George Bruce was an enterprising Scotsman who sailed to the United States before he was 15. Eventually settling in New York, he became a well-known typefounder and inventor of printing machinery. In 1877, Bruce’s daughter, Catherine, contributed $50,000 for a library building and books in memory of her father. Completed in 1888, the original George Bruce Library was located on 42nd Street. When the building was sold in 1915, the proceeds were used to build the present-day, handsome, brick and sandstone, Carrere and Hastings-designed building on 125th Street.
The George Bruce Library features a spacious Children’s Room, which is used often by children who come to read and study. Cultural programs for all ages are held in the auditorium, which includes a stage built by the WPA project. A 2001 renovation provided a new entrance, with restored facade, and an elevator giving access to people who use wheelchairs. New telecommunications equipment, computer workstations, and furnishings were also added.