Baltimore Bookstores - 40 Years Ago

Over the years, Baltimore has seen a lot of bookstores come and go.
40 years ago, the city region had over 25 booksellers. Here's how they were described in a city guide called Bawlamer: An Informal Guide To A Livelier Baltimore from 1974, published by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

Aquarian Age Bookstore (813 N. Charles St.)
As the name would indicate, offered selections in mind-consciousness-body expansion, etc.

Baltimore Museum Of Art (Art Museum Drive)
Wide selection of art-related books, both hardbound and paperback.

The Black Book (2607 W. North Ave.)
Carried a large collection of black culture, black history, and related material. Offered fiction and non-fiction, children and adults sections.

Book Fair (3121 St. Paul St.)
If you were worn out from rummaging through uncatalogued, dust-laden stacks, this neat, well-stocked, well-organized shop may have been just what you were after.

Bookyard (817 S. Broadway)
If you were ready for dust again, the Bookyard offered friendly rummaging for second hand books, both hardbound and paperback.

Cokesbury (516 N. Charles St.)
From Bibles to best-sellers, a fairly wide selection of something to please everyone.

Centre Book Store (805 N. Howard St.)
Another place where the search through the stacks was half the fun. Mostly old hardbacks at reduced prices, featuring a large collection of Marylandia items.

Curlander Law Book  Co. (525 N. Charles St.)
They pleaded "Noli Contendere" to the charge of having the best selection of legal books in town.

Doubleday Bookstore (6315 York Rd.)
Not exotic, but a good solid selection of bestsellers, hardbound and paperback.

John Gach Bookshop (3322 Greenmount Ave.)
Probably the best of Baltimore's second hand bookstores. Well-lighted, well-catalogued, and reasonably priced, it offered a wide selection of second hand books, out of print specialties and some rare finds. For the true connoisseur with plenty of money, Gach offered a separate specialized book service with an exciting rare book collection just down the street.

Gordon's Booksellers (110 E. Baltimore St.)
Offered a full range of hardbound and paperback books. Frequent sale days provided a nice lunchtime outlet for those working in the downtown area.

Johns Hopkins Bookstore (Charles & 34th St.)

Maryland Institute Bookstore (Mt. Royal Ave. & Dolphin St.)
You don't have to be a student to cash in on discounts offered here. Several visits to this rotating selection of all types of art books could yield a prize. Don't have something specific in mind.

New Era Bookshop (408 Park Ave.)
The home of leftist literature in Baltimore. A good and varied selection in that area, and a fun place to browse.

Newman Book Store (212 N. Liberty St.)
If religious biographies and histories and volumes in theology and philosophy were your thing, this was a spot you shouldn't miss.

Peabody Bookshop & Beer Stube (913 N. Charles St.)
Cold beer and old books under one roof take you back to Mencken land, what many would consider to be the best of two worlds.

Pern's Hebrew Book And Gift Shop (7012 Reisterstown Rd.)
If you couldn't find it at Pern's, you could hop back in your car and try your luck at Central Hebrew Book Store (228 Reisterstown Rd.).

Remington's (Charles & Mulberry St., and 2 other locations)
Generations of Baltimoreans bought books at Remington's for the past sixty-six years. It continued to offer a large selection of popular sellers, classics and an extensive collection of Marylandia.

Schill's Book Shop (208 W. Franklin St.)
One of Baltimore's older newstand-bookshops which offered a good variety of newspapers and magazines.

Abe Sherman's Bookshop (Park Ave. & Mulberry St.)
Selection of out-of-town and out-of-country newspapers, and a wide-ranging magazine collection. An interesting offering of the expected and unexpected in the paperback field. Was a Baltimore landmark for years.

The Thirty-First Street Shop (8 Alleghany Ave. Towson)
Dealt primarily in second hand and rare editions, this shop contained over 20,000 volumes at one count. Appraisal services were also available. While looking at books, check out the selection of prints and paintings.

The Thirty-First Street Shop (425 E. 31st St.)
This was a new find for Baltimoreans, featuring an excellent selection of children's books and women's literature and magazines. Also had an interesting collection of plant, gardening and cookbooks with a natural bent, and some crafts and plants too.

Towson State Book Shop (York Rd. Towson)

A Women's Bookstore In Baltimore (12 W. 25th St.)
As its name would indicate, this bookstore specialized in literature by and for women.
Of these bookstores, the only ones that still exist in any kind of form today are ones associated with institutions.

The Baltimore Museum of Art still has a gift shop. And the Maryland Institute Bookstore and Towson State (now Towson University) Book Shop still exist. And there is a chain of Christian bookstores (affiliated with the United Methodist Church) called Cokesbury that has a location in Meadows Shopping Center  (Security Blvd). The Johns Hopkins Bookstore is now a Barnes & Noble.

But that's it. All the rest are gone. Lost to the ages.

However, you can find some great stories about them here.

Note: The above descriptions are as they appeared in the Bawlamer guide, except I removed the phone numbers and in some cases I changed the verb tense in the descriptions to past tense lest someone on the internet stumble upon this list and think it's a current Baltimore bookstore directory and not a glimpse into Baltimore's bookselling scene 40 years ago. I also omitted Goodwill from Bawlamer's list because I don't consider it a bookstore.

Baltimore has  a long history of great bookstores. How many Baltimore bookstores can you name?

Images: both are of  The Peabody Bookshop & Beer Stube.


Anonymous said…
I remember the Peabody, though it was hardly there anymore when I lived at St. Paul and Chase in the early 80s. How about Louie's The Bookstore Cafe? Great late night fare, live music, and, oh yes, books! Nostalgic for old Baltimore. Blast kindles; I like paper books and the commeraderie of bookstores. Just plain nostalgic, period!
Jim Bartlett said…
There was a used bookstore, on Centre St (between Cathedral & Charles Sts, and across the street from the Walters Art Gallery....circa 50s and, maybe 1960s.

The bookstore at 805 N. Howard was (I think) "Smith's".

There was a small bookstore in the 500 block N. Howard St (between Franklin & Centre Sts) and, approximately across the street from The Mayfair movie theater. It may have been called "The Frigate". I believe that it may have also been one of those considered to be a "leftist"-oriented dealer (in the 50s...something of a code word for "Communist", in that gray flannel suit era).

In the 500 block N. Eutaw St (roughly opposite where "No Fish Today" bar later would be) was yet another dark, dusty used bookstore..."Pippin's". I recall my Dad taking me there when I was very young. I believe that Mr. Pippin died in the 50s, and the shop closed.
Karen Wheeler said…
The Frigate, o Howard St. , called so because of the Emily Dickinson poem that begins, "There is no Frigate like a Book, to take us Lands away..."

There was a ship's figurehead in the window... a favorite stop of mine as i walked downtown from Bolton Hill in my freshman year at Maryland Institute (MICA), waaaay back in 1962. I don't think it was a left wing bookshop... there were also "listening booths" in the rear of the store because the owner also sold records...

Popular posts from this blog

Atomic Reading Club 2019 - Work