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The Rose Reading Room and the Real Meaning of “Luxury” in New York City

To say that the ceiling of the Rose Main Reading Room, at the New York Public Library’s main building, on Fifth Avenue—the biggest room in the biggest public-library branch in the country’s biggest city—is an ornate piece of work is putting it mildly. Even by the building’s Beaux-Arts standards, there are a lot of gilded curlicues and cornucopias and flute-playing cherubs cavorting up there, around celestial murals of soft pink clouds.
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