In 1754 the New York Society Library was formed. It occupied rooms in City Hall (later Federal Hall), nearly side-by-side with the earlier The Public Library, founded in 1700 under the administration of the Earl of Bellomont. (That library was housed in Trinity Church.)
On entering the front door, the visitor finds himself in a hall forty-seven feet long and twelve wide, handsomely paved with tessalated [i.e., colorful, geometric tiled] pavement. On the left hand is a comfortable room for a ladies' reading room, sixteen feet by thirty. A similar room on the right is used as a conversation room. At the end of the hall are folding doors opening into the large reading room, thirty-one feet by seventy-three, well lights and well furnished with papers and periodicals.