Saratoga Trunks

Saratoga_Trunk.jpg

Try getting this through airport security.

By Mike Hare

Before the rich and famous sported Louis Vuitton luggage, they packed up their Saratoga Trunks for their summers at The Spa.

Back in Saratoga's Victorian heyday, people didn't just come to the Spa City for a weekend, they came for "the season." An entire summer away from home meant hauling a whole summer wardrobe. And in the days before shorts and slip dresses, 19th century vacationers needed some serious luggage. Ladies were hauling countless hats and gowns. Never mind the myriad of undergarments required.

Around that time a huge iron-bound trunk with a curved top and handles emerged. Nobody knows who designed the it, but before long people were calling them Saratoga Trunks -- after the place so many of them were headed.

The Saratoga Trunk made its mark instantly because of its durability, unique design, and size. They came to Saratoga strictly by train, because they were too huge for stagecoaches. By the mid-1850s, the Saratoga Trunk was so well-known that it became the butt of cartoonists' jokes, along the lines of, "it would also make a fine portable dining room."

By the early 1900s, folks were taking cars to the Spa City. And when they didn't have porters to carry the trunks, they weren't as much fun to haul around. The Saratoga Trunk became burdensome, heavy, and obsolete.

Still, the idea of the trunks suggested romance and nostalgia. Pulitzer-prize winning author Edna Ferber's 1941 novel, Saratoga Trunk, was a best-seller. Four years later, Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper starred in a movie version. Part of it was filmed in front of the United States Hotel, where Borders is today.

Mike Hare is the author of Saratoga Lives and a Spa City tour guide.

Comments

I have this exact same truck in my living room. My wife and I have had it for about 9 years now. Visitors ask about it often. Now I know more facts to share.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.

Search

Recently on All Over Albany

The week ahead

Here are a few things to keep in mind, look forward to, or keep busy with this week, from the weather (chilly), to spooky tours,... (more)

Gawking at the new Schenectady train station

In a bit of a surprise the new Schenectady train station opened this past Wednesday, a few weeks ahead of the announced schedule. The $23... (more)

A little push up the hill

Wrapped into my update this past week about what it's been like to use a bike as one of my primary ways of getting around... (more)

A collection of castle day trips

This part of the country is dotted with castle-like structures, full of history, mystery, romance, and fairytale. Here's a handful of castles that are within... (more)

Classics of Science Fiction at The Linda

A multi-day get-together called Classics of Science Fiction will be at The Linda in Albany November 1-4. Blurbage: Guests include authors, artists, podcasters, cosplayers, business... (more)

Recent Comments

I ride every day to work, and also after work for exercise. I love the concept of being a person who happens to ride a bike. There's a level of bike riding, with the high performance gear and sleek clothing, that makes riding seem like its not for everyone. I try to avoid markers like that, and always wear regular clothing/shoes/backpack with dumpy-looking bike. One concession is bike gloves.

Gawking at the new Schenectady train station

...has 4 comments, most recently from Walter Clark

A collection of castle day trips

...has 1 comment, most recently from Jsc

A little push up the hill

...has 2 comments, most recently from Ryan H

Today's moment of mural

...has 3 comments, most recently from Rich

A year later I'm still using a bike to get around town -- here are a few thoughts about how that's worked out

...has 13 comments, most recently from Randal Putnam