Downtown Hotel History

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Downtown Hotel History

By | November 2012
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The City Hotel built in 1794 on lower Broadway in New York City trumpeted a new form of hospitality building distinct from European inns and US seaport and village inns of that period. Designed by Benjamin Latrobe and larger than any inn, the City Hotel was five stories tall, had 73 guest rooms, but, most significantly, housed a ballroom and banquet hall-public spaces that forecast the new role that hotels would play as the center of downtown social and business life for centuries to come. Expanding on that new role in 1809, the Exchange Coffee House in Boston featured an assortment of public social and business functions including a ballroom, a restaurant, a coffee room, and a merchant's exchange floor beneath a 100 ft (30 m) diameter sky-lit dome making this the first atrium hotel and further defining this new downtown business and tourist hotel genre. It was the Tremont House in Boston that established hotels as enduring monuments in the cityscape. Clad in Quincy granite, the Tremont was the most costly building in the USA in 1828. lt earned the title 'The Adam and Eve of the Modern Hotel lndustry' by setting the standard for deluxe innovations including private locked rooms, indoor bathrooms, ala carte menus, the first bellboys, and an annunciator system that allowed guests to call the front desk from their rooms. The architect, Isaiah Rogers, devised an ingenious floor plan of crossing corridors that splayed the public rooms across the front of the building with courtyards in the back and an intersecting guest room wing that separated public from private realms. Envious of the Tremont's stature, John Jacob Astor hired Rogers seven years later to design the Astor House in New York City as the new best hotel in the country Other US cities joined the competition as each major crty sought to own the most prestigious hotel in the land. ln New Orleans, French citizens boasted the St Louis Hotel while the English had the St. Charles, lnnovative design...

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