Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Below are some facts from a "Quick Overview" about The Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City in an interesting post from Passions of a Zealot blog:
    Opened 1921
    One of the “original” Ritz-Carlton’s, along with Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, and Pittsburgh
    Was converted into an “apartment-hotel” in 1960 and called “The Ritz-Carlton Apartment Hotel” – no longer affiliated with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company.
    Converted to all condos in 1982 and name officially changed to “The Ritz Condominiums”, as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company wanted “Carlton” dropped from it’s name.
    Continues to operate to this day as a residential condominium building and is still called “The Ritz Condominiums.
The blogger quoted above mentions the HBO series Boardwalk Empire that was aired in late 2010. Evidently, "almost every exterior shot includes the building." I did not see the series, but my imagination is assisted by descriptions of the hotel in its heyday in an article in Atlantic City Weekly, titled Nooky at the Ritz - The roaring 20s, bootlegged liquor and a one-time Atlantic City party central:
They were a pair the envy of any Hollywood scriptwriter. The tall elegant boss man with a penchant for hand-tailored suits and a stranglehold on power, his valet-bodyguard wider than he was tall and loyal to the last detail.

Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, treasurer of Atlantic County, ruled the rackets and the Republican Party in Atlantic City. Former cabbie Louie Kessel ordered his master’s life. Home base was the posh Ritz Carlton Hotel at Iowa Avenue and the Boardwalk (near today’s Tropicana). It was the Roaring ’20s and life was good. Nucky had breakfast with an ocean view. Louie handled the wardrobe and daily rubdowns.

Some of Nucky’s guests were better known for rubouts. In 1929, when crime lords from across the land gathered in Atlantic City to sort out their differences, Nucky installed the likes of Al Capone in suites at the Ritz, or perhaps at the nearby President, spiking the ambience with a generous supply of bootlegged liquor and female companions. The seashore kingpin leased the entire ninth floor at the Ritz, where it was said he kept one closet stuffed with cash. He was a soft touch for both bigshots and people down on their luck until the IRS nabbed him and his signature red carnation in 1938.

The Ritz, though, continued to dazzle in the sunshine.

The red-brick rectangular structure had opened at a cost of $6 million in June 1921, its prestigious name promising a new era of splendor by the beach. The grand hotels along the Boardwalk had all — except for the Claridge, which would come nine years later — been operating for years when the Ritz added its profile to the Atlantic City skyline. A gala party marked its debut, and with Nucky regularly entertaining political, showbiz and gangland celebrities, the Ritz was party central for many years. New York’s natty Mayor Jimmy Walker favored the Ritz, as did seashore perennial Sophie Tucker. Metropolitan opera star Lawrence Tibbett serenaded Boardwalk audiences by belting arias from his beachfront suite.

Big-dollar card games added to the hotel’s lure and lore.

The Atlantic City Weekly article goes on to describe the decline of the hotel beginning in 1942, when "the Ritz Carlton served a three-year hitch for Uncle Sam, as did its fellow beachfront hotels — the Army Air Force had commandeered the town for training. In the fall of 1945, AAF Redistribution Station No. 1 restored private ownership to the Ritz, but the world had changed. . . "

The times of luster and the changes following can be followed in Ritz History Time Line.

As mentioned above and in the Ritz History Time Line, the hotel was no longer affiliated with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Corporation after the late 1940s. The hotel, now known as Ritz Condominiums, can be seen as it appears today in photos at its official website. This is an interesting tidbit from the Time Line:
1982- Ritz-Carlton Associates receive official approval to operate the condominium
association termed, The Ritz-Carlton, a Condominium. Simultaneously, The Ritz-
Carlton Hotel Corporation objected to the Association’s use of The Ritz-Carlton name
by a condominium. The Association was paid by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Corp. not to
use The Ritz-Carlton trademarked name. Hence, The Ritz Condominiums were born!

Leaving Atlantic City and the famous Boardwalk behind now..........

.......So, what about The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Corporation, from which the Ritz-Carlton Atlantic City sprung - but with whom it is no longer associated in any way? The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Corporation corporate website lists all current global locations offering its "luxury accommodations," but Atlantic City is no longer among the 42 U.S. cities with properties under the Ritz-Carlton holdings. Some background from the corporate website follows (emphasis added):
The history of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C. originates with The Ritz-Carlton, Boston. The standards of service, dining and facilities of this Boston landmark serve as a benchmark for all Ritz-Carlton hotels and resorts worldwide.

The legacy of The Ritz-Carlton, Boston begins with the celebrated hotelier Cesar Ritz, the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.” His philosophy of service and innovations redefined the luxury hotel experience in Europe through his management of The Ritz Paris and The Carlton in London.

The Ritz-Carlton, Boston revolutionized hospitality in America by creating luxury in a hotel setting . . .

. . .  Cesar Ritz died in 1918 but his wife Marie continued the expansion of hotels bearing his name.  In the United States, The Ritz-Carlton Investing Company was established by Albert Keller who bought and franchised the name.  In 1927 (was actually in 1921, and this error was noted by the blogger quoted at the beginning of this post) The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, opened and other hotels followed in New York (at Madison and 54th), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlantic City and Boca Raton.  However, by 1940 none of the hotels were operating except The Ritz-Carlton, Boston. The hotel embodies the vision of Cesar Ritz, Yankee ingenuity and Boston social sensibilities.

I was curious to see what Cesar Ritz looked like and found a photo of him with his wife, Marie Louise. And while we are on the topic of the Mr. and Mrs., I thought it might interest you to know a bit about their son, Charles, and his ties (pun intended) to fly-fishing in the American west!

Charles C. Ritz (August 1, 1891 – July 11, 1976) was a hotelier and fly fishing specialist.

Charles Ritz was the son of César Ritz and Marie-Louise Beck. He did not know his itinerant father well who died when Charles was sixteen. He emigrated to the United States in 1916 where he became a soldier with the United States armed forces.

He went back to America in 1918 after the death of his father and he learned to fish in the torrents of the American West. His first marriage was to Elisabeth Pierce. He returned to France in the 1930s. His experience with fly fishing made him one of the foremost specialists on the subject. He invented the parabolic fly-rod which is still in use to this day and which was commercially produced by Abu-Garcia. He was also a keen publicist for the High speed - high line style of fly casting (HSHL) He also founded the “Fario Club”, which was the most select fishing club in the world from the 50’s to the 70’s.

Appointed President of the Ritz Hotel chain in 1953, he tried to introduce his progressive ideas when he opened le bar Vendôme and the l’Espadon restaurant but found himself hampered by the board of directors. He remarried in 1971 and retired from the hotel presidency in 1976, three months before his death.

He is buried in Père Lachaise alongside his first wife.
Source: Wikipedia

Original fly fishing clip art by Dave Whitlock at The Art and Science of Fly Fishing



Don't Feed The Pixies said...

this says a lot about the way my mind works, but the second i see the words Atlantic City i think about the Bruce Springsteen song.

Having said that those Ritz people knew how to do a thing with style

Did you hear the one about the time Charles accidentally spilt blamanche on his wife?

There was puddin' on the ritz


really, really, really sorry :)

mythopolis said...

The card is vintage classic. But I love most how you develop so much interesting history about places.

Looking to the Stars said...

Wow, I LOVED this. I found it fascinating about the Ritz family. Sounds to me like Charles was way ahead of his time. To bad the board wasn't as atuned as he was.

thanks for sharing, loved every word :)

naomi dagen bloom said...

About to marry this guy from New Jersey and he announced we'd honeymoon in Asbury Park, also on the Jersey shore. "Oh," I asked, "like in the song 'Is that Grenada I see or only Asbury Park?'" The marriage was short-lived. Only Cape May of the once-grand seaside towns continues to thrive.

See, what you've started, Lydia, a world of puns and curious references.

Rob-bear said...

Putting on the Ritz, of course. Socialites, indeed.

Lydia said...

Pixies~ Well now, evrything dies, baby, that's a fact
But maybe evrything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in atlantic city
.....At the time this song was released I would have met Bruce Springsteen in any city!
Your joke is so delicious it should be the house specialty. :)

mythopolis~ Thank you so much. I really love doing OPW posts, as I never know, when I first scan the postcard, just where researching about it will lead me. :)

Looking to the Stars~ You, of grand hotels pedigree, probably felt more a kinship with Charles than most of us! I had not thought about it from that angle and I am so glad you saw the postcard and enjoyed the post.

naomi~ Your dry wit is matched only by the mystery surrounding your comment. I cannot tell if you truly did have an early marriage to which you could relate such a pun, or if....
My husband's family moved to Caldwell, NJ, when he was in high school and he then went on to Rutgers for awhile before moving back to Oregon. I will ask him about Cape May, as I know nothing about it. Will google some images later tonight. :)

Rob-bear~ But of course! Your moniker and fine profile shot reminded me of an earlier post of mine....a dancing bear. putting on the Ritz, (sort of). :)



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