Imaginary Girls Synchronized Reading Post #1: Local Legends

Synchronized Readings are a semi-regular feature The Book Bandit and I will be running together every few months.

Our current Synchronized Reading is Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.

Since the mythical town of Olive plays such a big role in Imaginary Girls, we decided a fun post for this Synchronized Reading would be one on local legends.

Now, you would think I would have a lot since New York City is filled with cool and historically significant places.

What I do have instead of a pile of urban legends, are building that I am constantly drawn to.

One of them is my local library: Jefferson Market. This branch is where my library career started when I was in high school. It’s where I got my first library card. It’s where I spent many a summer day picking up books for me and (mystery) books for my mom.

I also have some fun facts about this building including that, contrary to popular belief, the building was never a church. Instead it was a courthouse where Mae West infamously appeared during the “lady on the swing” court case. The garden next to the library used to be a women’s house of detention as featured in David Duchovny’s film “House of D.”

There aren’t a lot of rumors about the library being haunted. But with that kind of energy, you do wonder. In a fit of peer induced hysteria myself and two fellow pages managed to convince ourselves that we saw a ghost or some kind of unnatural presences in the reference room in the basement. Now, years later, I’m comfortable saying that probably wasn’t true. But I also still don’t like being in the references room. So you can draw your own conclusions.

The other building that I refer more than any other is the Flatiron Building. It is my mom’s favorite building (possibly mine as well although I also quite like the Chrysler Building). It is probably the building I photograph most when I am wandering the city.

The building has a unique shape (reminiscent of an old-time flatiron) thanks in part to the nature of real estate in New York City. It was one of the city’s first skyscrapers and even created a wind tunnel when it was first built.

As far as I know there aren’t any ghosts in residences but with so many occupants coming and going, who can really say?

Speaking of spooky stories in libraries, I recently learned that my new place of employ, Brooklyn’s Central Library, has a local legend of its own. (True story, this was the second thing I learned on my first day at the new job. It’s that important!)

Let me direct you now to the story of Agatha Cunningham who disappeared on her school’s trip to the library in 1977:

You may be thinking, surely this can’t be real. And, being the age of the Internet, you might find articles online debunking this story. Then again, you might also find people disputing the reality of the tree octopus.

I’ll leave you all to draw your own conclusions (as long as that conclusion is that Brooklyn Public Library did not in fact lose a child in the lower decks and instead helped some very talented teens make a documentary about it).