In 2008, we wrote about the opening of the Children's Center at 42nd Street in the main branch of the New York Public Library. Its three-year anniversary is coming up, so we thought it would be the perfect time to take a closer look at this fantastic family spot, the second in our series of Destination Libraries.
While the Children's Center at 42nd may not be as state-of-the-art as the new Children's Library Discovery Center in Queens, it is home to more than 50,000 books, hundreds of DVDs and CDs and, most impressively, the original Winnie-the-Pooh. Plus there's a slew of programming for children, everything from popular storytimes to live shows and concerts by acts like the Paper Bag Players or Gustafer Yellowgold, who normally charge for their performances.
With the weather turning nippier, my preschooler and I decided to head to midtown to check out all the Children's Center at 42nd Street has to offer.
The Children's Center at 42nd has bright murals depicting various New York City landmarks and neighborhoods covering its walls. Wall-to-wall carpeting provides a comfy place for sitting (or crawling), and there are ample sofas, tables and chairs. In addition to its large lending library, the center has eight computers where families can do catalog searches or go online.
The staff is particularly helpful. A handful of people were on duty when we visited and someone was always available to answer any questions. The rooms are also kept very orderly.
Several ongoing family programs are offered every week. You can find the complete list of upcoming events on the website. Keep in mind, room capacity is limited to 75 people, so arrive early to get your free tickets to popular programs.
For several years, the Children's Center has been home to the original Winnie-the-Pooh stuffed bear and his 100 Acre Wood pals. Owned by a real boy named Christopher Robin, these toys became the inspiration for his father A.A. Milne's stories.
The building is huge and the Children's Center is just a small part of it, so it's best to enter at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. The ramps lead stroller-pushers straight in from the sidewalk, and the Center is located on the ground floor. If you're traveling by subway, the Fifth Avenue-Bryant Park Station (B, D, F, M, 7) lets you off just steps away from the entrance.
The Children's Center at 42nd Street is located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building Ground Floor Room 84, 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, 212-621-0208. Open Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am-6pm; Tuesday and Wednesday 10am-8pm; Sunday 1-5pm.
Read about other Destination Libraries or other indoor fun in our Inside Activity Guide.