Posts Tagged ‘1950s New York City’

When everyone hung out at the San Remo

February 11, 2010

In 1950s Greenwich Village, few places were as popular as the San Remo.

Called a cafe but really a bar, the San Remo, at 189 Bleecker Street, hosted a literary-minded Village crowd plus regulars such as William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, and Allen Ginsberg, at left below.

“With its pressed-tin ceiling, black-and-white tile floors and dollar salads with all the bread and butter you could eat, the San Remo attracted a younger, hipper crowd more into experimenting with drugs than The White Horse’s habituées,” states a PBS bio of writer Delmore Schwartz and his favorite bars in Greenwich Village.

“The San Remo, which used to be at the corner of Bleecker and MacDougal in the heart of the Italian part of Greenwich Village, was cool rather than politically and alcoholically inflamed.

“Delmore’s fellow drinkers at the White Horse were ‘hotter,’ more engaged, their ideas forged by the political struggles of the 30’s. The apolitical San Remo crowd were children of World War II and more alienated from mainstream culture by the Cold War.”

The mad bomber of New York City

June 17, 2009

George Metesky had a serious grudge. A Con Ed employee left permanently disabled in 1931 due to an on-the-job injury at an upper Manhattan plant, he was bitter and resentful because the utility refused to compensate him. 

GeorgemeteskyarrestedA decade later, he decided to exact revenge by planting a couple of small bombs at Con Ed buildings in Manhattan. Both were duds.

Metesky had more in store, but he also deemed himself a patriotic kind of guy. So once World War II broke out, he sent the NYPD a note in block letters letting them know that he was suspending his bomb-making activity until the war was over.

MadbomberletterHe stuck to his word. In 1951 he planted his third bomb, near Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. The next exploded at the New York Public Library. All told, he was responsible for at least 37 bombs. No one was killed by them, but a men’s room attendant at Penn Station was seriously injured.

Arrested in 1957 after police tracked letters (like the one at left) he sent to the New York Journal-American, Metesky was found to be legally insane and incompetent to stand trial. He was committed to a mental hospital upstate but released in 1973, deemed not to be a danger to the public.

But old habits die hard, and in an interview with The New York Times upon his release, he indicated that he still felt slighted by Con Ed. The rest of Metesky’s life was quiet though, and he died in 1994 at age 90 in Connecticut.