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Garden City Hotel

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Garden City Hotel

The Garden City Hotel is a four star hotel in Garden City in Long Island, New York.  Alexander Turney Stewart, a multi-millionaire, planned the Garden City Hotel on 7,000 acres of land he had purchased approximately 15 to 20 miles away from New York City.  Stewart wanted to create something so epic, that it would attract famous and wealthy clientele from all over the world.  The hotel opened in 1874 and became an immediate success; it was built from lavish materials such as Stony Creek granite.  Tons of people flocked to spend the night and experience elaborate events and enjoy the lavish hotel rooms. A new Garden City Hotel had opened in 1895; this was designed by architects McKim, Mead and White using the precious stony creek granite.  In 1897 a nine hole golf course opened which then became known has "The Garden City Golf Club."  Tragically, after four successful years since opening the new hotel, it had burned down the morning of September 7th in 1899.  Finally, a third and the most famous incarnation of the hotel was opened in the same location in 1901 and this too included Stony Creek granite.
It is known that famous elite families such as the Vanderbilts and Pierpont Morgans had quiet, enjoyable stays at the Garden City Hotel.  It was rather popular for socialites to attend extravagant parties in the hotel's ballroom. Events such as these were the main reasons why the hotel remained the forefront of Long Island's activity within the years of 1910 to 1930. The most notable event was when Charles Lindbergh spent the night as a guest before his historic flight in May of 1927.

The hotel's downfall came with the Great Depression around the Gatsby-era.  It wasn't until after World War II, that the hotel as well as the community began to flourish and grow once again.  Many socialites and even world leaders such as President John F. Kennedy in 1959 and more recently Hillary Clinton and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have spent their time at the hotel. The hotel has provided its community with the highest quality of services and accommodations from its post Civil war beginnings to
the Roaring Twenties till present day. In time, the hotel had declared bankruptcy and was demolished in 1973.   In 1980, the current owner of the hotel, Myron Nelkin, built the present day Garden City Hotel that opened May 20th in 1983.  Since then, this sophisticated and luxurious hotel has been overseen by the Nelkins who continue to uphold the hotel's elegance and service that has been established for over the past one hundred and twenty-five years. The Garden City Hotel is currently a member of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and its current President is Cathy Nelkin Miller.  One can get a better look and feel of the Garden City Hotel by clicking this link and watching a ">virtual tour.

The architects of the hotel, McKim, Mead, and White, were partners in a leading American architectural firm.  They were known to create memorable Beaux Arts architecture in the United States. Some of their most famous works besides the hotel would be The Boston Public Library, Isaac Bell House, Morgan Library, New York Herald Building, New York Racquet Club, Newport Casino, Pennsylvania Station, Rhode Island State Capitol, University club and W.G. Low House. The majority of these historical foundations are created tastefully with the use of Stony Creek Granite.  They even received international attention once they created the American Academy in Rome, Italy.

It was not uncommon for McKim, Mead, and White to have used Stony Creek granite in their pieces of work. Since 1850, designers, artists, architects and builders have used Stony Creek granite for its durability, workability and distinct appearance.  The old world reliability and craftsmanship of this granite is preserved still to this day and it provides the same timeless energy and presence to all uses it is applied to.  According to the book Flesh and Stone: Stony Creek and the Age of Granite, “Across several miles of Connecticut shoreline and extending into Long Island Sound stretches a formation of pink granite that one hundred and fifty years ago propelled a region into the industrial revolution. The granite, known as ‘Stony Creek pink’ brought hundreds and more immigrants to the area and precipitated the opening of numerous private and commercial granite quarries, one of which continues to operate up to the present.”

Stony Creek granite created a huge industry in the United States.  Newcomers came from all over to extract the granite from the earth.  They all had the same goal in mind; to provide for their families. These immigrants invaded small and quiet farming and fishing villages with their heavy machinery and technology that would extract the durable granite from beneath.  New businesses and services sprang up along with the population and the immediate housing shortages.

Each of the region’s locations gave its own characteristic to the granite; whether it is the color, coarseness or the hardness.  Some stoneworkers would exploit the granite sites to some degree which left a negative and sometimes everlasting effect on the region.  Once the cost of steel and labor changed, and the beginning of concrete usage in building, the demand for stone fell.  Many stoneworkers who would dig for granite were changing fields, and taking jobs in other trades or plants such as the iron factory or the wire mills in Branford, however they were still staying in the area.

It was never a question as to why architects such as McKim, Mead and White used materials like Stony Creek granite.  The granite sparkled with feldspar and it had an attractive pink color that humanized large architectural creations and made them more inviting to the eye.   Structures such as churches, fraternal organizations, museums, hospitals, libraries, governmental offices, railroad terminals, banks, hotels, educational institutions, offices and loft buildings, were all commonly known for using Stony Creek granite. 


The Garden City Hotel is still operating today and it is still a large tourist attraction for Long Island.  The Stony Creek granite helps to make the hotel more warm and inviting to its guests.  It is a versatile material that is easy to work with but durable enough to last.

Last Updated on Friday, 10 December 2010 10:36  


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Flesh and Stone

Flesh and Stone - Stony Creek and the Age of Granite - buy at Amazon.com
Available on Amazon

Uncirculated: Shrink wrapped in clear plastic from original Italian publisher, 1999. Ships with fresh samples of sparkling Stony Creek pink granite for historians, collectors, geologists and classrooms. Additional samples available upon request.