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This is a 1915 advertisement for the Hotel Martha Washington, in New York City, which was billed as an “Exceptional Place for Women Traveling Alone” and “Absolutely Fireproof.”  Although the hotel catered to women traveling alone, it also featured a restaurant that served both “Ladies and Gentlemen” in case the women wanted to get lucky, I guess.

Rooms were only a dollar a day which included a bath. It even had a telephone (call 6500 Madison). Meals were a modest 35 cents for lunch and only 75 cents for dinner.

Ads like this are a small reminder of just how much the world has changed – the idea that women would need to be segregated into a hotel just for women – the boasting that the hotel was fireproof (because most hotels of the time were actually death traps) and the prices, all hint at a world that most of us living today have never experienced.

It’s interesting to note that being a fireproof hotel was a hot (pun intended) selling feature, much like advertising free cable TV and WIfi access would be many decades later. The Martha Washington Hotel may have been “Absolutely Fireproof” but its upscale competitor, the Ansonia Hotel was actually “Fireproof in Every Sense of the Word!” I am not sure which is actually better. It’s like a game of rock paper scissor. In this case, does absolutely fireproof trump being fire proof in every sense of the word or the other way around.

In any case, both the Ansonia and the Martha Washington Hotel are still standing and have not burnt down, so there must be truth in advertising. The Ansonia was converted to condominiums while the Martha Washington Hotel continues on as a hotel, though no longer segregated by gender.

This article was last updated on April 15, 2021.

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Victor Doppelt

Victor Doppelt

Victor Doppelt explores the world of yesterday through vintage photographs and informative articles.