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Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States

Paul Groth

ISBN 10: 0520068769 / ISBN 13: 9780520068766
Published by University of California Press, 1994
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Title: Living Downtown: The History of Residential ...

Publisher: University of California Press

Publication Date: 1994

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 1st Edition.

About this title


From the palace hotels of the elite to cheap lodging houses, residential hotels have been an element of American urban life for nearly two hundred years. Since 1870, however, they have been the target of an official war led by people whose concept of home does not include the hotel. Do these residences constitute an essential housing resource, or are they, as charged, a public nuisance? "Living Downtown", a social and cultural history of life in American residential hotels, adds a historical perspective to this ongoing debate. Combining evidence from biographies, buildings and urban neighbourhoods, workplace records, and housing policies, Paul Groth provides an analysis of life in four price-differentiated types of downtown residence. He demonstrates that these hotels have played a valuable socio-economic role as home to both long-term residents and temporary labourers. Also, the convenience of hotels has made them the residence of choice for a surprising number of Americans, from hobo author Boxcar Bertha to Calvin Coolidge. Groth examines the social and cultural objections to hotel households and the increasing efforts to eliminate them, which have led to the seemingly irrational destruction of millions of such housing units since 1960. He argues that these efforts have been a leading contributor to urban homelessness. This work aims to expand the concept of the American home and to recast accepted notions about the relationships among urban life, architecture, and the public management of residential environments.


"An immensely fascinating, important and most welcome historical study of residential hotels in the downtowns and adjacent districts of U. S. cities."--Gwyn Rowley, "Progress in Human Geography

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