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Names poured in: The Diana. The Patrician. Broad View. The organization would eventually choose The Sutton. But another entry summed up what the residence actually meant to the women who stayed there: Paradise. For over a century, such same-sex hotels served as places of respite, relaxation, and full-time residence for women young and old. In early 19th-century America, the idea of unchaperoned travel Black women locking private sex Bermuda almost unthinkable for most women. When women did travel, they were strictly minded and swept into private quarters as quickly as possible.
Cities were demonized as immoral places unfit for the fairer sex, and women who worked outside the home were seen as dangerous and sexually brazen. But times were changing, and as lower-class women flocked to cities to find work, upper-class women worried about their virtue. They responded to a housing crisis by underwriting what historian Nina E. The homes sprung up in urban centers around the country, and by the Department of Labor DoL noted that 46 cities had homes for working girls—most run by Christian groups and intended as temporary dwellings.
The DoL listed its occupants as everything from milliners to governesses, librarians, and saleswomen. They ranged from bare-bones to glamorous. Women lived there for short periods or years, sustained by maid and meal service and a chance to socialize with their fellow residents. With names like the Martha Washington, the Allerton, and the Barbizon, these hotels served new generations of women who, unlike their mothers, had access to college educations and intended to pursue careers before marriage.
During their heyday from the s through the s, they were places where ambitious women could meet like-minded friends, get their start in a city, and make the most of life. Women who had never set foot in New York found a safe haven there—and a launch pad.
In an era beforecell phones, and cheap long distance calling, newcomers to a city were effectively cut off from their old social networks. Most had stringent requirements for residents. The building teemed with models, actresses, and career women, most good-looking and well-to-do. Residents had to bring recommendation letters and were expected to actively pursue employment. Men were not allowed on upper floors.
Upstairs, though, a dormitory feel reigned. For some residents, the Barbizon was a true dorm: Students at the exclusive Katharine Gibbs secretarial school roomed there. Though they were rooted in fears about sexual purity, the hotels eventually helped normalize the idea of women as independent—even ambitious—members of society. Though the Barbizon stayed open, it began taking male guests in When it was remodeled into luxury condos inthere were only 14 women who remained as long-term residents.
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