Behind the Doors of Secret NYPL Apartments

Straight out of an insane asylum or perhaps a book lover’s creepy dream, are the Carnegie library’s secret apartments. The apartments were vacated with the eradication of the coal furnace. The families began to move out and soon, there was nothing left but peeling wallpaper and dusty magazines. The last apartment was abandoned as late as the 2000s. 

Bustle says, “If you look at advertisements from 1949, you’ll see custodian positions advertised with a salary of $60.83 a month and a spacious five room apartment.” Honestly, what book lover wouldn’t want to literally live inside of a library? 

According to AtlasObscura

When these libraries were built, about a century ago, they needed people to take care of them. Andrew Carnegie had given New York $5.2 million, worth well over $100 million today, to create a city-wide system of library branches, and these buildings, the Carnegie libraries, were heated by coal. Each had a custodian, who was tasked with keeping those fires burning and who lived in the library, often with his family. 

Here’s some good news that makes these apartments seem a little less haunted: According to Bustle, the New York Public Library is renovating these apartments, which are “only 13 left (including two in non-Carnegie buildings) — and [have ]fallen into disrepair.” 

As you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done. Below, you can see a mock-up of the Washington Heights renovation. There’s no timeline as to when they will be available for rent, but there’s one thing we know for certain: they will be expensive!  

Image courtesy of New York Public Library



Photos courtesy image courtesy of AtlasObscura and Bustle