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Illustrated monthly magazine founded 1890 by George Newnes and edited by H. Greenhough Smith. The Strand aimed itself at mass market, using a simple typeface and liberal use of illustrations (the aim was to have a picture on every page) with stories and articles by contemporary writers. The price was six pence, half the price of other literary monthlies, and at its peak the circulation was around half a million, which was outstanding for its time.

One of the most famous contributors was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose stories about Sherlock Holmes made him a celebrity. Other great names were E. W. Hornung and Bret Harte.

The Strand is also a 19th century shopping arcade in Sydney, between Pitt and George Street. When it opened in 1892, it was the fifth and last of the arcades built in Victorian Sydney, and is the only one remaining in its original form. In its early period, it was referred to as the 'City Arcade,' or 'Arcade Street.' It was not named after the famous street that linked London and Westminster until 1891. In the early 1900s, the Strand was London's smartest hotel, theatre, and shopping street.

The Strand was designed by J.B. Spencer in the Classical Revival style. It fell into two hands from the 20s to the 70s, when both ends were bought by the Prudential Assurance Company. It was nearly destroyed by fire in 1976, and it was fortunately renovated. It had survived two depressions: one in the 1890s and another in the 1950s; as well as the threat of a second, earlier fire.

Rent controls were imposed in the mid-20th century, which meant that tenants - milliners, artisans, glove- and shoe-makers, etc. - had protected low rents. Little money was spent on the building through the years. The basement of the arcade, now occupied by duty-free shops, housed Ambassadors - a grand restaurant with separate dining saloons. Ambassadors transmogrified into Sydney's first ballroom/nightclub in the 1930s.

(current day)
It has four levels:

  • Downtown Duty Free, on the lower ground floor.
  • The ground floor, with Sydney Vintage Watches, Strand Hatters, a cafe or two, tourist shops, Past Present Future for Alessi homewares, and, my favorite, The Old Coffee Shop, a tenant since 1892, which still serves coffee from a beautiful, authentic Bezzera machine. Most of their customers of almost of the same vintage.
  • Level One is the designer fashion gallery, with Alannah Hill, Farage, etc. There is also Dinosaur Designs, with Flintstones-esque resin homeware, and Love+Hatred, for (mostly) medieval-inspired jewelry.
  • Level two is the specialty gallery, with jewellers, shoe repair, customer shirts, and alterations.
It's a lovely place, more intimate and considerably cooler than the massive Queen Victoria Building, or QVB, which has its own history behind it.

Pitt Street Mall
www.strandarcade.com.au
9232 4199

Sydney: biography of a city, Lucy Turnbull (1999)

One of my favorite places to browse while in Manhattan is the Strand Book Store, Broadway and 12th St.

The Strand touts itself as "8 Miles of Books", but this assertion is difficult to gauge. Books are piled on books, frequently on squat bins more in keeping with a closeout store than a library. People scramble about in a mad beehive dance, skipping past chess books to theological texts, arguing over authors, fighting their way to the cashier. It's a madhouse, an updated Forum of the ever so slightly anxious.

Books are roughly organized by rarity, binding type, and subject. The upper floor contains mostly non-fiction and some more expensive items; the lower level holds children's books, textbooks, and fiction including oddities such as publisher advance release copies. The store feels like a gigantic maze, winding rows of shelves thrown up wherever convenient. It's easy to follow a row of shelves only to find a dead end or, worse yet, pipes and ducting. Add to the fact that the employees are constantly renewing the stock, and one has the makings of a huge traffic jam.

I wouldn't say that the Strand has the best bargains in books. Those addicted to getting the best price would do better to go to a thrift store. But for hard to find books, this store is very handy. Those who need books for academic research may do well to visit; especially those in disciplines like classical languages where it is not easy to find certain authors needed for coursework.

Yet, there is no website.

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