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City Lights, SF’s Beat Generation Landmark, Marks 60th Anniversary

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City Lights

photo: James Irwin/CBS San Francisco

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)– The San Francisco bookstore that helped launch the Beat Generation into the world spotlight is celebrating its 60th anniversary this weekend.

City Lights Bookstore in the North Beach neighborhood has demonstrated provocation and longevity.

After climbing the stairs to the third-floor poetry room, Alex Chapman said he first came to City Lights 13 years ago with a friend who was into the beat culture.

“We kind of were experimenting with poetry and I think it’s sort of a romantic place to come if you have read any of that literature,” Chapman said.

Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, now 94 years old, opened the independent store in 1953.

Executive director Elaine Katzenberger said it’s always stood for challenging conservatism of any kind.

“City Lights was never founded as a way to make a profit. City Lights was here to share what it is we’re excited about and from the beginning that was Ferlinghetii’s vision and that’s what we’re doing here.”

And Katzenberger said business is thriving, a fact that will be celebrated at this Sunday afternoon’s birthday party and open house.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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