Union Terminal Warehouse, Chamblin Bookmine Storage

by Tim Gilmore, 9/14/2015

cont’d from Chamblin’s Uptown

The pine green ’34 Ford pulls slowly onto the gravel lot outside the faded red bay doors of the century-old Union Terminal Warehouse down the farther end of

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Union Street downtown, just past the Old City Cemetery with its graves dating back almost 200 years. From inside the car, the hood narrows almost to a point at the front, a sleek silver greyhound poised at the tip.

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An old one-lane brick road descends into basements beneath the building, but we’re going up top. Ron slides a large red wooden door marked “‘A’ Elevator” to the right, pulls up two wooden cage doors, and we step into the heavy metal freight elevator.

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As we ascend slowly, Ron taps on the scarred old wall, says, “Thing about technology from the time this thing was built, it’s just like my old Fords, since the technology was not yet refined, they overbuilt. They built simply but they built so much redundancy into things, take Brooklyn Bridge for example, that bridge is overbuilt six or seven times what it needs to be.”

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On the fourth floor, Ron unlocks an enormous steel door, and we step into more than 8,000 square feet of boxes of books piled high and shrink-wrapped on wooden pallets.

“Everything up here is good stuff,” Ron says. “You could open a good-sized bookstore with what’s in this room.” Eventually all these books will circuit through Ron’s bookstores.

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Ron points toward pallets crowded in the clouded sunshine pouring through rusted window frames. “Somewhere in there,” he says, “There’s a James Joyce that might be worth a couple of thousand dollars.” We stare across a sea of books.

Every time one store or another warehouse fills up, he says, he has to acquire more space. Deliveries arrive here every week or two, and there’s barely any room left.

cont’d Brooklyn: Chamblin Bookmine, Part 4