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Film > Ghostbusters > Filming Locations > New York Filming Locations - New York Public Library
New York Public Library

New York Public Library
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, NY 10018

* Google Maps street view

History - written by Chris Buchner (used with permission)
The New York public library is one of the largest library branches in the world. Near the end of the 19th Century, however, New York City was still growing and only had two important libraries. One was the Astor, created with the financial aid of John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), who was a German immigrant and the wealthiest man in America at the time of his death. The other was the Lenox, founded by James Lenox (1800-1883) who was a philanthropist and founder of the New York Presbyterian Hospital. The library housed his large collection of paintings and books.

By 1892, both libraries were suffering financially, threatening New York's only library system to fail. Samuel J. Tilden (1814-1886), a former governor, believed a growing city like New York needed it's own free library system and left $2.4 million of his personal fortune to that cause. John Bigelow, an attorney and Tilden trustee, formed a plan where the Astor, Lenox and Tilden's money would combine to form a new entity to be called the New York Public Library.

The Library would be built on the Croton Reservoir which spanned from 40th Street to 42nd Street along Fifth Avenue. John Shaw Billings, a brilliant librarian, was named director and sketched out what would become the earliest plans for the library's building. After a bidding process, the unknown firm of Carrère and Hastings was selected to design and build the library. Two years after dismantiling the reservoir and preparing the area for construction, the cornerstone was finally laid down in 1902.

The library was dedicated in May of 1911, exactly 16 years after Bigelow's plan was given the green light. On that day, one million books were placed inside the building and in attendance was President William H. Taft, Governor John Alden Dix and Mayor William J. Gaynor. The next day, the library was opened to the public, and the New York Public Library system had begun.

Today, there are branches of the Library dotted all over the five boroughs. They report numbers of 15 million people using them a year. The Library makes every effort in keeping with the times, adding in multimedia centers to most of the branches and allowing fast and easy access to every item they possess. The Library continues to grow and will remain an important part of New York forever.

Fun Facts
  • Filming took place inside the Main Reading Room on the third floor between 5 and 10 AM before the Library opened. The stacks however failed their auditions and were substituted with the stacks in the main branch of the L.A. library. (text written by Chris Buchner)
  • The Main Reading Room is actually split into a North and South section. Filming took place in the South wing and inside the office that divides the room. The sections can be distinguished by the Exit sign over the Southern side doorway that leads to the Art and Architecture Reading Room, where Peter and Ray entered from. (text written by Chris Buchner)
  • The two mighty stone lions that stand guard outside of the library were named Patience and Fortitude by President Teddy Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Fortitude, the lion on the right when looking towards the library, is the lion seen in the opening shot of the movie. (text written by Chris Buchner)
  • 20 Years Later: Recent renovations have improved many things inside the reading room, including new computer terminals and equipment. There are also new dedication stones embedded in the floor in recognition of major contributors. (text written by Chris Buchner)
  • The library is across the street from the fictitious Manhattan City Bank on 5th Avenue.

Movie Shots

Real World Photos


Ghostbusters (2016)
Paul Feig's ill-fated parody remake features a few locations from the original movies. While enroute to the Stonebrook Theatre in the new Ecto-1, the Ghostbusters turn off of Fifth Avenue and onto East 41st Street in front of the library. The second image below is an unused shot of the car making the same turn, taken from the "Meet The Team" featurette (at timecode 00:20) from the Blu-ray.

The movie has been released in Theatrical and Extended Cut versions on Blu-ray, DVD (Theatrical only), and 4K Ultra HD/3D Blu-ray/2D Blu-ray Combo Pack.

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Elfette Saves Christmas (2019)
Elfette (Brielle Carter) arrives in New York to save Santa (Quinton Aaron). One of the places she goes to look for him is at the New York Public Library.

The movie has been released on DVD, and was reviewed by me on The Corner Penthouse.

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Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
Detective Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) goes to the New York Public Library to research his prime suspect, Moses Randolph. He cuts a photo out of one of the periodicals, which is something the library staff definitely frowns upon.

The movie has been released on Blu-ray, and DVD, and was reviewed by me on The Corner Penthouse.

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