WOMRATH’S, Forest Hills

by Kevin Walsh

From the NYC Municipal Archives, here’s a look at 71-66 Austin Street in Forest Hills which then housed a Womrath’s library. Since I remember Womrath’s in Bay Ridge as a bookstore, I researched the firm founded by Pennsylvanian Arthur R. Womrath (1871-1945). As you can see from the 1922 Brooklyn Eagle ad at left, the chain was founded as early as that year and already had several branches in Brooklyn. (Sorry, I can’t show it larger without losing resolution.)

From the beginning Womrath’s had a unique business model. Books were for sale, but could also be rented for a few cents a week, which made Womrath’s a library as well as a bookstore. this was reflected in early signage for the chain.

At one time Womrath’s had 50 locations in New York and New Jersey. I remember it in Bay Ridge though I do not recall if it was on 86th Street or 4th Avenue. I don’t think it survived the 1970s. In New Jersey, a Womrath’s in Hackensack lasted until 2001 and in Tenafly until 2016. Today the only surviving Womrath’s is in Bronxville in Westchester County.

Check out the ForgottenBook,┬átake a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

2/4/21

9 comments

Brad Globerman February 5, 2021 - 10:08 am

My father once owned a pharmacy and had a Womrath lending library inside the store. The representative would come in periodically to colllect the fees and swap out the books. People loved it.

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Bruce Appelbaum February 5, 2021 - 10:57 am

I believe there used to be a Womraths in Mount Kisco in upper Westchester. Books plus other stuff.

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Punto February 5, 2021 - 2:08 pm

My memory may be off a bit, but I believe that there was a Womrath’s in Hempstead when I was in high school out on the island, 1965-68, that was my first go-to bookstore. The place I remember was near the intersection of Fulton and Greenwich, no far from the A & S. They were well stocked for a fairly small business and they would gladly order something that they didn’t have for you. Maybe someone reading this can back me up or let me know the actual name. There definitely was a Womrath’s somewhere in my youth, if not there.

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Doris Muffoletto February 10, 2021 - 11:49 pm

That was there when I went to Hofstra in1958.

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Brad Globerman February 5, 2021 - 7:15 pm

My dad owned a phamacy and had a Womrath Library inside the store. Periodically, the representative would come in to collect the fees and swap out the books/

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Tal Barzilai February 6, 2021 - 12:19 am

Is at least the building it was in still there today or is that gone as well?

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Kevin Walsh February 7, 2021 - 9:08 am

But much altered.

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redstaterefugee February 7, 2021 - 9:49 am

Parkchester (in the Bronx) had two Womrath’s, one on each side of Metropolitan Oval

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reality bites February 8, 2021 - 3:35 pm

And a deli with Chow Mein right next door!

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