Hyatt Regency, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
This gleaming, shoulder-padded postcard is dated New Year’s Day, 1990.Palm Court, Omni Netherland Plaza Hotel, Cincinnati, Ohio. Established 1931. (Now the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza)
Mama Snail writes, “Gene’s girlfriend kate was staying at this hotel when I came, so we had drinks in this amazing room. So beautiful and 1920’s–“Deshler-Wallick Hotel, Columbus, Ohio. Established 1916.
The original hotel is the big square building. There were additional rooms in the mixed-use LeVeque Tower and the building between. The Deshler-Wallick was demolished in 1970.
Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga Springs, New York
Caption: Begun in 1802 by Gideon Putnam as a tavern, it became the world’s largest and most lavish hotel after brick additions were made in 1864 and 1871. Here at the turn of the century gathered the social world for the racing season.
Gideon Putnam was the founder of Saratoga Springs, and his tavern also served as a summertime boarding house, thus the growing into a resort.
General Ulysses S. Grant attended the opening of the Grand Union Hotel Opera House on July 4, 1865.
In 1877, the hotel manager denied entry to a Jewish family, the first antisemitic incident of its kind to draw publicity and controversy throughout the United States.
Built in 1912 to be near Vanderbilt-funded Grand Central Terminal, completed the year before. This postcard is postmarked 1916.
The Vanderbilt Hotel was proudly designed to be fireproof, and this was put to the test just three days after the hotel opened, when, on the fourth floor, some crates packed with excelsior (wood shavings packing material) suddenly ignited. Despite the reportedly intense heat of the fire, it didn’t spread and was quickly extinguished, winning the hotel much praise from authorities on architecture.
Alfred “Freddy” Vanderbilt, his second wife Margaret, their two sons and their domestic staff moved into the top two floors of the hotel, where they lived until Freddy’s death in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915. (He would have died in the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 had he not decided on a different ship the day before. I recently remarked on this irony to a friend, who dryly noted, “If he’d missed the sinking of the Lusitania, then he probably would’ve been on the Hindenburg.”)
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt I and Margaret Emerson Vanderbilt
The family’s suite became home to the Women’s City Club, newly founded in 1915 by 100 suffragists who exchanged ideas and organized plans of action on issues like tenement living, sweatshop labor, access to birth control, and women’s admission to universities. The club exists to this day.
The Vanderbilt family sold the hotel in 1925. In 1967, the building underwent some unfortunate remodeling as it became dedicated to apartments with offices on the lower floors, as it remains today.Caption: Central Park Lake looking towards 5th Avenue. Here are shown the Savoy Plaza, the Sherry-Netherland and Pierre Hotels.
The Savoy-Plaza Hotel is the bulkier one with the two chimneys. It was founded in 1927 by the owner of the Plaza Hotel on the spot of the former Savoy Hotel (1890), thus the hyphenated name. Under Hilton Hotels in 1958, the Savoy-Plaza became home to Trader Vic’s. The hotel closed at the end of the New York World’s Fair in 1965, and was demolished by 1966, replaced by a General Motors building in 1968.
The Sherry-Netherland–the center tower with the spire–also opened in 1927. The ornate roof disguises a water tower! This in response to the fact that the hotel opening was delayed when the scaffolding of the upper floors caught fire. The fire raged for 12 hours and could be seen from Long Island. The building became a housing co-op in the 1950s, and remains an apartment hotel.
“While I’m brushing my teeth there is this pigeon who is always
hanging around our bathroom window and he does absolutely nothing
He is fat and grisly and I holler at him and he
flies over to the Sherry-Netherland for a while to see what they’re
The Pierre is the tower on the left. Opened in 1930, the hotel went bankrupt in 1932 and was purchased by oilman John Paul Getty. Getty made it possible for The Pierre to continue as a hotel by selling many suites as cooperative apartments. In 1948, ABC TV and New York’s main FM radio station broadcast from a tower on the roof. (A few years later they moved to the Empire State Building.) At midcentury, apartment residents included Elizabeth Taylor, and Yves Saint-Laurent. In 1972, men associated with the Lucchese crime family robbed $28,000,000 worth of jewels and cash from The Pierre. (The masterminds had already robbed a number of prominent hotels, including the Sherry-Netherland, and took $2,200,000 worth of jewels from Sophia Loren at the Hampshire House.) The Pierre is still a luxury hotel today. You must see the rotunda!
Mama Snail writes, “We’re here in NYC + thought we’d say hi to Eloise!”
Eloise writes, “There is a lobby which is enormously large
with marble pillars and ladies in it and a revolving
door with [backwards P] P on it”
Eloise’s creator Kay Thompson performed in the Plaza’s Persian Room, as well as Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, and Peggy Lee, and Miles Davis recorded a live album there in 1958. The Beatles stayed at the Plaza on their first U.S. tour in 1964. Eurostars Dylan Hotel, New York City
Starting in 1903, this was the New York Pharmacists Club, thus the “Chemists’ Club” sign. The contemporary boutique hotel is named for Dylan Thomas, who lived in the building during one of his American tours. Colony Hotel, South Beach, Miami, Florida. Established 1935.
Mama Snail writes, “Our room looks out over the harbor + we see all the big ships + fancy boats coming in + going out.”Mama Snail sent this to me when I was nine years-old, reporting,”This is one place you would have really loved. I thought about you all day long. Kids everywhere. They have the characters in the restaurant, but I got room service.”The message seems like a journal note or personal resolution, as the postcard was never sent, let alone addressed.
At the time it was built, Coral Gables was the tallest hotel in Florida. The pool, meanwhile, was the largest in the world for a time. Johnny Weissmuller broke a world swimming record in it, and taught lessons.
New York mobster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was killed here in a gambling dispute in 1929. Some believe he haunts the place. Al Capone was also a guest, along with the more wholesome Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland.
The hotel served as a hospital in WWII.
Mama Snail writes, “This is the pool of the beautiful hotel where I’m staying–the Biltmore in Coral Gables. It’s the greatest + I only get to be here 1 night–in at 6 p. out at 7:30 a.) Just a glimpse–“
Take a glimpse again soon for postcards of the hotels of Hawaii!