Quintessential New York

The opening shot in Ghostbusters, a sweeping camera pan over the plaza of The New York Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, has somehow stuck with me through the years. It’s not a cinematic masterpiece; it holds this fond memory because it was one of the first movies I saw as a teenager without my parents. 

The Library has made many appearances on the Big Screen. It began with Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961, and many followed.  The Library too is host to countless corporate and gala events. It hosts photo shoots and fashion shows. It has magnificent spaces suited for small events, to cocktail receptions for 750. 

The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building celebrated its 100 anniversary in 2011. It underwent a three-year, $50-million restoration and preservation project. With its majestic front steps watched over by the beloved Library Lions – Patience and Fortitude – the building is a quintessential New York City icon. Better yet, the magnificent Beaux-Arts building features seven gorgeous rental spaces suited for any type of social and business event.   


Astor Hall, is a stunning entrance room covered in white marble. The space is classic in design, with high-arches and a nearly 40-feet high vaulted ceiling. Astor Hall hosts countless galas, weddings and cocktail parties. The space can accommodate events for up to 750 guests and is only available when the Library is closed.

Astor Hall, Photo by Christian Oth Studio Astor Hall - Photo by Christian Oth Studio

The Celeste Bartos Forum was the original Central Circulation Room. It was renovated to be an event space in 1986. The room is dominated by a glorious 30-foot high glass and cast-iron dome. At 6,400 square feet, the room can accommodate up to 500 guests. We love that this private room is adjacent to the catering kitchen and green room, making it an ideal setting for galas, wedding and corporate events.

Celeste Bartos Forum - Photo by Christian Oth Studio Celeste Bartos Forum - Photo by Christian Oth Studio

The Edna Barnes Salomon Room is a more traditional room. It features rich dark maple wood floors, cream-colored walls adorned with art, and a ceiling covered in faux skylights from end to end. At 4,500 square feet, the rectangular room can host up to 325 guests for a cocktail reception.

Edna Barnes Salomon Room - Photo by Roey Yohai Edna Barnes Salomon Room - Photo by Roey Yohai

The McGraw Rotunda may look familiar to Sex and the City fans. Remember Carrie Bradshaw’s wedding? The space, located on the third floor of the Library is one of the most magnificent in the building.  The ceiling is adorned with a mural showing Prometheus bringing the gift of fire to mankind. Richly carved and gilt woods, and stately paintings make the Rotunda a perfect setting for intimate dinners, weddings and VIP events. The space holds up to 300 guests and is only available when the Library is closed.

The Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room is an intimate space not available to the general public, but it can be reserved for events. The space is warm with the feeling of a turn-of-the-century drawing room. It is adorned with Flemish Tapestries, and a marble fireplace. The room is best suited for more intimate events. It can hold up to 125 guests for a cocktail reception.

Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room - Photo by Sarah Merians Photography & Video Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room - Photo by Sarah Merians Photography & Video

The Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division underwent a massive 25-million renovation and restoration in 2005. It was returned to its original Beaux-Arts grandeur of the Carrère and Hastings design, and is now available for events. The space holds up to 60 guests for a cocktail reception and is only available when the Library is closed.

The Celeste Bartos Education Center South Court Auditorium offers a modern auditorium featuring multi-media and Webcast capabilities. It seats 177 and is ideal for screenings, lectures, seminars and press conferences.

Celeste Bartos Education Center South Court Auditorium - Photo by Peter Aaron/ESTO

The Timothy Healy Hall at the Science, Industry and Business Library located in the B. Altman Building at 34th Street offers a modern space with 33 feet high ceilings. Its best suited for sales conferences and meetings, breakfast events and cocktail receptions. The space holds up to 200 guests and is only available when the Library is closed.


The New York Public Library hosts some of the most impressive events in New York City. In selecting the Library as a venue one helps support the programs, services, and collections of the Library.

Rental fees are quoted upon request and include operational expenses and dedicated support from the NYPL Office of Special Events. Rental fees are based on a five-hour event, and holding your space is easy. Reach out to the NYPL Office of Special Events here or telephone 212 930-0730. Email at spev@nypl.org.

- Al Wynant

Pictures courtesy of The New York Public Library.