Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

About as Close to The Emerald City as You Can Get: Hotel del Coronado!

We just returned from an idyllic family vacation at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California. The weather was sublime.

The stunning Hotel del Coronado - The Emerald City?

And guess who else loved this place -- L. Frank Baum, who first visited the turn-of-the century seaside resort with his family in 1904.  He wrote at least three of his Oz books while staying at "The Del"...

Although L. Frank Baum hailed from the Midwest, he preferred to winter in the warm and welcoming sunshine of the picturesque community of Coronado, California, just across the bay from San Diego. 

Doesn't the Emerald City look familiar?

Some people think the author based his design of the bejeweled Emerald City on the Hotel del Coronado; but Baum had already written the first book which included the fictitious Emerald City (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in1900), before ever visiting the hotel in 1904.

L. Frank Baum had storytime with children on the lawn at the
Hotel del Coronado. (photo 1904, source]

Still, you can see why Baum found the hotel so entrancing. With its whimsical design, vibrant red roofs, magical spires, and one-of-a-kind setting, the "Hotel Del" is as close to Emerald City as you'll ever get!  

And Baum is credited with designing the stunning chandeliers in the "Crown Room" of the hotel - don't you think they're fit for the Cowardly Lion? [From Material Dreams: Southern California Through the 1920's by Kevin Starr, source]

Chandeliers in the Crown Room, of the Hotel del Coronado,
designed by Baum [source]

L. Frank Baum - who suffered from a weak heart - usually resided at the hotel for months at a time; in later years he would sometimes rent a house nearby.  During his years in Coronado, Baum wrote the third, fourth, and fifth books of the Oz series: Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz (1908); The Road to Oz (1909); and The Emerald City (1910).

The house L. Frank Baum's would sometimes rent on Star Park Circle,
 just around the corner from the Hotel Del Coronado. [source]

Something else to see in Coronado: The children's area of the Coronado Public Library is home to nine beautiful glass panels (a permanent exhibit, by Brenda Smith) displaying Oz culture and featuring many of Baum's characters. 

Wizard of Oz Glass panels, Coronado Public Library [source]

Detail: Dorothy and the Munchkins [source] 

Baum moved to Hollywood in 1910, where he spent the last nine years of his life at his home, "Ozcot" (he was one of the community's earliest residents).  

He passed away in 1919, but his memory and his legacy in California cultural history live on. 

I hope you can "follow the yellow brick road" someday to Coronado Island, and the Hotel Del! You won't be disappointed.

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