La Salle Chicago
Blackstone
Morrison
Rosslyn
 
 

 

 

My experiences with old hotels is always the same: hushed awe over the public spaces, grim disappointment with the rooms. Nowadays we expect space, and amenities, big TVs, showers with pressure enough to paste you against the wall. Back then?

A bed. Perhaps a radio, when those became popular. Perhaps circulating ice water, to help with hot humid days. Oh, some suites were grand, if you had Rockefeller money, but the real grandeur was downstairs in the public spaces.

Every city had one. It could be four stories. It could be forty. But they all had the same style, the same posture, the same commanding power. To this day the largest of the breed look impossibly huge; a forty-story brick tower with three wings looks far more massive than a sixty-story tower clad in glass.

Here's a few examples. The LaSalle collection has more pictures of public spaces than any other, because someone who collected them sold his stuff or passed them to heirs who could not care less. The great New York hotels are elsewhere; you'll find them here if you're still in the mood for more. The Minneapolis examples are here. Enjoy!

Lileks

02.14.17