On November 22, 1902, in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods of New York City, an elegant twelve-story hotel with a red-brick, limestone façade opened its doors for guests. Owner Frank Case had been going to name it “The Puritan,” but when he found out that a Native American tribe called the Algonquins had originally lived in the area, he changed his mind. A rich literary history was in the making.
To learn more about the Algonquin Hotel, visit: www.algonquinhotel.com
1932: Three days after the untimely death of Billy the “hotel cat,” a fixture for fifteen years, Frank Case documents in Do Not Disturb that a stray cat wandered into the lobby of the Algonquin and “took up right where Billy left off.” Case fed him and gave him a permanent home in the hotel, where he swiftly became a much-loved favorite of guests and staff alike. “It was as if he had heard there was an opening and came in and applied for it, only he didn’t apply, he just took the job.” Frank called him “Rusty” for his ginger coat, but it’s believed that renowned actor John Barrymore — who was playing the role of Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the time — told him that Rusty needed a more dignified name. “Hamlet” became his name.
Since then, the Algonquin has always had a resident cat. The male cats are called Hamlet, and the females are called Matilda.
For more information, visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com/story/algonquin-cat
Matilda, The Algonquin Cat, is a work of fiction. The staff members featured in Matilda, The Algonquin Cat are fictional, however, the creation of Hadley was intended to pay tribute to Alice De Almeida, Matilda’s real- life devoted caretaker. When Alice responded to a job ad for an executive assistant, she had no idea that “caretaker of the resident feline” was part of the description.