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A place for quiet reading in noisy New York
By Tom Adkinson

new york reading room
Reading Room Park reader; image by Tom Adkinson

NEW YORK – Except during a period of self-isolation during a viral pandemic, New York is one of the most cacophonous places imaginable, making quiet outdoor retreats such as the Reading Room at Herald Square Park all the more notable and appealing. Even during the self-isolation period, the tables are available for readers who know to keep a safe distance from each other.

The Reading Room is a project of the 34thStreet Partnership, an organization of property owners, tenants and city officials who pay special attention to a 31-block district in Midtown Manhattan. Newspapers and magazines are provided for free, and in normal times, a coordinator often is on hand to assist visitors. The rules are simple: No cell phone calls, no musical devices, use conversations tones, minors must be accompanied, and return reading materials to their designated racks.

reading room park statue
Reading Room Park statue; image by Tom Adkinson

A statue of Minerva and two bell ringers, nicknamed Guff and Stuff, add decoration to the shaded location. The sculpture piece is the Bennett Clock, named for James Gordon Bennett, and originally was positioned above the cornice of the building that housed Bennett’s New York Herald, where he was publisher. The park, of course, takes its name from the long-ago newspaper.

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published April 10, 2020

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