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4 Places to Write in Peace in NYC

TBEX ’10 is coming up in June, which means travel writers from around the world will be looking for a place to plug in their laptop and get some work done.

Here are 4 of my favorite places where you can write in peace in New York City.

1. New York Public Library’s Schwartzman Building:

This is the principal branch of the library–the one with the lions out front– and it has all kinds of spaces where you can write in peace.

The main reading room is famously impressive, with enormously high ceilings, long communal tables, brassy reading lamps, and gleaming polished floors.

Main Reading Room

You should take a walk through this room, but you  might find the Periodicals Room, located on the entry level, less crowded. If you need to plug in, you can use the third floor’s room designated especially for Internet and computer use. Though there’s WiFi throughout the building, outlets are few and far between unless you use this room.

Open: Daily. Check current schedule for hours.

Location: 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. Closest trains are the 7 (Fifth Avenue stop) and B, V, F, and D (42nd St/Fifth Avenue/Bryant Park stop).  It’s also a more or less equidistant walk from Times Square and Grand Central.

2. Bryant Park:

If it’s sunny, pack up and head out to Bryant Park, which is directly behind the library. The entire park is WiFi enabled and you’ll find adequate space to spread out and work and one of the dozens of cafe tables in the park. Kiosks that sell coffee, pastries and sandwiches anchor the northwest end of the park, and if you’re feeling childlike, there’s a carousel on the south side of the park.

Open: Daily.

Location: 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan. Closest trains are the 7 (Fifth Avenue stop) and B, V, F, and D (42nd St/Fifth Avenue/Bryant Park stop).

3. Poets House:

Poets House has always been a refuge for its loyalists, but has become a destination now that it has moved to a glass-fronted space facing the Hudson River.

Poets House

It would be hard not to get writing done here, surrounded by shelves of books and journals, comfortable seats, and clean, welcoming writing spaces. It’s a quiet space, with the books and the tempting Hudson River Park the only possible distractions.

Open: Tuesday–Friday, 11:00am–7:00pm; Saturday, 11:00am–6:00pm

Location: 10 River Terrace, Battery Park City, Lower Manhattan. 1, 2, 3, A or C trains to Chambers Street Station. Walk west (that’s toward the river) along Chambers and take a left at River Terrace.

4. Scandinavia House:

Few people know about all of NYC’s cultural “houses,” one of which is  Scandinavia House. There’s no WiFi in the library at Scandinavia House, but you’re writing, not tweeting, right?

Go hungry: Scandinavia House has a cafe on site.

Open: Wednesday, Thursday, & Saturday, 12-5 pm

Location: 58 Park Avenue. 4, 5, 6, 7, or S to 42nd Street/Grand Central Station, then walk 4 blocks south.


I’ll periodically offer other ideas about what to see and do while you’re in New York. If you have specific questions, please leave them in the comments or email me at writingjulie[at]gmail[dot]com.


All Photos by Francisco Collazo.


Poll: Will I see you at TBEX?

I’ve been invited by Kim Mance to be a panelist  at TBEX10, a travel bloggers’ conference taking place here in NYC in late June. I’ll be speaking about travel writing and ethics.

I’m curious to know whether you’ll be at TBEX. If so, where will you be coming from, will you be staying beyond the conference, and what do you expect from the conference? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


If you’re interested in travel writing and ethics, be sure to read Do Freebies Undermine Honesty in Travel Writing? by David Page.