I can still remember the first time I visited the New York Public Library.

I moved to New York as a young adult. As an avid reader, I always felt comfortable in libraries; but this library felt like the queen of them all.

Besides housing millions of books, there was history here. The library housed one of the first books printed with movable type, the Gutenberg Bible. Constantly changing exhibits meant there was always something new to see. The architecture was amazing.

And then, there was the Rose Room.

Officially named the Rose Main Reading Room, it measures 78 by 297 feet, or roughly the length of two city blocks. It's an island of serenity in the most bustling of cities, a place to read, reflect, and silently meditate in a world where such locations are no longer easy to find.

The Rose Room has been closed for two years after a piece of the plaster ceiling suddenly fell one day in May, 2014. Resulting repairs escalated into a $12 million restoration, which included:

  • Recreating and replacing the rosette that fell
  • Reinforcing all 900 rosettes in both rooms with steel cables
  • Enlisting renowned muralists EverGreene Architectural Arts to recreate a 27 by 33-foot mural on the ceiling of the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room
  • Working with Aurora Lighting to restore the Room's chandeliers, including putting in LED lights
  • Installation of a new, modern conveyor system to bring materials from underground storage to the Rose Room

A small group was recently invited to get an early look at the newly renovated space, and here are some of their photographs, posted on Instagram:

A photo posted by Neil Shea (@neilshea13) on Oct 5, 2016 at 4:45pm PDT

I moved away from New York a few years ago, but the Rose Room and the library will always hold a place in my heart. If you ever get the chance to tour, or at least pay a visit, I strongly encourage you to do so.

Just one thing: As you enjoy the silence, don't forget to take in the scenery.