Spotted at the NYAC | The Meanest Man

Inside the loo in the famed New York Athletic Club hangs this intriguing bit of engraved marble that, apparently, has been salvaged from The Grand Union Hotel. It reads as follows:

“The Meanest Man
in the United States
occasionally visits this Toilet Room.
He always carries away as a souvenir, either a coat
hook, doorlock, or paper holder and often several of each.
He would take the marble slabs if they were not made fast.
We guarantee this man a warm reception
if we get hold of him.

Ford & Co.
Grand Union Hotel.”

Owned by Simeon Ford (PDF) – a man with a healthy sense of humor – the Grand Union Hotel was popular around the turn of the 20th century (and according to my research still appears to be in business on 32nd Street). While it is not entirely clear as to why or how this curious bit of history made its way to the NYAC, it’s certainly good for a laugh.


Comments on “Spotted at the NYAC | The Meanest Man

    Alex Frankel on September 6, 2011 11:49 AM:

    Reminds me of something my Grandfather would have hanging in his shop in 1950. Glad NYAC got a hold of it.

    Mr. Morris on September 6, 2011 12:13 PM:

    This is awesome and Very Funny. I dig it.

    tylerharms on September 6, 2011 1:17 PM:

    i’m gonna find that son of a bitch. he stripped the knob of my top right stove burner.

    H. B. Brown on September 6, 2011 11:09 PM:

    I must be dense; can someone explain???

    Alexej on September 7, 2011 5:06 AM:

    Semms like someone, a long time ago, kept stealing objects from the hotels restroom. The hotel then installed this warning to scare the thief and cheer up other toilet users. Nice humor.

    johnbjones on September 7, 2011 8:36 AM:

    beautiful font

    ylhollander on September 7, 2011 11:07 AM:

    “(T)he Grand Union Hotel was popular around the turn of the 20th century (and according to my research still appears to be in business on 32nd Street)…”

    And yet the plaque resides elsewhere.

    Chalk up another tally for The Meanest Man.

    Jeff on September 7, 2011 6:28 PM:

    NYAC is a pretty douchey place. Lots of history and even more blowhards.

    TMH on September 7, 2011 7:32 PM:

    The meanest man has kin all over the place. Could be this guy right here next to
    me on the train.

    Carter on September 7, 2011 9:55 PM:

    Re: NYAC: “Douchey” hardly. Who uses a term such as “douchey?”

    If you want to see trophies that were bought, you can walk in to the Ralph Lauren store.

    If you want to see trophies that were earned…lots and lots of them… you can visit NYAC’s trophy room adjacent to the grill on the second floor. It’s the real thing.

    The building is phenomenal, and it’s hard to beat the Park Avenue South location.

    johnbjones on September 8, 2011 9:49 AM:

    while studying @ the american academy of dramatic arts (lots of history and even more blowhards) i was awarded a scholarship from NYAC.

    what a douchey dude i am!!

    Bradley Thompson on September 8, 2011 12:23 PM:

    The Meanest Man appears to have gotten the last laugh. The line about pilfering marble slabs was just too much to resist…

    Marc Holmes on September 8, 2011 5:35 PM:

    Ah the old NYAC … all I can add is that they are still stuck in the 80s for the most part: my parents stayed there as a reciprocal to their London club when visiting me in New York a couple of years back. When coming back from an evening run my mother was asked to use the freight elevator via the back entrance as she wasn’t deemed to be dressed appropriately to walk through the lobby! Don’t recall seeing the plaque at the club, cool spot.

    Michael on September 9, 2011 9:01 PM:

    The plaque is in the men’s room just inside the porter’s stand on the 58th street entrance to the club. In the 80s the place was still a men’s club. In those days you were meant to have a suit and tie on in the club or otherwise use the freight entrance on 58. All of that is changed along with the fact that the club was bludgeoned into accepting women in the late 80s or early 90’s. This required great expense to provide dressing rooms and bathrooms and lockers for the ladies who, upon acceptance, did not, in fact, much use the club. I am in residence there myself at this very moment.

    Gary Klosner on September 10, 2011 7:22 AM:

    Maybe the thief was trying to start his own hotel and needed a head-start?

    Tanner on September 16, 2011 11:03 PM:

    In response to Mr. Morris, “I dig it.” Yes, the NYAC city house is a very “cool” place. If it’s stuck in the eighties, as Marc says, (and I don’t dispute it), I wish more places were stuck in the eighties.

    Observant viewers of Mad Men might recall that, in one episode during the original season, a NYAC embroidered towel was sent to Jon Hamm as an incentive to jump ship at his firm.

    Oh, and it’s not a freight elevator; it’s referred to as the athletic elevator. Once sweaty members have finished a run across the street in Central Park, they can use a side entrance to access the locker room.

    Travers Island is not so great.

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