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At The Plaza is a pictorial record and an anecdotal history of the world's most famous hotel: New York's Plaza. As a story, it traverses the breadth and scope of Gotham's high society during the American Century. As a photo collection, it's like no other, capturing the hotel's remarkable presence on the ever-changing New York scene. For almost one hundred years, The Plaza has mirrored the social history of Manhattan: its tastes in design, entertainment, restaurants and accommodations, as well as its adjustment to Prohibition, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the Cold War, women's rights, smokers' rights, animals' rights and British rock-and-roll. The first guests to sign the register-Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt-set the standard for the long procession of luminaries that followed: Mark Twain, Diamond Jim Brady, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Beatles, among many others. In At The Plaza, the hotel's official historian, Curtis Gathje, has compiled a tremendous collection of photographs and vignettes chronicling the colorful history of a building, an institution, and a city.
The thirty-two century-old hotels featured in this book have defied the passage of time for a variety of reasons, many explicable, some beyond explanation, all miraculous. For eighteen of them, it was the fortuitous creation of the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission in 1965. The landmarks law was enacted in response to the demolition of the iconic Pennsylvania Station in 1963. After 139 years, the following evaluation is still true: "New York is the paradise of hotels. In no other city do they flourish in such numbers, and nowhere else do they attain such a degree of excellence. The hotels of New York naturally take the lead of all others in America, and are regarded by all who have visited them as models of their kind." James D. McCabe, Jr. Lights and Shadows of New York, 1872
When it comes to food, there has never been another city quite like New York. The Big Apple--a telling nickname--is the city of 50,000 eateries, of fish wriggling in Chinatown baskets, huge pastrami sandwiches on rye, fizzy egg creams, and frosted black and whites. It is home to possibly the densest concentration of ethnic and regional food establishments in the world, from German and Jewish delis to Greek diners, Brazilian steakhouses, Puerto Rican and Dominican bodegas, halal food carts, Irish pubs, Little Italy, and two Koreatowns (Flushing and Manhattan). This is the city where, if you choose to have Thai for dinner, you might also choose exactly which region of Thailand you wish to dine in. Savoring Gotham weaves the full tapestry of the city's rich gastronomy in nearly 570 accessible, informative A-to-Z entries. Written by nearly 180 of the most notable food experts-most of them New Yorkers--Savoring Gotham addresses the food, people, places, and institutions that have made New York cuisine so wildly diverse and immensely appealing. Reach only a little ways back into the city's ever-changing culinary kaleidoscope and discover automats, the precursor to fast food restaurants, where diners in a hurry dropped nickels into slots to unlock their premade meal of choice. Or travel to the nineteenth century, when oysters cost a few cents and were pulled by the bucketful from the Hudson River. Back then the city was one of the major centers of sugar refining, and of brewing, too--48 breweries once existed in Brooklyn alone, accounting for roughly 10% of all the beer brewed in the United States. Travel further back still and learn of the Native Americans who arrived in the area 5,000 years before New York was New York, and who planted the maize, squash, and beans that European and other settlers to the New World embraced centuries later. Savoring Gotham covers New York's culinary history, but also some of the most recognizable restaurants, eateries, and culinary personalities today. And it delves into more esoteric culinary realities, such as urban farming, beekeeping, the Three Martini Lunch and the Power Lunch, and novels, movies, and paintings that memorably depict Gotham's foodscapes. From hot dog stands to haute cuisine, each borough is represented. A foreword by Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and an extensive bibliography round out this sweeping new collection.
The word "maven" is defined by Wikipedia as a "trusted expert in a particular field, who seeks to pass knowledge on to others." Since the 1980s it has become more common when the New York Times columnist William Safire adapted it to describe himself as "the language maven." the word from Hebrew is mainly confined to American English and was included in the Oxford English Dictionary second edition (1989). My three hotel mavens are: 1) Lucius M. Boomer, one of the most famous hoteliers of his time, was chairman of the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Corporation. In a career of over half a century, he directed such celebrated hotels as the Bellevue-Stratford in Philadelphia, the Taft in New Haven, the Lenox in Boston, and the McAlpin, Claridge, Sherry-Netherland and the original as well as the current Waldorf-Astoria in New York. 2) George C. Boldt who was the genius of the original Waldorf-Astoria. It was said of him that he made innkeeping a profession and, more than any man, was responsible for the modern American hotel. 3) Oscar of the Waldorf who was described in 1898 by the New York Sun: "In only one New York hotel, however, is there a personage deserving to be called a ma and icirc;tre d'hotel. Anyone who studies him closely will soon arrive at a firm conviction that he might quite as appropriately have been called General or Admiral, if circumstances had not led him into the hotel business. Oscar knows everybody." Oscar was a superstar of his time and one of the stalwarts who managed both the original and the current Waldorf-Astoria. Among his many duties, Oscar commanded a staff of 1,000 persons bedsides conducting a school for waiters, at the time the only one of its kind in the United States. In 1896, Oscar wrote one of the greatest cookbooks of its time: "The Cook Book by 'Oscar of the Waldorf'. It contains 907 pages and 3,455 recipes.
A look inside New York’s icon of luxury: “Reading [The Hotel] is at least as enjoyable—and certainly less expensive—than staying at the Plaza” (Publishers Weekly). When it opened its doors in 1907, the Plaza was considered the world’s finest luxury hotel. Since then, the grand building at the southern tip of Central Park has hosted kings and queens, the rich and famous, and countless world leaders. And like any hotel, it has seen its share of crimes, suicides, and drunken mayhem as well. A fascinating read for fans of Stephen Birmingham’s Life at the Dakota or Justin Kaplan’s When the Astors Owned New York, this book combines Manhattan history with a guided behind-the-scenes tour, interviewing the hospitality industry employees who tote the luggage, change the light bulbs, and clean the rooms. From a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who has written for the New York Times and Rolling Stone, The Hotel offers the kind of day-to-day detail that brings the Fifth Avenue French Renaissance landmark to vivid, colorful life.
For seventy-five years, it’s been Manhattan’s richest apartment building, and one of the most lusted-after addresses in the world. One apartment had 37 rooms, 14 bathrooms, 43 closets, 11 working fireplaces, a private elevator, and his-and-hers saunas; another at one time had a live-in service staff of 16. To this day, it is steeped in the purest luxury, the kind most of us could only imagine, until now. The last great building to go up along New York’s Gold Coast, construction on 740 Park finished in 1930. Since then, 740 has been home to an ever-evolving cadre of our wealthiest and most powerful families, some of America’s (and the world’s) oldest money—the kind attached to names like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, Niarchos, Houghton, and Harkness—and some whose names evoke the excesses of today’s monied elite: Kravis, Koch, Bronfman, Perelman, Steinberg, and Schwarzman. All along, the building has housed titans of industry, political power brokers, international royalty, fabulous scam-artists, and even the lowest scoundrels. The book begins with the tumultuous story of the building’s construction. Conceived in the bubbling financial, artistic, and social cauldron of 1920’s Manhattan, 740 Park rose to its dizzying heights as the stock market plunged in 1929—the building was in dire financial straits before the first apartments were sold. The builders include the architectural genius Rosario Candela, the scheming businessman James T. Lee (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s grandfather), and a raft of financiers, many of whom were little more than white-collar crooks and grand-scale hustlers. Once finished, 740 became a magnet for the richest, oldest families in the country: the Brewsters, descendents of the leader of the Plymouth Colony; the socially-registered Bordens, Hoppins, Scovilles, Thornes, and Schermerhorns; and top executives of the Chase Bank, American Express, and U.S. Rubber. Outside the walls of 740 Park, these were the people shaping America culturally and economically. Within those walls, they were indulging in all of the Seven Deadly Sins. As the social climate evolved throughout the last century, so did 740 Park: after World War II, the building’s rulers eased their more restrictive policies and began allowing Jews (though not to this day African Americans) to reside within their hallowed walls. Nowadays, it is full to bursting with new money, people whose fortunes, though freshly-made, are large enough to buy their way in. At its core this book is a social history of the American rich, and how the locus of power and influence has shifted haltingly from old bloodlines to new money. But it’s also much more than that: filled with meaty, startling, often tragic stories of the people who lived behind 740’s walls, the book gives us an unprecedented access to worlds of wealth, privilege, and extraordinary folly that are usually hidden behind a scrim of money and influence. This is, truly, how the other half—or at least the other one hundredth of one percent—lives.

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