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City Lights Bookstore

City Lights Bookstore

In an age when many independent bookstores have surrendered to the advance of chain stores and Amazon, City Lights is a true survivor. Since it was founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, it has served as a gathering place for San Francisco's literary communities. Everyone from beat poets to left-wing critics of America have found a welcome here. City Lights is also a publishing house, with Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems being perhaps the single most famous book it has put out, though it counts scores of other works by some of America's leading contemporary literary figures on its list. You can drop in anytime to find an unexpected tome, and the store also has a crowded calendar of readings.

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Learn about the Beats at City Lights Bookstore in North Beach
A beacon for beatnik culture, City Lights bookstore in San Francisco is best known for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, and as the site of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s obscenity trial in the 1950s. Opened in 1953 by Ferlinghetti, the independent bookstore and publisher has stood in the same spot in North Beach since its inception, and has attracted millions of visitors looking to learn more about the beat generation—not to mention those just looking for a good book. Stop by City Lights and peruse the extensive collection of new and used materials, and feel free to linger for hours. Read in the upstairs room and enjoy the comfy chairs and views over the neighborhood. Still feeling beatnik-y? Head to the Beat Museum after your stop at City Lights. City Lights is open every day from 10 a.m. to midnight.
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I am The Door
A personal shrine of mine, in the basement of City Lights Bookstore. Mysteries that way-->
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City Lights Bookstore | The Poetry Room
At the heart of the Beatnik movement, City Lights is a can't-miss bookstore for lovers of books, culture, and hidden spaces. Spread over three levels, this isn't your average seller of books—it specializes in make-you-think kinds of fiction and non-fiction. You might have a quick browse before taking your photo out front, because this place is famous, after all. Or you might wind your way up to the top floor, the Poetry Room, and pull up a rocking chair, set yourself down with a volume of something awesome (I recommend Jane Hirshfield) and feel the history around you.
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Poetry Room
Located in the attic of this iconic book store, the poetry room is a temple of sorts.
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Read Here Now
or a shrine maybe
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Where the Streets of the World
... Meet the Avenues of the Mind
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I am The Door
Located just beside The Mystery section in the basement of City Lights this infamous portal represents the daring mad genius of the Beat philosophy.
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A Book Conservatory
City Lights is an absolute gem, even in a city with San Francisco's strong pedigree of independent bookstores. Home to the Beat literature movement, it still boasts an incredible collection of poetry and literature in translation that goes way beyond the average bookstore. A wonderful place to spend hours lost in the pages of a new find.
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