Posts tagged “architecture

French Quarter Flattery Revisited

Posted on May 16, 2014

Two years ago I posted “Sincerest Flattery in Tourist Lands,” highlighting a few notable examples of places outside New Orleans that mimic the famed French Quarter. Since that time I have discovered so many more such examples of the “sincerest form of flattery” that it’s worth revisiting the subject. Ranging from careful replication of what is sometimes called the “French Quarter Revival” style in resorts and theme parks to hackneyed adornments on otherwise ordinary apartment complexes, French Quarter-style architecture dots the American landscape. Of course what we call French Quarter-style architecture is in fact far from unique to the French Quarter. Many New Orleans structures outside the Vieux Carré also have original ironwork, and many more have added it. Many cities in the South…

American Tourism Now Available!

Posted on June 15, 2012

American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition is now available to order from your favorite bookseller. American Tourism reveals the remarkable stories behind the places Americans love to visit. From Independence Hall to Las Vegas, and from Silver Springs to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the collection draws back the curtain on many of America’s most successful tourist traps to reveal the carefully hidden backstory of transforming places into destinations. Readers will discover that a powerful creative process, rather than chance, has separated the enduring attractions from the many failures that litter the highways and byways of tourism history. American Tourism‘s thirty-five lively, illustrated essays tap the expertise of the country’s leading academic and public historians, writers, and tourism professionals. The contributors illuminate the visionaries who created iconic destinations and…

Hotel Veranda as Celebrity Stage

Posted on June 13, 2012

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the sweeping verandas of America’s foremost resort hotels served as veritable stages across which the nation’s well-to-do promenaded. As historian Jon Sterngass observed in his book First Resorts, such spaces offered perfect places “to see and be seen,” even as resorts like Saratoga attracted a broader and broader swath of American society. In Saratoga, the “celebrities” of the day literally strode high above passersby on the Broadway sidewalk below as if enacting a tableau. The United States Hotel, along with Congress Hall and the Grand Union Hotel, was one of the great elite resort hotels of the Western Hemisphere in the 19th century. Originally built in 1824, the United States Hotel (like many wooden hotels) went up…

Mackinac’s West Bluff, Then and Now

Posted on June 7, 2012

When it opened 125 years ago, Grand Hotel raised the profile of Mackinac Island. Already noted as a place of refined respite from the sooty industrial cities of the Great Lakes region, this small, scenic island in Lake Huron soon drew industrialists from around the Midwest. They built fine “cottages” (really large mansions) on the high bluffs adjacent to the hotel to be near the social whirl it afforded. The cottages on West Bluff in the old photo above are finely maintained as summer homes to this day (see below).

Venice in America

Posted on June 4, 2012

Visitors to Venice Beach, California, today are more likely to think of early-’80s roller skaters from Xanadu than Venice, Italy. Three quarters of a century before, however, Abbot Kinney’s vision brought a piece of Italy to the Pacific coast in Los Angeles. Replete with gondoliers and Renaissance-style architecture, Kinney’s Venice, as American Tourism contributor J. Philip Gruen demonstrates, was a short-lived cultural experiment that nevertheless set the tone for one of L.A.’s quirkiest neighborhoods. Apart from the Venice Canal Historic District, little of the Venetian influence tempers the sun-drenched stretch of trinket shops and vendor stands. A close inspection turns up the occasional nod to the city on the Adriatic. Bits of the Colonnade have been salvaged, and St. Mark’s Hotel’s neighboring Italian Renaissance…

Making Colonial Williamsburg

Posted on May 21, 2012

Colonial Williamsburg is among the United States’ most illustrious historic tourist sites. But Williamsburg, Virginia, was like any other American town in the early 20th century with the exception of retaining a few dozen structures that dated to the colonial era. Until the world’s richest family agreed in the late 1920s to underwrite a restoration of the original colonial Virginia, Williamsburg lacked the coherent landscape necessary to envelope the tourist in a believable setting in which the story of the nation’s youth could be narrated. No few tourists today are surprised to learn that most of the town’s “historic” buildings were, in fact, painstakingly re-created, sparing no attention to detail, as explained in Anders Greenspan’s essay in American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition. Although most…