Pub. Date:
Rutgers University Press
The Making of American Resorts: Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa, and Lake George / Edition 1

The Making of American Resorts: Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa, and Lake George / Edition 1

by Theodore Corbett


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What factors create a successful resort? How did the rise of lavish hotels and spas reflect the changing values of American society as the nineteenth century progressed? Historians have argued that resorts were created to meet the demands of a leisured social elite. Theodore Corbett offers a fresh, compelling argument, demonstrating that resorts created and re-created themselves to keep pace with changing times. Success came with anticipating demands, not just reacting to them.
Using an impressive variety of historical documents, Corbett focuses on the conditions underlying the rise—and the demise—of the resorts at Ballston Spa and Caldwell on Lake George. Both towns’ major landlord-developers saw tourism as only one vehicle that could lead to success. As a result of their divided policies, neither town invested in the proper infrastructure to make tourism an immediate succes. Both places were soon overshadowed by Saratoga Springs, which became the premier resort of the upper and middle class.
Due to complex interwoven influences, Saratoga Springs was able to supply the amenities needed to attract and retain the patronage of the well heeled. The town provided visitors with lavish hotels, parks, public squares, pleasure gardens, and convenient service alleys. Saratoga Springs also had a work force that was available for the five-month period per year that the spas were active. Corbett examines the history and participation of various ethnic groups in the resort’s service sector: African Americans, Irish, and Native Americans.
Corbett also stresses middle-class America’s emulation of the leisure habits of the English aristocracy. Even though these pursuits (hunting, fishing, horse racrting) were dominaterd by men, social rituals were dominated by women, and resorts that accommodated “public domesticity” thrived as the century progressed. The Making of American Resorts offers a window into shifting public values and the structure of commercial tourism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813528427
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Publication date: 01/01/2001
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Theodore Corbett is a historian and member of the St. Augustine Historical Society. He has been previously published by Rutgers University Press and University of Oklahoma Press

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsix
List of Tablesxiii
Introduction: The Creation of Resorts1
Part 1.Early Resorts13
1.The Tradition of the English Spa15
2.The Rise and Fall of Ballston Spa as a Resort27
3.The Reluctant Resort: Caldwell on Lake George40
Part 2.The Establishment of Saratoga Springs as the Leading Resort57
4.The Development of Public Spaces59
5.Accommodations: Private Spaces for the Public83
6.Alleys as Support Spaces100
Part 3.The Resort Workforce125
7.The Building Trades127
8.The African American Presence144
9.The Irish156
Part 4.Catering to a Diverse Clientele169
10.Native American Encampments as Tourist Attractions171
11.Wickedness versus Pleasure: The Religious Solution185
12.Setting the Standards for Resort Society208
13.The Nature of Visitors223
Epilogue: Why Do Resorts Succeed?243

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