Hotels In The City 1887


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Only a little more than a century ago, there was but one inn or tavern of note in New York. It did not aspire to the dignity of a hotel, but was known as the Coffee House, and was in Broad street, near Wall. From this place the weekly stages to Boston and to Philadelphia started. There were very few travelers or strangers to accommodate; it was a sort of exchange for merchants, and ship-captains used to leave and get letters there.

One of the most famous of the old inns of the city was the Shakespeare tavern at the corner of Fulton and Nassau street. it survived to comparatively modern times, and years ago was a resort for such men as Halleck, General Webb, Prosper M. Wetmore, and other wits, sports, and editors, and the old Park theater actors have had some great dinners in the Shakespeare.

The Washington Hotel

The Washington hotel, at the corner of Broadway, fronting the Battery was the oldest building on Broadway. Sir Peter Warren built it for his town residence in 1742, and Archibald Kennedy, at one time collector of the port, and afterward the Scotch Earl of Cassilis, also lived in it. Washington and his staff occupied it for some time and when the British held possession of the city, it was Howe's headquarters. Major John Andre lived there, and in that old building was concocted the scheme of Benedict Arnold's treason, which was to result in the surrender of West Point. The house was torn down some four years ago, and the Field Building erected on its site.

For many years the best hotels in the city were on Broadway, below Fulton street. Among the most celebrated were the City Hotel, the Howard, and Judson's. The building of the Astor House, opposite the City hall Park, was the beginning of what was considered the up-town movement. In its day the Astor was the finest hotel in the world. About the year 1877, it was remodeled interiorly, and part of it was devoted to offices, while the rest remained a hotel. The American, just above, was afterwards opened as a first-class house. Next, in the upward movement was the Irving House which fronted the block, between Chambers and Reade streets, and for some years was very popular, but finally gave way to make room for better renting stores. The Brandreth, Prescott, Taylor's in its day, the celebrated Carleton, the Florence, the Cooper, and the Grand Central, have all been well known on the great thoroughfare ,though some of them have long been closed.

The St. Nicholas and Metropolitan were finished and opened about the same time, in 1852, and every-body said they were too far uptown to make money and catch custom. They were a great advance upon any hotels yet built, excelling in many respects even the Astor. Their success was immediate, and they stimulated the building of other large structures still further up town. The Metropolitan is still in existence, but the St. Nicholas has been turned into a business block. Meanwhile, the side streets down-town were the localities for second-class hotels for merchants and others, and the United States, in Fulton street, the many hotels in Courtland street, French's in Chatham street, Earle's, Sweeney's, and many more that might be named, have all been popular with their patrons.

Grand Up-town Hotels

There seems to be no limit to the upward march of the hotels. Union Square has the Everett, the Union Place, the Westmoreland, the Hotel Dam, and the Morton House. Eastward, one block, is the Westminister; westward in Fifth Avenue is the Brevoort; close by on Broadway are the Sinclair, St. Dennis and the New York; there is a line of fine houses on upper Broadway, among which are the Coleman, Sturtevant, Gilsey and Grand. Around Madison Square are the Fifth Avenue, Albemarle, Hoffman, St. James. Brunswick, and Delmonico', all of them ranking as first-class.

On Fifth Avenue

This main thoroughfare, so long solely devoted to fashionable private houses, and equally "fashionable" churches, has been intruded upon by club houses, boarding houses, restaurants, and retail stores, and of late years, the largest and finest hotels in the city have been built on this avenue. Among the most conspicuous are the Windsor and the Buckingham. A first-class metropolitan hotel, "with all the latest improvements," is a small city in itself. The guest finds under one roof, not only the requisites for the best of living and lodging, but in many of them he can step into tailor's shops, shoe stores, hat stores, furnishing goods stores, and can buy a trunk or an umbrella without going out into the street.

 News stands, a telegraph office, messenger boys, and a dozen more conveniences for the man of business or of leisure, increase the attractions of modern hotels. When the guest goes to his room he is carried up by steam on an elevator. These are but few of many additions and improvements the hotel system has introduced. In old times all a man looked for, beyond food and lodging, was a bar, bath-room, and barber shop. In most of the first class hotels there are complete suites of rooms for families, which comprise all the comforts and conveniences of a private residence, and in which the guests may be as completely isolated from the rest of the hotel as if they were in their own homes.

Most of the proprietors of these great hotels get rich and some of them become so in a very few years.


Website: The History
Article Name: Hotels In The City 1887
Researcher/Preparer/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Wonders of a Great City; or; The sights, secrets and sins of New York; being a wonderful portrayal of the Varied Phases of Life in the Greatest City of America. by Matthew Hale Smith Chicago, People's Pub. Co.,1887
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