City Lights


San Francisco Store 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA


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  • The US’s first all-paperback bookstore.
  • "Life and Dreams of the Perla River Valley" mural reproduction in Jack Kerouac Alley.
  • A landmark bookshop steeped in history.

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Founded in 1953 as the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore, historic City Lights is a literary landmark. The triangular shaped shop features features an extensive and in-depth selection of poetry, fiction, translations, politics, history, philosophy, spirituality, music, film, cultural studies, and more.

Founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter D. Martin featuring classics of modern literature and progressive politics. Ferlinghetti went on to establish City Lights Publishers in 1955 that today publishes a wide range of titles including poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction by both international and local authors.

On July 16, 2001 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously named City Lights Landmark #228 because of its “seminal role in the literary and cultural development of San Francisco and the nation, for stewarding and restoring City Lights Bookstore, for championing First Amendment protections, and for publishing and giving voice to writers and artists everywhere.”

Photo by Jenn whatjennreads_