Reading Lights

Reading Lights

No doubt there are places you’re looking forward to visiting whenever the city reopens. Be sure to add the subject of this 2016 photo essay to your list.

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Yale’s Sterling Library is named for John William Sterling, the person who paid for it, but you can forgive those who mistake the tribute for a simple adjective.

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Gothic and churchy like many of the buildings architect John Gamble Rogers designed for his alma mater, its interior is preposterously pretty. The library’s webpage notes the structure’s “cloisters, clerestory windows, side chapels circulation desk altar,” plus 3,300 stained glass windows. A 2005 Yale Alumni Magazine article by Judith Schiff, Yale’s chief research archivist, hails Sterling as a “masterpiece of modern Gothic architecture,” noting its “great cathedral-like nave with vaulted aisles.” There are also reliefs, gargoyles and paintings galore, plus ornate ceilings that’ll have you arching until well after your neck hurts.

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One arch-worthy class of decoration that doesn’t seem to get a ton of love, at least in print, is the lighting, which in the library’s publicly accessible spaces comes mainly from chandeliers. Have a look, and then—when it’s safe to do so again—go have a look.

Sterling Memorial Library
120 High St, New Haven (map)
Currently closed to due to COVID-19

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. This lightly updated story originally published on April 8, 2016.

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