1.07.2018

rip fred bass, who gave nyc a priceless gift


Is there a New Yorker alive who hasn't spend time in The Strand? A New York City tourist who didn't thrill to their first visit to The Strand? The man who gave NYC this unique gift died recently at the age of 89. Although his father founded the store, Fred Bass made it the book-lovers' mecca that it came to be.

Here you can see the
ever-present he outdoor shelves.
I won't recount my memories of the hours I've spent in The Strand, because I'm sure they're no different than anyone else's. After we moved to Canada, a wmtc reader told me the store had been ruined. I returned to find an elevator had been installed, and the public washrooms changed from nauseatingly dirty to liveable. There was a cafe, better lighting, and new books, at a discount. Not ruined. Just a bit modernized.

The Strand was always expanding. It was like the expanding universe of books. You might think The Strand contained every homeless book the store took in -- but you'd be wrong. In this obituary, Bass is quoted from 1977:
I get an attack, something like a panic, of book-buying. I simply must keep fresh used books flowing over my shelves. And every day the clerks weed out the unsalable stuff from the shelves and bins and we throw it out. Tons of dead books go out nightly. And I bought ’em. But I just have to make room for fresh stock to keep the shelves lively.
Book lovers, do yourself a favour: go to the New York Times obituary, read it, look at the photos, and say goodbye to the man who gave us this special place.


1 comment:

johngoldfine said...

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1962/4/9/boston-redevelopment-will-claim-historic-sites/

If the books were not enough to knock out an eleven year-old who'd found his way on the MTA into Boston from suburban Brookline, the tunnel under the street connecting the Brattle and the Cornhill book shops certainly was. A few years later, the summer before the old streets were finally torn up to make way for the brutalitarian Government Center, I was working as an office boy and, after my lunch and losing a few hours' wages in the pinball emporium, I'd stop at the Cornhill for a lookaround.