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Hotel Dreams: Luxury, Technology, and Urban Ambition in America, 1829-1929 (Studies in Industry and Society) Hardcover – March 24, 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A rigorously researched and elegantly written study of the role of the hotel in shaping and embodying ideals of progress, luxury, and technology in a consumer capitalist society. Berger's monograph is a welcome contribution to the growing scholarly literature on the history of hotels in modern America, and is a must-read for scholars of business history, the history of technology, architectural and urban history, and the history of consumer culture.

(American Historical Review)

[Berger's] nuanced interpretation of technology makes her work so important to design historians... Hotels have served as realms of the fantastic that permit guests to escape the everyday and enter into a world of dreams where service and splendour define new experiences. It is this dream world that Berger successfully evokes in this important book and others should follow her lead by exploring this remarkably rich topic.

(Journal of Design History)

A salutatory and important book.

(Hospitality & Society Journal)

A worthwhile addition to the growing scholarly literature on hotels.

(Journal of American History)

In a relatively compact study, Berger has provided a rich, revealing portrayal of her subject that is likely to remain a basic source for scholars examining the history of the city no less than of the hotel itself for some years to come.

(Journal of Social History)

Complements and expands on A.K. Sandoval-Strausz's Hotel.

(Choice)

A very informative and entertaining read.

(Past In Review)

From the Back Cover

Winner, 2012 Sally Hacker Prize, Society for the History of Technology

Hotel Dreams is a deeply researched and entertaining account of how the hotel’s material world of machines and marble integrated into and shaped the society it served. Molly W. Berger offers a compelling history of the American hotel and how it captured the public’s imagination as it came to represent the complex―and often contentious―relationship among luxury, economic development, and the ideals of a democratic society.

Berger profiles the country’s most prestigious hotels, including Boston’s 1829 Tremont, San Francisco's world-famous Palace, and Chicago's enormous Stevens. The fascinating stories behind their design, construction, and marketing reveal in rich detail how these buildings became cultural symbols that shaped the urban landscape.

"A rigorously researched and elegantly written study of the role of the hotel in shaping and embodying ideals of progress, luxury, and technology in a consumer capitalist society."― American Historical Review

"Hotels have served as realms of the fantastic that permit guests to escape the everyday and enter into a world of dreams where service and splendour define new experiences. It is this dream world that Berger successfully evokes in this important book and others should follow her lead by exploring this remarkably rich topic."― Journal of Design History

"A salutatory and important book."― Hospitality & Society

"A worthwhile addition to the growing scholarly literature on hotels."― Journal of American History

"In a relatively compact study, Berger has provided a rich, revealing portrayal of her subject that is likely to remain a basic source for scholars examining the history of the city no less than of the hotel itself for some years to come."― Journal of Social History

Molly W. Berger is the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an instructor of history at Case Western Reserve University. She is the editor of The American Hotel, an award-winning volume in The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts series.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Industry and Society
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (March 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801899877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801899874
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,167,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By david l. poremba VINE VOICE on September 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Most people, at one point in their lives, have spent the night in rented lodgings, be it hotel, motel or cabin. Those who have been fortunate to have spent time in the larger, older hotels (almost always found in larger cities), will remember the size, style, glamour and opulence of the place.
Molly Berger takes us back to the beginnings of the hotel in American history and its impact on life and society. Beginning in the 1820's, she focuses on four hotels: the Tremont House, Boston, 1829; the Continental Hotel, Philadelphia, 1860; the Palace Hotel, San Francisco, 1875; and, the Stevens Hotel, Chicago, 1927. Each gets a chapter devoted to their design, construction, marketing and how these buildings became cultural symbols that shaped each of their respective cityscapes. Interspersed are chapters defining the development of the commercial luxury hotel; their emergence as distinctly American; their proliferation from the 1830's to the Civil War; their resurgence as an American palace; and, finally, the new modern hotel (up to 1929).
This book is not just the story of buildings but also the story of life unfolding within those buildings and how they shaped ideas about class, gender and race. Very much a part of this story is the public debate each generated concerning urban development, economic power and the ideals of a democratic society. As the "luxury hotel" is still with us, much of these ideas and debates are relevant today.
A very informative and entertaining read.
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