"City Lights Bookstore." Shopping Tip by MDH

Shopping, San Francisco: 8 reviews and 9 photos

  The front window to City Lights
by MDH

The City Lights Bookstore is perhaps San Francisco's literary, intellectual and cultural heart. Formed by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1953, the bookstore was the first all-paperbound bookshop in America, offering a wide range of books that might otherwise go over the heads of the public. Two years later, City Lights became a publishing house. It gained the national spotlight in 1956 when it published Allen Ginsberg's controversial "Howl" when no one else would. City Lights quickly became a Beat mecca, with Ginsberg, Cassidy and Kerouac all becoming patrons and close associates of the bookstore. The bookstore helped the city become the hub of the Beat movement, paving the way for San Francisco to become the hippy mecca ten years later.

Today, City Lights is stronger than ever. Ferlinghetti is still around, presiding and talking with employees and customers. Although compact, you'll find signs around the bookstore inviting you sit down and pull up a book to read. Upstairs, you'll find a room dedicated to the Beatnik era, filled with all the era's great writers and poets. It also hosts poetry readings on other occasions.

City Lights is comfortable, cousy, and "very cool, man."

Located along Columbus Ave. in North Beach, directly up the hill from the Transamerica Pyramid.

Phone: (415) 362-8193
Website: http://www.citylights.com/

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Jun 12, 2003
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