Written for Expedia Travels Magazine, November 2000
By James A. Martin, ©2001 James A. Martin
NEW YORK — The woman who coined the phrases “what the hell,” “one-night stand,” and “ball of fire” is now the focus of a Manhattan tour that begins on the Web and ends, if you time it right, in a former speakeasy.
Dot City (www.dorothyparker.com) is an engagingly offbeat guide to the New York haunts of Dorothy Parker (1893-1967). A short-story writer, poet, and critic, Parker is best remembered today for jazzy lines and bon mots. When challenged to use the word ‘horticulture’ in a sentence, for instance, Parker replied, “You may lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”
The online Parker tour, created by fan Kevin Fitzpatrick, is no ordinary blitz through the Big Apple. The site encompasses a former Catholic school (which Parker attended); a house in Hell’s Kitchen (birth of The New Yorker magazine, to which Parker was a significant contributor); and the Plaza hotel (Parker was fired by a Vanity Fair editor here over lunch).
Given that her heyday was in the Roaring ’20s, many of Parker’s hangouts aren’t what they used to be. Two of the locations detailed in Dot City, however, are especially worth visiting on your next NYC trip. Start with the Algonquin Hotel, where Parker and the rest of the fabled ’round table’ members cracked wise over long, liquid lunches. The hotel’s lobby and Round Table restaurant have an old-world, clubby feel and are marvelous places to wallow in literary history. When night falls, head to Flute. Once a speakeasy frequented by Parker and chums, Flute is now a small but lively champagne bar near the Theater District. Order a glass (or two) of Laurent Perrier Brut ($15), take a load off at a cozy corner table, and let the quipping begin.
– James A. Martin
Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036; 212-840-6800, www.algonquinhotel.com;
Flute, 205 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019; 212-265-5169, www.flutebar.com.