Bushwick Library - Local History & Photos

Welcome to Bushwick Branch, August 2000 Architectural Detail, August 2000 Technology Available to Public, August 2000 Young Adult Reading, August 2000 Interior View, August 2000 Interior, Patrons, August 2000 Interior View, Young Adult, August 2000 Bushwick Library, c.1908 Interior, Children, c.1910 Librarians and Children, c.1910 Interior, Librarian, c.1940s Exterior View, c.1970s Celebration in Front of Branch, c.1970s Branch Librarian with Children, 1972 Princess and Prince of Bushwick, c.1970s Black Reflections, c.1970s
Branch History

The first Bushwick Branch was housed in the rented ground floor of a church at Montrose Avenue and Humboldt Street. This building burned in early 1903, and the library moved to to its present site on Bushwick Avenue near Seigel Street. The present Carnegie building, designed by Raymond F. Almirall, opened to the public on December 16, 1908.

During the early years of the Bushwick Branch, the surrounding community was characterized by overcrowded tenements occupied largely by Russian Jews, although there was also a growing Italian population, many of whom lived on Humboldt Street between Johnson and Montrose Avenues. In spite of these conditions, or perhaps because of them, the Bushwick Branch library became a refuge for thousands of people in the community. In fact, by 1916, the Bushwick Branch enjoyed the highest circulation of any branch in the system at the time.

As the twentieth century moved forward, the surrounding community changed and circulation declined. Unfortunately, in 1957 the branch was forced to close for renovations, and did not open again for more than four years. When it did re-open, it was known as the Family Reading Center and carried the distinction of being the first branch to specifically serve the burgeoning Puerto Rican population with a Puerto Rican-born children's librarian.

Famous Facts

Bushwick was one of the six original towns of Brooklyn during Dutch rule. It was established as Boswijck (Heavy Woods) in 1960. In addition to the Library (1908) notable area buildings include The Reformed Church of South Bushwick at 15 Himrod Street (1853) and St. Mark's Lutheran Church and School at 626 Bushwick Avenue (1892).

-- Rawson, Elizabeth Reich, ed. "Bushwick." in The Encyclopedia of New York City. Ed. Kenneth T. Jackson. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955. 171-172.