“He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.

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Copyright 2019 by Joyce Huntington.  All Rights Reserved. 
Website by Monte Blanco Design 

 wHere TO Stay 

Rules of Civility

So - I'm what you might call a Breakfast at Tiffany's enthusiast. l went to see everything I could find that had anything to do with the novella. However, I realize not everyone shares that same level of enthusiasm. So - I've sifted through my finds and ranked them in importance based on in what they reveal about Holly and Fred and maybe even Truman Capote and also by how interesting they are as a place to trip on. As a result, the list bops around the city. Now if you're all in and you want to see everything I uncovered - I've listed the stops by neighborhood below. And if you're going with your book club - you'll find a complete itinerary if you click on Book Club above.

Upper

east side

The Brownstone

Joe Bell's Bar

Loeb Boathouse 

Central Park Zoo

5th Avenue Parade

Duke Mansion

Frick Museum

The Pierre Hotel

tripping by

neighborhood

Lower

east side 

BROOKLYN

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

“‘Not at all.  I figured Bergdorf was trying to collect.”  Page 24

In Real Life:

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, we discover Holly Golightly shopped at Bergdorf Goodman only because she was afraid they were coming after her for the bill she hadn’t paid. In fact – it was no surprise to me she hadn’t paid her bill – what with the prices there. It’s a store Herman Bergdorf started in 1899 when he opened a tailor shop in downtown Manhattan. He hired a guy named Edwin Goodman as an apprentice. Goodman worked hard and bought into the business in 1901 and then bought out Goodman out five years later when they made the first of a few moves that would take them closer to Uptown. The first put them on 32nd street. In 1914, Goodman moved to where Rockefeller Center is today. He introduced ready-to-wear – which really put the store on the fashion map. Finally – he built the Beaux-Arts style store at its current location near Central Park.

At the time Holly was shopping there, the store had already moved to its current location on 5th Avenue but it was only located on one side of the street. Now – the men’s store is across the street. The store remains a high quality, one of a kind, department store just the way it’s been since it started selling clothing.

I walked in about a hundred and twenty years after Bergdorf opened his tailor shop. I have to say – since the first time I checked it out – every time I go to New York – I peek in. I don’t know if I’m looking for something I can afford  – or if I want to feel like Holiday Golightly for a moment – or if I just enjoy the aesthetic a guy laid out so many decades ago that still exists. It’s a feeling – Bergdorf Goodman – that’s different from any other store in America.​

The

PLAZA

768 5th Avenue  

New York, NY

  212-935-453

 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

 

“Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day traffic, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved.  Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, art the Pierre and the Plaza.”  Page 83

 

In Real Life:

 

It’s no surprise Truman Capote used the Plaza Hotel in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to track Fred’s wild jaunt on a horse through Central Park. It’s very well known – probably more well known than the Duke, the Frick, and the Pierre. It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks – when it comes to hotels in New York City – and probably even the world. It opened in 1907, the first guests moved in – the fabulously wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Gwyne Vanderbilt – and ever since it’s been a magnet for the rich and famous. When Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s he was neither rich nor famous. He was renting a room in Brooklyn. So, maybe tossing the Plaza onto the landscape of his novel was aspirational. Years later – when Capote was rich and famous – after the runaway success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and, of course, In Cold Blood, he threw a huge party at the Plaza and invited people he considered “A” list guests.  In fact, Deborah Davis wrote a book about it. It’s called, Party of the Century,  The Fabulous Story of Truman Capote and his Black and White Ball.

 

So, back to the hotel – it went from hand to hand over the years since it opened.  Among the owners – Conrad Hilton, who bought it in 1943, Donald Trump – who bought it from Westin Hotels in 1988 and it is poised to change hands again – American venture capitalist Shahal Khan put a group together to buy the hotel.

 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s – nothing happens at the Plaza – a horse just gallops by it. But – I’ve tracked a few books in New York City and all but one them take me to the Plaza Hotel. So – I’ve had lunch at the Todd English Food Hall – I’ve stared shamelessly into the Palm Court where Rod Stewart was having lunch, I’ve chatted with the bellmen who star in one of the reads – searched for Suite 1801 featured in yet another and generally taken a lot of pictures of it. It seems to me, no matter who owns the hotel, it just keeps marching on to its own fabulous beat, grounding that corner of Central Park and giving it purpose. And no matter what I’m there for – Truman Capote and his galloping heroine always come to mind.

the pierre

2 East 61st

New York, NY  10065  

212-838-8000

 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

 

“Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day raffia, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved.  Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, art the Pierre and the Plaza.”  Page 83

 

In Real Life:

 

Truman Capote used the Pierre Hotel as a marker to tell everyone where, exactly, the wild horse was taking Fred, the narrator of the tale, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Now. Fred galloped by it, trapped on a horse, in quite the rush – but I thought I would stop and examine it. The Pierre is beautiful. And that was the plan Charles Pierre Casalasco had when he closed his very successful restaurant in New York City, which catered to the rich and famous and – with the help of investors – set his sights on running a hotel. The Pierre opened its doors in 1930. Bad timing. It just couldn’t survive the Great Depression and it went bankrupt in just three years. Then in 1938, J. Paul Getty – the oil guy – bought the hotel. It regained its footing. It’s cafe – The Cafe Pierre – gave the hotel a boost by attracting everyone who was anyone in the New York City social scene.

 

Let’s pause right here for a minute.  That’s about the time Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s – but also around the time the narrator is looking back to – in the novel – 1943. So, it’s no surprise Capote dropped the name – just like that – in his novel because he was a man ab out town in Manhatten – and he probably hung out at the hotel.

 

Enter me – sixty-something years later.  The hotel has changed hands a couple of times but now it’s a Taj Hotel and it still attracts its big-name guests from around the world. I loitered in the lobby and found it reminiscent of the Carlye Hotel – dignified and serene. Then weirdly – many months later when I was writing this post I discovered the two hotels are connected – by one man Robert Dowling, who managed the Carlye also managed the Pierre for a time starting in 1960.  It says it right here in his obituary.  Anyway – I paused in the Rotunda which has new life as a dining experience. I zipped through the old Pierre Cafe which now calls itself Perrine and has a new Indian chef who seems to be turning the right heads. And then – since nothing really happened there in the novel – I ran out of things to do but promised myself I would come back one day to enjoy the Rotunda or Perrine.

 

Oh – one more thing. I don’t do movies but Audry Hepburn lived at the Pierre while she was making Breakfast at Tiffany’s.​

frick Museum

1 East 70th Street

New York, ny  10021

 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

“Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day traffic, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved.  Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, the Pierre and the Plaza.”  Page 83

 

In Real Life:

Truman Capote threw out the name – the Frick Museum in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, offhandedly. He situated it between the Duke mansion and the Pierre Hotel as one of the places our horrified narrator passed as he was speeding through Manhatten on a horse he couldn’t control.  It’s actually called the Frick Collection and I think it’s worth more than an offhanded glance. It’s the home of Henry Clay Frick. He came from humble beginnings in Pennsylvania, had a talent for numbers and he identified a particular ingredient that would be crucial to producing steel in Ameria. It’s called coke. Now – I get that – I’ve figured out that cardboard is essential in America right now because everyone is getting everything delivered – mostly by Amazon. I haven’t done anything about my thought on that  – but Frick acted on his hunch and before long he was a millionaire and working with Andrew Carnegie in the steel industry. Frick played a huge role in crushing the steelworkers union during the very ugly Homestead strike. And there’s speculation he wanted to get away from Pittsburgh after that – so he moved to New York City with his family. He was in his 50’s and he built a home with the idea that he would turn it into a place where people could come and enjoy art. He moved in, shopped for art – and sadly died within five years – in 1919. His wife lived in the house until her death and it was after that the house became a museum.

Now – I went to the collection with two friends on a very chilly day – like almost vortex weather. It was such a cozy way to look at art – maybe it was because it was cold out and we were grateful to get out of the cold – but probably because walking through the collection is seeing it the way someone wanted it to look in their home – for them to enjoy. I mean – I don’t generally hang out in homes like that but it’s still cool. Frick’s house is decked out with the work of the old masters, like Rembrandt and Titian, but also sculptures and bronzes and beautiful furniture. I found myself marveling that a guy who dealt with steelworkers in such a brutal way – turned around a left all the things he loved and collected to everyone. I also felt grateful to Capote for the beautiful afternoon I had at the Frick.

I would definitely watch this video before you go.

duke mansion

1 East 78th Street

 New York, Ny

 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

“Nursemaids rushed to rescue their charges from our awesome approach; men, bums and others, yelled: “Pull in the reins!” and “Whoa, boy, whoa!” and “Jump!” It was only later that I remembered these voices; at the time I was simply conscious of Holly, the cowboy-sound of her racing behind me, never quite catching up, and over and over calling encouragements. Onward: across the park and out into Fifth Avenue: stampeding against the noon-day traffic, taxis, buses that screechingly swerved.  Past the Duke mansion, the Frick Museum, the Pierre and the Plaza.”  Page 136

In Real Life:

Truman Capote zipped our narrator – whom Holiday Golightly called Fred – right past the Duke Mansion in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was stuck on a runaway horse. We can assume the Duke Mansion was a good landmark that would allow people to know where Fred was headed on that horse. I hadn’t heard of it but I liked what I found. A guy named James Buchanan Duke who was from North Carolina – think tobacco – but also Duke Power company and yes, Duke University – built it. The Duke’s moved in in 1912 with their daughter, Doris. They shared their time between another Duke mansion in North Carolina and this one – on 5th Avenue. At the time the events in the story Breakfast at Tiffany’s took place, 1944, the Duke Mansion was is still a private residence. In 1952, however, the family sold it to the New York University Institue of Art.

 

So – when Truman Capote wrote the novel, a few years after that – NYU already owned the mansion.

I strolled by the mansion on a fall morning. I captured shots from across the street and right up close. I tried the door but it was too early for anyone to be around.  It’s was a fun stop – a little morsel of knowledge I picked up about New York City thanks to Truman Capote.

Incidentally, there is another Duke mansion which is across the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art – and that’s just too far up – and away from the path, Fred’s runaway horse was traveling.​

rockefeller

 center

 45 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY 10111

 
 

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

 

“The top branches were crushed against the ceiling, the lower ones spread wall-to-wall; altogether it was not unlike the yuletide giant we see in Rockefeller Plaza.  Page 56

 

In Real Life:

 

Well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to see the giant tree Holly Golightly jammed into her apartment in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. However – I got some mileage out of this passage by checking out the other tree Truman Capote mentioned – the tree in Rockefeller Plaza. The whole Rockefeller tree thing started in 1931 – when construction workers who were building the center put up a tree and decorated it. The new “tradition” skipped a year in 1932, but when Rockefeller Center opened in 1933 the tradition picked back up again and it’s been going on ever since.

 

And since Capote threw it out there – I thought the whole Rockefeller Plaza thing was worth looking into. John D. Rockefeller built Rockefeller Center – during the depression years. It literally kept thousands of people employed for the duration of the depression. It’s a massive commercial complex of nineteen buildings but the centerpiece of it all is 30 Rockefeller Center – or 30 Rock – and it’s home to NBC News, the mothership of the company I've worked for most of my career.  The plaza below the building is always a fun stroll.   Now – on the top of that building is the very famous Rainbow Room. The room is only open for private events – but Bar Sixty Five on the 65th – see what they did there – seems to be getting some good reviews since it opened a few years ago.

Central Park zoo

830 5th Avenue

  New York, NY 10065  

212-439-6500

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s:

 

“Afterward, avoiding the zoo (Holly said she couldn’t see anything in a cage), we giggled, ran, sang along the paths toward the old wooden boathouse, now gone. ” i85

In Real Life:

 

In the novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly and the narrator, whom she calls Fred, avoided the Central Park Zoo. However – for me, if a writer wrote about it – I’m going. Even if a character never even entered the place, I feel compelled to go, just to check it out. I started online and learned Holly may have had good reason to avoid the zoo. It might actually have been a sad experience to look at the animals at the time Truman Capote, and by extension, Holly and Fred ran around Central Park. At that time the animals were still in cages– not in the modern zoo habitats we’re used to now.

 

Central Park Zoo got started quite by accident when New Yorkers started giving animals to the park. The first was a black bear cub which arrived in 1859. Then came a near flock of white swans. A long line of animals followed and six years later New York state lawmakers passed a bill to turn the menagerie into a zoo. Enter Robert Moses. He's the guy who built pools across New York City - I still want to swim in one.  Anyway - in 1934 – he redesigned the whole thing and it became a real zoo – however, the animals were still in cages. Then in 1988, another remodel – the cages were thrown out – and the zoo created habitats for the animals to allow them to roam – at least to the edge of the habitat. That’s the zoo I went to see.

 

I walked to the zoo on a chilly fall morning thinking of my own history with zoos. I distinctly remember NOT liking Audubon zoo in New Orleans when I went to on field trips while I was growing up in Louisiana. It was a bummer. I remember it being hot and the animals looking miserable. I looked it up. It’s had a remodel too. So I could relate to Holly. I arrived at Central Park Zoo very early. I like to get out at dawn to take pictures and it turned out I was just too early for the zoo – it wasn’t open yet. So I skulked around the edges – and spotted vendors getting ready for a busy day. From what I could see – if the story were set in the modern day – Holly and Fred might not have passed up the opportunity to see the zoo. However, I guess it all worked out the way it should have - Holly and Fred avoided the zoo – and as it turned out – for a different reason - so did I.