The Algonquin Round Table

As odd as it may seem, one of the great desires I had when I first moved to NYC was to see the Algonquin round table.  It took me a month or two, but I did it and I still ankle over there on occasion to check in on it.  My version of a thrill.

And it always astonishing me that no one seems to know what it is.  What it is….is a round table in the Algonquin Hotel located on W. 44th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues.

And the round table itself.

It’s got ten seats around it now, but my memory of its reference was that there were actually eight seats in the heyday of the 20’s.  Wikipedia has a nice entry on the table with all of the key players identified.

I first remember learning about it when I read Harpo Marx’s autobiography “Harpo Speaks”, which is a great read.  The table was where NYC’s intellectual glitterati of the 20’s would gather each day to one-up each other with witticisms and cut-throat insults.  The most famous of the participants were Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman, and Robert Benchley.  There were lots of hangers-on (like Harpo), but the gist of the table was a celebration of how smart and popular these characters were.  Harpo was apparently a good friend of Alexander Woolcott (a key member of the “real” group) and I’m sad to say he’s one of only two characters in the core group that Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for.  As I understand it, Woolcott was a critic and newspaper writer who had something of an edge to him.

The hotel has a painting of the group next to the table.

People do sit and eat at the table and I’ve always wondered if they knew that they were sitting at the center of a lot of what the “Roaring 20s” was all about.  It doesn’t matter.  The Algonquin is still a very, very nice hotel with an active entertainment schedule such as lounge singers and the like.  I haven’t eaten there (their prix fixe is about $60 and I keep telling you folks I’m cheap), but it gets good reviews.


Explore posts in the same categories: Celebrity Points, Manhattan, Mid-town, Wanderings

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