WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Northern Manhattan residents and elected officials raved about the renovated Washington Heights library Monday, saying it brought top-notch amenities to the neighborhood.
"It's just wonderful," said Washington Heights resident Malika Patterson. "The elevators are fabulous — it's much more open. It's first-class quality, same as anywhere else."
The 100-year-old library reopened Monday morning after a $12.4 million renovation that modernized three of its floors and added wheelchair-accessible features. The 17,000-square-foot library now has an airier design, with new furniture, elevators and wheelchair lifts, plus more than 60 new computers and two large touch-screen monitors.
The library also features 24 Apple iMacs. NYPL president Anthony Marx said the uptown branch was only the third in the system to feature Apple computers.
"This is an jewel in the middle of a desert," said Rep. Charles Rangel. "We are overjoyed that our young people won't have to go Downtown for anything."
"This is a beautiful library, with big, beautiful windows and the sun shining in," added state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who said the library was his local branch when he was growing up. "This is a special day."
The library closed in April 2010, forcing residents to travel to neighboring libraries to get books.
"We tried the library on 148th Street, but it was too far out of the way," said Washington Heights mother Batia Eyob-Serrette, 40, who was greeted by Rangel as the congressman exited the library.
"We used to come here all the time, and we were really sad when it closed."
Patterson, 50, said she had traveled to the Lincoln Center branch for years.
"I went because I liked the comfy chairs," Patterson said. "Now we have comfy chairs of our own."