Goodbye, Manhattan

Dear Diary:

How do I say goodbye to Manhattan on my last night after 25 years in the city of opportunity? Friends had generously offered a sofa or a bed in their homes. Yet, I had felt a pull to the hotel that was my initial platform of immersion in Manhattan, the Hotel Martha Washington for Women, on East 30th Street.

In April 1987, I arrived at the Port Authority and, after a few calls to find a room, I decided to sleep one night for $35 plus taxes at the Martha Washington. The next morning, I paid two weeks’ rent of $292.40 for Room 504 with its own toilet in a clothes closet (the shower was down the hall). That left me less than $200 cash.

Once settled that rainy day, I walked along Madison Avenue and passed a test to get a temporary assignment as a secretary for Traveler’s Insurance. I walked two miles to Wall Street to see if I could save the $1 subway fare each way (I couldn’t; it was too far) and save some of the $10 an hour I was going to be paid. The next week, I knew I needed more money and took a temporary job at Hertz that paid $15 an hour; I stayed there for over a year.

Living at the hotel offered me stability until I was in a position to rent an apartment and later buy my two-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side. And that is why I decided to spend my last night in Manhattan at the Martha Washington, which is currently known as the King and Grove. When I checked in at the front desk, I mentioned my stay in 1987 to the clerk and showed him the brochure I had in 1987. He was so impressed that he upgraded my room and called his manager to see me.

As I was leaving for a JetBlue ride cross-country, I said to myself: “Goodbye, Martha Washington. I will always remember you.”

P.S. When I left the Martha Washington in April 1988, I took a picture off the wall with me; it is still in good condition today.

P.P.S. Oh! And one bath towel.

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