Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin (1890s)
Howells’s friend Kate Wiggin, the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Birds’ Christmas Carol, writes in My Garden of Memory: An Autobiography that she stayed at the Albert in the 1890s:
Soon after this first visit to an English country house, I set sail for America, November, 1890, on the Red Star Line from Antwerp. On arriving in New York, I went at once to the Hotel Albert, University Place and Eleventh Street, and secured a tiny sitting room and bedroom at a reasonable price, although my income did not promise much food when my rent was paid. I chose that hotel because it was filled with my literary friends the Howellses, Frank Stocktons, [Thomas] Janviers; also Mr. Franklin Sargent, of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and his mother, who was all that any stranger-mother could be to me, and Heaven knows I needed one, with my own dear one in San Francisco! (p. 214)
The autobiography also includes letters datelined “Hotel Albert, New York City.”
Franklin Sargent (1890s)
Franklin Sargent, mentioned by Kate Wiggin as a friend also resident at the Albert, founded the Lyceum Theatre School which later became the New York School of Acting (1885) and then the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (1892).
Frank Stockton (1890s)
Frank Stockton, mentioned by Kate Wiggin as a friend also resident at the Albert, was a writer and humorist. He was particularly well-known for a series of fairy-tales, most famous of which was “The Lady or the Tiger.”
Thomas Allibone Janvier (1890s)
The writer Thomas Janvier, mentioned by Kate Wiggin as a friend also resident at the Albert, was the author of, among other works, In Old New York (1894), a series of stories about the early years of the city. In Chapter 8, “Greenwich Village,” after recounting stories of the neighborhood’s early years, he writes:
Greenwich Village always has been to me the most attractive portion of New York. It has … positive individuality, …age, …picturesqueness….
Presumably he got to know the neighborhood while living at the Albert.
William Dean Howells
The prominent American novelist stayed at the Albert in 1896:
In 1896, after looking for another convenient summer escape, Howells found a twelve-room house in Far Rockaway, Long Island.... “When Elinor and I came to think seriously of the country we found ourselves too old and timid to face its loneliness,” he explained to Aurelia....By October, after a new round of “nervous fever,” they had moved into the Hotel Albert in New York City and left the Far Rockaway house to renters.
Harry James Smith (1911)
The writer and playwright wrote a letter from the Albert describing his progress on “The Countess and Patrick”:
To the Same [Miss Evelyn Gill Klahr]
Hotel Albert, New York
7 October, 1911
...Only a brief hour ago I put - as I think - the very last final finishing touches to “The Countess and Patrick.” I’ve been here for a week, working hard on the incorporation of a new idea; and, oh, I do think I’ve been successful, and the comedy just looks to me (at this moment - which of course won’t endure long) the sweetest, truest, most humorous thing I’ve ever done. I’m simply in love with it.
Howard Hinton (1920)
Hinton was a journalist and author, who died at the Albert, age 86, in 1920:
Howard Hinton, “H.H.” of the old Home Journal, who died on Wednesday at the Hotel Albert, was perhaps the last link since the death of H.M. Alden of what may be termed the classical period of American literature. Contemporary of N.P. Willis, William Cullen Bryant, George Ripley and other well known American men of letters associated with The Home Journal, Mr. Hinton was recognized among his associates as its delicately directing spirit.
Always adverse to publicity his articles were usually unsigned and his only attempt toward recognition was to append his initials occasionally to some discussion of American politics, a review of a new novel by Zola, or a new volume of short stories by De Maupasssant. Essentially a poet and philosopher, Mr. Hinton was for a time a journalist… George Ripley once described him as one who, while he professed none of the Christian virtues, possessed them all.
Robert McAlmon (1920s)
[Writer and publisher McAlmon] asked me to come right over to the Albert Hotel, which had once been the elysium of penurious artists and writers.
Lynn Riggs (1920s)
By November 14, 1927, Riggs had returned to the Hotel Albert in New York City and had almost completed the first act of yet another play, Rancour. Saying that he was “pleased with it, and excited as hell,” and that it was a good theatrical study, he asked Clark to use his influence to get him another cash advance from French....
Caroline Gordon (1925-26)
Gordon, a friend of Hart Crane’s, was a novelist and critic; she married Allen Tate, poet and essayist in 1925.
Caroline started a new noel and worked on it when Allen [Tate] was not using his typewriter. After Hart Crane bought a new typewriter, he gave Caroline his old one…. Caroline’s brother Morris paid her way to Washington for a visit, and Allen, missing her, said he was living on cornmeal and rice and would probably have scurvy if Caroline stayed away very long… When Caroline came back from Washington, Allen met her in New York City, where they reveled in the luxury of the Albert Hotel and took hot baths. “Of course we drank a little and saw a few people…but the hot baths were the brightest lights.”
Louise Bogan (1936)
Lacking the money to pay her September rent, since, in their renewed quarrel, Holden had continued to ignore his obligation, Bogan was served with an eviction notice in the middle of the month. The eviction itself took place a few days later. Though the statuesque and sharp tongued poet told the sheriff and his men “to get the hell out,” she was unable to stop the removal of her furniture, piece by piece, out of the apartment and onto the side walk. This unlikely spectacle awakened her common sense, and she telephoned for a van, had her things put in storage, and registered herself and Maidie at the nearby Hotel Albert on Tenth Street and University Place, where their dark room had a view of a factory building with one floor devoted to shoemaking and the other to the folding and packing of children’s sewing sets.
Much to her amazement, Bogan found herself taking the eviction in stride. The new room wasn’t so terrible, after all; it had long windows reaching down to the floor and she had always wanted to live in a room with long windows reaching down to the floor. The worst that could happen – getting thrown out into the street – had happened, and that wasn’t so terrible either.
Weldon Kees (1939)
Critic, novelist, filmmaker, jazz musician, painter, and, above all, poet, Weldon Kees performed, practiced, and published with the best of his generation of artists—the so-called middle generation, which included Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman.
Ann was making her first trip to New York. Kees, who had visited the city with his father in 1931, wanted to meet people he had only known through letters or from their work in books and little magazines. He especially wanted to meet them without feeling he needed to apologize for living in Denver, something he had experienced after meeting Laughlin’s plane in February, when the editor came to Colorado to ski.
In New York , the Keeses stayed at the Hotel Albert, a fine old establishment at the corner of University Place and Tenth Street, where Hart Crane had once lived in a furnished room between 1919 and 1920. From this location, they could easily walk to the secondhand bookstores on Fourth Avenue, to the subway station underneath Union Square, and to Greenwich Village….
Once again the Keeses checked into the Hotel Albert. They stayed from September 27 to October 18 and sent letters to their friends in the West, reporting on whom they met, what parties they attended, and what gossip they heard….
After getting off the train in Pennsylvania Station, Kees stayed in New York for a week and called on friends and editors.... From his room at the Hotel Albert, he wrote Ann and Getty about the things that concerned him….
On his first day in the city, Kees found the Hotel Albert mobbed with soldiers. There were no vacancies, and even if there had been, the genteel bohemia of Hart Crane’s Village could hardly be relived in wartime New York.
Thomas Beer (c.1938-40)
Writer Thomas Beer spent his last years at the Albert. As described in his obituary in the New York Times, Beer was a
…biographer, novelist and short-story writer, whose literary resurrection of American life at the end of the last century, “The Mauve Decade,” was widely read…. To many readers Mr. Beer was best known for his series of salty short stories in The Saturday Evening Post about the Van Ecks, farmer aristocrats, and the small-town Egg family, earthy but civilized folk. By others he will be remembered as the biographer of Stephen Crane and Mark Hanna and the author of the novel “Sandoval.”
Alfred Kazin (c.1940)
By 1940, when writer and literary critic Alfred Kazin (author of Walker in the City and others) stayed at the Albert, conditions weren’t as nice as they had been earlier. He wrote about his stay there:
Before Asya and I were married, we decided to keep a daily record of our lives. Of course we won’t keep it up. I do need a notebook-journal-record of some sort, and this may be it. Asya is like nothing I ever anticipated or even hoped for. She’s priceless.
“Neue Liebe, Neues Leben.” -- Goethe
Living in a miserable room on University Place, The Hotel Albert. I heard once that the hotel was owned by the painter Albert Ryder’s brother, who named it after him. Perhaps this is why I let myself come here. But the spirit of Albert Pinkham Ryder is not here now. I pray for a little rest here, and want to be quietly alone, so glad to be out of Isaac Rosenfeld’s apartment in Barrow Street, when I lived there with Mary Lou.
In 1986, Kazin mentioned the Albert in an article he wrote in the New York Times:
America between the Civil War and the ‘‘Great War’’ was to become my favorite period for study. When I eventually discovered Lewis Mumford’s ‘‘The Brown Decades,’’ a prime book on the subject, with its loving portraits of Emily Dickinson; John Augustus Roebling, the creator of Brooklyn Bridge; the painter Albert Pinkham Ryder – in those days you could still see on University Place the Hotel Albert, named after the mystical painter by his brother – I was hooked for life.
Chester Himes (1950s)
Himes listed his addresses as:
Mr. Chester Himes, 39, rue de la Harpe, Paris, and the Albert Hotel, 10th Street and University Place, Manhattan.
An acquaintance (John Alfred Williams) wrote:
With some writers you get the feeling that you are interrupting their work, that they wish you to be gone, out of their homes, out of their lives. I’ve never had that feeling with Himes; he has always made me feel welcome, whether it was in the Albert, in the Quarter in Paris (I repaid the hospitality that night by falling asleep in front of the fire and holding up dinner), or in the Alicante.
Williams also described the Albert generally:
…the Albert Hotel, an establishment that defies description, for it is not merely a hotel, but an apartment that caters to all kinds of people.
Another account, of Himes visiting a friend at the Albert:
But there was in his stillness at times a feeling that he could be dangerous. Himes is usually depicted in biographies as an explosive, violent man who beat up women. In all the years I knew him I only saw him lose his temper one time and he did not become violent. We were living in an apartment in the Albert Hotel on Tenth Street just above Washington Square. Chester and his wife, Lesley, were visiting. They had been out shopping for groceries and other things that they couldn’t purchase in Spain, where they lived. Chester was carrying a huge bag of oranges and when he entered our kitchen the bag suddenly split. He was outraged as oranges scattered all over the linoleum-clad floor. He began yelling at Lesley, blaming her for the breaking bag. After a second or two we all began to pick up oranges and the whole scene was over. Chester was in a good humor once more, laughing and joking.
At the Albert Hotel in Greenwich Village, again utterly disillusioned with New York, he [Chester Himes] wrote Malartic: “After having been away from new York for a couple of years it seems like a sort of second-rate place, perhaps not so much second-rate as robot-matic.”
Himes returned to New York in early February 1955, taking up residence at the Albert Hotel in Greenwich Village. His story “Spanish Gin” was turning into a novel.
Richard Wright (1949)
One brief mention of Wright at the Albert:
Wright left for New York on August 20, 1949, aboard the Queen Mary, but only stayed long enough at the Albert Hotel to take care of some business and to sign the contracts with Chenal, who joined Himes there.
Charles Wright (1960s)
Charles Wright seems to have been attracted to the Albert because of its association with Chester Himes:
I was living in the Chelsea district of New York when I read Charles Wright’s The Wig. As someone who was looking for something fresh, something that broke the model of the monotonous predictable conventional novel, I found it to be an exciting read. My friend Steve Cannon, who was later to write the Wig-influenced Groove Bang and Jive Around, read it too. Steve and I located Charles Wright and visited him at the Albert Hotel, a hotel made famous by Chester Himes having resided there at one time.
Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka (1960s)
Jones mentions the Albert in The Autobiography of Leroi Jones:
Vashti came up to New York to live. She had a girlfriend she stayed with up on the West Side (who became part of a group of middle-class black women who came to the aid of Betty Shabazz, Malcolm’s widow). But soon we had arranged something. I’d meet her different places, occasionally she even stayed at the old Albert Hotel on University Place. She began to meet the various people in the Black Arts and go in and out of the watering holes of our downtown world.
Carol Bergė and Aileen Pippett (1959)
From the autobiography of Bergė, novelist and editor who opened a small gallery on Fourth Avenue:
The 10th St. area was the hub of the active Abstract Expressionists. Next to my gallery was the Tenth Street Coffee house, owned by Ed Kaplan and Mickey Ruskin. I’d met Ed at the Hotel Albert, where I briefly had a rooftop room next to the writer Aileen Pippett, who was companionable and very encouraging to my writing.
Pippett was the author of The Moth and the Star: A Biography of Virginia Woolf, published in 1955 – so possibly written while Pippett was living at the Albert.
Aram Saroyan (1960s)
From his memoir:
When we got back to New York that fall, we started going through a series of changes that eventually led to our having our first child, Strawberry. We stayed in New York’s crazed Albert Hotel for a few weeks, in a tiny room with no view, no ventilation, but a kitchenette that allowed us to get back on our diet.
Samuel R. Delany (1960s-70s)
When asked by an interviewer about how literary critic and writer Delany “first become interested in literary theory, semiotics, and the like?” he answered:
…I was living in the Albert Hotel, back in New York City, when, sometime late in 1972, I settled down on the orange, threadbare bedspread, to read Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques. By that time I’d read one or two desultory pieces by Barthes. I’d still never heard the names Derrida or Lacan. I’d read a handful of essays by Lévi-Strauss (such as the often reprinted study of the Oedipus myth), but though I’d heard of “Structuralism,” I had no sense of it as a school or movement. But that afternoon, on the 10th floor of the Albert Hotel in 1972, is where I date my serious reading in structuralism, semiotics, and theory from.
In the Albert Hotel, where I was living, another project intervened – a film called The Orchid, produced by Barbara Wise, which I wrote, directed, and edited on an old “chatterbox” editing machine that was moved into my tenth floor hotel room. The eleven days of filming took place in February. The editing went on up through April and into May of ‘72.