Algonquin Hotel


Algonquin Hotel

The Algonquin Hotel is a historic hotel located at 59 West 44th Street in Manhattan (New York, New York). The hotel has been designated as a New York City Historic Landmark.

The 174-room hotel, opened in 1902, was originally conceived as a residential hotel but was quickly converted to a traditional lodging establishment. Its first owner-manager, Frank Case (who bought the hotel in 1927), established many of the hotel's traditions. Perhaps its best-known tradition is hosting literary and theatrical notables, most prominently the members of the Algonquin Round Table.

History

The Algonquin Hotel was originally designed as an apartment hotel, whose owner planned to rent rooms and suites on year-long leases. [cite book
last =Case
first =Frank
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Tales of a Wayward Inn
publisher =Garden City Publishing Co
date =1938
location = New York
pages =39
url =
doi =
id =
isbn =
] When few leases sold, the owner decided to turn it into a hotel which he was originally going to name "The Puritan." Frank Case, upon discovering that the Algonquin tribe had been the first residents of the area, convinced the owner to christen it "The Algonquin" instead. [Case 26–27] [cite book
last =Herrmann
first =Dorothy
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =With Malice Toward All: The Quips, Lives and Loves of Some Celebrated 20th-Century American Wits
publisher =G. P. Putnam's Sons
date =1982
location = New York
pages =19
url =
doi =
id =
isbn = 0399127100
]

Case took over the lease on the hotel in 1907 [Case 37] and bought the property on which the building sat in 1927 for USD $1,000,000. [Case 189] Case remained owner and manager of the hotel until his death in June 1946. In October that year, the Algonquin was purchased by Ben Bodne of Charleston, South Carolina for just over USD $1,000,000 [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Sale of a Wayward Inn
work =
publisher =TIME magazine
date =1946-10-21
url =http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,855539,00.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-03
] who undertook an extensive restoration and renovation effort. [cite web
last =Dana
first =Robert
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Algonquin is Rich in Tradition
work =
publisher =Tips On Tables
date =1951-04-16
url =http://www.tipsontables.com/algonquin.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-03
] Bodne sold the hotel in 1987 to a group of Japanese investors and the Algonquin changed hands a number of times before ending up with Miller Global Properties in 2002. Following a two-year, USD $3,000,000 renovation, [cite web
last =Bleyer
first =Jennifer
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =A Child of the Algonquin Looks for a New Generation of Wits
work =
publisher =The New York Times
date =2004-10-17
url =http://www.mcsweeneys.net/books/dictionaryarticles2.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-16
] the hotel was sold again in 2005 to HEI Hospitality. [cite web
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The Historic Algonquin Hotel Sold By Cushman & Wakefield
work =
publisher =Cushman & Wakefield
date =2005-09-21
url =http://www.cushwake.com/cwglobal/jsp/newsDetail.jsp?repId=ca2000124&LanId=EN&LocId=GLOBAL
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-17
]

The Alqonquin Round Table

:"see main article Algonquin Round Table"

In June 1919 the hotel became the site of the daily meetings of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of journalists, authors, publicists, and actors who gathered to exchange bon mots over lunch in the main dining room. [cite web
last =Fitzpatrick
first =Kevin C.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =History of the Round Table
work =
publisher =
date =
url =http://algonquinroundtable.org/history.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-03
] The group met almost daily for the better part of ten years. Some of the core members of the "Vicious Circle" included Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connelly, Jane Grant, Ruth Hale, George S. Kaufman, Neysa McMein, Dorothy Parker, Harold Ross, Robert E. Sherwood and Alexander Woollcott.

Hotel traditions

The hotel has a tradition of keeping a cat that has the run of the hotel. The practice dates to the 1930s, when Frank Case took in a stray. Hotel lore says actor John Barrymore suggested the cat needed a theatrical name, so he was called "Hamlet". Decades later, whenever the hotel has a male he carries on the name; females are named "Matilda". The current Algonquin cat, a Matilda, is a Ragdoll who was named 2006 cat of the year at the Westchester (New York) Cat Show. Visitors can spot Matilda on her personal chaise longue in the lobby; she can also be found in her favorite places: behind the computer on the front desk, or lounging on a baggage cart. The doormen feed her and the general manager's executive assistant answers Matilda's e-mail. [cite web
last =National Public Radio
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =The Algonquin Hotel's Feline Celebrity
work =
publisher =NPR.org
date =2006-07-29
url =http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5590366
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-10-21
]

Although the Algonquin was "dry" even before Prohibition (Case closed the hotel bar in 1917 [Case 172] and had harsh words for those who ran speakeasies [Case 175–7] ), nevertheless the hotel does have an eponymous cocktail, composed of rye whiskey, Noilly Prat and pineapple juice. [cite web
last =Rose
first =Anthony
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =101 cocktails that shook the world #17: The Algonquin
work =
publisher =The Independent (London)
date =
url =http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20050514/ai_n14627112
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-16
] More recently, a newer drink has hit the Algonquin's menu, the "Martini on the Rock," consisting of a martini of the buyer's choice with a single piece of "ice," a diamond, at the bottom of the glass. [cite web
last =National Public Radio
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =A $10,000 Martini at the Algonquin Hotel
work =
publisher =NPR.org
date =2006-07-29
url =http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4505397
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-16
]

In keeping with Frank Case's long-standing tradition of sending popovers and celery to the more impoverished members of the Round Table, the Algonquin offers lunch discounts to struggling writers. [cite web
last =Bleyer
first =Jennifer
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =A Child of the Algonquin Looks for a New Generation of Wits
work =
publisher =The New York Times
date =2004-10-17
url =http://www.mcsweeneys.net/books/dictionaryarticles2.html
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-16
] Formerly, writers on tour could stay one night at the hotel free in exchange for an autographed copy of their book [cite web
last =Iovine
first =Julie V.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Algonquin, at Wits' End, Retrofits
work =
publisher =New York Times
date =1998-05-28
url =http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C00E1DC1238F93BA15756C0A96E958260&sec=travel&spon=&pagewanted=print
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-13
] although the practice has been discontinued.

Landmark status

The Algonquin Round Table, as well as the number of other literary and theatrical greats who lodged there, helped earn the hotel its status as a New York City Historic Landmark. The hotel was so designated in 1987. [Citation
last =Heller Anderson
first =Susan
author-link =
last2 =
first2 =
author2-link =
title =City Makes It Official: Algonquin is Landmark
newspaper =New York Times
pages =
year =1987
date =09-20
url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE6DE1E38F933A1575AC0A961948260
accessdate = 2007-10-21
] In 1996 the hotel was designated a National Literary Landmark by the Friends of Libraries USA. The organization's bronze plaque is attached to the front of the hotel. [cite web
last =Friends of Libraries USA
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =1996 dedications
work =
publisher =
date =
url =http://www.folusa.org/outreach/landmarks-year/1996.php
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-09-13
]

References

Bibliography

* James R. Gaines, "Wit's End: Days and Nights of the Algonquin Round Table" (New York: Harcourt, 1977).

External links

* [http://www.algonquinhotel.com Official hotel site]
* [http://algonquinroundtable.org/ Algonquin Round Table site]


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