Today was my great-uncle Bud’s 100th birthday. No one can really believe it, and a relative asked if he still had his birth certificate. He said, “I’m too old to have a birth certificate.” All this got me thinking about the world Bud was born into in 1916.
This postcard was sent 100 years ago, almost to the date!
Was glad to hear from you. Hope everything is going good with you and will be glad to see you upon your return. Regards + Health
The Vanderbilt Hotel was built to be near Vanderbilt-funded Grand Central Terminal. The railroad terminal was completed in 1911, and the hotel in 1912.
The Vanderbilt Hotel was proudly designed to be fireproof, and this was put to the test just three days after the hotel opened, when some crates packed with excelsior (wood shavings) 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 was last seen giving his lifebelt to a young woman. 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 once remarked on this irony to someone, who dryly noted, “If he’d missed the sinking of the Lusitania, then he probably would’ve been on the Hindenburg.”)
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. (Happy Women’s History Month!)
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. (Thanks for the info Daytonian in Manhattan!)
Postcard circa 1920. The Seville originally catered to young professionals. It is rumored to have been a gangster hideout during Prohibition. Some even believe Al Capone ran a speakeasy in what is now the garage. There is a suspicious double walled steel door off the lobby. At the end of WWII, the apartments were subdivided, becoming a transient hotel. From there, The Seville fell into complete disrepair. Renovated in the 1980’s, it’s now a condo complex.
The Men’s Grill in the Marshall Field’s men’s department aka The Store for Men was popular for business lunches. According to The Restaurant Project, in 1931–33 (about the time of this postcard), luncheon cost 75¢-$1.50. For many years after Prohibition had ended, it remained the only place in Marshall Field’s that served liquor.
Interestingly, the Men’s Grill was founded and run by a woman, Beatrice Hudson. Hudson instituted the popular corned beef hash, which remained on the menu for over fifty years. Hudson went on to own several restaurants in Los Angeles, and came out of retirement at age 76 to manage the Brown Derby (the Hollywood one, of course). Thanks for the info Restaurant-ing Through History!
…the Paradise Inn was built. 1916, as you’re probably aware due to the centennial, was also when the National Park Service was established. The Paradise Inn is now owned and operated by the NPS. But the hotel is no longer open in the winter and spring, so guests don’t get to ski on the roof.
1916 of course was in the middle of World War I. Sent from Petrograd (St. Petersburg) to Sebastopol in 1916…
“5 1/2% Military Loan. Our glorious army bleeding for the motherland is fulfilling its duty. You too can fulfill your duty by subscribing to the loan.”
Translated from French:
Beautiful dear Madame,
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your beautiful letter. Vera will have given you our news, and [nausmis nosfauve nirs?] Olga, Volodia and their child speak well of them. Voldia is waiting until he has a job and a much better [mirf?] We have some good news from Gino who we just visited only one month ago. But also I’m going to go to ________ under __________ and the next. The house is going to be a bit empty. I embrace you from my heart. Your [Johannes?]
The line with the blanks seems to be about Johannes’ plans to go to the front. I wonder what his story was–a man with a German name, fighting for Russia, and writing in French.
The last annual Fabergé Easter egg made for the Romanovs. It is one of the few Imperial eggs never to have been sold. It now makes its home at the Kremlin Armoury, which seems most appropriate for this particular egg.
Check out the Fabulous Faberge post for the whole postcard series of Imperial eggs. And happy Easter!