The massive Barnes & Noble location at Broadway and West 66th Street closes its doors today. Known as the "Lincoln Triangle" branch for its spot right by the Lincoln Center campus, the 60,000 square-foot store was priced out of the neighborhood—when the store announced the closing in August, the statement said, "The increased rent that would be required to stay in the location makes it economically impossible for us to extend the lease."

In spite of huge signs outside the store, some people at the store were oblivious to the store's closing. Yesterday, a man asked a staffer why there were so many bare shelves, and the staffer said, "We're closing—didn't you see the enormous signs?" Another woman replied, "I saw them but I didn't read them." Some merchandise was on sale for 50%; those items, which seemed to be items already on sale (think books publishers thought would be bestsellers but weren't) will be donated to charity while all the other inventory will just go to a warehouse as stock for other stores.

Many staffers were basically stationed to prevent shoppers from going into areas that had already been cleared out (like the children's department) or were working on the clearing-out process. Some were sitting on the floor, commiserating with each other, and laughing grimly when shoppers asked again, "Where the books?" A few of the staffers we spoke to were not continuing on with Barnes and Noble after the store closed; one pointed out that the store employed 200 people and there were only 40 positions at other NYC stores available and another said he had already been through another store closing, referring to the Chelsea store which closed in 2008 (B&N's Astor Place location closed in 2007 due to high rents as well).

The store opened in 1995 and had a special focus on the performing arts, partly thanks to Lincoln Center's presence, with performers from Broadway shows frequently doing signings. And it was a destination for people to spend a little time before seeing a show at Lincoln Center or a movie at the Lincoln Square Imax. When B&N announced the closing, Lincoln Center BID president Monica Blum said, The Lincoln Center BID's President Monica Blum tells us, "It is very sad. Barnes and Noble has been a very important part of this community for a long time. We will miss their active involvement in our efforts and hope that whatever retail comes here will be as community minded as Barnes and Noble has been."

The amount of the rent increase wasn't disclosed, but the new tenant has the money: Discount retailer Century 21 is moving in.