by Stanley Turkel, CMHS

Hotel History: “Wish You Were Here” by Barry Zaid (1980)   

In February 2000, there was a unique exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York: “Walker Evans and the Picture Postcard”. Evans was a titan of 20th-century photography who portrayed broken-down plantations, sharecropper families and bone-dry Southern farms during the Depression, grimy factories in the North and the facial expressions of New York subway passengers.

Evans collected picture postcards throughout his life during the golden age from 1900 into the 1920s. This phenomenon was spurred by the United States postal service’s 1907 ruling that the blank side of a postcard could include the address of the recipient and a message. At the same time, the Post Office put a 1¢ postage stamp price on these postcards. Another boon was the drop in the cost of offset color lithography which gave postcards the look of hand-colored images, with soft blues, greens and reds.

During this period, picture-postcard categories included hotels, summer resorts, train stations, automobiles, boardwalks, main streets in villages, state capitols, factories, occupations, and many more subjects. The best of these hotel cards were produced by two companies: Curt Teich & Company, Inc., Chicago and Tichnor Brothers Inc., Boston both of which closed in the 1970s. It is estimated that Curt Teich & Company printed some 400,000 different views of the United States, Canada and overseas hotels during a period of seventy-seven years.

Tichnor Brothers produced 25,000 hotel postcards mostly from all the states. A rundown of America’s great hotels during the Golden Age of the picture-postcard appears in Barry Zaid’s “Wish You Were Here: A Tour of America’s Great Hotels During the Golden Age of the Picture Postcard” Crown Publishers, Inc. (New York 1990).

“But in the cards, all the hotels are in their prime, This is a trip across America that we can still take. We can imagine that that is us swimming in front of the Marlborough – Blenheim on Atlantic City’s golden, sandy beach or strolling through the magnificent cactus gardens of Phoenix’s Camelback Inn or enjoying the view of the mountains through the tall windows of the Prince of Wales Hotel in Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Isn’t that our table in the tree-lined dining room, beside the gurgling brook that runs through the lodge in Brookdale, California? This is visual history, a record of the travelers life of yesteryear.”

Fortunately, many classic hotels are preserved in these colorful unique postcards in the “Wish You Were Here” book. Here are the best of them:

  1. Cabins, Courts and Cottages
    • Tallahassee Auto Court in Capital City of Florida
    • Mohawk Park, Charlemont, Massachusetts
    • Riverside Auto Court, Palmetto, Florida
    • Utah Motor Park, Salt Lake City, Utah
    • Bob’s B-B-Q, Inc., Rolling Prairie, Indiana
    • Nevada Tourist Court, Nevada, Missouri
    • Uvalda Courts, Uvalda, Texas
    • Nelson Dream Village, Lebanon, Maryland
    • Dann-Dee Camp, Prescott, Arizona
  1. Inns
    • Homestead Inn Annex, New Milford, Connecticut
    • Valley Green Inn, Wissahickon Drive, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Midway Inn and Service Station at Bedford
    • Mountain View Inn, Lahood Park, Montana
    • Deer’s Head Inn, Elizabethtown, New York
    • The Fox Hall Tourist Inn, Norfolk, Virginia
    • The Inn, Silver Bay Association, Lake George, New York
    • Santa Maria Inn, Santa Maria, California
    • Paradise Inn, Rainier National Park, Washington
  1. Lodges
    • Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone Park
    • Lake McDonald Hotel, Glacier National Park
    • Glacier Park Hotel, Glacier National Park
    • Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada
    • The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park
  1. The Great Resorts
    • The Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado
    • Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia
    • Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan
    • The Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California
    • Grand Union Hotel, Saratoga Springs, New York
    • Hotel Traymore, Atlantic City, New Jersey
    • Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
  1. City Hotels
    • Hotel Kenmore, Boston, Massachusetts
    • Alex Johnson Hotel, Rapid City, South Dakota
    • The Pantlind Hotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan
    • Hotel Muehlebach, Kansas City, Missouri
    • Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, Virginia
    • Hotel Peabody, Memphis, Tennessee
    • Lord Baltimore Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland
    • The Columbus, Miami, Florida
    • Hotel Westward Ho, Phoenix, Arizona
    • The Harrisburger, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    • The Deshler Wallick Hotel, Columbus, Ohio
    • Congress Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
    • Hotel Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
  1. Grand Hotels
    • The Sherry Netherlands and Savoy Hilton, New York City
    • The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
    • Miami Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables, Florida
    • Fairmont Hotel, Nob Hill, San Francisco
    • The Copley Plaza, Boston
    • Hotel Claridge, Atlantic City, New Jersey
    • Camelback Inn, Phoenix, Arizona
    • Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona
    • Mission Inn, Riverside, California
  1. Florida, Land of Sunshine
    • Cavalier Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
    • The Clevelander, Miami Beach, Florida
    • The Marine Terrace Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
    • Congress Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
    • Hotel Astor, Miami Beach, Florida
    • The Shoreham, Miami Beach, Florida
    • The Roney Plaza Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
    • Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, Florida
    • Don Cesar Beach Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida
    • Hollywood Beach Hotel, Hollywood, Florida
    • Vinoy Park Hotel, St. Petersburg, Florida
    • Hotel Ponce de Leon, St. Augustine, Florida

My Newest Book “Great American Hotel Architects Volume 2” was published in 2020.

All of my following books can be ordered from AuthorHouse by visiting and clicking on the book’s title.

  • Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2009)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York (2011)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (2013)
  • Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt, Oscar of the Waldorf (2014)
  • Great American Hoteliers Volume 2: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry (2016)
  • Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels West of the Mississippi (2017)
  • Hotel Mavens Volume 2: Henry Morrison Flagler, Henry Bradley Plant, Carl Graham Fisher (2018)
  • Great American Hotel Architects Volume I (2019)
  • Hotel Mavens: Volume 3: Bob and Larry Tisch, Ralph Hitz, Cesar Ritz, Curt Strand (2020)

If You Need an Expert Witness:

For the past twenty-seven years, I have served as an expert witness in more than 42 hotel-related cases. My extensive hotel operating experience is beneficial in cases involving:

  • slip and fall accidents
  • wrongful deaths
  • fire and carbon monoxide injuries
  • hotel security issues
  • dram shop requirements
  • hurricane damage and/or business interruption cases

Feel free to call me at no charge on 917-628-8549 to discuss any hotel-related expert witness assignment.