La Fonda & the Harvey Girls

Beverly Ireland and her identical twin sister Bernette Jarvis worked as Harvey Girls at La Fonda in 1955. The twins got the job at La Fonda because of their previous experience waitressing at the Jolly Green Giant factory restaurant in Minnesota. As Harvey Girls the two young sisters got to know all of the famous people who came as guests to La Fonda.

English Refinement Comes to the Wild West

In the late 19th century the Englishman and entrepreneur Fred Harvey helped define Southwest. He introduced hospitality with the help of young refined women. He opened the Harvey House chain of restaurants and hotels along railways from Kansas to California. Known as The Harvey Girls their legacy became synonymous with the lore and lure of the west. MGM studios made the movie The Harvey Girls in 1946. Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury starred in the film documenting the young women that helped tame the image of the “Wild West.”

Two Hundred Years of Hospitality on the Plaza

The Exchange Hotel, former called the U.S. Hotel, was built in 1847. Since the early days of the Spanish settlement, the southeast corner has been some type of lodging. Currently on that site is La Fonda Hotel, which means “the inn” in Spanish. Two Jewish merchants, Sigmund Seligman and Charles P. Clever, opened their mercantile store on the Plaza in 1852. Like many other entrepreneurs, they sought their fortune traveling along Santa Fe Trail.

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