I was very sorry to learn the Rizzoli Bookstore on West 57th Street in Manhattan closed on Friday, April 11, 2014. Before the closure of the other stores in 2001, this was the flagship in a chain, Rizzoli International Bookstores. I never had the pleasure of shopping there, but I have fond memories of Rizzoli bookstores that formerly were in Water Tower Place and Oakbrook Center.
The six-story building at 31 West 57th Street, which Sarah Goodyear pointed out had been profiled in the “2000 edition of the AIA Guide to New York City…as ‘a bookshop that feels like a library in a baronial mansion.’” This townhouse had formerly housed the showrooms of the Sohmer Piano Company.
On its “Store History” page, Rizzoli Bookstore described its stock. “Our collection of books is specialized in illustrated subjects – fashion, interior design, art, architecture, photography, design – and literature, in Italian, French, Spanish, and English. But all subjects of general interest are represented and we carry a selection of European magazines and newspapers. We also carry a fine selection of compact discs and DVDs, and our selection of note cards and stationery is a constant delight to our customers.”
Three floors were open to the public. The first two floors held illustrated works on fashion, art, architecture, interior design, and photography, as well as literature. CDs, DVDs, note cards, stationary, and children’s books were to be found on the third floor.
The location on 57th Street, a six-story townhouse that stands between Fifth Avenue to the southeast and Sixth Avenue to the northwest, is prime real estate, about two blocks south of The Pond in the southeast corner of Central Park. The townhouse has four cast-iron chandeliers preserved from the former location on Fifth Avenue, vaulted ceilings, and Diocletian windows – the kind of large, semi-circular windows characteristic of Roman Thermae (public bath-houses).