- Paperback: 423 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (June 29, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520219546
- ISBN-13: 978-0520219540
- Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,500,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Living Downtown: The History of Residential Hotels in the United States Paperback – June 29, 1999
See the Best Books of 2018 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Complements Kenneth T. Jackson's history of suburban development, Crabgrass Frontier. . . . Will undoubtedly change historians' understanding of the urban landscape." -- Daniel Bluestone, Journal of American History
"Groth's lively and multifaceted analysis--examining architecture, real estate development, social history, and planning thought--inspires appreciation for a land use that planners have too often dismissed as "blight." . . . Should be required reading for every planner and public official concerned with housing and urban revitalization. Living Downtown deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Herbert Gans' classic study, The Urban Villagers." -- Thomas W. Hanchett, Planning Perspective
About the Author
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Groth seeks to answer two questions: First, why were hotels so popular? High-end hotels were appealing to the upper class because the huge staffs of luxury hotels freed the rich from the need to have servants to assist with menial tasks; in addition, hotel restaurants were included in rent, and thus meant that people didn't have to worry about cooking. (As labor-saving devices reduced the need for servants and made cooking easier, I suspect this was much less of an advantage in the late 20th century). Mid-priced hotels were appealing to the middle class because they eliminated the need to buy furniture and cook meals. Hotels were especially useful for young singles who weren't ready to buy houses, because compared to boarding with a family, they were closer to downtown and allowed tenants more privacy.
And to a greater extent than modern apartments, the hotel industry created a wide range of low-end options. In the 1920s, a low-end laborer or hobo might rent a minimally furnished private room with no cooking facilities for 40 cents a night (roughly $5 today), a cubicle for half that much, and a dry space on a floor for a dime a day (or a bit over a dollar today). Of course, these facilities were vile by modern standards - cleanliness was often questionable, and dozens of tenants might share a restroom. Still, these options compare favorably to sleeping on the street as homeless people now do near where I live.
Groth then focuses on what went wrong: why did the residential hotel industry collapse? Here, he focuses primarily on the low end of the industry, which was wiped out in large part by government interference. For example:
*Building codes designed to improve sanitation put a floor under prices; for example, a hotel with one bathroom for every 15 tenants (a common 1920s standards) obviously costs a little more than one with one bathroom for every 30.
*Zoning laws that separated uses both reduced the number of hotels (by keeping them out of new, house-dominated suburban areas) and made them less appealing (by ensuring that hotels were within walking distance of less retail than in the past).
*The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) aided houses and even apartment complexes in newer areas, but did not aid residential hotels, and redlined older, mixed-use areas that such hotels were most common.
*Urban renewal wiped out many cities' lower-income downtown neighborhoods, which tended to have the most hotels. And as cities widened streets to favor the automobile, they made downtown streets less appealing places to live.
*The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill made low-end hotels very unappealing places to live, as the former patients flooded cheap hotels.
In addition, some market forces reduced demand for hotels- the growth of downtown office buildings meant that business outbid hotels for the best downtown real estate. Also as blue collar jobs moved to suburbia, blue collar people moved with them.
The book has a distinct San Francisco emphasis. There are over 150 illustrations, mostly photos, but also including 12 floor plans. If you've ever wondered about the down-and-out hotels that are in every town and city, Paul Groth explains what is behind the facades.