White Plains Library History

1899

At the Library 1899

The White Plains Public Library’s charter is signed by Melville Dewey of Dewey Decimal System fame. The Library is housed in a small frame building adjoining the old Court Street School. Its book collection numbers 800 volumes and circulation is 4,300. The annual budget is $1,000, and staff consists of one librarian, Director Clara Hopper, whose annual stipend was $300.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 74,799,000
  • White Plains Population: 7,969
  • US President: William McKinley
  • Village President / Board of Trustees: Samuel C. Miller
  • Average income: $426
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $2,150.
1 Dozen Eggs: 21¢
1 Pound Bread: 5¢
1 Gallon Milk: 27¢

Top Picks

  • Play – Barbara Fritchie
  • Best Seller - When Knighthood was in Flower by Charles Major
  • Hit Tunes – Heart of My Heart, Always, My Wild Irish Rose, Hello, My Baby

You Can Look It Up

  • Aspirin was discovered
  • Sousaphone, named after John P. Sousa, invented
  • Coca Cola was first bottled
  • Oysters Rockefeller invented at Antoine’s
  • First Rover Boy adventure released by Edward Stratemeyer

Born this year

  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Hart Crane
  • Humphrey Bogart
  • Duke Ellington

1909

At the Library 1909

The Library is now located in a handsome new red-brick Georgian library on the corner of Quarropas and Grand Streets, built through a gift of $22,000 from library-minded financier Andrew Carnegie. The collection numbers almost 10,000 books and circulation in the modern “new” building during its first full year of operation is 59,900.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 90,490,000
  • White Plains Population: 15,949
  • US President: William Howard Taft
  • Village President / Board of Trustees: Frederick S. Barnum
  • Average Income: $518
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $2,575
New Ford: $9501
Dozen Eggs: 32¢
1 Pound Bread: 5¢
1 Gallon Milk: 32¢

Top Picks

  • Movie — The Lonely Villa
  • Best Seller — The Man in Lower Ten by Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • World Series Champs – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Hit Tunes – By The Light of The Silvery Moon, Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland, I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now

You Can Look It Up

  • Admiral Perry reaches the North Pole
  • GE markets first toaster
  • Queensborough Bridge completed
  • First Model-T Ford roles off the assembly line
  • Kewpie Doll patented by Rose Cecil O’Neill

Born this year

  • Katharine Hepburn
  • James Agee
  • Eddie Duchin
  • Ann Southern

1919

At the Library 1919

A growing community has growing needs. During this decade White Plains incorporates as a City. The Library, sorely in need of space, builds new north and south wings with an additional $18,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation. Circulation has doubled to over 100,000.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 104,514,000
  • White Plains Population: 21,031
  • US President: Woodrow Wilson
  • Mayor, City of White Plains: Ffarington M. Thompson
  • Average Income: $1,158
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $4,000
New Ford: $525
1 Dozen Eggs: 25¢
1 Pound Bread: 10¢
1 Gallon Milk: 62¢

Top Picks

  • Movie – Male and Female
  • Best Seller – The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by V. Blasco Ibannez
  • World Series Champs – Cincinnati Reds
  • Hit Tunes — Swanee, How Ya’ Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm, A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody

You Can Look It Up

  • 18th Amendment heralds beginning of Prohibition
  • Dial telephones introduced
  • RCA founded
  • “Up-side-down” air-mail stamp issued
  • Babe Ruth joins Yankees
  • Gasoline Alley comic strip begins
  • Eskimo Pie “I-Scream Bar” patented

Born this year

  • Eva Peron
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Nat “King” Cole
  • Celeste Holm

1929

At the Library 1929

The Library has added much needed stack space, a Reference Room to fill growing information needs and a Story Room for children. Miss Hopper records in her diary that “almost eighty children attended the first story hour”. Circulation in 1929 tops 260,000.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 121,767,000
  • White Plains Population: 35,603
  • US President: Herbert Hoover
  • Mayor of White Plains: Frederick C. McLaughlin
  • Average Income: $1,574
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $4,825
New Ford: $695
1 Gallon Gas: 21¢
1 Pound Bread: 9¢
1 Gallon Milk: 58¢

Top Picks

  • Movie — Broadway Melody
  • Best Seller — All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  • World Series Champs – Philadelphia Athletics
  • Hit Tunes — Star Dust, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Happy Days Are Here Again, More Than You Know

You Can Look It Up

  • Stock Market crashes
  • Ford introduces first station wagon
  • Burma Shave signs appear on highways
  • Gerber baby foods introduced
  • First use of penicillin by Alexander Fleming
  • Amos and Andy debuts on radio

Born this year:

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
  • Beverly Sills
  • Dick Clark

1939

At the Library 1939

Miss Hopper retires after 40 years. Isabel Douglas Clark is named new Library Director. The Library installs a telephone switchboard and Director Clark reports that “an average of 15 calls a day has been received, many of them for information or research assistance”. Staff answers over 70 “in-person” questions each day. Circulation tops 360,000. John Rosch, in his classic 1939 book, Historic White Plains, describes the library as “growing ever more popular” and calls it “A University of the Public.”

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 131,028,000
  • White Plains Population: 35,604
  • US President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Mayor of White Plains: Chauncey T. S. Fish
  • Average Income: $2,163
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $3,850
New Ford: $680
1 Gallon Gas: 19¢
1 Pound Bread: 8¢
1 Gallon Milk: 48¢

Top Picks

  • Movie — Gone With the Wind
  • Best Seller – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Radio Show – Blondie, Silver Theater
  • World Series Champs – New York Yankees
  • Hit Tunes – God Bless America, In The Mood, Over the Rainbow, And The Angels Sing

You Can Look It Up

  • Britain and France declare War on Germany
  • Birds-Eye markets first frozen food
  • Batman comic strip debuts
  • Lou Gehrig retires
  • Bronx-Whitestone Bridge opens
  • GE introduces fluorescent lights
  • First paperback books published

Born this year

  • Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Neill Sedaka
  • Liv Ullman

1949

At the Library 1949

The Library marks its 50th Anniversary. We celebrate with two open houses; a radio broadcast, The Next Fifty Years on WFAS, a poster contest arranged by Library Trustee and noted White Plains artist, Edmund F. Ward; a window display at B. Altman’s The Library’s Golden Chain of Years; a new library handbook and an amnesty week.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 149,188,000
  • White Plains Population: 40,327
  • US President: Harry S. Truman
  • Mayor of White Plains: Silas S. Clark
  • Average Income: $3,107
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $7,450
New Ford: $1,315
1 Gallon Gas: 27¢
1 Pound Bread: 14¢
1 Gallon Milk: 84¢

Top Picks

  • Movie — All The King’s Men
  • Best Seller — The Egyptian by Mika Waltari
  • TV Show — The Life of Riley
  • World Series Champs — New York Yankees
  • Hit Tunes – Far Away Places, Mule Train Dear Hearts and Gentle People, Again

You Can Look It Up

  • NATO treaty signed
  • Cortisone synthesized
  • Radio Free Europe begins operations
  • Suzy Parker is Revlon’s “Fire and Ice” model
  • Pillsbury Bake-Off inaugurated
  • Sara Lee Cheesecake introduced

Born this year

  • Jessica Lange
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Meryl Streep

1959

At the Library 1959

The Friends of the Library are involved in such valuable services as an Art Committee for Library exhibitions, a Music Committee which oversees the record collection and a Concert Committee which appears at nursing homes. The Library’s 1959 Annual Report commends the Friends Volunteer Shut-in Service for “taking books to 33 active readers on five routes.”

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 177,073,000
  • White Plains Population: 50,485
  • US President: Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Mayor of White Plains: Richard S. Hendey
  • Average Income: $5,417
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $13,350
New Ford: $2,143
Gallon Gas: 30¢
1 Pound Bread: 20¢
1 Gallon Milk: $1.02

Top Picks

  • Movie — Ben Hur
  • Best Seller — Exodus by Leon Uris
  • TV Show — Gunsmoke
  • World Series Champs — Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Hit Tunes — Venus, Put Your Head on My Shoulder, Teenager in Love, Kansas City

You Can Look It Up

  • Alaska and Hawaii became 49th and 50th states
  • Hovercrafts are introduced
  • Sony markets first portable transistorized TV
  • Quiz show and “payola” scandals erupt
  • Barbie doll introduced
  • Post Office ban on “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is lifted

Born this year

  • Marie Osmond
  • John McEnroe
  • Sheena Easton
  • Linda Blair

1969

At the Library 1969

Under the guidance of Library Director May Virginia K. Valencik, plans for the new Library have finally become a reality. The property on Martine and Grove has been purchased, architects’ plans approved, and preparations for a gala groundbreaking are underway. It is “business as usual” at the library, as staff answers almost 80,000 reference questions and circulation tops 330,000.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 202,677,000
  • White Plains Population: 50,125
  • US President: Richard M. Nixon
  • Mayor of White Plains: Richard S. Hendey
  • Average Income: $9,433
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $25,600
New Ford: $3,278
1 Gallon Gas: 35¢
1 Pound Bread: 23¢
1 Gallon Milk: $1.35

Top Picks

  • Movie — Midnight Cowboy
  • Best Seller — Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
  • TV Show — The Beverly Hillbillies
  • World Series Champs – “Amazin’” New York Mets
  • Hit Tunes — Leavin’ on a Jet Plane, Games People Play, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head

You Can Look It Up

  • Neil Armstrong lands on moon
  • First Concorde SST flight
  • Sesame Street debuts on TV
  • Doonsbury comic strip debuts
  • Woodstock Festival draws 300,000
  • Rod Laver wins tennis Grand Slam
  • Thor Heyerdall crosses Atlantic on papyrus raft
  • 3,600,000 babies born in US this year

Born this year

  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Ken Griffey Jr.
  • Chastity Bono
  • Steffi Graf

1979

At the Library 1979

Our modern, award-winning building, opened in 1974, stands at the crossroads of the City, opposite the new Galleria Mall. We’re a full-time library, open seven days a week. The Library Director, who was appointed in 1976, is Orrin B. Dow. Circulation is almost half-a-million. More than 30,000 people of all ages attend such library “happenings” as our Holiday Party, Halloween Window Paint-in, Great Kite Fly-Out and Children’s Street Fair.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 223,880,000
  • White Plains Population: 46,999
  • US President: Jimmy Carter
  • Mayor of White Plains: Alfred Del Vecchio
  • Average Income: $22,178
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $62,900
New Ford: $6,474
1 Gallon Gas: 88¢
1 Pound Bread: 50¢
1 Gallon Milk: $1.61

Top Picks

  • Movie — Kramer vs. Kramer
  • Best Seller – The Matarese Circle by Robert Ludlum
  • TV Show – Happy Days
  • World Series Champs – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Hit Songs – I’ll Never Love This Way Again, You Decorated My Life, Please Don’t Go

You Can Look It Up

  • Voyager transmits pictures of Jupiter
  • Mother Theresa wins Nobel Peace Prize
  • Soviets invade Afghanistan
  • Tracy Austin at 16 youngest U.S. Open winner
  • Interferon and leprosy vaccine developed
  • Susan B. Anthony dollar minted
  • 3,494,000 babies born in U.S.

Born this year

  • Brandy
  • Keisha Knight Pulliam
  • Rachael Leigh Cook
  • Claire Danes

1989

At the Library 1989

Sandra Miranda is named Library Director – the fifth in the Library’s 90-year history. We mark nine decades of service to the people of White Plains with an all-out Into the 90′s celebration. Annual circulation is almost 600,000 and over half-a-million people came through our doors this year. In an average month, almost 50,000 searches are done on LUIS, our powerful on-line catalog. Work begins on a long-range plan to set the Library’s course for the next decade.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population: 247,360,000
  • White Plains Population: 45,000
  • US President: George Bush
  • Mayor of White Plains: Alfred DelVecchio
  • Average Income: $27,225
  • Average Cost of:

3 Bedroom Home: $120,000
New Car: $15,403
1 Pound Bread: 69¢
1 Gallon Gas: 97¢
1 Gallon Milk: $2.62

Top Picks

  • Movie – Driving Miss Daisy
  • Best Seller – Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy
  • TV Show – The Cosby Show
  • World Series Champs – Oakland A’s
  • Hit Tunes – Wind Beneath My Wings, Love Shack, Nick of Time

You Can Look It Up

  • Savings & Loan bail-out costs $159 million
  • Berlin Wall is torn down
  • Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini dies
  • Hurricane Hugo devastates East Coast
  • 11 million gallon Exxon Valdez oil spill
  • Million student demonstration in Tienammen Square crushed
  • 4,041,000 babies are born in the U.S.

1999

At the Library 1999

The Library embarks on the Millenium with a gala Centennial Celebration. Many average people, ranging from youngsters to senior citizens, search, learn, discover and create on our Cyberspot and Cyberkids computers each month. The White Plains Library Foundation is successfully launched, with its A $Million To Grow On Campaign designed to ensure the future strength of the Library’s collections, programs and services.

Matters of Fact

  • US Population (est.)
  • White Plains Population (est.)
  • US President: William J. Clinton
  • Mayor of White Plains: Joseph Delfino
  • Average Income (est.)
  • Average Cost of:

Three Bedroom Home:
New Ford Taurus:
Loaf of Bread:
1 Gallon Gas:
1 Gallon Milk:

Top Picks

  • Movie – Shakespeare in Love
  • Best Seller –
  • TV Show –
  • World Series Champs — New York Yankees
  • Hit Tunes –

You Can Look It Up

  • President Clinton impeached and acquitted

2009

At the Library 2009

Coming soon!

Our Hours:

Mon-Thu: 10am-9pm
Fri: 10am-6pm
Sat: 10am-5pm
Sun: 1pm-5pm
Closed on City Holidays

Our Full Contact Information
Contact Us:

Call us: 914-422-1400
Text us: WPPL to 66746
100 Martine Ave.
White Plains, NY 10601