I have recently learned that there is a book bunker below the Bryant Park. This is a concrete-encased and climate-controlled book vault with 55,600 square feet of space that extends west from the main branch of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue.
I have daily walks in the Bryant Park. I walk past the library every day on my way to the Bryant Park. I never knew that they were building this underground book vault. There were no external signs of construction. The NYT article explains it:
“The new research stacks hold part of the archive that had been kept in storage space under the main reading room — seven floors of century-old metal shelves — that library officials said was no longer suitable for preserving the approximately 2.5 million research materials kept there. Library officials moved the volumes out in 2013, intending to keep them at the library’s storage center in New Jersey, but still make them available to users.
But after critics assailed a plan to renovate those seven floors into a lending library and public space, library officials decided to renovate space beneath Bryant Park with an $8 million donation from Abby and Howard Milstein, longtime library benefactors, to house the bulk of the research material.
The space under the park was originally excavated in the 1980s into two levels, but only the upper level was opened, in 1991, and now stores 1.5 million books and special collection materials. The lower level remained unfinished and unused until it was converted into the Milstein stacks.
Both levels extend westward from the main Stephen A. Schwarzman building. The Milstein stacks will provide quick access to the materials and also preserve them for future generations, library officials said, adding that the fate of the old seven-floor storage space has not been decided.”