photo of new york city skyline

Literary City Spotlight: New York City

The most populated city in the United States, New York City stands out as one of the most iconic and widely referenced literary cities. The city was home to writers like Emma Lazarus, Langston Hughes, Frank O’Hara, and others, even inspiring the term The New York School of poetry. It’s also full of bookstores, literary institutions, top MFA programs, and more, making it one of the top places to carve out a literary career and one of the top destinations for voracious readers. If you find yourself in NYC, here are six literary sites you don’t want to miss. 


Book Club Bar

197 E. 3rd St.


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Indie bookstore and bar Book Club opened in New York’s East Village in 2019. The concept behind the space is hominess, coziness, and hyperlocal fare: Writers and readers can sip New York state beers and coffee from a neighborhood roaster while lounging in the living-room-inspired space. It’s the perfect place to revise a poem or to host a meeting of an actual book club


Books Are Magic

225 Smith St. (main location)



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Owned by Brooklyn-based writer Emma Straub, Books Are Magic is one of the city’s favorite indie bookshops and a hub for literary events. Previous readings have included Hanif Abdurraqib, Kristen Arnett, Melissa Febos, Mary Karr, and many others. The store is also known for its large Books Are Magic mural – perfect for a literary-inspired Instagram photoshoot – and its expertly chosen staff recommendations. 


Strand Books

828 Broadway at 12th St. (main location)


When you think of the most famous indie bookstores in the world, Strand Books likely makes the list. Founded in 1927, as the Strand nears its second century in business, they’re still well-known for curating both much-anticipated new titles, classics, and antiquarian collectibles. It’s considered one of the most wide-ranging and eclectic book selections in the country. 


Center for Book Arts

28 W. 27th St. 


The Center for Book Arts is the oldest nonprofit dedicated to advancing and promoting the book arts, which include binding, letterpress, dyeing, woodcut, and more. The space is home to diverse exhibitions that uplift pioneering and breathtaking examples of the art form, as well as fascinating workshops where you can start to learn these rare, time-honored techniques. 


Edgar Allan Poe Cottage

2640 Grand Concourse


The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage was the final home of the famous gothic writer and his family and is located in The Bronx borough. Built in 1812, the charming site is now on the city and state’s lists of historic places. Since Poe’s death, the cottage has been transformed into a museum, where visitors can step into the Poe family’s daily life and learn from interesting, rotating exhibits. 


Nuyorican Poets Café

236 E. 3rd St. 


The Nuyorican Poets Café describes itself as “a cultural icon of New York’s lower East Side since 1973.” This reputation holds true, with the historic space standing out as a breeding ground for some of the city’s best poetry, music, theater, visual art, and more. The art unveiled at Nuyorican Poets Café is interdisciplinary and genre-blurring, but above all it strives to represent working class and emerging artists in the city. They host a weekly jazz night and weekly open mic, among other events. 


Feeling more like a West Coast trip? Check out our literary city spotlight of San Francisco.