Hotel: An American History

After his inauguration, George Washington embarked on a tour of the United States to bolster support for its fledgling government; sadly, the poor guy could barely find a decent place to rest his head. ?The only Inn short of Hallifax Rooms or beds which appeared tolerable, & everything else having a dirty appearance, I was compelled to keep on,? the father of our country wrote wearily of his visit to North Carolina. In this erudite, engaging, and beautifully illustrated history, Sandoval-Strausz examines how the inns of Washington?s day -- places where a drunken stranger might join you in bed at any point during the night -- came to be replaced by the hotel, which, he argues, is a uniquely American invention. The author links the proliferation of hotels to the rise of capitalism. In Colonial times, strangers were viewed with suspicion and often run out of town, but in the 19th century, with revolutions in steam and rail transportation facilitating the movement of goods, the people moving the goods needed dependable places to stay along their routes. By the early 20th century, the emergence of mass tourism and the popularization of the automobile meant that more and more Americans were hitting the road. Thus, the creation of the ?institutional model of hospitality,? which is something of a fancy term for the Kids Eat Free special at the Holiday Inn.

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