The Bronx Traveling Library: A Forgotten Past

This week I’m going to talk about the Bronx Traveling Library. The only way this is truly related to anything about buildings is the fact that it came into existence because there was a lack of a certain type of building: a library.

Free, public libraries for New York City were envisioned by one-time governor, Samuel L. Tilden (1814-1886). Before his death, he bequeathed the majority of his 2.4 million dollar fortune to his dream.

Unfortunately, not every neighborhood in New York City could have a gargantuan library like the one we still see at Bryant Park. Because of this, we started seeing traveling libraries similar to the Bronx Traveling Library.

I actually stumbled upon this randomly at work today and was so intrigued that I decided to write my blog post about it. The first thing that struck me from the pictures was the crowd of people standing outside each different traveling library. I couldn’t help but think that this is a sight that I would never see: kids huddling excitedly around stacks of books.

1936 BTL.jpg
Dated 1936. Courtesy of NYPL
1928 BTL.jpg
Dated 1928. Courtesy of NYPL

While this post may be more focused on the lack of architecture and not so much the beauty of it, I still think there is beauty in the fact that people used to appreciate books as much as it seems from these photos.

The Bronx Traveling Library is a very cool part of the borough’s history that I never knew existed. Did you?


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