Walking on words – Library Way

 

New York Public Library lions
New York Public Library lion

Sometimes it really pays off to watch where you’re walking over here. Whilst feeling a bit cross to find that the famous New York Public Library’s Reading Room is closed for renovation, I stumbled across a beautiful collection of bronze quotations set into the pavement outside.

New York Public Library seen from Library Way on East 41st Street
New York Public Library seen from Library Way on East 41st Street

There since 1998, the plaques along Library Way have been kept bright by sixteen years’ worth of pounding feet. Described on the library’s own blog as ‘a celebration of the world’s great literature’, there’s a broad range of authors and poets represented. Lewis Carrol, Pablo Picasso, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Beckett, Tom Stoppard, Virginia Woolf. One artist, Greg LeFevre, designed them all.

The first to catch my eye was a beautiful bird depicting a quote from Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; ‘The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings’.

Kate Chopin's The Awakening
Kate Chopin’s The Awakening

Immediately stopped dead in my tracks, causing a minor collision with the people behind me. Then proceeded to slowly work my way up the street and down the other side, fastidiously photographing each plaque. Other pedestrians then paused to see what I was studying, and slowed their pace to read them too.

Smiled when reached one by William Butler Yeats, as I always think of that line from Educating Rita: “Do you know Yeats?” “The wine lodge?” Low brow, I know.

William Butler Yeats
William Butler Yeats

Here are some of my favourites, but really they are most powerful when viewed in succession, so I’ve put lots of the others at the bottom of this blog for you to enjoy too.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

This week’s Highs & Lows:

High: Watching the city prepare for ‘the holiday season’ (that’s Christmas to the rest of us), with ice rinks, Christmas trees and twinkling lights appearing by the day. Interesting to see great big branches being nailed to the trunk of South Street Sea Port’s tree in order to fill it out. It’s enormous, surely on a par with Trafalgar Square’s tree. The kids enjoyed watching a team of men on a crane go up to start wrapping the tree in fairy lights.

Low: T’s accent has finally started to slip. She said “mask” with a long a-is-for-apple vowel sound, and told me that something or other was “super-awesome”. Sigh.

 

Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks

 

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf

 

Rene Descartes
Rene Descartes

 

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Marianne Moore
Marianne Moore
Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Richard Eberhart
Richard Eberhart
Isak Dinesen
Isak Dinesen
Garson Kanin
Garson Kanin
William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams
Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Alfred Kazin
Alfred Kazin
Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Tom Stoppard
Tom Stoppard
Robert Pinsky
Robert Pinsky
Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas
Willa Cather
Willa Cather
Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser
Albert Camus
Albert Camus
William Styron
William Styron
Bohumil Hrabal
Bohumil Hrabal
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
Gu Cheng
Gu Cheng
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Georges Braque
Georges Braque
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
Jose Marti
Jose Marti
John Ruskin
John Ruskin

Author: Alex

Hello. Toddling Round New York is my own little blog of our family's experience of moving young kids from London to New York... And of having a baby out here. They are my own baby steps of exploring this incredible city. I lived in five countries in four continents growing up, so you'd think I'd be good at this by now. Here you'll find stories and photographs of our adventures, the highs and the lows of expat parenthood, and some ideas I hope you'll find useful if you're in New York with young kids.

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