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Copyright 2019 by Joyce Huntington.  All Rights Reserved. 
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 wHAT TO SEE 

Breakfast at Tiffany's

The narrator in Breakfast at Tiffany's says he's drawn back to the neighborhoods where he once lived, "... for instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies." It turns out I too am drawn back to that Brownstone. I saw it on my first visit to New York City and I find myself checking on it or showing someone new when I go back there. It's just one of the places Truman Capote's story introduced me to in New York City. I've listed them all here in order of importance to the story and how interesting they are as a place to visit. And I've also listed the locations by neighborhood. Enjoy.

Tiffany's

1

Joe's Bar

3

21 Club

5

New York City Public Library

7

Chinatown

9

The Plaza Hotel

11

Frick Museum

13

Rockerfeller Plaza

15

Central Park Zoo 

16

The Brownstone

2

The Loeb Boathouse

4

P.J. Clark's

6

Brooklyn Bridge

8

Bergdorf Goodman

10

The Pierre

12

Duke Mansion

14

Fifth Avenue Parade

16

19th Street Precinct

16

Upper

east side

The Brownstone

Joe Bell's Bar

Loeb Boathouse 

Central Park Zoo

67th Street Precinct

5th Avenue Parade

Frick Museum

The Pierre Hotel

tripping by

neighborhood

Lower

east side 

tiffany & Co.

727 Fifth Ave 

New York, NY  10022

 

“What I’ve found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany’s.  It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets.”  

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

Holly Golightly found solace at Tiffany’s – thus the name – Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She went there when she had what she called the “mean reds,” which she said are not at all like the blues, they're  “…horrible. You’re afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don’t know what you’re afraid of.”  So, when that happened – Holly went to Tiffany’s. However, that’s not really the business Tiffany’s is in – helping people beat back anxiety. 

In Real Life:

Instead - from the beginning, Tiffany's helped people find what it called "fine things." Charles Tiffany and his friend Teddy Young opened Tiffany & Young in New York City in 1837.  It seems Tiffany had a good eye and good timing. He made one shrewd move after another which by the late 1940s earned him the title "Kind of Diamonds."  Around that time his partner retired and he renamed the store Tiffany & Co. He moved the store a few times over the next fifty years until it landed where it is today on 5th Avenue - the location Holiday Golightly visited and still today - the flagship.

When I Got There:

I wanted to check it out - to see if Tiffany's could bring me some peace. I walked up to the large silver doors, opened them and stepped inside. Yes, there was a peace there – a certain beauty. It’s orderly and protected and even today the men wear nice suits - as Holly described - and there are women in nice suits too. They watch every move you make – I guess because of the valuables. I could see it too. I could see why Truman Capote chose Tiffany’s as the place where Holly might escape the "mean reds." It did seem nothing bad could happen to you there.

 

The brownstone 

169 E 71st Street 

New York, NY  

“I am always drawn back to the places where I have lived.  The houses and their neighborhoods.  For instance, there is a brownstone in the East Seventies where, during the early years of the war, I had my first New York apartment.”

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:  

Truman Capote never gave the exact address of the brownstone his narrator, whom Holiday Golightly called Fred, was drawn back to in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He only says it was in the “East Seventies,” which refers to the Upper East Side neighborhood in New York City. Now – I don’t track movie locations - but I couldn't pass this up. Hollywood filmed the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in the actual East Seventies in a brownstone. And even though it’s not the exact literary brownstone, it is something to look at. I mean, whole a movie production company decided – probably even with the help of Capote – the brownstone is where Holiday Golightly might have lived. 

In Real Life:

However, the choice placed Holly and Fred in what I might describe as a greystone rather than a brownstone. I looked it up. Some say you can refer to any skinny New York City townhouse - no matter what it's made of - as a brownstone.  But there is a difference - the brownstone thing is a thing. The facade of an actual brownstone is brown sandstone. In fact, the stone came from the very same quarry. when all the brownstones went up, in the second half 1800s. Most of the brownstones are located in the Upper West Side, Brooklyn and Harlem, - but not so much in the Upper East Side - which brings us back to me.

 

When I Got There:

Brown, grey, whatever - I couldn’t wait to see it. I headed up 71st street thinking about this clip of Audrey Hepburn playing the guitar in the windowsill of the house. I hoped she'd still be there.  Suddenly, I was standing in front of it. It was dark. I could feel the energy of the place. I imagined Hepburn and George Peppard, pretending to be Holly and Fred – running up and down those stairs heading off to one adventure or misadventure after another. I imagined Doc - spying on the house from across the street. I snapped off some pictures and left. A couple of years later I stopped by again to see what was happening. It looked like no one lived there at all. Armed with that realization I poked my head in the window and confirmed it. It seemed it was undergoing a remodel. I got a better feel for the townhouse on that visit. And realized I, too, seemed a little drawn back to this house and its neighborhood.

Joe bell's

bar

Lexington Avenue 

somewhere in the 70’s

new york, nY

 

“As for Joe Bell, he ran a bar around the corner on Lexington Avenue; he still does.” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

It’s where it all begins in Breakfast at Tiffany’s - Joe Bell's Bar. The story sets up there with our narrator and Joe marveling at a picture, taken in Africa, of a carving they believe is Holiday Golightly.

 

In Real Life:

I looked it up and found the bar does not exist - but I thought I would go check just to make sure.  Truman Capote placed Joe Bell's at 73rd and Lexington. So that's where I headed. 

 

When I Got There:

I didn't know what to do when I got there - so I just wandered the streets around the intersection looking for a bar. I didn't find one but I did pause to picture our characters rushing up and down those streets to go in and out of Joe's to make a phone call or have a drink.​​​

  the loeb 

boathouse

East 72nd Street 

New York, NY  10021

 

“We ate at the cafeteria in the park.  Afterward, avoiding the zoo (Holly said she couldn’t stand to see anything in a cage), we giggled, ran, sang along the paths toward the old wooden boathouse, now gone. Leaves floated on the lake; on the shore, a park-man was fanning a bonfire of them, and the smoke, rising like Indian signals, was the only smudge on the quivering air. Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring; which is how I felt sitting with Holly on the railings of the boathouse porch.” 

-- Breakfast a t Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

First of all, can we just take a moment to appreciate those two final gorgeous sentences? Pause. Onward. So, we know Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s sometime before 1958. However, the narrator, whom Holliday Golightly calls Fred, is looking back on the time he spent with her in the autumn of 1943. At that time, there was an old wooden boathouse – but the narrator in the story tells us it’s long gone. 

 

In Real Life:

All that matches up in real life. By all accounts, there was a wooden boathouse in Central Park until the ’50s. It fell into disrepair, some say it burned down – and then, suddenly, it was gone. Everyone agrees that a new boathouse burst onto the scene in 1954. It was made possible by Carl M. Loeb, who – with his wife Adeline – donated three hundred thousand dollars to the project. However – Truman Capote stayed true to real life and wrote about the old boathouse even though all that was gone at the time he wrote the novel.

 

When I Got There:

When I got to the park – I approached the boathouse from across the lake. It looked beautiful nestled in the trees at the waterline. I walked past what seemed like hundreds of little row boats. Rentals, I figured. I had to stop and take pictures of them because it was such a rare sight – the sea of identical boats. If I had time I would have rented one and tooled around on the water to look for “leaves floating on the lake.” I got up to the boathouse. I didn’t bother to find the railing – knowing it wasn’t the actual railing of the old boathouse. I noticed the new boathouse is much more than the “concession,” I’d read the old one offered. It’s an example of what I call a “big score,” in my literary travels – when a location becomes a food opportunity. And this one offers a lot. It’s a few things really – a Lakeside Restaurant in which you can sit at a nice table – preferably lakeside and order and enjoy the view and the boats. And then there’s an Express Cafe which allows you to grab food and sit outside. And in summer, something called the Outdoor Bar seems to attract a crowd.​

21 CLUB

21 West 52nd Street  

New York, NYORK 10019    

 

“Once a visiting relative took me to “21,” and there, at a superior table, surrounded by four men, none of them Mr. Arbuck, yet all of them interchangeable with him, was Miss Golightly, idly, publicly combing her hair; and her expression, an unrealized yawn, put by example, a dampener on the excitement I felt over dinner at so swanky a place.”

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

It’s a telling passage. In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Fred feels a little cheated at his swanky dinner at 21 Club when he spots Holiday Golightly almost yawning at one of the coolest tables in the restaurant. Truman Capote knew a lot about New York’s social scene. And I found myself feeling particularly grateful he dropped 21 Club into his little novel because it gave me a reason to dine out at one of New York’s most iconic restaurants.

 

In Real Life:

The restaurant 21 Club started as a speakeasy and it traveled from location to location around New York City. It finally landed on 52nd Street on New Year’s Eve, 1929. When prohibition ended it was on the hot list of the Cafe Society set. And it seems its popularity never waned – in the 1950’s it was the place to go among the Jet Set, the crowd Truman Capote ran with. And today it's still attracting all the biggest names. In fact, 21 is so proud celebrities of all kinds dine there, it keeps a list of who’s been served there lately.

When I Got There:

So – I made reservations there one year for my book club. We weren’t actually reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s – we were reading another book – and the author of that book also staged a scene at 21. It was a “two bird” situation for me. I told the reservationist we were a book club – from California – and we were celebrating the book Rules of Civility – and since the characters dined there we wanted to dine there too.  She was in love with the concept – I could tell. When we arrived – the host announced – The Traveling Book Club is here!  And we could hear mutterings to that effect around the restaurant. Our evening carried on with the same tone – like we were celebrities. The reception we got was warm and wonderful, the service was great – and for a moment I glanced around the room wondering which table was the one that bored Holly and dampened the narrator’s time at 21.

 

P.J.CLARK'S

915 3rd Ave  

New York, NY  10022  

“On the way home I noticed a cab-driver crowd gathered in front of P. J. Clarke’s saloon, apparently attracted there by a happy group of whisky-eyed Australian army officers baritoning, “Waltzing Matilda.”  As they sang they took turns spin-dancing a girl over the cobbles under the El, and the girl, Miss Golightly, to be sure, floated round in their arms light as a scarf.” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Fred spotted some Australian army officers spinning Holiday Golightly around to the tune of Waltzing Matilda. I didn’t see that when I arrived at P.J. Clarke’s. However, I did encounter a “cab-driver crowd” of my own. It was a nice crew of drag queens and they took my cab. I looked up but I didn’t see the Third Avenue El, the elevated line that ran through the P.J. Clarke’s neighborhood in 1944 – the year in which Capote set the novel. I figured out the El was dismantled in 1955. It’s interesting to note – when Capote wrote the novel in 1958 – he actually wrote the El back into existence making the novel historically correct – where the El is concerned.

 

In Real Life:

And the existence of P.J. Clarke’s is also historically correct. A bar opened on the spot in the late 1880s but it didn't get its name until 1912. That's when a bartender - yes, P.J., bought it. He creatively navigated prohibition and landed on the other side of it - still in business. The restaurant is very proud of the famous regulars it's attracted over the years - faces like Buddy Holly and Nat King Cole who described the P.J. Clark's burger as the “Cadillac of hamburgers.”  It's website even brags that Jackie Onassis brought her kids in for burgers on Saturdays. The restaurant is proud of those star guests - but those aren't the only people it serves. By all accounts, P.J. Clarke's is a place where a few famous faces rub shoulders with the rest of New York City.

When I Got There:

When I walked in, it was hopping. It looked like a place where a lot of fun has been had over the years. The bartenders are nice and chatty. I was surprised, however, no one seemed to know about the role the restaurant played in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. One of the bartenders wanted proof. I pulled out the book and showed him the passage. He seemed proud. And even though the restaurant doesn't make a big deal about how Truman Capote wrote it right into Breakfast at Tiffany's, for one night at least - I had the whole bar talking about it.

 

NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY 

476 5th Ave

New York, NY 

10018

“Late one afternoon, while waiting for a Fifth Avenue bus, I noticed a taxi stop across the street to let out a girl who ran up the steps of the Forty-second Street public library. She was through the doors before I recognized her, which was pardonable, for Holly and libraries were not an easy association to make. I let curiosity guide me between the lions, debating on the way whether I should admit following her or pretend coincidence. In the end, I did neither but concealed myself some tables away from her in the general reading room, where she sat behind her dark glasses and a fortress of literature she’d gathered at the desk. She sped from one book to the next, intermittently lingering on a page, always with a frown, as if it were printed upside down.” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Fred followed Holly Golightly into the New York City Library. I love a library too, so I swung by. It was dark – I had run out of daylight for my little adventure – and I made a dash up the stone steps pretending to be Holly Golightly.

 

In Real Life:

It’s a big pile of marble. I felt I was entering Mount Olympus. I wasn’t at all surprised then – when I looked it up and found the library – which opened in 1911 – was, at the time, the largest marble structure in the country. It’s quite a story. In 1886, a guy named Samuel Tilden died and left his money to create a library for New York City.  The city had two libraries which weren’t particularly useful to everyday New Yorkers. So John Bigalow – who was in charge of the trust came up with a plan to combine all of New York’s library efforts into one. The big stone building went up on 5th Avenue and it opened in 1911 – packed with books that lined seventy-five miles of shelves.

When I Got There:

Anyway – back to me. On the night I ran up those steps – I got to the front door and the library was just closing.  Of course – I needed to get into the main reading room to see where Holly sat amidst a pile of books –  but a guard blocked my way.  A few years later – I was back in New York and on the way to a play. I realized the library was a few blocks away so I took the long way to the theater and ran up the steps again. I marched into the main reading room and unlike Truman Capote’s narrator – I did not conceal myself – I just started snapping away at the tables where Holly might have been sitting. I was cut short – the librarian walked over and informed me that picture taking was not allowed in the library.  I smiled and apologized,  slunk away and dashed upstairs to take pictures of a phone booth another one of my characters in a different book used at the library.

brooklyn bridge

New York, NY  10038

 

“Frequently when he was out of town (I’d developed hostile attitudes toward him, and seldom used his name) we spent entire evenings together during which we exchanged less than a hundred words; once, we walked all the way to Chinatown, ate a chow-mein supper, bought some paper lanterns and stole a box of joss sticks, then crossed the Brooklyn Bridge, and on the bridge, as we watched seaward – moving ships pass between the cliffs of burning skyline, she said: ‘Years from now, years and years, one of those ships will bring me back, me and my nine Brazilian brats.'”

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

Holiday Golightly and Fred moseyed across the Brooklyn Bridge in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And they’re not the only characters in literature – or movies, for that matter – to make the trek. Everyone seems to do it.

 

In Real Life:

When I looked it up – I found it particularly fascinating that a woman played a gigantic role in building it. The story of Emily Warren Roebling is so interesting David McCullough marveled over it in a book called The Great Bridge. Her father-in-law and chief engineer on the project, John Augustus Roebling, died while building the bridge. That left his son Washington Roebling in charge. However, he got what is nowadays called the bends from going down into the caissons on the bridge. He became bedridden so Emily spent eleven years acting as the chief engineer on the project while he gave input from his bed.

 

When I Got There:

I visited locations for Breakfast at Tiffany’s over a span of a few years when I was in and out of New York City. And for some reason, the Brooklyn Bridge fell off the list on visit after visit. Finally – one April afternoon I convinced the crowd I was with to walk the bridge with me. Somehow – in my mind – don’t know how it got there – I was imagining us dodging traffic or something to get across. It never occurred to me pedestrians have their own walkway. And it’s above the traffic. It’s was a spectacular walk – and crowded. I looked seaward for the ships Holly and – and a guy she called Fred – may have spotted which would bring her back with “nine Brazilian Brats.” I saw a few. And I scanned the crowd at the young people trying to find a modern-day Holly and Fred. I think though – they were probably one of a kind.

chinatown

nEW yORK, nY

 

“Frequently when he was out of town (I’d developed hostile attitudes toward him, and seldom used his name) we spent entire evenings together during which we exchanged less than a hundred words; once, we walked all the way to Chinatown, ate a chow-mein supper, bought some paper lanterns and stole a box of joss sticks, then moseyed across the Brooklyn Bridge, and on the bridge, as we watched seaward – moving ships pass between the cliffs of burning skyline, she said: ‘Years from now, years and years, one of those ships will bring me back, me and my nine Brazilian brats.'” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

I clocked it. It’s about a five miles – the walk Holiday Golightly and Fred took in Breakfast at Tiffany’s from the Upper East Side brownstone to Chinatown. It would take a couple of hours, but I can’t think of a better way to see New York City. I didn’t walk it though.

In Real Life:

I took the subway right to Chinatown and found it bustling. And I learned one man, Ah Ken, got the whole Chinatown thing going. Apparently, he arrived in New York in 1858 and started selling cigars around City Hall. It’s said he ran a rooming house for the Chinese who were immigrating to America and he used the money from that to open a cigar shop. A new Chinese neighborhood in America grew up around that store and it’s all still there today.

When I Got There:

I wandered Chinatown and found it’s not much different from the Chinatown in San Francisco which I’m most familiar with. I could see it would be a good place to shop for a few things you might need to bring a little flair to a party – like the lanterns and joss sticks Holly and Fred picked up.  And as for the chow mein - there is a place that was there at the time Truman Capote was penning those words. It's called Nam Won Tea Parlor - I reviewed that here. 

BERGDORF GOODMAN

754 5th Avenue,

New York,  NY  10019  

 

“‘Not at all.  I figured Bergdorf was trying to collect. But I took the gamble and went to see this lawyer (if he is a lawyer, which I doubt, since he doesn’t seem to have an office, just an answering service, and he always wants to meet you in Hamburg Heaven: that’s because he’s fat, he can eat ten hamburgers and two bowls of relish and a whole lemon meringue pie).” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

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 – when I took a spin around the store I understood why she hadn't paid the bill - what with the prices. 

 

In Real Life:

I learned, however, Bergdorf Goodman isn't just a high-end department store. Herman Bergdorf first opened - in 1899 - a tailor shop in downtown Manhattan. He hired a guy named Edwin Goodman as an apprentice. Goodman bought Bergdorf out in 1906. Goodman - much like George Tiffany - had a good eye and good instincts. He was the first to sell ready-to-wear clothes which put him on the fashion map around the world. He - also like Tiffany, followed the movement from downtown to uptown. In 1914, he set up shop where Rockefeller Center is today. Finally – in 1928 - he built the store where Holly shopped, near Central Park.  And the best part is - Goodman lived upstairs with his family. So, some mornings the clerks spotted him putzing around in his robe making sure everything looked good. And then there are the Bergdorf Goodwin windows - which attract a huge crowd every time they're unveiled. 

When I Got There:

I walked into Bergdorf Goodman several decades after Truman Capote wrote Breakfast at Tiffany's. I didn't know anything about it but I noticed there's a feeling there that's different from any other store in America.​ When I got home I went down the rabbit hole - I found this book and watched this movie - which I suggest you do before you go. What I finally put together is that it's one of a kind. There are no other Bergdorf Goodman's out there - in Chicago or San Francisco. It's just that store. And it's a great gathering of people with great taste who select what's going to be sold there - only from the most talented of designers. It's the high water mark in the world of fashion. I'm drawn back there too. I peek in every time I'm in New York now. I don’t know if I’m looking for something I can afford - 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 today. 

 

The

PLAZA

768 5th Avenue  

New York, NY

10019

“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.”  

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

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.

 

In Real Life:

The Plaza 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. Anyway, 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.

When I Got There:

In Breakfast at Tiffany’s – nothing happened at the Plaza – a horse just galloped by it. But – I’ve tracked a few books in New York City and all but one took me to the Plaza. 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 starred in one of the reads – searched for Suite 1801 featured in that same book 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  

“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.” 

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

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.

 

In Real Life:

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 about town in Manhatten – and he probably hung out at the hotel.

 

When I Got There:

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

 

“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.”  

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

Truman Capote threw out 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.

 

In Real Life:

 

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.  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.

When I Got There:

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. 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 and 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

 

“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.”   

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

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.

In Real Life:

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 Breakfast at Tiffany’s took place, 1944, the Duke Mansion was 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.

 

When I Got There:

I strolled by it 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 something 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.  It's that’s just too far up – I think - from the path of Fred’s runaway horse to be the mansion Capote was talking about.​

rockefeller

 center

 45 Rockefeller Plaza

New York, NY 10111

 

“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.”  

-- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

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.

 

In Real Life:

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 ever since. 

When I Got There:

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 – is a great stop. I made a reservation to have a drink on a Friday afternoon. We were seated at the window overlooking Central Park. and we ordered iced teas all around - too early for a cocktail. We were out of there in a flash, but you could stay a while and order a light supper and maybe watch the sunset over Manhattan.

 

Fifth avenue parade

5th Avenue

  New York, NY 10065  

“That Monday in October 1943.  A beautiful day with the buoyancy of a bird.  To start, we had Manhattans at Joe Bell’s; and, when he heard of my good luck, champagne cocktails on the house.  Later we wandered toward Fifth Avenue, where there was a parade.  The flags in the wind, the thump of military bands and military feet, seemed to have nothing to do with war but to be, rather, a fanfare arranged in my personal honor.”  -- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

In The Story:

So – it was a Monday. It was October. I poked around the internet and learned it was likely a Columbus Day Parade Holiday Golightly and Fred bumped into in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  In fact, every year since 1929, the Columbus Day parade has traveled down 5th Avenue.

 

In Real Life:

I learned from the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation the day actually starts with a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral – and then the parade travels from 47th Avenue to 63rd Avenue.

 

In Real Life:

I didn’t manage to catch a parade – but I’d like to one day to enjoy the "thump of military bands and military feet."