Boulevard was founded in 1984 in New York City and incorporated in 1985 as a nonprofit by writer Richard Burgin. Its first issue, published January 2, 1986, featured fiction by Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, poetry by Kenneth Koch, and interviews with renowned composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich and an essay on John Dos Passos and the Soviet Cinema. By its third issue in 1987, Boulevard had attained national bookstore distribution, which continues into the present.
Boulevard has published works by generations of important writers and critics, including John Ashbery, Ann Beattie, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Jennifer Egan, Donald Hall, Alice Hoffman, David Mamet, Joyce Carol Oates, Carl Phillips, Francine Prose, Gerald Stern, Mark Strand, and others. Poet laureate Daniel Hoffman has called Boulevard “One of the half-dozen best literary journals.”
Boulevard’s headquarters moved from New York to Philadelphia in 1989; Drexel University published the magazine from 1991 to 1995. In the fall of 1996, the magazine moved to St. Louis, and St. Louis University became its publisher, an arrangement that lasted until 2013. Burgin edited the magazine until 2015, followed by Jessica Rogen.
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