Grace Kelly, Joan Didion, and Sylvia Plath were all guests. For some women, it was a launch pad. For others, it was a trap.
On May 31, 1953, 20-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City. She was a rising senior at Smith College and already a published author, with three poems sold to Harper’s; she was also just a few months away from her first suicide attempt. Stepping off the train in Grand Central Terminal, she gained the attention of “two lovely muscular members of the US soldiery” who proceeded to help her with bags, escort her through the crowd, and travel with her in a taxi to her destination: the corner of Lexington Avenue and 63rd Street. For the first time in her life, Plath would be staying at a hotel—and not just any hotel, but the famous, glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women.