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Rethinking Andrew Carnegie’s Library Gift to New York City

“They were meant as a generous gift: 67 library branches across New York City, funded with $5 million given by Andrew Carnegie after the turn of the 20th century. Built with decorative flourishes and grand entrances, dozens still stand as stately ideals of a public edifice. But sometimes, the industrialist’s gift can feel like a burden. The so-called Carnegie branches, built between 1902 and 1929, are costlier than others to repair, maintain and upgrade, said officials with the city’s three library systems. The buildings generally aren’t handicapped accessible, and their layouts don’t always serve modern needs. Many are landmarked, making renovations pricier.” (via

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