A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from October 16, 2004
Book Row (or, Booksellers’ Row)
"Book Row" (or "Booksellers' Row") was lower Fourth Avenue, between 9th and 14th Streets. Another "Booksellers Row" opened on Fifth Avenue, near the Barnes and Noble Store on 18th Street.

The bookselling industry has obviously changed. People buy books on the internet from places like Amazon and Bibliofind and Bookfinder.There are huge chain stores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

On a recent trip to the Stand Book Store (at Broadway and East 12th Street), a "Book Row" book was advertised in the window. While "book row" may be gone, take a visit to the Strand and ask about Book Row's history.

15 June 1946, New York Times, pg. 21:
Colorful Proprietor of Store on
Lower Fourth Ave. Dies -
Knew Stock by Heart

Peter Stammer, colorful owner of a famed second-hand book shop on lower FOurth Avenue's Book Row, died yesterday at hims home, 1539 Morris Avenue, the Bronx. His age was 82.

18 July 1956, New York Times, pg. 21:
An enterprising bookseller in Booksellers' Row opposite the old Wanamaker Building fire ruin advertises: "Take advantage of our 50 percent sale while viewing the late misfortune," and on a table with books cut to 19 cents: "Nineteen cents a tome. Give a book a home."

17 September 1957, New York Times, pg. 35:
Operated Schulte Book Store
on Lower Fourth Avenue
IRVINGTON, J. J., Sept. 16 - Philip Pesky, proprietor of the Schulte Book Store, Inc., 80 Fourth Avenue, New York, dieed yesterday of a heart attack at his home, 13 Momm Court. His age was 72.

The Schulte store specializes in rare books. Established more than fifty years ago, it was one of the early stores on "booksellers' row" on lower Fourth Avenue.

12 December 1976, New York Times, pg. R1:
Birth of a Booksellers' Row

To find the hottest bestseller from Peking, "Jaws" in Spanish, a book on learning Ukrainian or classic literature in just about any language, the place to go is lower Fifth Avenue. Long known for its discount men's clothing stores, the area between 14th and 23d Streets - with a one-block detour to Union Square - is emerging as something of a "booksellers' row" as well, especially for foreign-language and specialized titles.

28 June 1985, New York Times, pg. D16:
Walter Goldwater, a tournament chess player and antiquarian who owned the University Place Book Shop - one of the last survivors of New York's Bookseller's Row - died Monday at University Hospital. He was 77 years old and lived in Manhattan.

In an interview a few years ago, Mr. Goldwater recalled how in 1932 he opened his book shop in a loft at 821 Broadway, at 12th Street,...

In those years, the buildings around Fourth Avenue from 9th to 14th Street housed some two dozen book stores and constituted the city's center for second-hand books. Sidewalk stands in front of the shops were always piled high with reduced-price books, and rare ones stood under layers of dust in the dark interiors of stores such as Mr. Goldwater's.

Over the years, rising rents and changes in the book business forced most of the booksellers to close their shops or move away. But Mr. Goldwater remained, holding on against the times.

"As a book center, the street is gone," he said in an interview in 1981.

9 May 1989, New York Times, pg. B3:
Vestige of Book Row:
Ex-Owner on Sidewalk
Yet, Mr. Foss's appearance as sidewalk purveyor on Broadway after a working lifetime under a roof is something of an exclamation point at the end of a New York cultural chapter that was called Booksellers' Row.

When Mr. Foss arrived on Fourth Avenue between Ninth Street and Union Square in the mid-60's, the 21 secondhand bookstores there were already in decline, as they refused to see the raises by their landlords in the game of real estate. Some, in what has become an encouragingly robust diaspora, moved, as did the Strand, which went around the corner to Broadway and 12th Street, where, it says, it has the largest stock of used books in the world.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityStreets • Saturday, October 16, 2004 • Permalink