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Ottendorfer Library

Ottendorfer Libary Stuyvesant Polyclinic and Ottendorfer Library

Detail of the Polyclinic
Photographs by Suzanne Wilson.

Anna Ottendorfer (1815-1884), publisher, philanthropist

The Stuyvesant Polyclinic Hospital and the Ottendorfer Branch Library represent the philanthropy of Anna Ottendorfer, a 19th-century German immigrant and German language newspaper publisher dedicated to providing charitable support to New York's German immigrants. The design of these two adjoining buildings reflects a neo-Italian Renaissance style, while the ornate decorative elements symbolize Ottendorfer's efforts to promote a sense of ethnic pride. The goal of the library and clinic was, in the words of Mrs. Ottendorfer, dedicated to "uplifting both the body and mind of fellow Germans in the United States." Although Anna Ottendorfer died shortly before the opening of either the library or clinic, her devotion to social causes was recognized world-wide, culminating in a 1883 gold medal presentation by the German Empress. The Ottendorfer Library was donated to New York City in early 1884, and with its opening on December 7, 1884, it became the first branch of the New York Free Circulating Library. It is currently the oldest branch of the City Library system still in its original building. The Stuyvesant Clinic dispensed free medical care to German immigrants on the Lower East Side, attempting to compensate for the appalling health conditions immigrants faced. The clinic also provided training to medical students, creating a roster of professionals who provided health services to New York's German immigrants.

The Ottendorfer Public Library and Stuyvesant Polyclinic Hospital are located at 135 and 137 Second Ave. in New York City, NY. The Library is open to visitors during normal library hours. The Stuyvesant Polyclinic is an operating medical facility.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST