Photo courtesy of NYPL
The projects represent a significant investment for libraries in the South Bronx, including improvements to Mott Haven Library
Historic library branches in the South Bronx are undergoing extensive renovations, representing a significant investment in long-term service for the community. Improvement projects are in progress for Melrose, Hunts Point, and Mott Haven libraries, which have served patrons for generations.
This spring, the Library launched the start of two full renovations of the Melrose and Hunts Point libraries, which opened to the public in 1914 and 1929, respectively, and were built with funds provided by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. In addition to building upgrades, the projects will expand the amount of available space. Melrose Library will receive a new third floor (which was lost in a fire decades ago) and the Hunts Point Library will repurpose its custodial apartment, a space that was used decades ago as living quarters for staff who were tasked with maintaining the branch’s old coal furnace, which is unused and inaccessible today. That space will hold the building’s HVAC Managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation with Mitchell Giurgola Architects, the branches are expected to reopen in the summer of 2023.
Mott Haven Library, another historic Carnegie branch in the South Bronx that opened in 1905, is also undergoing improvements, including a new HVAC system for heating and cooling the building, as well as rehabilitation and replacement of its windows. The branch is expected to reopen early next year.
The Library hosted a site visit with City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr. and Deputy Bronx Borough President Marricka Scott-McFadden today for a walkthrough of the Melrose branch, representing the vital work being done to support libraries in the community. The renovations of Melrose and Hunts Point are also part of historic funding of $100 million provided by the City to update and modernize five Carnegie branches in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island (The other branches are Port Richmond Library on Staten Island and Fort Washington and 125th Street libraries in Manhattan).
“The transformation of these three beautiful, historic branches represents a significant investment in the South Bronx, and a commitment to providing the best possible service and access to opportunity to this community for generations to come,” said Anthony Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “With the generous support of the City and our elected officials, these projects will allow us to expand the services and programs available in the neighborhood, and we look forward to this exciting next chapter for the South Bronx.”
Work at Melrose and Hunts Point will include:
- a fully accessible entrance at Melrose and a new ramp for Hunts Point, as well as other accessibility upgrades,
- a new elevator for Melrose and an updated elevator at Hunts Point,
- designated reading areas for children, teens, and adults, as well as community rooms for programming,
- upgraded technology throughout the buildings
- upgrades to HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems,
- new stairs, flooring, lighting and more.
The designs were informed by the Library’s “Building for You” campaign, which incorporated recommendations from Library staff, as well as feedback from the community through a public survey conducted to ensure the branches continue to meet the contemporary needs of the neighborhood.
“Libraries truly are the backbone of our communities as they provide people of all ages with critical access to literary resources, computers, educational and career development, and invaluable community programming,’ stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca, 17th Council District, The Bronx. ‘As someone who frequented my neighborhood library often as a kid, I know the profound lasting influence libraries have on our youth. That is why I am proud to have allocated more than $1.4 million in capital funding during my tenure in the City Council to facilitate the critical improvements many of our historical libraries desperately need.”
“Libraries are critical for our youth, to nurture their love of reading while creating lifelong fans of literature, and they play a key role in communities as meeting places, education centers and public spaces at no cost to our residents,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, we have seen the need for Bronx residents to have access to the space and resources public libraries provide. The renovations of these three historic library branches in the South Bronx will be a tremendous benefit to the community, and that is why I am proud to have allocated over $1.3 million dollars in capital funding towards these upgrades, and I thank everyone who has made this possible.”
“New York City’s libraries are more than a place to check out books, they are the much-loved cultural heart of many neighborhoods,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “We are proud to work with the New York Public Library to renovate these historic Bronx branches that will provide the Melrose, Mott Haven, and Hunts Point neighborhoods with a wide range of learning opportunities and curated entertainment.”
The Library is grateful to Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz, Jr., City Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr.,City Council Member Diana Ayala, and the NYC Economic Development Corp. for their support of these important Bronx projects.
For more information about the Library’s capital projects, patrons can visit https://www.nypl.org/capitalprojects.
About The New York Public Library
For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.