Chicago unquestionably knows that it is great, and that its greatness is of the spirit. But the Chicagoan, debating in favor of his city, is unable to "get that over," and is therefore obliged to fall back upon two last, invariable defenses: the department store of Marshall Field.& Co. and the Blackstone Hotel.
The Blackstone he will tell you, with an eye lit by fanatical belief, is positively the finest hotel in the whole United States. Mention the Ritz, the Plaza, the St. Regis, the Biltmore, or any other hotel to him, and it makes no difference; the Blackstone is the best. As to Marshall Field's, he is no less positive: It is not merely the largest but also the very finest store in the whole world.
I have never stopped at any of those hotels with which the New Yorker would attempt to defeat the Blackstone. But I have stopped at the Blackstone, and it is undeniably a very good hotel. One of the most agreeable things about it is the air of willing service which one senses in its staff. It is an excellent manager who can instill into his servants that spirit which causes them to seem to be eternally on tiptoe—not for a tip but for a chance to serve. Further, the Blackstone occupies a position, with regard to the fashionable life of Chicago, which is not paralleled by any single hotel in New York. Socially it is preeminently the place.
From: Abroad at Home: American Ramblings, Observations, and Adventures of Julian Street; with Pictorial Sidelights By Julian Street (1914)
Ah, The Blackstone. So much Chicago history in its hallowed halls. Reader Dagmara Mach contacted me recently about doing a piece on The Blackstone and even provided some nice background information. The Blackstone has been remodelled, and Chicago saw its grand re-opening in 2008 so it is kind of timely.(Actually, Dagmara works for the marketing firm that promotes the Marriott hotels, such as The Blackstone, but let's not be picky. I takes it where I can gets it when I'm rushed.
So, here is a bit of info on The Blackstone a la Ms. Mach:
The Blackstone Hotel opened in 1910 with a gala supper party honoring opera star Enrico Caruso.
"Considered the city's best example of a turn-of-the-century luxury hotel, The Blackstone also represents--both its exterior and interior--an excellent and rare example of the Modern French style of Beaux-Arts, (Classical Revival) architecture. Built by prominent hoteliers Tracy and John Drake, the Blackstone became known as the "Hotel of Presidents," serving as host to a dozen U.S. Presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The Blackstone was the location of the famous "smoke-filled rooms" where Warren G. Harding was chosen as the compromise Republican nominee for President in June 1920. (The term, which has since become a political cliche, was coined by a reporter covering the convention.) The hotel was named for Timothy B. Blackstone, a prominent railroad executive and the founding president of the Union Stock Yards, whose mansion had stood on the site." [This material came from the Chicago Landmarks website.]
A tearful Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped in after attending Rudolph Valentino's funeral in 1926, while Ethel Barrymore spent three days in seclusion at the Blackstone on her way to divorce proceedings in New York.
The Blackstone Hotel was the temporary home of the rich and famous, the politically connected and kings and princes. It was, and is again, renowned the world over. In the early years of the twentieth century there were few hotels that could compare. And, dear readers, I have recently discovered exactly why The Blackstone became the "seat of power" that it was in those early gilded years...
"Rooms with Memories," Chicago Magazine, April 2008
Blackstone Hotel (Wikipedia)
Renaissance Hotels-BLACKSTONE Grand Re-Opening in Chicago (2008), YouTube
The Blackstone Hotel
Blackstone Hotel postcard, Chicago History in Postcards (There are many more postcards of The Blackstone, including those showing the interior.)
Never-Split ad, The Architectural Record, 1910