Chapter

At Home in the City: First-Class Urban Hotels, 1850–1915

Catherine Cocks

in Doing the Town

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2001 | ISBN: 9780520227460
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520926493 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520227460.003.0004
At Home in the City: First-Class Urban Hotels, 1850–1915

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This chapter explains that most Americans wealthy enough to travel for pleasure in the mid-nineteenth century stayed only at the best city hotels, for lodging at a “first-class” hostelry was “a strong presumption of social availability.” Where the traveler “stopped” while in the city signaled his or her social status to the local elite, many of whom resided semipermanently at such fine hotels. First-class city hotels undermined the sociospatial ideal that joined refinement and republicanism by providing the former for a fee. As their urbanity and commercialism became more apparent, their claim to contain a microcosm of the republic dissolved. Hotels created physical and social spaces not just open to transients but dedicated to them, and increasingly distinct from the spaces that locals used.

Keywords: first-class hotels; sociospatial ideal; refinement; republicanism; urbanity; commercialism; microcosm

Chapter.  14533 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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