The Borscht Belt Resort, located in the Catskills in New York, was once a major vacation destination from the 1920s to the 1960s. Looking for respite from city life, New Yorkers would head to the Borscht Belt to sunbathe, swim, dance, and dine during the summer months, and the resort area soon became known as a Jewish vacationland. By the 1980s, however, the once-bustling region, home to numerous hotels, bungalows, tennis courts, and swimming pools, became desolate as New Yorkers began to favor different destinations. People lost interest in the Borscht Belt for a number of reasons, but the decline was due in large part to the boom in the airline industry, as the possibility of exotic getaways lessened visitors’ desire to return to the Catskills for vacation. Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld’s book The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland, takes a look at the remains of the Borscht Belt. Noted also in this book is the resort area’s importance within American Jewish history. For many Jewish New Yorkers, the Borscht Belt served as a haven when they were banned from many of the city’s hotels in the 1920s. Here’s a look at 10 abandoned resorts from The Borscht Belt:
Nightlife in the Borscht Belt
10. Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel
Grossinger’s Catskills Resort Hotel‘s claim to fame is an inspiration for the setting of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, whose fictional locale “Kellerman’s” was based on a former resort. However, the film’s success was unable to influence tourists as the resort closed its doors in 1986, a year before the film’s release.
The Grossingers were Austrian immigrants who opened a farmhouse in 1914 and quickly gained a reputation for their cooking and hospitality. They then purchased the land for what would become Grossinger’s, a resort that thrived thanks to the leadership of the couple’s daughter, Jennie. Grossinger’s soon flourished into a grand destination so large it had its own airstrip and zip code, with arenas for tennis, ice skating, and skiing (it was the first resort to use artificial snow in 1952).
Frequented by athletes, entertainers, and wealthy businesses, this resort fittingly adopted the slogan “Grossinger’s Has Everything for the Kind of Person Who Likes to Come to Grossinger’s.” However, the resort today lies in ruin. Its indoor swimming pool, which has transformed into a lush greenhouse over the years, is a destination for adventurers.