Housing for the Games was one of the most difficult issues facing Lake Placid and the surrounding community. Concluding, “housing is the biggest question for Lake Placid to settle”, Godfrey Dewey reinforced the importance of the issue in a speech to the Kiwanis Club. The official guideline put forth by the International Olympic Committee states that “the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games must provide the athletes with furnisht quarters and food at an inclusive price per head per day which must be previously fixt. All expenses must be borne by the countries taking part…” (Lattimer). Though during the winter season many of the clubs and hotels around Lake Placid had as much space as during the summer, many of the larger hotels and cottages were not suited for winter living. The Committee was expecting a total of 10,000 visitors for the games and began initial housing surveys in 1928 as they prepared to submit their bid in 1929. During those initial surveys they established fixed rates of 4/5/6$ a day for officials and athletes at hotels and boarding houses that were eventually lowered to 2/3/4$. They also requested that these establishments reserve 20% of their capacity for these guests. As the housing issue loomed larger on the horizon, John F. White, the president of the Kiwanis Club appointed a special committee to examine the matter further. They made arrangements for 1,000 visitors to stay in Montreal and at one point even considered housing visitors in Pullman railcars. But upon further consideration they were found not to be up to the quality standard for housing a considerable number of visitors.
Cutaway of a 1920s Pullman "Heavyweight" Sleeping Car
© New York Museum of Transportation
An excerpt from the submitted proposal in 1929 states: “The winter resort housing facilities of Lake Placid are less than St. Moritz but greater than Chamonix. Lake Placid Club alone can house in winter 1,500. The hotels and boarding houses of Lake Placid can house in winter between 1,000 and 2,000, and private homes can house from 1,000 to 1,500 more. The neighboring village of Saranac Lake…can house in winter in addition to its normally occupied capacity from 1,000 to 1,500 additional. This means an available winter resort capacity for the Olympic Winter Games of from 4,500 to 6,500 beds, dependent on the extent to which summer facilities are winterized between now and 1932…” (Lattimer, 51). After receiving the bid the Olympic Committee worked to grow the local winter accommodations and met in 1930 to incorporate a wide ranging housing plan that included communities within 100 miles of Lake Placid. Adirondack communities such as Ausable Valley, Saranac Valley, Tupper Lake, Plattsburg and many others backed the movement and appointed housing committees for their respective areas. A standing committee for housing was also created in the by-laws of the III Olympic Winter Games Committee. It was tasked with the overseeing and improving facilities for housing and feeding contestants and spectators. According to the “Final Summary of Accommodations” for the games, the total capacity of housing secured by the committee was 9,987. In the Lake Placid area 5,337 were housed with the Lake Placid Club hosting a staggering 1,604 guests! Nearby communities were able to host a total of 4,650 guests.
Godfrey Dewey (right) welcomes Count de Baillet-Latour, president of the International Olympic Committee
©1998, Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles
The ship's deck that the German team travelled on, covered with ice.
© 2014, Olympic.org