Friday, March 31, 2017

First magic kingdom?

Screengrab of artist's rendering of Tampa Bay Hotel in 19th century
From the Henry Plant Museum video:
  'The Tampa Bay Hotel: Florida's First Magic Kingdom'
In the 19th century, Florida was portrayed elsewhere in the nation as an exotic, tropical locale. So developers gave people what they expected. A case in point is railroad magnate Henry Plant, whose resort hotel is dubbed in the accompanying video as Florida's first magic kingdom.

One of the speakers in the Henry Plant Museum video suggests that 19th century travelers' expectations of the extraordinary is one reason Plant gave his resort hotel a Moorish look. His Tampa Bay Hotel even had minarets.

I've written about the Tampa Bay Hotel in the past - or rather, about the museum housed within the building. The National Historical Landmark is now part of the University of Tampa. Today's post shares the link to the video about the hotel's history. The 15-minute video goes into architectural detail about the structure and explains what happened to it after the glitterati of the 19th century moved on to other playgrounds.

The hotel story is replete with superlatives that are eye-opening when compared to the lives and houses of the average 19th century Floridian. The hotel had 500 rooms on 6 acres, and was furnished with European goods shipped to the site in 41 trainloads. The goods included 30,000 square yards of carpet. According to the video, the Tampa Bay Hotel was Florida's first all-electric, steam-heated and fireproof hotel. The grounds included tropical landscaping, a horse track, golf course and spaces for musical and theatrical performances.

All this glamour was unveiled on Feb. 5, 1891, at an opening ball for 2,000 guests. The New York Times covered the gala.

Enjoy this look at an increasingly distant past:

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