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The Most Famous Bookstore in the World

"In Strand Used Books on Broadway and Twelfth one snowy March early evening in 1956 when the streetlights on Broadway glimmered with a strange sepia glow, we were two NYU girl-poets drifting through the warehouse of treasures as through an enchanted forest."

So goes the opening line of Joyce Carol Oates's famous short story, "Three Girls." You may have been assigned to read that in your introductory literature class. Remember? The one where Marilyn Monroe disguises herself in an oversized pea jacket, a fedora, and a "salt-stained" cowboy boots? The one where--spoiler alert!--the two poets kiss at the end? Not ringing any bells? Sure, I get it. No one pays attention in English class. If you're not familiar with Oates's story, then maybe you recall seeing the Strand bookstore featured from Six Degrees of Seaparation. Or The Gilmore Girls. Or every Woody Allen film ever set in NYC. (Don't quote me on that, though.)

The point is Strand Bookstore is famous and you have to see it to believe it. It boasts 18 miles of shelf space. That's over 2.5 million books, folks. Just as Oates said, you can find the Strand at the corner of Broadway and 12th in the East Village, about one and a half miles from Hotel Hugo. The Strand first opened in 1927, in another location, near 4th Ave, in what was then known as "Book Row." It moved to its current location in 1956. Strand Bookstore is three and a half stories. All the used books have been moved to the basement. The first floor, or entry level, is where you'll find the new books, the paperbacks and bestsellers. The Rare Book room is on the third floor, where editions reach triple and quadruple digits.

If you're not a bibliophile, then I'd advise you not to go with one. You may never get out. Book lovers tend to get lost in the Strand the way light gets lost in a black hole.

Address: 828 Broadway, New York, • 10003-4805

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