© 2021 KALW
KALW Public Media / 91.7 FM Bay Area
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

San Francisco's beloved City Lights Bookstore turns 60


It’s been 60 years since poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti decided to open City Lights Bookstore in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach. It was the first all-paperback bookstore in the country to also serve as a publishing house, a business move that changed the game of book selling forever. It didn’t take long for City Lights to become the center of the beat literary scene – by the 1960s it was practically home to writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Now, the three-floor bookstore is still owned by Ferlinghetti and it remains in its original location, where tourists flock to take pictures of books and posters on the wall. KALW’s Holly J. McDede recently visited City Lights to see how it has managed to keep its history alive and to avoid the fate of so many local bookstores that have closed over the years. She brought back this audio postcard.

Click the audio player above to hear the story. 

You can join the folks at City Lights for a 60-year birthday celebration on Sunday June 23 from 2 to 5pm.