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Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America
by Jan Whitaker (Goodreads Author)
The Gypsy Tea Kettle. Polly's Cheerio Tea Room. The Mad Hatter. The Blue Lantern Inn. These are just a few of the many tea rooms - most owned and operated by women -- that popped up across America at the turn of the last century, and exploded into a full-blown craze by the 1920s. Colorful, cozy, festive, and inviting, these new-fangled eateries offered women a way to celeb ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published December 13th 2002 by St. Martin's Press
(first published December 1st 2002)
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It's very anecdotal which gets a little old in the second half (mainly I was disappointed that it didn't mention MINE - The window Garden in Cincinnati). It offers many insights into womens' lives in the early 20th century. We take so much for granted: women today can easily walk into a restaurant unescorted but it used to be unthinkable. Also I had no idea that tea rooms in Greenwich Village were quite the bohemian thing to the point that they became tourist attractions.
This book wasn't quite what I expected in a few ways, but Whitaker's obviously meticulous research does shine throughout. While the title makes the book out to be a history of tea rooms in America, the focus was clearly on tea rooms in urban areas, with a short foray into roadside tea rooms. Whitaker does a good job of showing how tea rooms, a predominately women-owned business which catered to female clientele, influenced the male-dominated restaurant business and reflected the changing role of ...more
This was an enjoyable read about the history of the tea room in America. I picked up this book at the library because I enjoy drinking tea and going to teas. I learned a lot about tea rooms and how the tea room paralleled events in American history, such as Prohibition. Background on the event was given and how the tea room evolved in terms of the event. Many tea rooms came to be as roadside restaurants when car travel became popular. It was a place where people could get a meal while traveling. ...more
I originally bought this because I thought it seemed quaint but it's actually a really meaty history of tea rooms, which I didn't realize helped spawn the craze for "chicken and waffles" in the 1920s. It was one of the first business ventures for a lot of liberated women after World War I. Really well-written and well-researched book with interesting historical photographs of tea rooms. I didn't know that Greenwich Village's bohemian background featured a lot of tea rooms. Recommended.
A little history of US tea rooms in the first half of the 20th Century. There is brief mention of the one I was familiar with--Younkers Tea Room in Des Moines, IA. I have fond memories of riding the train to DM and attending one of the Saturday noon fashion shows there. Don't remember actually drinking any tea there.
Jan 22, 2015 Krystal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Very interesting and approachable look at the "tea room craze" in America in the 1920s and how it's continued to affect expectations whenever Americans visit a restaurant. If nothing else, I now am really hungry for a decent afternoon tea meal.
In a sense I backed into writing books via a postcard collection. After years of collecting postcards of restaurants and tea rooms, I wanted to learn more about them and began sending around a proposal for a book on tea rooms. I love doing research and visiting libraries and archives. When I published Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America in 2002 it had not ...moreMore about Jan Whitaker...