San Francisco's Palace Hotel: Background information when reading Thanks for the Trouble

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Thanks for the Trouble

by Tommy Wallach

Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach X
Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2016, 288 pages

    Jun 2017, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

San Francisco's Palace Hotel

This article relates to Thanks for the Trouble

Print Review

Palace HotelOne of the special things about Thanks for the Trouble is its strong sense of place, utilizing several San Francisco landmarks and other locales as a backdrop for Parker and Zelda's story. One of the most important settings is the historic Palace Hotel, which is where the novel opens and which also plays a pivotal role later.

1875 Palace HotelOriginally built in 1875, the Palace Hotel is San Francisco's oldest hotel. It was built near the end of the storied career of its investor, William Chapman Ralston, a banker who made his fortune during the Gold Rush. Designed by New York architect John P. Gaynor and costing five million dollars to build (the equivalent of 100 million dollars today), the hotel was the epitome of luxury, boasting fireplaces in every room and even air conditioning.

Palace Hotel LobbyEven extreme luxury (and a reputation for being "fireproof"), however, couldn't protect the Palace from San Francisco's 1906 earthquake and fire. Soon it was a shell of its former opulence. However, it was rebuilt by 1909, with a less showy exterior (designed by George Kelham) but with an interior that rivaled the original for modern conveniences and swankiness, especially the spectacular Garden Court dining room.

Palace Hotel Pied Piper MuralThe Palace underwent a complete renovation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and this restoration – along with historic artworks like the Maxfield Parrish painting that adorns the hotel bar, a roster of celebrity guests (including Charles Lindbergh; Oscar Wilde; Sarah Bernhardt; Thomas Edison; Henry Ford; and Warren G. Harding, who died in the presidential suite), and the fact that Green Goddess salad dressing was invented there – cement the Palace's place as one of the grandest and most historically significant hotels in the country.

The Palace Hotel, courtesy of centpacrr
1875 Palace Hotel engraving, courtesy of C.P. Heninger
The lobby, courtesy of centpacrr
The "Pied Piper" mural by Maxfield Parrish in the "Pied Piper Bar" at the new Palace Hotel, courtesy of centpacrr

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Norah Piehl

This "beyond the book article" relates to Thanks for the Trouble. It originally ran in March 2016 and has been updated for the June 2017 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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