West End Synagogue, Upper West Side, NYC


What looks like a public library is actually now a synagogue. Continuing our trend of examining the lesser known buildings of the Lincoln Square Redevelopment Project, this is the former Riverside Branch of the New York Public Library. It was built in 1965-69 by architect Lewis M. Slingerland, who was based in the New York City region and did mid-century buildings for colleges, universities (including his alma mater Syracuse) and military sites, among others.

Before urban renewal came to the area, this site previously held a Carnegie Library, which was demolished along with the majority of the neighborhood. The new building remained a library until sometime around 1990, when it was bought by a congregation who were looking for a physical home. It was renovated in 1997 by Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg to house the synagogue. The Riverside Branch of the NYPL is now just down the block at 127 Amsterdam Avenue.

IMG_6059The congregation kept the exterior mid-century elements including the expansive glass windows with metal framing and stone aggregate facade panels. Less typical is that they decided to leave the words “The New York Public Library” carved into the cornice line across the front so passersby would know the former history of this little structure.

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