< UNITED STATES | NEW YORK CITY: The Algonquin Hotel
Holding the title of the oldest operating hotel in New York city, The Algonquin Hotel's story began in 1902 when its red brick and limestone façade
with characteristic bay windows, announced its arrival on one of the city’s most prestigious streets, home to the Harvard, New York Yacht, Yale clubs and the nearby Century.
Sherry’s and Delmonico’s, the two most popular restaurants of the period were within walking distance, while in 1905, directly across from the Algonquin opened The Hippodrome,
advertised as “the world’s largest playhouse”. Group of noted theatres soon joined: Belasco, Winthrop Ames and the Broadhurst...
Designed by architect Goldwin Starrett in popular at the time, Beaux-Arts style, the building was originally conceived as an apartment hotel which was to cater to long-term residents. However, due to nature of its neighborhood, its owner eventually decided to turn it into a hotel.
On November 23rd, 1902, New York Daily Tribune wrote: “The Algonquin presents in claim for public consideration an unexcelled location, a superb design, modern fireproof construction and a house and table equal to the demands of the most fastidious.”
In 1907, Frank Case took over the lease on the hotel which he'll eventually own, twenty years later by paying the sum of $1,250,000. Remaining as The Algonquin's owner and manager until his death in June 1946, legendary manager was also know as the person who originally christened the hotel. Inspired by the language spoken by the area’s Native American population, he persuaded the hotel’s original owner to change its name from the Puritan to the Algonquin.
From the beginning, Case created a vision for the hotel as a center of New York’s theatrical and literary life, attracting luminaries of the time such as Booth Tarkington, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., John Barrymore and H. L. Mencken, who called it “the most comfortable hotel in America.” Famed women flocked to the hotel as well, as The Algonquin was unconventional early on in accommodating ladies traveling alone. Over the years, these have included Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Helen Hayes, Erica Jones, and Maya Angelou.
In June 1919 the hotel became the site of the daily meetings of group of (mostly critics) journalists, authors, publicists and actors who become known as the Algonquin Round Table. Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Robert E. Sherwood, Alexander Woollcott, Franklin P. Adams, Heywood Broun, Edna Ferber, Marc Connelly and George S. Kaufman gathered over lunch to exchange ideas, opinions, and often-savage wit that has enriched the world's literary life. The group originally assembled at a long rectangular table in Pergola (now The Oak Room) and as their number increased, Case moved them to the Rose Room (now The Round Table Room) and a round table. The "Vicious Circle" - as the group called itself, gathered for next 10 years. Drama critic, Brooks Atkinson observed "By force of character, "they changed the nature of American comedy and established the tastes of a new period in the arts and theatre."
In the late 1930s, a special guest wandered into the hotel searching for food and shelter. Welcomed by Frank Case, furry traveler was offered a permanent stay and a tradition was born. News soon reported that "Rusty", hotel cat, is Aristocat. It refuses to drink milk out of anything but a champagne glass. Since 2006, the throne holds The Matilda, a ragdoll cat who receives mail weekly from friends around the world and celebrate its birthday in style.
During their honeymoon in 1924, Ben Bodne, a South Carolina oilman promised his wife Mary who fell in love with the hotel that he'll buy it for her one day. In 1946, a promise was fulfilled. Bodne sold the hotel in 1987 and the Algonquin changed hands a number of times until September 2010, when it became part of the Autograph Collection of Hotels, Marriott’s’ group of unique and distinguished hotels. Since June 2011, Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors owns The Algonquin.
William Faulkner, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Barrymores, Gertrude Lawrence, Noel Coward (whose suite was dedicated in 2005), Laurence Olivier, Jeremy Irons, Graham Greene, Tom Stoppard, Charles Laughton, Diana Rigg and Anthony Hopkins are some of the names from the Hotel's Golden Book, while The Algonquin Oak Room launched the careers of Harry Connick Jr., Diana Krall, Andrea Marcovicci, Michael Feinstein, Jane Monheit, Peter Cincotti and Jamie Cullum. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe wrote My Fair Lady in Lerner's suite at the Algonquin in 1956.
Since 1987 The Algonquin was designated a New York City landmark, as well as, a literary landmark in 1996.
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