Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hotel Albert-New York

The original 12-story building of the Hotel Albert was designed in 1881 by Henry Hardenbergh, who also designed the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota. The postcard probably dates from the early 1920s.

This card has a lot to tell. It is not a postcard to be mailed, but rather a letter of introduction. For a woman traveling alone, a letter of introduction  was very important. Without it, hotels might wonder if you were a prostitute and deny you a room. The letter of introduction is from The Margaret Louisa at the New York YWCA, which itself offered rooms for single women. The women would receive room and board for $6 a day in exchange for helping with cooking and cleaning. There was often a long waiting list at the Margaret Louisa, which may explain why Mrs. Hoagland was referred to the Albert.

The Hotel Albert later fell on hard times until it was renovated into a co-op apartment building in 1985. Some of the apartments in the building currently sell for around $2.5 million.

Here's another card of the Hotel Albert.


  1. Wow! Imagine that--a woman traveling alone would be suspicioned to be a lady of the night, unless she were properly introduced. My Granny worked at the Portland Hotel in downtown Portland, Ore.

    I wonder if she had such a letter of introduction? She was just 16 years old. Wow.

  2. Thanks Beth,
    I think the Margaret Louisa was particularly careful, because they operated a hotel for women, and they were after all the Young Women's Christian Association. They had to be careful about their reputation. There are several letters to the NY Times in the early 1900's about the Margaret Louisa and the need for a letter of introduction. here's a link to one:

  3. Here's another letter that talks specifically about the Margaret Louisa "shoving on" a client, the term for one hotel sending a refused guest on to another hotel:

  4. Wow, i have not words for explanation about Albert hotel of new york.
    Really so attractive, beautiful and big.....

  5. My father stayed - briefly - at the Hotel Albert when he was a student at NYU. Some time laterhe discovered that his father had also stayed there - when he emigrated from Austria. Nice to see.

  6. Anonymous,
    I'm glad you stopped by. It's fun to hear first- and second- hand accounts of these places.

  7. I rented a room at the Hotel Albert in 1967. I believe the rent was $26.00 per week. Used to put my yogurt out on the window ledge to keep it cold. Pets weren't allowed but whenever the fire alarm went off...which was rather often, there was a managerie in the lobby. Two little old ladies who had lived there since the 30's would come down with their parrots. Wonder what happened to the little iron Eiffel Tower that sat just outside the resturant along with a small iron table and chairs?
    Thanks for the memories!

  8. I lived with my family in the Hotel Albert, mid-1960's, thru early 1970's. My mom used to take my sister, my brother and I to the Cedar Tavern (just around the corner & across the street)for illicit sloe gin fizzes. I ate frog's legs for the first time in the restaurant attached to the hotel. Early mornings be-gowned drag queens with "five o'clock" shadows (more like 7AM shadows!) often frequented the lobby. Lots of people had pets in the hotel. What a place to be as a teenager in those days.

  9. Diana,
    Thanks so much for leaving this comment. What a colorful picture you paint...and what a contrast to the Albert today.



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