City Lights Bookstore: Other Beat Cities

While San Francisco is often attributed as the main gathering place of the Beat movement, the movement was also international and the cities listed below played important parts as well.

New York

  • Many of the Beats attended Columbia University where they met through classes and mutual friends
  • Began to get together regularly to discuss different topics, poetry, and explore the city
  • Influenced by the jazz scene,  coffee shops, and art scene.  The jazz scene in particular influenced Kerouac’s poetry as he tried to mimic the jazz rhythm in his writing


  • The Beats were attracted to the Latin Quarter and cheap rates at Madame Rachou’s hotel (cheap because it lacked proper accommodations such as a kitchen, access to showers)
  • The city provided a free environment for the Beats to experiment in many ways through poetry, sexuality, and community

Mexico City

  • Accessible through the Pan American Highway, promotion of tourism by the Mexican government, peso devaluation
  • Beats inspired to visit after friends’ experiences and books written about the country
  • Attracted to the easy lifestyle the city provided but later became disenchanted after certain events
  • Jack Kerouac visited and lived in the city multiple times,  and wrote many works, including Mexico City Blues
  • William Burroughs lived in the city with his wife and children, hosted friends, and wrote other works.  Also ended up accidentally killing his wife in drunken game of “William Tell”
  • Other Beats attended school and took courses in indigenous languages and anthropology

Posted on May 12, 2011, in Anthro136k-spring2011-UC-Berkeley, Anthro136kSp11, City-Lights-Bookstore-San-Francisco, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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