Hotel Governor Clinton, New York, 1933
This magnificent Art Deco vintage menu cover was created in December 1933 for the first New Year festivities celebrating the end of Prohibition.
Just 27 days previously, on December 5 at 5.31pm, the 21st Amendment had been ratified, announced by President Franklin D Roosevelt. The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment of January 16, 1919, lifting the unpopular nationwide sale of alcohol.
No wonder this menu cover features a large bottle of liquor – in the company of a stylish couple.
He wears a formal dinner suit and sports a monocle over one eye while the lady has a chic bob and has pearls at her ears and throat. In colors of black, red and cream, the strikingly geometric shapes and straight lines of this menu design defy the passage of time.
The 31-story Italianate-Romanesque-revival Governor Clinton Hotel was completed in 1929 and was named for George Clinton (1739-1812), the first Governor of New York.
On opening, The New York Times described it as a ‘mighty hostelry’ with 1200 rooms that offered accommodations such as full baths, French phones, circulating ice-water and radio provisions. An underground tunnel linked the building to Pennsylvania Station.
In 1967, the property was converted to residential apartments and returned to hotel usage in 2004. It is now called the Stewart Hotel and contains 618 guest rooms.
The interior of this menu, made in thick textured card, was equally stylish. There was a celebratory red interior cover and the wines and liquors menu, and food offerings were printed in black on silver paper.
Unsurprisingly, since this was the first New Year after Prohibition, champagnes featured extensively on the drinks list. Domestic sparkling wines such as Great Western cost $3 a pint or $5 a quart and imported French champagne such Krug & Cie, Private Cuvee cost $4.50 a pint or $8.50 a quart.
The reasons for these measurements is that the new laws concerning the production and sale of alcohol stated that it had to be sold in portions of a gallon for tax purposes.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu.