December 9th, 2009

A Catskills Tradition

The history of the Grandview (Alias) is much broader than just a tale of a single resort.
This plot of land represents the times of an entire region...
Within these walls you witness the rise, and fall, of the Borscht Belt.



The Borscht Belt is (was) a band of hotels, resorts, spas, and places of that nature,
that spread across the Catskills Mountain area of New York state.
At one time vacationing in the Catskills was a very popular thing to do.
It was at it's most popular from the late 1940's, up until the 70's.
A number of factors contributed to the eventual demise of the Borscht Belt,
not the least of which was affordable air-travel.
A family could now go to Florida for little more than the trip to up-state NY...
The entire Borscht Belt region now lays in ruin.
Hundreds of miles of mountain land, dotted with abandoned resorts.

Though the Grandview may stand for an era of American popular culture,
this is not to say that it was just a number in the list of Catskill resorts.
Of all the resorts that stretched the Borscht belt, the Grandview was the crown-jewel.
It was so popular during it's time that an airstrip was constructed on the grounds
so that vacationers could fly directly to the resort.
An airstrip that now has 20+ years of growth covering it...
Interestingly, the "Kellerman's Mountain Resort" from the 1980's film "Dirty Dancing"
was modeled after the Grandview.

The resort had very humble beginnings,
as a single house in the rural mountains of New York state.
A family of three decided to rent out the extra rooms of their home to vacationers from New York City.
The husband ran the facility, the wife cooked and cleaned, and the daughter was hostess.
In 1919 they sold the original house to purchase a larger one on 100 acres.
From that point on the resort steadily grew in size and popularity.
In 1952 it made history as the first ski slope in the world to use artificial snow.
By 1972 the resort had grown to 35 building on some 1,200 acres of land,
and was serving 150,000 guests annually.



Nothing lasts forever though...
By the late 1970's the younger market was no longer interested in vacationing in the Catskills.
Especially when they could take a jet anywhere in the country for nearly the same cost.
To regain Catskill popularity, a bill was put into motion to legalize gambling in the region.
In preparation for this influx of vacationers looking for an alternative to Atlantic City,
the Grandview went under a massive re-construction.
(I have included some of the re-design illustrations at the end of this entry,
along with more historical images of the place)
However, the bill was never passed and gambling remains illegal in the Catskills.
That was the last hit the resort could take.
Construction halted, and in 1986 the resort shut it's doors for good.

Present day is a strange way to perceive the Grandview.
It lies trapped, between what it once was, and what it was on it's way to becoming.





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