Beat Museum

Long after the California Gold Rush brought prospectors to San Francisco in the mid-1800s, there was another migration that greatly benefited the City by the Bay. It was the arrival of the Beats following World War II that would give the city its spot in literary history. The Beat Museum in North Beach has a mission to preserve the legacy of this group of Bohemian writers, painters and poets.

The Beats, as in beat down and down trodden, adopted the Bay Area as the new mecca of artistic freedom and creativity and subsequently inspired future generations to do the same. They certainly inspired Jerry Cimino. Jerry Cimino is a Baltimore native who arrived in California in 1988. A fan of Beat literature since his college days, he opened a bookstore in nearby Monterey, which he eventually closed and re-channeled into the Beat Museum in 2003.

Situated at the intersection of Broadway Street and Columbus Avenue in the North Beach neighborhood, the Beat Museum is located at Ground Zero for the Beat movement. North Beach was an Italian neighborhood in the late 1940s when the Beats began arriving. Neil Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Lawrence Ferhinghetti all lived, worked or spent time in the neighborhood in the 1950s. This like-minded collection of artists left an indelible mark on the literature of the US and the Beat Museum honors that contribution with over 1,000 pieces of Beat memorabilia. The collection includes original manuscripts, letters, first edition copies of published works and even a 1949 Hudson automobile which, like all the museum’s acquisitions, was donated to the museum.

There are other Beat institutions that bring people to the neighborhood as well. The iconic City Lights Bookstore is also located at the same intersection and Beat hangout, The Vesuvio Cafe, is within walking distance of the museum. The Beat Museum is located at 540 Broadway Street and is open 10AM to 7PM, seven days a week, only closing on Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is eight dollars for adults and five for students and seniors. More information is available at and by calling 1-800-KEROUAC (1-800-537-6822).

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