261 Columbus Ave
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1953 – Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and sociology teacher Peter D. Martin create the first all-paperback bookstore called ‘City Lights’ in homage to Charlie Chaplin… A moniker they already used for a magazine, which had been the first to publish the reviews of notorious film critic Pauline Kael.
1955 – City Lights becomes a publisher as well and launches the Pocket Poets Series.
1956 – Allan Ginsberg‘s poem ‘Howl’, published in the Pocket Poets Series, draws intense controversy because of its sexual practices and illicit drugs references, leading to a trial for obscenity in 1957. Charges are dismissed when a judge declares the poem of ‘social importance’. Thanks to the controversy and its positive outcome, the store is now worldwide-known.
2001 – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors declares City Lights an official historic landmark.
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