The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free

The Barbizon: The Hotel that Set Women Free

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Liberated from home and hearth by World War I, politically enfranchised and ready to work, women arrived to take their place in the dazzling new skyscrapers of Manhattan. But they did not want to stay in uncomfortable boarding houses. They wanted what men already had—exclusive residential hotels with daily maid service, cultural programs, workout rooms, and private dining.

Built in 1927 at the height of the Roaring Twenties, the Barbizon Hotel was intended as a haven for the “Modern Woman” seeking a career in the arts. It became the place to stay for any ambitious young woman hoping for fame and fortune. Its close to 700 tiny rooms with matching floral curtains and bedspreads accommodated many household names. Until 1981, when men were finally let in, the Barbizon offered its residents a room of their own and a life without family obligations or expectations. It gave women a chance to remake themselves however they pleased; it was the hotel that set them free. No place had existed like it before or has since. 

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, The Barbizon weaves together a tale that has, until now, never been told. It is both a vivid portrait of the lives of these young women who came to New York looking for something more and an epic history of women’s ambition. 

Authored by Paulina Bren 

Hardcover 

336 pages 

Measurements: 6 x 9 inches 

Published by Simon & Schuster in 2021