On Wednesday, November 14, 2018, Brooklyn Public Library held an anniversary party in honor of the 75th anniversary of the release of Betty Smith’s novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. A new anniversary edition was released by HarperCollins, featuring cover art by local artist Amy Lyons. The celebration took place at Leonard Library, located at 81 Devoe Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, located only four blocks way from where Smith lived on Grand Street.
In attendance to help celebrate were members of Smith’s family, including her daughter, Nancy Smith Pfeiffer. United For Libraries designated the library branch a literary landmark and a plaque was unveiled so all visitors who come to the location in the future will be aware of Smith’s connection to this particular library branch (the main character in ATGIB, Francie Nolan, visits the library in the novel like Smith did growing up in the neighborhood).
There was a live band who performed before and after the ceremony, plus speeches by Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson, local elected officials (Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams), Nancy Smith Pfeiffer, Katherine Drew (Associate Commissioner of Media Strategy for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment), Jennifer Civiletto (HarperCollins), and Amy Lyons. After the speeches, a plaque was unveiled and attendees were treated to food from local businesses Campbell Cheese & Grocery and The Meatball Shop, wine from Vine Wine, and were able purchase the book directly from Steven of Quimby’s Book Store at the event.
Despite being born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, I didn’t read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn until seven years ago. I fell in love with it and was very excited to attend the party in honor of Smith’s wonderful novel. I decided to bring my camera and document the evening in the gallery above.