1940s Beat writer hangout: Hector’s cafeteria

There were actually four Hector’s cafeterias in Times Square, according to a 1970 New York Times article chronicling the closing of the last one on 44th Street and Broadway.

I don’t know which one is in this 1952 photo—nor is it clear which Hector’s was chronicled in the opening pages of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road:

“Dean had arrived the night before, the first time in New York, with his beautiful little sharp chick Marylou; they got off the Greyhound bus at 50th Street and cut around the corner looking for a place to eat and went right to Hector’s, and since then Hector’s Cafeteria has always been a big symbol of New York for Dean.

“They spent money on beautiful big glazed cakes and creampuffs.”

Desserts seemed to be Hector’s specialty. “The dessert counter, 12 feet long and three feet high, was a gourmond’s dream,” the Times article says.

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13 Responses to “1940s Beat writer hangout: Hector’s cafeteria”

  1. Maria Says:

    Wow, what a wonderful photo! I love the neon signs, the bus, and the ad with the squirrel. Thanks for posting.

  2. Peggy Says:

    The one pictured is the one at 44th St. in Times Square. It is in another photo taken by the same photographer who did the V-J Day Kiss, on the same day. The photo is of the crowd celebrating V-J Day. If you Google Images of the V-J Day Kiss, you will find that photo on the first page, I it is a few down, and on the far right. Here is a link to the full-sized photo. Note as you scan the photo side to side that the 44th St. sign is over to the left. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/V-J_Day_Times_Square_NYWTS.jpg

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for the link! I never noticed Hector’s in this photo before.

  4. Linda Landman Says:

    This is my grandparents restaurant. I have two cousins and my daughter resides in New York now.

    • stuart tara Says:

      i’m a nyc restauranteur & trying to revive the cafeteria experience in a new project
      any more photos of Hector’s?
      thanks- stuart tara

      • Linda Landman Says:

        Find a place called Ellen in the Village. Ellen Koenigsberg owns it. She is another granddaughter. She might have some information.

  5. “The most unusual cafeteria in New York” « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Kerouac memorialized Hector’s Cafe, near Times Square, in On the Road. Who memorialized Longley’s? The only mention I found was in Jerry […]

  6. Happy 4th of July Birthday to American Playwright, Neil Simon…86 Today and Born in the Bronx! | Ilene On Words Says:

    […] a dress and tickets were so very cheap then! There was a cafeteria that I enjoyed getting lunch at, Hector’s, where to accompany my meal (maybe roast beef and gravy) I’d order a beautiful whole roasted […]

  7. Craig H Collins Says:

    Hector’s is featured (briefly) in the “Times Square” scene in the “Green Acres” opening sequence!

  8. Linda K. Landman Says:

    Hey Craig. I never noticed that. Thank you so much for pointing that out. So cool to see that.

  9. Stephen gale Says:

    My family would go to the Hectors on 50th & Broadway – all kinds of food in a clean modern store – everyone would get a ticket at the beginning of the line as Katz’s still has – they would punch it as you selected different items

  10. Linda K. Landman Says:

    The photo above I believe was the Time’s Square location.

  11. hereinva Says:

    Around 1960, my dad, who lived in New Jersey, took me, a teenage boy, to Hector’s Times Square, and bought me what he promised would be the best dessert ever — a slice of a chocolate cake roll with a sweet white cream filling and a real banana piece in the center. By the time I moved to Manhattan in the early 1970s, Hector’s was gone! All my life I have dreamed of once again reliving that experience.

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