Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg Still Creating A Community

When I was 22 I went on a pilgrimage to Lowell, Massachusetts to visit Jack Kerouac‘s home. It was ill planned, we were walking in the snow, there were no signs, and what was worse, no one had even heard of him! I would have given anything for a map with directions of where to go and what to do. Well, The Beat Museum and The Contemporary Museum (CJM) did just that. They partnered together to create a walking tour based around the history of the Beat Generation in North Beach, San Francisco, in honor of Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg at the CJM. More than fifty years after On the Road and Howl were published, a large group of people gathered to listen to their stories and to see their historical geography.

Kathryn Jaller kicking off the walking tour of North Beach with Jerry Cimino of The Beat Museum

Kathryn Jaller, of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, kicking off the walking tour of North Beach with Jerry Cimino, Founder and Director of The Beat Museum

We met at Jack Kerouac Alley, outside of City Lights Books and were given handouts created by Kathryn Jaller, (architect of the event) that included maps designed by Brandon (The Beat Museum) and illustrated by Kathryn. We followed Jerry as he guided a group of over 80 people through the crowded streets and alleys of North Beach. He told stories, grand stories of the Beats. Stories that made me shake my head because although I was familiar with the history, there is an art to storytelling, and Jerry is an artist.

Neal Cassady, Carolyn Cassady, Allen Ginsberg,The Beat Museum, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Beat, Beats, Beat Generation

Jerry Cimino tells the story of Carolyn Cassady dropping off Allen Ginsberg (at Columbus and Broadway) after she found Ginsberg in bed with her husband, Neal Cassady

The Marketing Department, minus our Director, took some portraits on Gibb Street, home of the former Bell Hotel, where Kerouac often stayed.

Kathryn Jaller, friend and colleague, at Gibb Street, which is home of the former Bell Hotel, where Kerouac used to stay

Kathryn Jaller, friend, colleague, and architect of the Beatnik photowalk

beatnikphotowalk, beatnik, beat generation, beat, beats, allen ginsberg, jack kerouac, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, The Beat Museum

Brad Aldridge, friend, colleague, and Beatnik photowalk collaborator

Gibb Street

Book nerd

Jerry carefully curated the walk to give us great stories and beautiful photo opportunities.

Jerry Cimino, explaining the history of St. Mary's Square in relation to Jack Kerouac and Carolyn Cassady's romance

Jerry Cimino, explaining the history of St. Mary’s Square in relation to Jack Kerouac and Carolyn Cassady’s romance

After that was a quick question and answer session with Jerry and this humble narrator.

Jerry Cimino, Founder of The Beat Museum, Melanie Samay, soifollowjulian

Jerry Cimino, Beat Museum Founder, answers some questions about the Beat Generation at The CJM

Jerry Cimino, The Beat Museum, The Contemporary Jewish Museum, Melanie Samay, soifollowjulian

Jerry Cimino and soifollowjulian

Jerry studied history in college and discovered the Beats a week after his graduation. He had a successful career in the corporate world for many years. But something was missing and so he decided to found The Beat Museum with his wife’s support. His love of history, American history precisely, provides him with a new point of entry for Beat history. His sense of humor creates a new perspective to the Beat stories. His authenticity has allowed him to form friendships with so many people in and involved with the Beat Generation. He is the perfect source for all things Beat.

Contemporary Jewish Museum, Beat Museum, Melanie Samay, Jerry Cimino, soifollowjulian, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Beat Memories, Beat, beats, beat Generation, Jack Kerouac

soifollowjulian and Jerry Cimino at the entrance of “Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg” at The CJM

Being a book nerd is great; books take you to places and times you cannot experience. But sometimes, they keep you indoors, solitary, and quiet. So it’s great when books bring you outside of your home and into the world. This walk, which ended up with around 90 people, was generated through literature. Ginsberg and Kerouac’s writing created a community of people years after their works were published. And this particular subset community interacted with one another, which as Jerry pointed out, the Beats encouraged. And that’s what’s so amazing about the Beats, they continue to inspire us to try new things and get out of our heads and enter the world.

For more on Jerry Cimino and the history of The Beat Museum, check out the CJM blog later this week.

While this tour was created specifically for the CJM’s Photowalk, The Beat Museum offers tours every Saturday and Sunday which can be tailored to fit your needs. Check out The Beat Museum and go on a tour.


  1. Thank you for your fine effort, in conjunction with the CJM, continuing to keep the Beats alive and well. I consider myself Beat, and have followed the trail of memories of my favorite people (writers) Ginsberg, Kerouac et. al. since the late ’60s. Well done!


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