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The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, A Place That Matters

general society of mechanics tradesmen

The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, at 20 W. 44th St. in Midtown is the second oldest subscription library in the city, founded in 1820. The origins of the Society go back further, to 1785, soon after the end of the Revolutionary War and the British departure from New York. The founding artisans–sailmakers, silversmiths, potters, and men from other trades–founded the society for mutual aid in a time of hardship and to provide cultural, educational, and social services to members.

To learn more about the Society’s subsequent and fascinating 222 years, you have many choices!

  • Tour the General Society with the Municipal Art Society on Saturday, February 3rd at 10:00am. Tour led by the society’s director, historian Janet Greene. Meet at its landmarked building at 20 W. 44th, between 5th and 6th Aves. RSVP to 212-935-2075. $12 for MAS members; $15 general.
  • Read about the General Society by getting your own copy of Hidden New York: A Guide to Places that Matter, Place Matters’ new publication. Available at bookstores or from City Lore.
  • Log onto www.placematters.net and click the homepage link to learn about the Society from the Census of Places that Matter.
  • Visit the General Society yourself. All are welcome, but to check out books you must take out a subscription (rates are very modest). Hours: 11am-7pm, Mon. & Thurs.; 11am-5pm Tues & Weds; 9am-5pm Fri. Hours subject to change; call 212-921-1767. For info, see the GSMT website at www.generalsociety.org. Also see the society’s lecture series and its amazing Mossman Lock Collection. Email library@generalsociety.org.