June 28, 2012
New York History: Women Without Male Escorts Refused Dinner at 25th and Broadway
Two respectable women wanted to have dinner at 6:15 PM at a local rooftop restaurant, but were refused service because they did not have a male escort. Seems unbelievable doesn’t it, especially in the heart of NoMad New York, but that’s just what happened.
On a warm August 5th evening in 1907, Harriot Stanton Blatch, daughter of the famous suffragette, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and a famous suffragette herself, invited a friend she had worked with all day to dine at the Hoffman House, one of the world’s most famous hotels at the time. They had the Hoffman House, we have the NoMad Hotel.
The day being hot, the women decided to eat at the Hoffman House’s rooftop restaurant, where they were told that the hotel would not serve two unescorted women. The waiter told them that they “do it to keep out objectionable women.” Ms. Blatch replied, “I have never been bothered by objectionable women; when I have been annoyed it has been by men. I do not suppose you make any effort to keep objectionable men out.”
Later she told the press, “It does seem strange that women, whose respectability is apparent, may not satisfy their hunger, unless accompanied by men, while men, no matter what their characters may be, are admitted everywhere.”
Ms. Blatch, a Vassar graduate with honors, was on the Executive Board of the Women’s Trade Union League of England and well known in New York political circles. She decided to sue the Hoffman House, claiming “I do not think the owner has a right to refuse a woman a meal at any hour. There are numbers of women working as physicians and in other professions. They should be permitted to eat wherever they choose and whenever they choose.”
As reported in the New York Times on February 6, 1908: After only a few minutes the jury brought in the verdict against the plaintiff, Ms. Blatch and in favor of the hotel. Unbelievable moment in the history of NoMad New York!