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Hotel McAlpin

New York, NY

Cocktail lounge bar front and wall panels behind bar

Cocktail-themed abstraction; Western, New England, and Southern scenes, 1946

Commissioned by: Kahn & JacobsMedium: wood inlay; glass mosaic and marbleExecuted by: RambuschNonextant

McAlpin cocktail lounge with cocktail-themed abstraction on bar front and scenic wall panels behind bar

McAlpin cocktail lounge with cocktail-themed abstraction on bar front and scenic wall panels behind bar

Close up of McAlpin cocktail lounge with cocktail-themed abstraction on bar front and scenic wall panels behind bar

Close up of McAlpin cocktail lounge with cocktail-themed abstraction on bar front and scenic wall panels behind bar

When the Hotel McAlpin was renovated in 1945, Kahn & Jacobs commissioned Hildreth Meière to decorate the cocktail lounge. She designed a cocktail-themed abstraction seventy-five feet long for the bar front in different shades of wood inlay, most likely executed by Rambusch. It incorporated a keg, bottles, glasses, mugs, hops, and grapes into a wavy pattern that was dramatically lighted. The bar front is no longer extant.

Studies for bar front in gouache on paper

Studies for bar front in gouache on paper

The Art Deco-style abstraction in wood inlay on the bar front contrasted with the traditional style of the scenic wall panels Meière designed in glass mosaic and marble for the wall behind the bar. The wall panels, executed by Foscato, depicted a Western, a New England, and a Southern scene in glass mosaic and marble. Originally affixed to the walls, the wall panels are no longer extant.

Bar front with a Western scene on wall behind it in glass mosaic and marble

Bar front with a Western scene on wall behind it in glass mosaic and marble

Detail of wall panel behind bar depicting a New England scene in glass mosaic and marble

Detail of wall panel behind bar depicting a New England scene in glass mosaic and marble

Detail of wall panel behind bar depicting a Southern scene in glass mosaic and marble

Detail of wall panel behind bar depicting a Southern scene in glass mosaic and marble

When it was built in 1912, the Hotel McAlpin on Herald Square in Manhattan was the largest hotel in the world. The hotel’s colorful history included Harry Thaw’s attack on Fred Gump, Jr. in 1916. One year after Meière completed her murals for the bar, Jackie Robinson, who lived at the hotel, became the first African American player to play for a Major League Baseball team, the Brooklyn Dodgers.1 Today the hotel has become an apartment building called Herald Towers. Meière’s bar decorations are no longer extant.

1

See description in Wikipedia, Hotel McAlpin

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