Boston Public Library

700 Boylston St Bostonundefined

Boston Literary Landmarks/Boston Public Library
City of Boston Arts
Written By City of Boston Arts

The Mayor's Office of Arts + Culture for Boston. We foster the growth of the cultural community in Boston and promote participation in the arts.

Founded in 1848, the Boston Public Library was the first free municipal library in the United States. At first, the library was housed in a former schoolhouse on Mason Street, but the location was far too small to house the library's collection of 16,000 volumes.

After outgrowing its first few sites, the BPL settled into its present Copley Square location in 1895 when architect Charles Follen McKim completed what he called his "palace for the people."

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In the 1800s the Boston Public Library began working on its "branch system." This system would expand the library's presence throughout the city, and by the 1900s there were over 21 different branches throughout the neighborhoods of Boston.

Today the library has over 23 million items. From rare books, manuscripts, maps, musical scores and newspapers, the BPL has everything from first edition folios by Shakespeare to the personal library of John Adams. Last year over 3.7 million people visited the Boston Public Library system, and the library is still growing to this day.

[Cover Photo Credit: Little Koshka via Flickr]

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