Nineteenth Century Hotels In The United States
( Originally Published 1927 )
With the winning of the vast West and Southwest of the United States in the pioneer days during the first half of the nineteenth century, the inn, tavern and hotel in this country underwent a change which entirely removed these resting places for travellers from the category of the types that had preceded them in the days we like to call Colonial. Such of them as we may justly regard as historic have merited that designation from quite different circumstances. Whereas the Revolutionary War and its great chieftains, who have become our American Immortals, contributed to the claims to be made for the Colonial taverns and those hotels which followed in the nineteenth century rest their claims upon hardy pioneers of another kind—great builders, who spread civilization and progress across the continent. The stage-coach gave way before the "iron horse," for the railroads completed the conquest of the enormous lands beyond the Ohio River. In a few instances the story which follows really begins before the nineteenth century was born.
It was only to be expected that in this period the largest hotels and the greatest progress in hotelkeeping still was to be found in the hotels of the eastern part of the country, for the century had more than completed one-half of its span before the Great West, and even the Middle West, had begun its marvellous record of growth and development. This period was generally one of development throughout the country, which was expanding with a rapidity that had never before been witnessed by the world.
Starting this chapter in the east, we may first note a few of the hotels which were making history in Boston. One of the oldest of these, then modern, hostelries is the United States Hotel at Beach and Lincoln Streets. It was built in 1824, when it was regarded as an enormous structure, and certainly the largest hotel in the city. It has been enlarged several times until it covers two acres. In its early days it was the favorite stopping place for celebrities visiting The Hub. Daniel Webster resided there for a time, and there Charles Sumner entertained Charles Dickens on his first visit to America in 1842.
Originally the house was known as the City Hotel;, later it became the South Cove Hotel, and finally the United States Hotel. As it was erected before the age of elevators, the structure was spread over a large area and carried up only four stories. The additional wings were named after the states, which were admitted into the Union more or less synchronously with the improvements; therefore, one was known as "Texas," and the other, "Oregon." Not only did Webster live there for a time, but he and Rufus Choate frequently met there and had a "gentleman's ordinary," English fashion, as the table d'hote dinner was called. Henry Clay was another distinguished guest, and his portrait hangs on the wall beside that of Daniel Webster. For many years the house was managed by the Hon. Tilly Haynes, who served as a state senator in the Massachusetts Assembly and was a member of the executive council. When he took over the hotel in 1879, he introduced many of the big leather chairs that once had been used in the State Legislature, and these vie in the interest of guests with old-fashioned ebony sideboards and cabinets of Venetian design prominent among the furnishings of the house.
In 1829 the Tremont House, Boston, was built. Every effort was made to have it a little better than any American Hotel had been up to that time, and the claim was made for it of being the "pioneer first-class hotel in America," a statement which probably was justified. The old house had many distinguished guests in its day, but probably none more famous than Charles Dickens. It was the first hotel in which he stayed on his first visit to America, in 1842. James T. Fields, who later was to become his American publisher, but who then was an unknown youth, has given us the best picture we have of Dickens' arrival in the New World.
"How well I recall the bleak winter evening in 1842 when I first saw the handsome, glowing face of the young man who was even then famous over half the globe!" he wrote in "Yesterdays with Authors." "He came bounding into the Tremont House, fresh from the steamer that had brought him to our shores, and his glance at the new scenes opening upon him in a strange land on first arriving at a Transatlantic Hotel. `Here we are!' he shouted, as the lights burst upon the merry party just entering the house, and several gentlemen came forward to greet him."
Dickens himself has embalmed the memory of the Tremont House in his "American Notes," where he first encountered those so-called "Americanisms," which usually interest and perplex the foreigner.
" `Dinner, if you please,' said Ito the waiter.
" `When?' said the waiter.
" `As quick as possible,' said I.
" `Right away?' said the waiter.
"After a moment's hesitation, I answered, "No,' at hazard.
" Not right away?' cried the waiter, with an amount of surprise that made me start.
"I looked at him doubtfully, and returned, `No, I would rather have it in this private room. I like it very much!'
"At this, I really thought the waiter must have gone out of his mind; as I believe he would have done, but for the interposition of another man who whispered in his ear, `Directly.'
" `Well ! and that's a fact!' said the waiter, looking helplessly at me : `Right away.'
"I saw now that `Right away' and `Directly' were one and the same thing. So I reversed my previous answer, and sat down to dinner in ten minutes afterwards, and a capital dinner it was.
"The hotel (a very excellent one) is called the Tremont House. It has more galleries, colonnades, piazzas, and passages than I can remember, or the reader would believe."
Before Dickens added his name to the register of Tremont House it already had been widely known, and, of course, every distinguished visitor to Boston put up at this hotel. Henry Clay was a guest, and his political antagonist, Andrew Jackson, when President, visited Boston in 1833, and stayed at the Tremont House. Commodore Hull stopped there when he went to Boston to see his old ship, The Constitution, docked. Lieutenant Derby, a humorous writer, who was better known by his pen-name, John Phoenix, stopped there and managed to get a good deal of fun out of the fact that the hotel had the Granary Burying Ground for a neighbor. He said he considered this prospect from the hotel windows, not without some degree of plausibility, part and parcel of all Boston hotels. Jenny Lind was there during her stay in The Hub, on her concert tour of the United States; Thackeray, during one of his American tours, stayed there; King Edward VII, travelling in the United States while Prince of Wales, was a guest at the Tremont, as was also, a little later, President Andrew Johnson. The hotel was torn down in 1894 and replaced by an office building.
Almost opposite the Tremont House, on School Street near Tremont, there was built and opened in 1855 the Parker House, the first hotel erected in this country to be operated on what is known as the European plan. Incidentally, the hotel gave its name to a bread roll that was known throughout the country. The hotel management, after waiting for a long period, finally succeeded in purchasing the corner property and opened the new addition in 1886. A new and large building has recently been erected for the hotel on the same site. The old Parker House was enlarged several times during its first thirty years.
The site of the hotel was itself an historic one, especially so to New Englanders, for on it was conducted the Boston Latin School, in 1748. The school was originated in 1634, but at first occupied a building on the north side of School Street. This older building had among its distinguished pupils Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock. The school on the Parker House site had among its distinguished pupils Everett, Dana, Greenough, the sculptor, Emerson, Motley, Parkman, Henry Ward Beecher, and Bishop Phillips Brooks —an array that should give historic character to any site.
In its long career the Parker House has entertained many eminent guests, and to these should be added the distinguished Bostonians who frequented the hotel at its club-dinners. It was early a popular rendezvous for politicians, owing to its close proximity to the Capital and from having the City Hall for a neighbor. On his second visit to the United States, 1867-68, Charles Dickens was in Boston on several occasions and during these he stopped at the Parker House. There he had as visitors Longfellow, John Bigelow, the Fields, and many other persons identified with literature or with the public life of the nation.
Another Boston hotel which is of historic interest from several viewpoints is the Hotel Brunswick, at Boylston and Clarendon Streets. Built in 1874, it was enlarged in 1876, and was one of the first hostelries in the United States especially designed to be fireproof. This probably was due to the lesson taught by the great Boston fire of 1872. At the time it was built the Hotel Brunswick was regarded as the last word in hotels. It also boasted of having the finest passenger elevator in hotel service, and there was to be found the private bath with the suites, an innovation fifty years ago.
One of the first historic events connected with the house was "The Atlantic Monthly" dinner given there in 1877, on Whittier's seventieth birthday, at which there were present the most eminent American authors of the time. The same year President Hayes and his family occupied a suite at the Brunswick while the President attended the Commencement exercises at Harvard. On his return from his trip around the world, in 1879, General Grant attended a complimentary dinner given for him at this hotel. Two Massachusetts Governors, Rice and Talbot, made the hotel their home after their terms of office; President Arthur also was a guest at the hotel, as were the Dukes of Argyll and Sutherland.
In Manchester, New Hampshire, is an old hotel which has borne several names and finally was removed bodily and joined to another hotel. Recently the house was purchased, refitted and renamed, being now called the Rice Varick Hotel.
For many years after it was originally built, in 1840, the place was called Shepherd's Tavern, from the landlord, William Shepherd, who leased it from the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, which built the house, having just sold off by auction a number of building lots in the town. The house prospered, and in 1851 was much enlarged. Not long afterwards Shepherd purchased the property, which later was named the Manchester House. Situated so remotely from the great centres of things, the old hotel was nevertheless favored with guests whose names were house-hold words throughout the nation. President Lincoln, President Pierce, John C. Calhoun, Lewis Cass, General Winfield Scott, General Benjamin F. Butler, Theodore Parker, Daniel Webster and Stephen A. Douglass were among those who stopped at Shepherd's Tavern. When the hotel building was moved a few years ago and incorporated with the New Manchester House, its old names were discarded and it was known by the name of the latter. Its historical significance is entirely confined to the nineteenth century.
New York City set the pace for luxurious hotels in the nineteenth century. Many of them may be regarded as historic, but a few stand out prominently and beyond question as the scenes of real historic events. As is only to be expected of the largest city in America and the second in point of population in the world, it has attracted more historic characters of that century than any other city in the United States, and this circumstance naturally invited the provision for their proper accommodation.
The old Astor House on Broadway, Barclay and Vesey Streets was regarded with a certain kind of admiration for nearly half a century after it was built. During that period it remained one of New York's leading hotels. It was favored by the popular novelists of the period when they wanted to lay their scene in the Metropolis. There seemed to be some magic in the name, and consequently to readers in the small towns the Astor House was the symbolism for everything that was gorgeous and impressive in a New York hotel. During part of this period, at least, the Astor House probably did not live up to that high character, larger and more elaborately furnished hotels with smaller rooms but with more conveniences having come into existence. However, until the end of its days, only a few years ago, the Astor House was the most famous hostelry in the down-town section of New York.
An anecdote is related of John Jacob Astor, the founder of the family in America, that not a great while after his arrival in New York, and while he was still almost a stranger in that city, he passed a row of newly erected houses on lower Broadway which attracted his attention by reason of their superior architecture. Giving them a keen glance, he turned and remarked:
"I'll build, one day or other, a greater house than any of these, in this very street."
The Astor House is said to have been the fulfillment of this prediction of the stranger who afterwards founded one of America's great fortunes.
In 1835 Astor began the erection of what at first was known as the Park Hotel, but subsequently as the Astor House. It occupied the site where the great merchant had lived for some years, on Broadway from Barclay to Vesey Streets. In his home, on this site, he had frequently entertained some of the leading literary characters of his day. Washington Irving was one of his visitors, and the poet, Fitz Greene Halleck, was frequently there. The Astor House hotel had a great, massive granite front on Broadway with an entrance through a Doric portal. It was a massive structure, and was said at the time of its building that its owner had erected it "as a memento to survive him and transmit his name to posterity."
A contemporary description of the house spoke in admiration of its situation. "On a fine day at noon, and an hour or two after," runs the comment, "crowds of beauty and fashion, domestic and imported, fill this part of the promenade of Broadway, for Astor's Hotel is on the fashionable side of Broadway, and here you are sure to find the elite of the commercial metropolis. Nothing could tempt them to cross over to the Park side of the street." As Mr. Astor lived until 1848, he was able to see the success of his experiment in hotel building, for the house continued to prosper even after newer hotels of greater pretentiousness were multiplied further uptown.
Delmonico's has been a familiar name to New Yorkers for quite a century; and although its fame rests mainly with its restaurants, they have been the scenes of many historic events and the hosts to so very many persons of world-wide distinction. It was in 1827 that Peter and John Delmonico established their business in the downtown section of New York, not far from the eight-story building their successors erected at Beaver and William Streets in 1890. The first Delmonico restaurant built here was put up in 1836 by the founders of the firm. Some years later the Delmonicos opened another house at the corner of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and Twenty-sixth Streets, and this up-town establishment since the Civil War was the scene of many fashionable entertainments and of several important historic events. For many years it was selected by the exclusive circles of New York Society "coming out" parties, and dances of socially prominent belles. The Patriarch's Ball was held in the great Delmonico ball-room for many years. Later, Delmonico's opened a restaurant at Forty-fourth Street and Fifth Avenue, which place was discontinued on the advent of prohibition.
In addition to these social activities, Delmonicos was historic from having been the scene of the banquet given to Charles Dickens by the members of the American press, on April 18, 1868. It was an occasion of much greater importance than the average function of that character. Horace Greeley, the founder and editor of the "New York Tribune," presided. The dinner was given a proper literary atmosphere, which was reflected in the menu, which included, "Consomme a la Sevigne," "Agneau farci a la Walter Scott," "Creme d'asperges a la Dumas," "Cotelettes a la Fenimore Cooper," "les petites Zimballes a la Dickens," among other culinary masterpieces. The real feature of the banquet was Dickens' speech, which was not a long one, for he had been suffering all day with a lame foot—the result of an injury he had received in a railway accident a few years before, and was an hour late in arriving at the dinner.
Dickens was deeply moved by this generous outburst of good will and kindly feeling on the part of the newspapers of the country, especially as he had in his "American Notes" and in "Martin Chuzzlewit" dealt rather vigorously with American newspapers and American customs. A quarter of a century had elapsed since the English novelist's first visit, and since these books had been written. In that period Dickens had found that the country and its conditions had changed for the better, and, he added, he too, had changed.
"Gentlemen," he began, "so much of my voice has lately been heard among you, that I might have been content with troubling you no further from my present standpoint, were it not for the duty with which I henceforth charge myself, not only here but everywhere, and upon every suitable occasion, whensoever and wheresoever, to express my high and grateful sense of my hospitable reception in America, and to bear my honest testimony to the national generosity and magnanimity. Also to declare how astounding and amazing have been the changes that I have seen around me on every side." He added that upon his return home he intended to bear for the behalf of his countrymen such testimony of the gigantic changes as he had hinted at. "Also," he continued, "to record that wherever I have been, in the smallest place equally with the largest, I have been received with unsurpassed politeness, delicacy, sweet-temper, hospitality and consideration." This testimony he promised he should cause to be published as an appendix to every copy of those two books of his in which he referred to America. This promise was promptly fulfilled in the next edition of those two books.
On December 2, 1871, the New York Yacht Club gave a banquet for the Grand Duke Alexis Alexandrovitch, of Russia, who was making his historic tour of the United States. This dinner, at which Commodore James Gordon Bennett, Jr., presided, was given at Delmonico's. The Grand Duke and his suite were stopping at the Clarendon Hotel, Fourth Avenue and Eighteenth Street. Another historic event which had Delmonico's for its scene was the annual banquet of the New England Society of New York, on December 22, 1877. This dinner was made memorable from having as an honored guest a President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes, and also from having as speakers or guests some of the foremost men of the country. Among the latter were President Noah Porter, of Yale; President Charles W. Eliot, of Harvard; the Rev. James Freeman Clarke, of Boston; and W. W. Story, sculptor and poet.
What has been declared to have been one of the most brilliant banquets ever held at Delmonico's was that given on December 20, 1889, by the Spanish-American Commercial Union to the visiting delegates to the Pan-American Congress.
On his first visit to America, in 1842, Charles Dickens made his headquarters, while in New York City, at the Carlton House. Many of his published letters are dated from this hotel, which he found "enormously dear." Fitz Greene Halleck came there to dine with the novelist. In one of these letters, written on the day he arrived, he mentions that when he and Mrs. Dickens sat down to dinner, "David Colden made his appearance; and when he had gone, and we were taking our wine, Washington Irving came in alone, with open arms. And here he stopped until ten o'clock at night." The first great public dinner given to Dickens in America was held during this visit to New York, and the old City Hotel was the scene of the festivity. It was mainly interesting from the large number of American men of letters who were present; Washington Irving presided, and broke down in his attempt to make a speech of welcome.
Fronting upon Madison Square, at the junction of Broad-way and Fifth Avenue, New York, the Fifth Avenue Hotel was built in 1859, and for forty years it had an important part in the great public events in the metropolis. Before some other hotels that, in those days, boasted of their magnificent drinking bars, the Fifth Avenue Hotel bar was famous. The management maintained a careful scrutiny over this part of the establishment, and it is said that a man "had to be a gentleman and in first rate condition to get into the Fifth Avenue bar." To secure this selectivity the bar was placed in the rear, and to reach it the patron had to pass several porters who would diplomatically side-track any of the thirsty who seemed to need no more, or who seemed otherwise to be undesirable. About midway on the long hall leading to the bar-room were two maroon-colored plush benches set diagonally to two corners. Here during the busy times of the day could usually be found prominent men, from Presidents of the United States down to mere political "bosses." The famous Tom Platt, the boss of New York State, was often to be found there, and the place where the two benches were to be found began to be known as "The Amen Corner." It is said that nine Presidents of the United States have sat in the Amen Corner, and the number of Governors and Ex-Governors who have sat there never has been calculated. For years the political fate of the Empire State and the careers of politicians were decided in this comfortable corner of the Fifth Avenue Hotel.
It is neither upon the "Amen Corner" nor the famous drinking bar that the historic character of the Fifth Avenue Hotel rests, but upon its really notable guests in the days of another generation. First among the eminent personages who were guests of the hotel was King Edward VII, at that time Prince of Wales. He visited New York city in October, 1860, and he and his suite were put up at the Fifth Avenue. It was estimated that two hundred and fifty thousand persons crowded the sidewalks from Castle Gar-den, where the Prince was landed, to the Hotel at Madison Square, to see the distinguished guest pass. The crowd was so great in front of the hostelry that the royal barouche was driven to the private entrance and the Prince hurried into the hotel, "a fleeting vision of a scarlet coat and a white plume nodding gracefully, and he was gone. For this thou-sands had stood six to eight hours," according to a con-temporary account. In the Prince's party were the Duke of Newcastle, Dr. Ackerman, Sir Henry Holland, General Bruce, Lord Lyons, Hon. Mr. Eliot, and the Earl of St.. Germans.
After the Prince entered the house he was escorted to a balcony and from this elevated position returned his thanks and bowed in acknowledgment of the cheers of the throng. The tired young man, who had gone to bed with a headache after the eventful day, was disturbed at midnight and called to his window by the serenade from the Caledonia Club, which organization was headed by Dodsworth's Band, nearly all of whose members belonged to the Scotch Regiment.
General U. S. Grant, fresh from his conquests of the Civil War, was the next personage to give the historic touch to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. The General came to New York in November, 1865, and it was decided to give a great reception and dinner in his honor at the Fifth Avenue. The event, which took place on November 20, 1865, was memorable from more than one aspect. The Committee had under-estimated how enormous a public reception to a man who was the chief figure in American life at the time could become. Its preparations were inadequate, and before any-one realized what was happening, the Hotel was jammed in parlors, halls, stairways. About twenty-five hundred per-sons attended, and the means of handling this throng proved totally inadequate. Many of those present probably never got within seeing distance of the distinguished guest. General Grant at the reception stood beside Mrs. Grant and around them were Generals Wool, Cook and Hooker.
Years after this event there was another reception given at the Fifth Avenue Hotel which resulted in the making of history. The Presidential Campaign, which had been a particularly hot one, was drawing to a close in the year 1884, when on October 29 a large number of ministers held a reception for James G. Blaine, the Republican Candidate, in the Fifth Avenue Hotel. They had arranged the reception to assure him of their devotion to him and his party.
This public testimony of confidence was drawn forth by the fact that a newspaper reprinted a number of letters alleged to have been written by Blaine, one of which ended with the now historic request: "Burn this letter." Blaine was charged with falsehood and unethical conduct concerning a bill to renew a land grant for the Little Rock and Fort Smith Railroad, some years before. The question of religion also arose, owing to the fact that Mr. Blaine's mother was a Roman Catholic. One Tammany orator had declared that no Irishman or Catholic would vote for Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate, while Mr. Blaine announced he was hostile to the political solidarity of any race or religion.
The campaign, as may be imagined, engendered many painful prejudices. At the reception in the Fifth Avenue Hotel the Rev. Stephen D. Burchard was selected to make the address of confidence to Mr. Blaine. He thus became the spokesman for the assemblage of ministers. In his speech, which was delivered at the foot of the grand stair-way in the hotel, Mr. Burchard evidently took the stand that the Democratic party was responsible for all the bigotry, intemperance and war from which the country had suffered, by describing it as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion." The speech was sensationally displayed in the newspapers the following morning, and along with it the statement that the slighting allusion to Catholics had not been rebuked nor assailed by Blaine. The utterance was believed to have turned the election in Cleveland's favor, for he carried the state of New York by a very small majority, but its electoral votes won him the presidency.
Two years ago Edward Hungerford wrote "The Story of the Waldorf-Astoria," and on the "Jacket" of the book there was printed an epitome of this story. "To its portals have come prince and potentate, poet and prima-donna," runs one paragraph. "Its roster for more than thirty years is that of the most interesting and distinguished of travelers upon either side of the Atlantic." This statement of a mere matter of fact will show the difficulty of attempting to condense the history of this dual-hotel in a few sentences.
Before New York City recovered from its surprise occasioned by the published rumor that William Waldorf Astor had decided to live in England, it received another shock that the old Astor Mansion, Fifth Avenue and Thirty-third Streets, which was to be abandoned, would be replaced by another Astor Hotel. These events followed one another rather quickly in the year 1890. Then, having decided to build a hotel, the question naturally arose, "Who was to run it?"
Mr. Astor put that very question to his estate agent, Abner Bartlett, and the latter answered promptly :
"That man over in the little Bellevue, in Philadelphia, George Boldt."
It required some genius to interest Boldt in a new enter-prise, as already he was engaged in several, among them the Bellevue, a small but most important house at Broad and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. However, he was won over by Bartlett, and before the Waldorf Hotel was opened Boldt had engaged Oscar Tschirky, best known as "Oscar," who was then on the staff at Delmonico's, to head the staff of the new hotel. Construction on the new building was slow, and although work was started in 1891 the Waldorf was not completed and opened until March 15, 1893.
The first notables to stop at the Waldorf—for the Astoria had not even been visioned—were the Duke and Duchess of Veragua and their party from Spain. The Duke was a lineal descendant of Columbus, and was in this country to take part in the opening of the Columbia Exposition at Chicago. The Princess Eulalie, of Spain, was another guest shortly afterward. The first large reception held there was one by the Ducal party, which was attended by a hundred of the most prominent women of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington.
On February 10, 1897, just before the New Astoria addition to the hotel was opened, the historic Bradley-Martin ball was held in the Waldorf. No such splendid costume ball had ever been given, in this country at least, and the list of invited guests, between eight and nine hundred persons of the inner circle of New York Society, was long the roll of the élite, to be on which was a guarantee of one's social standing. A supper followed the ball and two hundred and fifty selected waiters were needed to serve this elaborate meal which began at one o'clock in the morning and lasted until five. Great secrecy was preserved about the preparations for the function, and, as it was rumored that a bomb had been placed on the steps of the Bradley-Martin house, the police took great precautions by scrutinizing each guest as he or she presented his or her card. There had been some criticism about the immense outlay of money being lavished on the ball, so Mrs. Bradley-Martin announced that the reason she had given it was to provide work for dressmakers, florists and caterers, and that if the criticisms were persisted in she would move to England. This threat she not long afterward carried into effect.
Viceroy Li Hung Chang, the greatest man of China in his day, came to the United States in the summer of 1896, on his way home from Russia, where he had attended the coronation of the late Tsar Nicholas IL He came as a guest of the United States. As he entered the country at New York he was taken immediately to the Waldorf Hotel, where he stopped while in that city. While Li was perfectly willing to let the members of his suite tempt fate by eating foreign dishes, he carried his own cooks with him and they prepared his meals in a special kitchen assigned them. This was necessary since they brought all their own equipment, including their own stoves on which to cook the Viceroy's food.
After Boldt built his Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia in 1905, he introduced two innovations some years ahead of anybody else. One of these was a daily automobile service between his New York and Philadelphia hotels, and the other was the installation of wireless stations on both hotels. At the time both motor cars and wireless were in their pioneer stage. The Waldorf-Astoria as a complete hotel began business on November 1, 1897, the Astoria addition taking up the remainder of the block to Thirty-fourth Street.
The opening of the new addition was signalized by a concert, a children's entertainment, a theatrical performance, a supper and a dance. Vice-President and Mrs. Garret A. Hobart headed the list of distinguished guests. With the new addition the Waldorf-Astoria had one thousand rooms, and seven hundred and sixty-five of them had private baths —the largest hotel in the world at the time. It was then estimated that the hotel had cost five million dollars, an unheard of figure for a hotel thirty years ago.
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, as the combined houses are known, for they are physically one, was an immediate success. It had a four-sided standing bar that, owing to the representative men who were to be seen there daily, became in itself historic. The hotel became to men of large affairs more like a comfortable club than a hotel. Every afternoon and evening there were little conferences in one or another of the numerous private apartments of the hotel that frequently had important effects upon the country's business. Men from other cities would call a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria as being more satisfactory and not so likely to attract attention as if held in their home city. It is known that the United States Steel Corporation was born in the Waldorf-Astoria. An informal conversation between John W. Lambert, John W. Gates and Max Pam in the main corridor of the hotel led to a further meeting upstairs in Gates's apartment, and the result was the first billion dollar corporation.
To run over a few of the historic events at the Waldorf-Astoria, for only a few can be mentioned : There was a great dinner on March 10, 1900, to Theodore Roosevelt, who had only recently been inaugurated Governor of New York; the dinner given for John Hay, Secretary of State, January 17, 1903; the banquet by the Pilgrims of the United States to Field Marshal Viscount Kitchener, of Khartoum, April 18, 1910; the dinner in honor of the Prince of Wales, November 19, 1919; dinner in honor of General John J. Pershing, September 10, 1919; the banquet in honor of Cardinal Mercier, September 17, 1919; and the dinner to Marshal Foch, November 19, 1921.
During this period among the, eminent personages who were registered as guests at the Waldorf-Astoria may be mentioned the Crown Prince of Siam, who came soon after the opening of the enlarged hotel. In 1902 Prince Henry of Prussia was a guest, and although it was believed every preparation had been made for his reception, the telephone clerk was astonished to have a signal from the royal apart-ment soon after the Prince's arrival:
"Pardon—could he request? The hot water does not run in the Prince's bath."
The only instant remedy at hand was applied, and a group of hall porters started to carry the hot water in buckets to the royal bath-room. Still the Prince did not feel so keenly about it as did the proprietor of the hotel, George C. Boldt, and when he was leaving he not only pinned the Order of the Double Eagle upon the breast of Mr. Boldt, but said he had never before stopped at so fine a hotel. ,
A year after the World War a number of notable figures registered at the Waldorf-Astoria—General Pershing was among the first; the King and Queen of the Belgians fol-lowed; then came the Prince of Wales; and, in 1921, President Harding was at the hotel.
Forty years ago one of the favorite places for holding summer conventions in the eastern part of the United States was the Hotel Kaaterskill, which was built on one of the highest points of South Mountain, at Catskill, New York. The hotel had twelve hundred beds and a ball-room, or assembly room, quite two hundred feet in length. It was a mammoth summer hotel and attracted the fashionable element.
The origin of this vast hostelry, probably the largest resort hotel in the world at the time it was erected, is an interesting story of what a badly treated guest can do—if he has the will and the means. A noted Philadelphia lawyer, George Harding, was in the habit of spending parts of his summers in the Catskills, and about 1878 or 1879, while stopping at his favorite hotel, he was refused some innocent and inconsequential favor regarding a change of menu. It was not so much that the hotel asserted it could not grant him his favorite food as it was the imperious and final way in which the refusal was couched.
"Very well," replied Mr. Harding quietly but in a tone that was filled with prophecy, "I'll build a hotel here where I can get it."
It was no small undertaking to build anything in those days on the top of a mountain half a mile high, especially as roads were few and difficult to traverse. However, Mr. Harding sent for an architect, had a mammoth hotel de-signed, roads built and the material for a resort which had a front of more than six hundred feet, hauled to the top of South Mountain. Rapidly; almost magically, the Hotel Kaaterskill arose, and in 1880 its creator was able to sit in its dining room and order from the menu the food he desired without discussion.
The hotel soon became one of the best known resorts in the eastern part of the United States, and stood until about five years ago, when it was totally destroyed by fire. During the forty years it was open it entertained many persons of prominence and was long a favorite place for those who liked to spend the hot months in the mountains.