It’s been coming for a long time, but it still doesn’t quite lessen the sting: St. Mark’s Bookshop has moved from its longtime location on 3rd Avenue. The venerable bookseller had been battling its landlord, Cooper Union, for a number of years, trying without success to keep the school from raising their rent. But they are not, repeat, not gone for good: they’ve got a new shop location in the East Village, at 136 E. Third Street, between Avenue A and 1st Avenue. The move was made possible in part by an IndieGoGo campaign; bereaved book-lovers donated almost $52,000 to help out.
The bookshop staff reports on Facebook that they probably won’t re-open until next week, the week of July 7. In the meantime, no one is mourning their departure from 3rd Avenue quite as keenly as Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York. Moss petitioned passionately to save the bookshop when it was first endangered back in 2011. He notes that the store left behind a lovely Ted Berrigan poem in their window to say goodbye. And he’s written St. Mark’s a love letter of his own, which made us just a little prickly behind the eyes.
The Berrigan poem is called “A Final Sonnet,” and it begins, “How strange to be gone in a minute!” Moss has a photo of it in the St. Mark’s window here. And just in case your heart didn’t already feel like it was being squeezed by a mournful giant, here’s a piece of Moss’s own requiem:
Through my whole New York life, those windows were my constant, my compass.
After a difficult day at work, after a class, coming from the 6 train or the N/R, walking home down 3rd Avenue in snow, in rain, covered in summer sweat, through the miserable crowds, I knew I could stop at those ample windows and look–and I knew that just looking at those books would bring me back to center. Gazing through the glass, taking in the titles, the authors, the covers, I could feel my blood pressure pleasantly descend, spreading a sense of calm through my body and mind. Those windows were a daily balm.
Standing there, I could imagine all there was to read and write. I could imagine that one day my own book would make it into those windows (that never happened). So much possibility! So many ideas!
In the Voice‘s former home on Cooper Square, those windows were a kind of ballast for us too, a remedy to the 7-11s and Crunch gyms creeping like neon-tinged beacons of doom up the block. Moss worries that the books of yore will be replaced with the only kinds of businesses who can afford to pay the reported $40,000 Cooper Union wants for the space: “a brainless bank, a soulless Starbucks,” or, God forbid, “a fucking frozen yogurt emporium?” (The last one, of course, being a phenomenon so common it’s got its own depressing Tumblr.)
But instead of mourning forever, perhaps it’s better to just make a pilgrimage to the new location, and, for God’s sake, spend some money. The shop will announce their opening date on Facebook and Twitter.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 2, 2014