Featured in the PBS documentary The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound
The legendary life and entrepreneurial vision of Fred Harvey helped shape American culture and history for three generations—from the 1880s all the way through World War II—and still influence our lives today in surprising and fascinating ways. Now award-winning journalist Stephen Fried re-creates the life of this unlikely American hero, the founding father of the nation’s service industry, whose remarkable family business civilized the West and introduced America to Americans.
Appetite for America is the incredible real-life story of Fred Harvey—told in depth for the first time ever—as well as the story of this country’s expansion into the Wild West of Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid, of the great days of the railroad, of a time when a deal could still be made with a handshake and the United States was still uniting. As a young immigrant, Fred Harvey worked his way up from dishwasher to household name: He was Ray Kroc before McDonald’s, J. Willard Marriott before Marriott Hotels, Howard Schultz before Starbucks. His eating houses and hotels along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe railroad (including historic lodges still in use at the Grand Canyon) were patronized by princes, presidents, and countless ordinary travelers looking for the best cup of coffee in the country. Harvey’s staff of carefully screened single young women—the celebrated Harvey Girls—were the country’s first female workforce and became genuine Americana, even inspiring an MGM musical starring Judy Garland.
With the verve and passion of Fred Harvey himself, Stephen Fried tells the story of how this visionary built his business from a single lunch counter into a family empire whose marketing and innovations we still encounter in myriad ways. Inspiring, instructive, and hugely entertaining, Appetite for America is historical biography that is as richly rewarding as a slice of fresh apple pie—and every bit as satisfying.
*With two photo inserts featuring over 75 images, and an appendix with over fifty Fred Harvey recipes, most of them never-before-published.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Appetite for America|
|Release Date: 03-23-2010|
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Appetite for America
FRED DISCOVERS AMERICA
(AND VICE VERSA
When people wondered where all his passionate ambition came from, Fred Harvey never mentioned his father's failure.
But he never forgot being eight years old, in the muggy midsummer of 1843, when the legal notice appeared in the Times of London. His father, Charles, a struggling thirty-two-year-old Soho tailor, was being called before the Bankruptcy Court on Basinghall Street-a grand Victorian building where the undoing of businessmen's lives had become public entertainment for those who couldn't afford tickets to the theater or the serialized novels of young Charles Dickens.
On July 12 at 11:00 a.m., Charles Harvey appeared before Mr. Commissioner Evans, the senior judge. He was preceded by Samuel Polack, a Newport woolen draper, and waiting to see the judge after him was Abraham Harris, a slop seller in Tower Hill. Luckily, Fred's father was merely declared "insolvent," so his creditors could pick over only what he had earned and bought in his thirty-two years. If he had been declared "bankrupt," all his future earnings would have been garnisheed as well.
While the difference meant a great deal to his father, the shame was the same for Fred Harvey, his mother, Ann, and his two younger sisters, Eliza and Annie. The Harveys were officially paupers. They had never been rich, living in rented flats first on Great Marylebone Street in London's West End-an enclave of merchants and craftsmen near All Souls Church, where Fred was baptized-and then in a similarly hardscrabble section of Soho, at 16 Lisle Street. But they had always gotten by. Now they had to sta...