Strand Bookstore, NYC

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Strand Bookstore, NYC

Jessica Mannhaupt, Staff Writer

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The Strand Bookstore has played a crucial role in the literary culture of New York City for decades. It’s slogan, “18 miles of books” attracts any book lover in NYC and beyond. I have personally visited this amazing building many times and can attest to the fact that it is one of the most comforting places for a book lover. New York City wants to make it official and declare the Strand a city landmark. Now this might seem great, but there’s one problem. The Strand does not want this declaration by the government.

The owner of the Strand, Nancy Bass Wyden, argues that by landmarking the bookstore, it will do more damage than help to the business.“By landmarking the Strand, you can also destroy a piece of New York City. We are operating on very thin margins here, and this would just cost us a lot more, with this landmarking, and be a lot more hassle,” Wyden said. The Strand is one of the biggest and most famous bookstores in the world, therefore it should already be considered a landmark. It is already a landmark on its own, and the official designation of being one would be unnecessary and burdensome to the faithful owners of the bookstore. The Strand does not need to be restricted by the regulations of the Landmarks Preservation Commision. Another downfall of this designation is that for every repair and upgrade, the Strand would have to go through the slow process of getting it approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which will increase expenses in order to keep the bookstore in business.

The Strand is not the only one who is a victim of this consideration for landmaking. The bookstore is one of seven buildings in that area that is being considered for the designation of landmarking. These buildings are publicly seen as significant structures that represent a crucial era in the development of the Union Square area. Although most structures that are considered for landmarking are usually approved, Zedet Negron, a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said, “It is not a given, and the public hearing, a critical part of the process, is an opportunity for the commission to hear other opinions.”

The Strand has held several public hearings in order to express their passionate opinions about saving the bookstore. Their latest attempt at expressing these thoughts was held on February 19th, 2019. The owners of the store were joined by dozens of supporters of the bookstore. Opponents of the designation definitely outnumbered the proponents at this hearing. They explained  their personal connection to the bookstore, and pleaded to the commission that the designation would adversely affect the Strand. To combat the landmarking protection, Wyden proposed applying a “preservation easement” instead, which is a much less restrictive measure. It’s no doubt that bookstores in New York City are dwindling. The public has to continue to be vocal about their opinion on keeping bookstores alive in this age.

 

  • Interview sources:

https://www.strandbooks.com/protect-strand

https://ny.curbed.com/2019/2/19/18232272/strand-bookstore-landmarks-preservation-commission-hearing

https://www.nytimes.com

  • Picture taken by Jessica Mannhaupt
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Strand Bookstore, NYC