NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY STEPHEN A. SCHWARZMAN BUILDING (always free): When most people think of the New York Public Library, they think of this building, whose main entrance is flanked by two lions (Patience and Fortitude). The library, of course, is free to visit, and there are often free guided tours of current exhibits as well as free wifi and free internet access. Lectures, readings and special events are also held here.
New York CityThe heart of the library is the Rose Main Reading Room, a cavernous volume that stretches nearly two city blocks long beneath 52-foot-high ceilings. Abundant natural light streams in through windows and ceiling murals depict the sky, making the space feel almost as inviting as sitting outside. Despite the room’s formal feel, it’s equally popular with studious readers and casual visitors in search of Wi-Fi.
New York CityThe main branch of the New York Public Library, the formidable Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is one of the city’s few famous landmarks that doesn’t reach skyward. Designed by the legendary architecture firm Carrère & Hastings and opened in 1911, the edifice remained largely unchanged for more than a century. Now plans are under way for a thoughtful renovation by Foster + Partners to open up more interior space to the public.