Book Gangs of New York

Book Gangs of New York 1

Photo Collection Alexander Alland, Sr., CORBIS

Men browse the tables outside a bookstore in New York City, circa 1938.

In the 1930s, the stretch of New York's Fourth Avenue running from Astor Place to Union Square was a mecca for bibliophiles. Racks of 10-cent books lined the sidewalks, mobs of men in starched collars and drab waistcoats shuffled along, flipping through pages under awnings and homemade signs. In the stores themselves, behind the bargain racks, booksellers haggled with customers over creaking, book-laden tables. This six-block area contained over a million