Cover image for Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn : a social history of the tea room craze in America
Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn : a social history of the tea room craze in America
Whitaker, Jan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 192 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX945 .W44 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
TX945 .W44 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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 celebrate their independence and creativity. Sparked by the Suffragist movement, Prohibition, and the rise of the automobile,tea rooms forever changed the way America eats out, and laid the groundwork for the modern small restaurant and coffee bar.

In this lively, well-researched book, Jan Whitaker brings us back to the exciting days when countless American women dreamed of opening their own tea room - and many did. From the Bohemian streets of New York's Greenwich Village to the high-society tea rooms of Chicago's poshest hotels, from the Colonial roadside tea houses of New England to the welcoming bungalows of California, the book traces the social, artistic, and culinary changes the tea room helped bring about.

Anyone interested in women's history, the early days of the automobile, the Bohemian lives of artists in Greenwich Village, and the history of food and drink will revel in this spirited, stylish, and intimate slice of America's past.

Author Notes

Jan Whitaker is a freelance writer and editor who writes about food and the history of American consumer culture. Her subjects have included fad diets, breakfast cereals, and women restaurateurs. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she has been collecting tea room memorabilia for over ten years.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Whitaker conducts a delightful tour of the tearooms that dotted the nation in the first half of the twentieth century. The arrival of the automobile, the pursuit of a more independent lifestyle by women of divergent social classes, and the era of Prohibition combined to spawn a new type of eating establishment that catered to women desiring refuge, respite, and refreshment. Many of these tearooms were also owned and operated by women who sought either financial autonomy or a creative outlet in a man's world. Representing both freedom and social niceties, tearooms served as models of a new type of etiquette, one that encouraged adventure within the strict bounds of breeding and good manners. As the craze caught fire and transportation became more available, tearooms spread from urban centers to small towns, country roads, and rural outposts. Readers will relish this irresistible slice of American popular culture. --Margaret Flanagan