A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 21, 2018
The Dollhouse (Barbizon Hotel for Women nickname)

The Barbizon Hotel for Women, at 140 East 63rd Street in Manhattan, was built in 1927. In 2005, the hotel closed and was rebuilt for condominiums, and was given the new name of Barbizon 63.

The Barbizon Hotel for Women had many famous residents and has been featured in many stories, but it’s not known to have had a nickname. “But the Barbizon was the city’s elite dollhouse” was printed in “Sorority On E. 63rd St.” by Michael Callahan, in April 2010’s Vanity Fair magazine. The novel The Dollhouse (2016) by Fiona Davis cemented the “dollhouse” nickname for the Barbizon, but it’s not clear that this nickname was used in the 1950s, the time period of the book.


Wikipedia: Barbizon 63
The Barbizon Hotel for Women, later known as Barbizon 63, was symbolic of the cultural change as women began to come to New York City for professional opportunities, but still wanted a “safe retreat” that felt like the family home. It is located at 140 East 63rd Street, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City.

It was built in 1927 incorporating a blend of Italian Renaissance, Late Gothic Revival, and Islamic decorative elements. (...) For most of its existence, it operated as a residential hotel for women, with no men allowed above the ground floor, and strict dress and conduct rules were enforced. The hotel became a more standard hotel when it began admitting men as guests in 1981. In 2002, a $40 million renovation was completed and the name was changed to The Melrose Hotel. In 2005 the hotel closed and the building was gutted and rebuilt for condominium use and renamed Barbizon 63.
(...)
In a debut novel called The Dollhouse written by Fiona Davis, the Barbizon Hotel/Barbizon 63 Condos is featured in a fictitious coming-of-age story that details two generations of young women whose lives intersect.

April 2010, Vanity Fair (New York, NY), “Sorority On E. 63rd St.” by Michael Callahan, pg. 166:
There were other women only hotels in town: the Martha Washington had opened in 1903 (gaining notoriety in the 1960s when actress Veronica Lake, divorced and broke, was discovered working as a barmaid); the Trowmart Inn began taking residents in 1910; the Parkside Evangeline was a staple of Gramercy Park. But the Barbizon was the city’s elite dollhouse. Built by Murgatroyd and Ogden, the 23-story building had an exterior of pinkish-coral brick accented with ocher sandstone in the Romanesque, Gothic, and Moorish styles, with an obelisk design that gave its facade the appearance of one of the Houses of Parliament jutting into the Manhattan sky.

OCLC WorldCat record
The dollhouse : a novel
Author: Fiona Davis
Publisher: New York : Dutton, 2017. ©2016
Edition/Format: Print book : Fiction : English
Summary:
When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance. More than half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist--not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally reveled.--Page 4 of cover.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityHotels • Friday, December 21, 2018 • Permalink