Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was once the richest man in America. To his everlasting credit, after the great man had amassed his incredible fortune, he decided to give it all away. And he almost did!

Carnegie believed that every small town and city in America should have a public library.  In the late 19th-century this was not always the case however.  So Carnegie took matters into his own hands. Almost any community, regardless of size, could request a Carnegie grant to build a library (almost no community was refused). The only requirement was that the community had to maintain the building in perpetuity.  Carnegie gave away tens of millions of dollars in his library grants. Often times, his library became the most beautiful, elaborate new building in the village. People flocked to them and they became the center of community life.

The numbers are staggering.

Andrew Carnegie awarded grants for the construction of 2,509 public libraries. He also contributed to several universities for the construction of campus libraries. He is responsible for the building of 1,684 libraries in the United States, 660 in the United kingdom, 125 in Canada, and many others around the world. Today, in the United States, 1,554 of these libraries are still standing and being used Some as libraries, some as community centers, some as art galleries, and others for a variety of uses.  And, yes.  many of them are still the most beautiful building in town. You will see that in the photos of this gallery.

Upstate New York was lucky to have been the recipient of dozens of Carnegie Libraries. This is a sample list of 11 of the best. Let us know if there is a Carnegie Library in your town!

Upstate New York's Fabulous, Fantastic Carnegie Libraries

The great industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) decided in the last years of his life to give his money away. And it was a ton of money! It is estimated Carnegie gave away 90% of his $350,000,000 fortune. Carnegie Libraries are a wonderful testament to this great man. He donated funds to build 2,500 public libraries all across the country. More than half of them are still standing. Here are some of the best ones to be found in Upstate New York.

Read More! NY's 12 Smallest Counties and Why You Should Visit Them

There are 62 counties in the state of New York. The largest (by population) is Kings County (Brooklyn). It has a population of 2,726,002 people. But, there are far more smaller counties in the state than larger ones. This list takes a look at the smallest counties in New York, with all of them in some region of Upstate New York. Even though they are sparsely populated, each has a few places that any NYS road warrior might want to stop at and explore. So here are the 12 smallest counties (by population as of 2010) in the state and what you might find on a visit to each of them