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Strand Bookstore Named Official NYC Landmark

Book lover or not, every New Yorker has probably heard of the iconic Strand Bookstore at one point. Recently, it was named an official NYC landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). 

Famous for its impressive 18-mile stretch of books, the Strand boasts a huge selection of both new and used books across virtually every subject. It’s become the center of NYC’s literary scene (not to mention one of the most recognized bookstores in the world), with famous writers noting it as their second home. 

A historical landmark

Greenwich Village, NYC
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons 

The Strand has been in operation for 92 years. It first opened on Fourth Avenue, before moving to its present location in 1956. The original building located on 826 Broadway was built by William H. Birkmire way back in 1902. The LPC praises this building’s distinct Renaissance Revival style, noting how it belonged to part of NYC’s historic garment industry before its position at the epicenter of NYC’s literary culture. 

The Bass family, owners of the Strand, bought the building in 1996 to ensure the company’s survival amidst rising rental prices in the city. This was a necessary move, considering NYC’s reputation for its insane real estate market, especially today. Statistics on Yoreevo show that 13,500 buildings over six stories high were built in the city within a mere five years. This is a testament to the constant development that has been pushing rent prices up and putting stores like the Strand under pressure in recent years. 

Depending on who you talk to, this recent status is either proof of the Strand’s staying power or another hindrance that it has to overcome. Owner Nancy Bass Wyden, alongside staff and some of the store’s supporters have alleged that this recognition could actually do more harm than good as the bureaucratic processes of maintaining a landmark status could damage their operations. 

The LPC, however, insists that this won’t be the case — noting, in fact, that the landmark status was meant to praise the Strand’s resiliency. Despite independent bookstores closing left, right, and center, the Strand has managed to face these challenges head on. From rising rent prices to the rise in e-books being sold online, the Strand continues to welcome those who appreciate the classic hardback book.

The Commission also assures that the LPC’s flexible regulating processes will not hinder Strand’s operations, noting that it will instead allow the bookstore to remain as part of NYC’s landscape for years to come. 

In good company

For a city where almost every block has some historical significance, to be recognized as an official NYC landmark is still cause for celebration. The Strand joins the likes of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty as designated landmarks. Plus, the Broadway Theater has also received this designation. It is yet another resilient landmark in NYC, as it continues to welcome over 1000 spectators every night. 

All in all, these landmarks represent a diverse city that welcomes people with all kinds of interests. In fact, NYC locals see these landmarks as something to be proud of. For instance, The Museum of Broadway is slated to open in 2020 to celebrate Broadway’s history, with its goal to educate visitors on why these landmarks are so important to the city. 

The influx of tourists every year means that NYC will always be busy, no matter the season. Official landmarks help tell NYC’s story to those who visit, which allows them to see the narratives behind what it is about the Big Apple that keeps people coming back.

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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