Book Row

September 9, 2019

A history of Book Row, NYC’s long-time downtown haven for bibliophiles

The slogan of beloved NYC bookstore the Strand boasts the store's "18 miles of books," a number that seems incredibly vast yet was once just a small fraction of what book lovers could expect to find in the neighborhood. For almost eight decades, from the 1890s to the 1960s, the seven blocks of Fourth Avenue between Union Square and Astor Place were home to a thriving bibliophiles’ paradise known as Book Row. Here, book lovers and secondhand vendors gathered, and the pace of the city slowed down as they browsed the miles of stacks available. Speaking to the New York Times, collector Paul A. Solano—who went on to open his own used book shop in Morningside Heights—said it took him a week to stroll through all the stores on the seven-block stretch. In its heyday, Book Row was home to 48 bookstores and millions of volumes. Now, the recently landmarked Strand bookstore is the only remaining vestige of that era.
Find out about the history and what happened