The History of Hotels


Throughout the history of civilization, hotels have served as places of sociability and business exchange. They have been the sites of public assemblies, the sites of social events and the symbolic sites of political activity. They have also served as temporary residences for people, both foreign and domestic, who wished to travel and spend time in a city.

In the early nineteenth century, hotels began to proliferate in both the East and West. Inns and hotels began to cater to a growing class of wealthy travelers. In addition to offering hospitality, these hotels also provided lodging, meals and other services. The first hotels in America were built in the cities of the Atlantic coast in the 1790s.

The second period of hotel construction began in the 1820s. During this period, the rapid growth of railroads and steam navigation changed the nature of American transportation and wrought significant changes in the hotel industry. As a result, new hotel types were created. These included the motel and motor hotel.

In the twentieth century, American hotels became enormous national industries, collecting more than $100 billion a year. They operated over half a million rooms overseas, and formed a dense network of over 53,000 properties nationwide.

During the late 19th century, hoteliers embraced a new model of hotel administration. Their goal was to standardize the hospitality of all hotels across the country, regardless of location. They saw operations as a national system, and their methods focused on regularized contact among managers, closer supervision of employees and regimentation of their work.

The success of organized labor made it possible for millions of workers to take paid vacations. This resulted in a three-decade economic boom that increased the incidence of commercial travel. During this period, American-owned hotels also served as exemplary examples of capitalism in foreign countries.

Hotels also began to become centers of conflictual domestic politics. During the domestic wars of the early 19th century, hotels were often attacked. During these times, political figures often made speeches from the windows of the hotel. They also used the hotel as a headquarters for their political parties.

The hotel industry became a vital component of American culture. Its central location in cities served as the focal point of local community life. During the 1860s, hotels began to appear in mountain West settlements. They were characterized by tiered porches and wood construction.

In the early twentieth century, hoteliers began to adopt a cost-cutting business model. This model emphasized the establishment of hotel chains, and allowed for increased efficiency in purchasing and reservations. The first American hotel chain was built by E. M. Statler in 1908.

The rise of automobiles and passenger aircraft also had a significant impact on the hotel industry. These new transportation forms made it easier to travel long distances. As a result, many new hotels were constructed near railroad stations.

Hotels in the United States expanded rapidly after World War II. By the 1990s, American hotels numbered more than a half million and had collected more than $100 billion in total revenue.