The Ultimate Book Lover’s Dream
New York City. The Big Apple. One of the greatest cultural centers the world. A person might dream of walking down the streets of Manhattan, looking for celebrities, or dining in one of the cities best restaurants. They might walk around and look at some of the great cultural relics of our history, such as the Statue of Liberty. If you walk down to the Broadway, you might take in a show or simply look around at the multitudes of bright, flashing signs. But there is more to the Broadway area than just tap dancing and Shakespearean monologues. Its a store that can only be described as 18 miles of a book lovers wet dream.
The Strand bookstore, located on the corner of Broadway and East 12th Street, is 18 mile long bookstore in Greenwich Village. The Strand contains “2.5 million used, new, and rare books, covering topics as far-ranging as occult to philosophy to finance.” Browse the used books collection or take an elevator up to the rare books room, where you can find signed copies of classic books like Ulysses. Chat with some of the many book enthusiasts that you will meet wandering the aisles of the store. Or simply talk to the owner of the store, Fred Bass, who has been working there since he was thirteen, before he inherited the store from his father. It’s exactly what Laura Miller described in her book Reluctant Capitalists, in that it is a place for readers and writers to meet as a community, to learn and to grow.
With the 12th and Broadway bus stop right next to the store, it isn’t difficult to travel to this populous and popular area. The Strand stands on what was formerly known at “Book Row,” founded there in 1927, it eventually moved from 4th street to its current location, and it is the last original bookstore from Book Row to stand there. Nows its only bookstore competition is Forbidden Planet, a comic book shop right down the block. Surrounding the Strand is a variety of restaurants, including The Bean coffee shop right across the street from the Strand, where many people like to go and read their new purchases. Also surrounding the store is a Pret a Manger, Pie by the Pound, and various grocery stores such as Daily and Grocery and Trader Joes.
Walk around the area for a few blocks, and you will see that the area is a popular academic one. New York University’s main campus is just a walk down to Broadway and Bound Street. Walk north up to East 16th Street and you will come across Washington Irving High school. Walk one block up to East 17th street, and you will find New York Film Academy. Right nest to NYU is Washington Square Park, and right nest to the New York Film Academy is Union Square Park. Of course, it wouldn’t be New York if there wasn’t several theaters in the area. Unsurprisingly the area is becoming very touristy with all these attractions drawing in visitors from around the world.
As it resides in Greenwich, the area around Strand has always considered an artists true bohemia, with some of the worlds great artists and writers living there. However, when one looks around now, it becomes apparent the the neighborhood has become increasingly gentrified.
Despite the diversity that New York is so known for, The Greenwich Village area that surrounds the Strand is predominantly white. 79% of the area is white, followed by people of Asian descent at 9%. Unsurprisingly, the bookstore is surrounded by coffee shops and restaurants, as well as the white persons ultimate grocery store, Trader Joes. Nearby is the main New York University campus, whose students get the majority of their textbooks from the store.
The neighborhood is one of the most affluent in New York. The “median household income in Greenwich Village for 2005-2009 was $101,568 – more than 50 percent higher than the median for Manhattan, more than double the median for New York City as a whole, and more than double the median for the U.S.” As such, though the neighborhood seems to still enjoy its bohemian reputation, the Strand is surrounded by some of the wealthiest people in New York City.
With a total population of around 22,785 people in Greenwich Villages, and almost equally male and female populations, and a median age of 32, though there is a slightly larger amount of women who live in the area then men do. A dense 78, 821 people live in this area of Greenwich village per square mile, making it one of the most populated neighborhoods in New York.
As for people who you will find around the store, there are two main groups: traveling book lovers and NYU students. NYU students get most of their textbooks from The Strand, and seeing how the bookstore is a mecca for book lovers, one will usually find an abundance of tourists in the store. Because owning Stand merchandise is a popular thing to show how much of a book lover you are, tourists will usually walk out of there not only with plenty of books, but with the famous strand onesie or a tote bag. As such, this mix of students, tourists and some of the wealthiest people in the world make the area surrounding the Strand one of the most mixed and interesting neighborhoods in New York City. Even with this shift in culture, the Strand remains one of the true gathering spots for the cities artists, writers and readers who can come together and share their love of books.
Greenwich Village Statistics, Race Graph: http://www.washingtonsquareparkblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/greenwich-village-profile-2011-05-161.pdf
Greenwich Village Statistics, Median Household Income Graph: http://www.washingtonsquareparkblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/greenwich-village-profile-2011-05-161.pdf
The Strand Bookstore: http://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfm
Google Maps: The Strand Bookstore
Print. Miller, Laura J. Reluctant Capitalists: Bookselling and the Culture of Consumption. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
Strand History: http://www.strandbooks.com/strand-history
The Economy of Greenwich Village: A Profile: http://www.washingtonsquareparkblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/greenwich-village-profile-2011-05-161.pdf