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New York's Most Famous Library Will No Longer Be Gutted From The Inside

People gather near the lions in front of the New York Public Library on 42nd street Tuesday, April 22, 2008  in New York. Whe
People gather near the lions in front of the New York Public Library on 42nd street Tuesday, April 22, 2008 in New York. When the library completes a $1 billion, six-year renovation, the two stone lions that have famously bracketed its front steps for nearly a century will have to move over, symbolically, that is, to make room for a Wall Street financier whose money kick-started the project. The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved the library's request to have the name of Stephen A. Schwarzman, founder and chief executive of the Blackstone Group, etched into the walls of the 1911 Beaux Arts edifice on Fifth Ave. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The New York Public Library has officially withdrawn from plans to renovate its flagship building on Fifth Avenue.

The New York Times reports the decision follows a wave of public opposition against the project and a recent study indicating the renovation would cost more than the original $300 million price tag.

new york public library renovation
An undated rendering of the renovation plan. (AP Photo/New York Public Library from dbox / Foster + Partners)

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” NYPL president Tony Marx told the paper Wednesday.

Since its inception, the controversial proposal to transform the main library into a circulating library -- and by doing so remove millions of books from the iconic research building -- has sparked backlash from preservationists and novelists who claim the renovation would destroy the integrity of the building.

new york public library renovation
An undated rendering of the renovation plan. (AP Photo/New York Public Library from dbox / Foster + Partners)

Last summer, a petition aiming to prevent the plan was organized, with writers including Salman Rushdie and Mario Vargas Llosa signing their name to the cause. And during his campaign last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out from the library's steps to speak against the renovation.

In February, the debate was reignited after the wildly popular Humans of New York photographer, Brandon Stanton, posted a photo of a man condemning the renovation.

But despite the criticism, library officials maintained the project would modernize the library and provide increased digital access to its resources.

“The public should have more access to this, arguably the most beautiful library building in the world, certainly the most famous,” Marx, who recently met with de Blasio to discuss the renovation's fate, told Bloomberg last month. “We aim to massively increase our after-school programs, our English language instruction and citizenship instruction, our basic computer skills and coding classes.”

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