The arched windows, blacked out in case of air raids during World War II, are clear again. The new technology of the 1990s -- Internet access -- has been added to the new technology of 1911 -- incandescent lighting. And the cathedral ceiling, a mess of brown blotches, has been repainted to look like a sky.
With the oak desks refinished, chandeliers regilded and work stations rewired to accommodate laptops, the restoration of the New York Public Library's grandest space -- its third-floor reading room -- is complete. All that remains to be added are the readers; the room will be opened to the public on Nov. 16, after some 25,000 books are reshelved.
Many famous authors have worked in the Reading Room, among them Norman Mailer, Isaac Bashevis Singer and E.L. Doctorow.
Monday, library President Paul LeClerc and the architect in charge of the restoration, Lew Davis, gave a tour of the 18-month restoration project.
Plaster walls were repaired, wooden furniture and shelves were stripped and refinished till they gleamed, and green paint was removed from the bronze lamp shades.