Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Hotel Homes As A Public Nuisance"

Just ran into Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States, published in 1994 by Paul Groth and available free online from UC Press here. The item title above is from the wonderful Chapter Seven, which explores anxiety expressed over residential hotels by reformers and moral busybodies around the turn of the last century. The main concern seems to have been that hotels allowed their residents to exist more as individuals than as segments of conventional family or social organisms. People, especially women, were thought to live best when firmly wedged into assigned familial and social roles. Remove the customary restraints of guilt, interdependence and dread, and who knew what kinds of terrible freedoms people might claim?

Wouldn't have thought of rez hotels as incubators per se of individualism, but it's arguable. The furnished room is part of the standard writer's or artist's tale of escape to Metropolis, isn't it?

And anyone for a chorus of "Y.M.C.A."?

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