Carnegie Libraries

BPL BPL Pacific Library, exterior image Pacific, October 8, 1904
Call # BPL 1070
The Pacific Branch was the first of the Carnegie-funded libraries to open in Brooklyn, on October 8, 1904. Architect Raymond F. Almirall designed the building, at 25 Fourth Avenue, and was hired again as architect after the building suffered structural damages due to BMT subway construction in 1914. Upon its opening, New York Tribune praised the branch for its classical and dignified design.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11398289
BPL Pacific Library, interior image Pacific, October 8, 1904
Call # CARN 0135
The two-story library originally featured a children’s room on the second floor, with a fireplace. That space now serves as an auditorium for public progams.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353376
BPL BPL Williamsburgh Library, exterior image Williamsburgh, January 28, 1905
Call # POST 0043
Although the branch didn’t open until 1905, it is often considered the first of Brooklyn’s Carnegie libraries. Thousands, including Mayor Seth Low, came out with much fanfare for a ceremony in November of 1903, when a time capsule of documents including a copy of the Carnegie contract was laid in the cornerstone of the building at 240 Division Avenue.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11293887
BPL Williamsburgh Library, interior image Williamsburgh, January 28, 1905
Call # CARN 0128
With 26,000 of public space, the building was at the time of its construction the largest of the Carnegie libraries. Designed by Richard Walker of the Walker & Morris firm, the layout was akin to an open book, with two wings stretching radially from a central reference desk.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353850
BPL Bedford Library, exterior image Bedford, February 4, 1905
Call # CARN 0031
The first branch of the BPL system, the original Bedford library opened in 1897 in rooms within the old P.S. 3 on Bedford Ave. In 1899, it moved temporarily to the 2nd floor of 26 Brevoort Place; in June 1902, it moved to the ground floor of Avon Hall. The Carnegie building, pictured here and still operating today, opened on February 4, 1905 at 496 Franklin Avenue.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352704
BPL Bedford Library, interior image Bedford, February 4, 1905
Call # CARN 0170
Interior view of patrons using the newly opened Bedford Branch in 1905. The building was designed by architecture firm Lord & Hewlett, which designed several other Carnegie branches in the borough.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352704
BPL-DeKalb Library, exterior image DeKalb, February 11, 1905
Call # CARN 0051
The DeKalb Branch was designed by architect William B. Tubby in the Classic Revival style and opened at 790 Bushwick Avenue on February 11, 1905.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352885
BPL-DeKalb Library, interior image DeKalb, February 11, 1905
Call # BPL 0666
According to the caption of this photograph of patrons browsing the bookshelves at the DeKalb Branch, “as far back as 1914 there was interest in gardening books and cookbooks.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11389818
BPL Carroll Garden Library, exterior image Carroll Gardens, March 3, 1905
Call # CARN 0037
Designed by William B. Tubby, this location opened at 396 Clinton Street on March 3, 1905 and was originally called the Carroll Park Branch, until the name was changed in 1973. A predecessor library operated out of a rented space at Smith Street and Carroll Streets from 1901 until completion of this building, which still serves the community today.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352833
BPL Carroll Garden Library, interior image Carroll Gardens, March 3, 1905
Call # CARN 0166
The Carroll Park (now Carroll Gardens) Branch featured open reading rooms with vaulted ceilings and skylights. A fireplace also provided a warm reading spot during the winter months.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352841
BPL Flatbush Library, exterior image Flatbush, October 7, 1905
Call # POST 0038
The Flatbush Free Library was established in 1899 before joining the Brooklyn Public Library system the next year. The current building at 22 Linden Boulevard and show in this postcard from the early 20th century, was designed by R.L. Daus and was the sixth Carnegie-funded library to open in Brooklyn, on October 7, 1905.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11293879
BPL Flatbush Library, interior image Flatbush, October 7, 1905
Call # BPL 0733
In this image from 1905, young girls sit in front of a display for children titled, “Books for Little Readers”. This branch was remodeled extensively by the Works Progress Administration in 1937, which accounts for its more modern appearance today.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11391614
BPL Park Slope Library, exterior image Park Slope, July 30, 1906
Call # BPL 1114
Opened as the Prospect Branch on July 30, 1906, today’s Park Slope library building at 431 Sixth Avenue was dubbed the “most pretentious” of the Carnegie-funded buildings by the Brooklyn Citizen newspaper. With interior features like stained glass arched entrances supported by freestanding columns, two tiled fireplaces and a vaulted stained glass ceiling, it’s not hard to see why.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11399213
BPL BPL Park Slope Library, interior image Park Slope, July 30, 1906
Call # BPL 1114
The branch has long served the young readers of the neighborhood. In its early days a collection of special children's books were kept in the staff office and given to children with clean hands only. Such inspections are no longer a requirement for checking out library books, although proper care of materials is appreciated.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11399450
BPL Arlington Library, exterior image Arlington, November 7, 1906
Call # CARN 0006
This image shows the Arlington Branch at 203 Arlington Avenue in the East New York neighborhood when it first opened on November 7, 1906. It was originally called the East Branch.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353297
BPL Arlington Library, interior image Arlington, November 7, 1906
Call # CARN 0003
Staff and patrons around central circulation and reference desk at the Arlington Branch in 1907, with staircase at left sweeping up to balconies.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353288
BPL Macon Library, exterior image Macon, July 15, 1907
Call # CARN 0092
Opened on July 15, 1907, the Macon Branch was designed by architecture firm Walker & Morris. More than 2,000 people attended the opening festivities at 360 Lewis Avenue, which featured speeches from local dignitaries and an orchestra.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353451
BPL Macon Library, interior image Macon, July 15, 1907
Call # BPL 0909
Original frescoes once decorated the children’s room, pictured here in the 1910s, with slogans like "No Gain Without Pains" and "Living Brave and Patriotic Men Are Better Than Gold."
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11395482
BPL Fort Hamilton Library, exterior image Fort Hamilton, October 16, 1907
Call # CARN 0066
Like the Flatbush branch, this library started out as an independent free library and was absorbed into Brooklyn Public Library in 1901. The building was designed by the Lord & Hewlett architecture firm and formally opened at 9424 Fourth Avenue on October 16, 1907.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353341
BPL BPL Fort Hamilton Library, interior image Fort Hamilton, October 16, 1907
Call # BPL 0767
The twelfth Carnegie library to be built in Brooklyn, the Fort Hamilton branch featured a skylight, two fireplaces, and a lawn surrounding the building.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11392341
BPL Walt Whitman Library, exterior image Walt Whitman, September 1, 1908
Call # CARN 0050
Library service in this neighborhood dated back to 1900, when a small library first began operating out of a storefront. The Carnegie-built building, a two-story Classical Revival library, opened at 93 St. Edwards Street on September 1, 1908.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352851
BPL Walt Whitman Library, interior image Walt Whitman, September 1, 1908
Call # BPL 1225
Originally called the City Park Branch, this library was renamed to honor Walt Whitman (who once lived on nearby Ryerson Street) in 1943, on the 125th anniversary of his birth. The branch once boasted a naval architecture and science collection, to serve the workers of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11402283
BPL Saratoga Library, exterior image Saratoga, September 3, 1908
Call # BPL 1173
Opening on September 3, 1908, the Saratoga Branch at 8 Thomas S. Boyland Street replaced an earlier neighborhood library on Putnam Avenue. The building, designed by R.L. Daus, featured a unique Spanish tile roof.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11404589
BPL Saratoga Library, interior image Saratoga, September 3, 1908
Call # CARN 0112
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported overflowing crowds at the branch’s opening in 1908: “the building would not be filled to the doors, with many more outside unable to gain admission, if it was not a real want in the neighborhood.” They also remarked on the layout, “the open shelf system is in vogue and persons will be able to help themselves.”
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353788
BPL Leonard Library, exterior image Leonard, December 1, 1908
Call # CARN 0083
The Leonard Branch was officially opened on December 1, 1908 at its current site at Devoe and Leonard Streets. The one-story classically styled building, designed by William B, Tubby, has an elegantly designed interior of 10,000 square feet that originally featured molded skylights, wood paneling and wood-trimmed windows.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353413
BPL Leonard Library, interior image Leonard, December 1, 1908
Call # BPL 0900
This image from shortly after the branch opened shows that the community in Williamsburg was eager for library service. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted in its coverage of opening day, “the building was crowded with the people of the neighborhood whose enthusiasm was amply evidenced by their appreciation of the valuable acquisition to the section. Heretofore they have been obliged to go considerable distance for library privileges.”
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11395434
BPL Bushwick Library, exterior image Bushwick, December 16, 1908
Call # CARN 0023
Previously located on the ground floor of a church that burned in 1903, the Carnegie-funded Bushwick Branch opened at 340 Bushwick Avenue on December 16, 1908. Raymond F. Almirall designed the building. This exterior view, taken shortly after the branch opened, shows some telling details from the era -- trolley tracks and horse manure in the street.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352935
BPL Bushwick Library, interior image Bushwick, December 16, 1908
Call # CARN 0024
This 1909 view of the reading room at the then-newly opened Bushwick Branch gives an idea of the how heavily it was used by local children.
For more information: https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352940
BPL Brownsville Library, exterior image Brownsville, December 19, 1908
Call # CARN 0010
The first Brownsville Branch opened in 1905 on the second floor of the Alliance Building after the Hebrew Educational Society donated its books. This image shows the Carnegie-built branch, which opened at 61 Glenmore Avenue on December 19, 1908, and continues to operate today. It was not uncommon for long lines to form outside the library as eager readers thronged the branch.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352804
BPL Brownsville Library, interior image Brownsville, December 19, 1908
Call # CARN 0009
Designed by architecture firm Lord & Hewlett, the branch often suffered from overcrowding, as evidenced in this photograph from 1908. The Brownsville Children’s Library (now the Stone Avenue Branch) was built nearby in 1914 to ease the strain on library resources.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11352803
BPL Eastern Parkway Library, exterior image Eastern Parkway, July 7, 1914.
Call # CARN 0057
The Eastern Parkway Branch opened in the Crown Heights neighborhood, at 1044 Eastern Parkway, on July 7, 1914. It was designed by architect Raymond F. Almirall, who designed several other neighborhood branch libraries and also created the original plans for the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.
For more information:
https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11353330~S64
BPL Eastern Parkway Library, interior image Eastern Parkway, July 7, 1914.
Call # BPL 0699
The Eastern Parkway Branch, which is still operating today, features large windows bringing light onto the open reading room, a feature that is prominent in several of the Carnegie-era libraries.
For more information:
https://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11391236~S64
BPL Stone Avenue Library, exterior image Stone Avenue, September 24, 1914
Call # BPL 0367
Today’s Stone Avenue Branch at 581 Stone Avenue in Brownsville was opened on September 24, 1914 as the Brownsville Children’s Library. Just six blocks from the original Brownsville Branch, this building was constructed to cater to children in the neighborhood.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11401181
BPL Stone Avenue Library, interior image Stone Avenue, September 24, 1914
Call # BPL 0205
Designed by architect William B. Tubby, the building was created especially for children (and was reportedly the first library to be so), the library features whimsical details liked carved rabbit benches, child-scaled furniture and a cozy fireplace for reading.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11354688
BPL Washington Irving Library, exterior image Washington Irving, May 16, 1923
Call # BPL 1231
The last Carnegie library built in Brooklyn, Washington Irving was designed by a new architect, Edward L. Tilton, and opened May 16, 1923 at 360 Irving Avenue in Bushwick. The Tudor Revival style building diverges from its earlier predecessors, which were largely Classical Revival.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11403233
BPL Washington Irving Library, interior image Washington Irving, May 16, 1923
Call # BPL 1232
Originally called just the Irving Branch (after the street it was on), the name was changed in 1944 to honor the writer of “Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”, among other stories.
For more information: http://catalog.brooklynpubliclibrary.org/record=b11403238


For one hundred years, the Carnegie Libraries have been the setting for the core of Brooklyn Public Library's work: neighborhood service.

Andrew Carnegie's 1901 gift of library buildings allowed BPL to create permanent homes for books and programs within walking distance of every resident in every neighborhood.

Before these branches were built, the Library typically rented retail space to provide local service. These shopfronts, crowded, make-shift rooms with collections too small to meet public demand, offered little relief from the average home of the time. In the new branches, however, volume after volume in multiple languages filled spacious, bright reading rooms.

Literacy efforts and cultural programs brought education and delight to young and old. The joint efforts of architects and librarians created modern public spaces dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and entertainment, and every topic in between. These warm, welcoming libraries brought the larger institution of BPL to the people of Brooklyn.

Brooklyn's Carnegie Libraries