Marx, NYPL president, said that the Woodstock branch has been a cornerstone of the community for a century and that the renovations provide the community with the space and amenities they need and want.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.