Tuesday, March 3, 2009

march 2, in hotel history

The Martha Washington Hotel is a hotel in New York City that opened on March 2,1903 as the first hotel exclusively for women. It is at 30 East 30, and originally had 416 rooms. As of 2003, the building still contains a hotel, which calls itself Hotel Thirty Thirty.

The Martha Washington Hotel, 29 E. 29th St. between Madison and Park Ave. South (1987)
The Martha Washington Hotel was built in 1902 (opened on 2 March 1903) as a hotel for women.
But (as the sign says) men could eat in the restaurant.
It had entrances at 29 East 29th and 30 East 30th, and had 416 rooms.
The current (August 2003) hotel in this building calls itself Hotel Thirty Thirty with its entrance at 30 E. 30th.
This ad for the Martha Washington appeared in the Hotel Gazette 31 July 1915. Click here for Manger Hotels ad (from 1933/4) that includes The Martha Washington. An earlier Manger ad (from 1925) mentions lower rates ($1.50 daily, with an extra 50 cents for the private bath). Things had changed dramatically by 1988 when this ad appeared in the New York Times.
The hotel no doubt housed many notables in its day. One was the actress Louise Brooks who, in 1924, after an "humiliating eviction" from the Algonquin Hotel, moved to the Martha Washington, "a respectable woman's hotel on East Twenty-ninth Street" (quoting Louise Brooks, Lulu in Hollywood, 1974). "The atmosphere of the Martha Washington Hotel was institutional. The women wore short hair, suits, and sensible shoes, and worked, I assumed, in offices." Louise was "assigned a cell under the roof," but she did not stay long: "I was asked to leave the Martha Washington, because people in a building overlooking the hotel had been shocked to see me on the roof, exercising in 'flimsy pajamas.'"
The New York Public Library's Digital Gallery contains a postcard of the Martha Washington mailed 4 April 1907 (click for image). The view is from the west (Madison Ave.). My view above is from the east (4th Ave.). This postcard view, like the NYPL image, is from the west.

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