Kingston Travel ItineraryKingston Travel Itinerary

Kingston City Libary

Kingston City Library
Photograph by John E. Reinhardt
The Kingston City Library, situated near other prominent municipal buildings in the city, is a vivid reminder of one of the 20th century's most remarkable philanthropic efforts. In 1853, at the age of 18, Andrew Carnegie began work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a telegrapher. With several shrewd investments, Carnegie soon found himself a wealthy man, but did not begin to accumulate his staggering fortune until he opened his first steel mills in the 1870s. In 1901, Carnegie became the world's richest man when he sold the Carnegie Steel Company for $450 million dollars (approximately $ 8.6 billion today.) During his years as a giant of American industry, Carnegie established a reputation for ruthlessness, instructing his business partners to brutally put down union strikes and repeatedly slash the wages of the workers who made him rich. After the sale of Carnegie Steel, Carnegie threw his full energies into philanthropy and peace, perhaps hoping that donating his wealth to charitable causes would mitigate the grimy details of its accumulation. In the public memory, he may have been correct. Today he is most remembered for his generous gifts of music halls, educational grants, and nearly 3000 public libraries. Kingston, like communities throughout the United States, decided to accept Carnegie's offer to pay for the construction of a free public library. To receive funds, Kingston had to furnish the site, preferably in the center of town, and agree to fund the library at ten percent of its cost per year. Kingston agreed, and in 1902 received $30,000 for the construction of a city library. An excellent example of the Classical Revival style that Carnegie architects used for many of the Carnegie libraries throughout the United States, the building was constructed of polished brown "Norman" brick and rests on a rough bluestone foundation. The entrances central pediment is supported by a pair of Ionic columns, and the frieze features a floral and book motif, reflecting the building's use as a library. The Kingston City Library has been used steadily throughout the 20th century, but was vacated in 1977 when library collections outgrew the building. Now owned by the Kingston Consolidated School System, suggestions have been made to use the building as a student computer center, a use Andrew Carnegie very well might have endorsed.

The old Kingston City Library is located at 399 Broadway, next to the Kingston High School. The building is currently not open to the public.

Itinerary Home | List of Sites | Main Map | Learn More | Next Site

Comments or Questions