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City Lights

Shopping, Bookstores Chinatown
5 out of 5 stars
(2user reviews)
City Lights
City Lights

For over 60 years, City Lights Bookstore has been a mainstay of free-speech and radical ideas. Co-founded in 1953 by poet-artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who, at 98, still keeps the candle dripping over the chianti bottle), it was here that Allen Ginsberg’s Howl & Other Poems was first published, putting the Beat Generation on the map. The creaky wooden bookstore and publishing house is still a center of progressive politics and indie literary voices, which it stocks alongside a huge inventory of new and used fiction and nonfiction. You’ll find the shop on the corner of Jack Kerouac Alley (so named after being renovated and reopened to the public in 2007) and across from the Vesuvio Cafe, the bar where Kerouac, Neal Cassady and other Beat heavyweights once held court.

By: Shoshi Parks


Venue name: City Lights
Address: 261 Columbus Ave
San Francisco
Cross street: at Broadway St
Opening hours: Daily 10am-midnight
Transport: Bus 8AX, 8BX, 8X, 10, 12, 41
Price: $$
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

You can get lost for days in this bookstore. There are so many sections, and definitely don't forget to go downstairs. As mentioned below, the place can get a little crowded, but at least that means this place will stay open and continue to be a landmark in the city for years to come.

Second to Green Apple, City Lights is my favorite book store in SF - isn't it everyone's favorite book store here? There's just so much history and star power behind this place, namely from the Beat generation, and wandering its halls is a great way to get lost in your own thoughts and the books that line these walls. It can be a bit overwhelming, and it certainly gets crowded due to its popularity, but no visit to SF would be complete without a stop here.