A hotel dedicated entirely to the well-being and protection of women? I knew there was something special about the building just by looking up to its tree-lined roof matching the colours of the street below. Perfection!… I thought.
Even more so, after reading about its role as a sanctuary for women moving to New York for work in the ’20s. Smart girls who knew how to stay out of trouble – or so their parents hoped – came to live in its rooms, minuscule to accommodate as many as possible. The hotel also offered a swimming pool (still in use today), a library, recital rooms, a sundeck, a solarium, squash and badminton courts, and a formal dining room.
Then came the ’60s and smart girls sought different kinds of adventures; the kind that didn’t include chaperoning and living in a sanctuary where no men were allowed beyond the first floor. The Barbizon changed hands many times until 2002, when it was renovated and became The Melrose Hotel; only to be purchased by developers three years later and converted into a luxury condominium building.
Interestingly, a few women, long-term tenants from the old Barbizon era still live in the building, protected by the rental laws of New York.
140 E 63rd St.
September 24th, 2016