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  • Two Roads
  • Two Roads

The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free

Paulina Bren

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New York, Social & cultural history

A glamorous social history of the women-only New York hotel that changed the world.

WELCOME TO THE BARBIZON, NEW YORK'S PREMIER WOMEN-ONLY HOTEL

Built in 1927, New York's Barbizon Hotel was first intended as a home for the 'Modern Woman' seeking a career in the arts.
It became the place to stay for ambitious, independent women, who were lured by the promise of fame and good fortune. Sylvia Plath fictionalized her time there in The Bell Jar, and over the years, its 688 tiny pink 'highly feminine boudoirs' also housed Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly (notorious for sneaking in men), Joan Didion, Candice Bergen, Charlie's Angel Jaclyn Smith, Ali McGraw, Cybil Shepherd, Elaine Stritch, Liza Minnelli, Eudora Welty, The Cosby Show's Phylicia Rashad, and writers Mona Simpson and Ann Beattie, among many others. Mademoiselle boarded its summer interns there - perfectly turned-out young women, who would never be spotted hatless - as did Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School its students - in their white-gloves and kitten heels - and the Ford Modelling Agency its young models.

Not everyone who passed through the Barbizon's doors was destined for greatness - for some it was a story of dashed hopes and expectations - but from the Jazz Age New Women of the 1920s, to the Liberated Women of the 1960s, until 1981 when the first

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