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Guide to the Four Seasons Restaurant Collection
1959-2019
 MS 3151

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 24, 2020
English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

Except for two employee handbooks and an in-house operations manual [see Series II], this collection does not include the business records of the Four Seasons. Rather, the material is largely ephemeral in nature. A significant portion is devoted to scrapbooks documenting the years 1959–2003, presumably assembled by the restaurant's public relations staff from newspaper clippings, magazine and trade publication tear sheets, award certificates, photographs, banquet and regular menus, and invitations, all relating to events and people—especially celebrity diners—at the Four Seasons [see Series I].

Assorted ephemera dating from 1962–2019 complements the scrapbooks, and includes printed items, such as wine lists; matchboxes and a shopping bag with the Four Seasons logo; and a menu for President John F. Kennedy's 45th birthday dinner at the restaurant [see Series II].

Photographs document the Four Seasons' spaces, décor, and staff between the 1970s and 2015, with a large portion given to the kitchen renovations undertaken in 1997. Others capture owners Tom Margittai, Paul Kovi, Julian Niccolini, and Alex von Bidder posed with celebrities and world figures who visited the restaurant, such as Anne, Princess Royal, James Beard, George H. W. Bush, Barbara Bush, Bill Clinton, David Frost, Keith Hernandez, Philip Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Lee Radziwill, Diane von Furstenberg, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and the 14th Dalai Lama [see Series III].

The collection contains a series of files on construction and renovation projects at the original (99 East 52nd Street) and final (42 East 49th Street) locations of the Four Seasons between 1987 and 2018; workaday topics include "Asbestos," "Bathroom ADA," "Exhaust," "Ice Machines," and "Plumbing" [see Series IV].

The restaurant's famous food and stylish interiors were featured in numerous books, pamphlets, and periodicals over its six-decade history, and the collection includes a selection of these, such as the  Four Seasons Cookbook (1971),  Dunbar Fine Furniture of the 1950s (2000), and owner Alex von Bidder's picture book for children,  Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant (2009) [see Series V].

As with print media, the Four Seasons was profiled countless times by television news outlets, such as CNN, and was the setting for reality and scripted programs, like the short-lived 1990s soap "Central Park West" on CBS. The collection includes copies of many of these appearances, as well as wedding ceremonies and receptions held at the restaurant, on VHS cassettes, CDs, and DVDs, dated 1990–2012 [see Series VI].

Lastly, the collection contains a handful of objects associated with the Four Seasons, such as plaques displaying its 2014 Zagat restaurant review rating, and a hard hat with the restaurant's logo from construction of its final home at 42 East 49th Street [see Series VII].

Arrangement

The collection is organized in seven series:

Series I.
 Scrapbooks, 1959-2003, 2005-2019, undated
Series II.
 Ephemera, 1962-2019, undated
Series III.
 Photographs, slides, transparencies, circa 1970s-2015
Series IV.
 Renovations (original and new location), 1987-2018
Series V.
 Books, pamphlets, and periodicals, 1971-2016, undated
Series VI.
 Audiovisual, 1990-2012, undated
Series VII.
 Objects, 1995-2018, undated