HOTELS: Sale of a Wayward Inn

From the bleak jargon of real estate listings, it was hard to recognize the old place: "A twelve-story brick and limestone hotel building equipped with steam heat (oil burner), hot water . . . two Otis drum elevators . . . three dining rooms, bar and 143 rentable units."

But Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel was much more than that. It was a wondrous, moldering accretion of legend left behind by countless wits, wags, actors, playwrights, novelists and zanies. It was the Wayward Inn of a man named Frank Case.

Urbanity Plus. Frank Case was a...

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