The Boston Public Library (BPL) in Copley Square first opened its doors to the public on Sunday, February 3, 1895, and tomorrow marks the 125th anniversary of this iconic building’s opening. While this wasn’t the first home of the library, it is the only home anyone alive today would know.
The BPL is the 3rd largest public library in the United States behind only the U.S. Library of Congress and the New York City Public Library. However, it’s not the amazing amount of research nor its prized collections or priceless artwork that make this such a beloved institution.
The BPL anchors the west side of Copley Square in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. It is where many important cultural and sporting events take place; such as the finish line of the Boston Marathon.
Since 1897, every April (on Patriot’s Day) tens of thousands of runners cross in front of the Boston Library and every parade of note either lines up alongside or pass by these buildings.
The original building (a.k.a. The McKim building) and its gorgeous courtyard that was inspired by Rome’s Palazzo della Cancelleria are sanctuaries I go to often and places I show anyone who visits Boston. Bates Hall (shown below) on the second floor of the McKim Building features 50-foot-high barrel vault ceiling and is a must-see for any architecture enthusiasts. Travel + Leisure agrees with me too – check out their 2016 article about the BPL here.
Next time you’re in the Back Bay, take a few minutes to pay the BPL a visit and appreciate this cultural gem.