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"Nasty Holes" and New Hotels: Public Accommodations in Early New York City

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Author: Blaakman, Michael Albert
Advisor: Wells, Camille
Committee Members: Sheriff, Carol; Holmes, David
Issued Date: 2009-05-13
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10288/1206
Description: Focusing on the period between the Revolution and 1820, this thesis argues that wealthy New Yorkers used taverns and hotels to try to advance their own vision for society. As important public spaces in a city whose explosive growth and chaotic daily life proceeded beyond anyone's control, public accommodations became a tool for elites to control their neighbors and to shape their city. Paternalist New Yorkers attempted to restrict the activity of lower-class taverns while cultivating themselves within exclusive taverns and coffee houses. Towards the end of the eighteenth century, the hotel emerged through an evolutionary process. At first simply a new moniker, and eventually an architectural form and business model distinct from the tavern, the hotel reflected elite desires to cling to traditional social structures while simultaneously improving their new nation. Hotels thus embodied a central paradox of elite American ideology in the years of the early republic: a backwards-looking social conservatism accompanied a sense of national progress. After the egalitarianism of popular Revolutionary mobilization, wealthy New Yorkers manipulated cultural institutions, public spaces, and the city as a whole in order to preserve the old social order that legitimated their claim to governance.
Degree: Bachelors of Arts in History

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