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The San Remo Cafe: Archive Edition

Actor Montgomery Clift and Jack Kerouac (along with several other unidentified diners) eat at the San Remo Cafe. San Remo Collection, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Actor Montgomery Clift, far left, and Kevin McCarthy (along with several other unidentified diners), eat at the San Remo Cafe. San Remo Collection, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Off the Grid often features images from GVSHP’s Preservation Archive and Oral History Project. The image archive includes approximately 300 images from ten different collections that document the architecture, cultural history, and preservation of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. This summer, we were pleased to accept two new images into the archive.

These two images form the San Remo Collection. GVSHP explored the history of this iconic Village institution last summer, when we placed a plaque on the exterior of 93 MacDougal Street along with our sponsor, Two Boots. A restaurant and bar owned by the Santini family for most of its history (we can trace its dates of operation from 1925 to approximately 1970), the San Remo Café was frequented first by the local Italian community and later by writers, musicians, and artists. In the 1940s and 50s, the cafe became a hangout particularly for Beat writers. Regulars included Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Miles Davis, Frank O’Hara, Judith Malina, Jackson Pollock, James Baldwin, and Gore Vidal, several of whom first met here.

San Remo Café owner Joseph Santini Sr. and his son Joseph Santini Jr. tend the bar, circa 1930s. San Remo Collection, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
San Remo Café owner Joseph Santini Sr. and his son Joseph Santini Jr. tend the bar, circa 1930s. San Remo Collection, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

The two images that comprise the collection illustrate the San Remo’s earlier history as well as its mid-century heyday as a hangout for writers and artists. The San Remo was an important part of the history of the South Village, an area GVSHP is working hard to preserve. We are incredibly happy to have these two new images as part of our archive.

To learn more about GVSHP’s image archive and how to access these and other images, visit our website.

5 responses to “The San Remo Cafe: Archive Edition

  1. The “unidentified” man in plaid who is pictured looking at Montgomery Clift in the top photo is Kevin McCarthy, a film actor who starred in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and many other movies and TV shows. According to some accounts, Clift was in love with him. They were close friends at any rate.

    1. Just saw this and although nearly 5 yrs late!~ha~ I HAD to contribute to this fab pic’s comments that rumor was/ is that McCarthy( whom I use to see riding his bike in my, & I guess his also?…as well as Clift’s……his brownstone where he lived latter yrs of his life was/is only 1 & a half blocks away from my old UES tenement walk up) and Monty were actually lovers for a time. Dunno if accurate, bit this what I’ve read in books about both.~ luv GVSHP & photo….thnx!

  2. Not 100% convinced that’s Kerouac on the right. I can identify (in addition to Clift and McCarthy) Mira Rostova (Monty’s acting coach) and Augusta Dabney (McCarthy’s wife) with their backs to the camera. No idea who is sitting next to Kevin and again…not sure that’s Kerouac.

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