The Barbizon Hotel opened its doors in 1928, just in time to welcome the last of the frolicking flappers before their candle was snuffed out by the Great Depression. The 1920s, in fact, saw the construction of several Art Deco, skyscraper-size residential hotels built for the thousands of women, post-suffrage, who were flooding Manhattan for jobs and independent lives (however short-lived).
While originally envisioned as a place for young women with artistic inclinations, the Barbizon, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, became a safe landing for women of every ilk. Fully hatted and gloved, dressed in their Sunday best with suitcases in hand, streams of young women arrived at the doors of the Barbizon asking for a room, and many of them would become famous. Grace Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Jaclyn Smith, Joan Didion, Meg Wolitzer, and Betsey Johnson were all guests at the Barbizon. Another guest was Sylvia Plath, the gifted poet who was still full of promise when she ended her life in her kitchen, with the oven open and the gas turned on.