When James Bond arrives in Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever, he hooks up with cab driver Ernie Cureo who brings him to his hotel, The (fictitious) Tiara, while showing him some of the other (real) hotels on the strip.
They passed a motel with a swimming pool which had built-up transparent glass sides. As they drove by, a girl dived into the bright green water and her body sliced through the tank in a cloud of bubbles.
“On ya right, The Flamingo,” said Ernie Cureo as they passed a low-lying modernistic hotel with a huge tower of neon, now dead, outside it. “Bugsy Siegel built that back in 1946.
Then here’s The Sands. Plenty of hot money behind that one. Don’t rightly know whose. Built a couple of years ago. Front guy’s a nice feller name of Jack Intratter
“Well then, here’s The Desert Inn. Wilbur Clark’s place. But the money came from the old Cleveland-Cincinatti combination.
And that dump with the flat-iron sign is The Sahara. Latest thing. Listed owners are a bunch of small-time gamblers from Oregon.
Then,’ he waved to the left where the neon was wrought into a twenty-foot covered wagon at full gallop, “Ya get The Last Frontier. That’s a dummy Western town on the left. Worth seein’.
And over there’s The Thunderbird, and across the road’s The Tiara.
After the events in New York City in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and Felix Leiter head up to the city of Saratoga. Bond is headed there to receive a payoff, while Leiter is investigating some shady racing practices.
They go from the Plaza, out to the Henry Hudson Parkway, through the Henry Hudson Bridge Toll, then through the Westchester County Toll and onto the Taconic Parkway.
Fleming writes that Bond stays at The Sagamore Motel which is right in Saratoga Springs. There is a Sagamore resort in the upperstate New York area, but it is 36 miles away from Saratoga Springs. The Sagamore in the novel is within walking distance (1/2 mile) of the Saratoga racetrack. Fleming might’ve been familiar with the Sagamore and “transported” it (or the name, anyway) to Saratoga Springs for the sake of novel.
Saratoga Race Course has been racing thoroughbreds since 1863, so when Bond and Leiter showed up on the scene, it had already been around for 90 years or so. The morning after their arrival, they head over to the track at dawn, to catch a look at Shy Smile.
That afternoon, Bond familiarizes himself with the track and betting process, then downing a few Bourbons and Branch Water with his dinner outside the sales ring.
The next day is Bond’s race – The Perpetuities Stakes. Bond settles in to watch his horse, never making the bet which he knows will now fail, thanks to Leiter.
Bond has agreed with Leiter to give the payoff to the jockey of Shy Smile for ditching the race. For this, he has to head to a most un-Bond-like place, the Acme Mud and Sulphur Baths. Reading Bond’s pure disgust for the place gives you the shivers he experienced:
Outside the bus the smell of sulphur hit Bond with sickening force. It was a horrible smell, from somewhere down in the stomach of the world. Bond moved away from the entrance and sat down on a rough bench under a group of dead-looking firs. He sat there for a few minutes to steel himself for what was going to happen to him through the screen doors and to shake off his sense of oppression and disgust. It was partly, he decided, the reaction of a healthy body to the contact with disease, and it was partly the tall grim Belsen chimney with its plume of innocent smoke. But most of all it was the prospect of going in through those doors, buying the ticket, and then stripping his clean body and giving it over to the nameless things they did in this grisly ramshackle establishment.
The place was likely something like this establishment:
Bond went through the entire experience, getting and seeing a bit more than he wanted.
The above picture is from a different establishment, but it gives you idea of what Bond experienced in the bath. This one is even nicer than the experience Fleming describes for Bond. He describes the beds as “coffins” in the novel.
After meeting Felix back at the Sagamore Motel, they go to dinner at “the ‘Pavilion’ , the only smart restaurant in Saratoga.” Whether this is a reference to what is now the Pavilion Grand Hotel, which has been some business in some shape or form since the 1800’s, I’m not sure.
After dinner, Bond and Leiter talk about their next stop – Las Vegas.
In Diamonds Are Forever, after smuggling in the Diamonds and taking Tiffany case to dinner at 21, James Bond spends the day in his Astor hotel room writing his report to M. He takes a break for dinner.
Bond sent the cable ‘Collect’ via Western Union, had his fourth shower of the day and went to Voisin’s where he had two Vodka Martinis, Oeufs Benedict and strawberries. Over dinner he read the racing forecasts for the Saratoga meeting, from which he noted that the joint favourites for The Perpetuities Stakes were Mr C. V. Whitney’s Come Again and Mr William Woodward Jnr’s Pray Action. Shy Smile was not mentioned.
Voisin was a famous Park Avenue French restaurant that operated from 1913 until the late 1960’s. Originally located at 375 park Avenue, that building was torn down and the restaurant moved in the early 1950’s to 575 Park Avenue – which still exists as The Beekman.
The meal was pretty standard for Bond – the Martini’s, Eggs Benedict and the strawberries – a meal replicated in some form or another several times throughout the novels.
Also of note is the reference to William Woodward, Jr. This was a friend of Fleming’s who he met at their mutual friend Ivar Bryce’s farm in Vermont. In Andrew Lycett’s biography of Fleming, he says that Woodward and Ian had a “cool, sardonic friendship.” Fleming also pronounced him “one of the best Americans he had ever met.” Fleming also told Woodward that he should divorce his wife – advice that actually might’ve been the right thing to do.
Woodward also introduced Fleming to the Studillac. After Woodward’s shocking death, Fleming honored Woodward by writing him into the book as well as by using the Studillac.
Here is the interior of Voisin, just as James Bond would’ve seen it:
In Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond and his good buddy Felix Leiter take a road trip from Manhattan to Saratoga.
“Almost due north up the Hudson. In New York State. Just south of the Adirondacks and not far short of the Canadian border. We’ll take the Taconic Parkway. There’s no hurry, so we’ll go easy.
Leiter impresses Bond with his car, the Studillac, and then they’re off and running.
They wrangled cheerfully over the respective merits of English and American sports cars until they came to the Westchester County toll and then, fifteen minutes later, they were out on the Taconic Parkway that snaked away northwards through a hundred miles of meadows and woodlands, and Bond settled back and silently enjoyed one of the most beautifully landscaped highways in the world, and wondered idly what the girl was doing and how, after Saratoga, he was to get to her again.
The Taconic State Parkway was built beginning in 1927, and the 105.3 mile highway was completed in 1963. From the beginning it was meant to show off the wonderful scenery of that part of New York State. It was built as a road to drive on and enjoy, rather than to make good time. The excellent Wikipedia entry on the Parkway shows the lengths the engineers went to:
Landscape architects like Gilmore Clarke worked closely with engineers and construction crews during the Taconic’s construction, often on site. Some features of the road’s design address practical considerations and increase safety. Curves that climbed or descended were banked to increase vehicle traction and permit better drainage. Likewise the curves in undulating terrain are located to reduce blind spots at crests and keep the sharpest turns out of valleys. These also make sure that views of distant landscapes open up on downgrades and on long curves, when they are less distracting.
Closer to the road, on the northern sections in Columbia and Dutchess counties, the road was routed to showcase a nearby view of wooded hillside or a farm. Since trucks were not permitted on the road, in many sections tree branches overhang the roadways, creating a park-like feel. The curve of the northbound Amvets bridge over Croton Reservoir echoes the surrounding hills. On the medians and berms, plantings were carefully planned to maintain continuity with the surrounding woods. On the descent into Peekskill Hollow in Putnam Valley, the trees and shrubs above the retaining wall on the east side were transplanted from the path of the highway, which retained the appearance of the local forest and saved money. Overpasses, both carrying roads over the parkway and carrying it over roads, were faced in native stone. The grade intersections, usually a feature engineers tried to avoid, helped keep local east–west routes open and connect the parkway to the landscape it traversed.
Bond certainly enjoyed the scenery during his ride with Leiter.
Residing as I do in the greater Boston area, I’m interested in the occasions when Ian Fleming brings James Bond close to my home. Unfortunately, in the novels at least, the only glimpse Bond gets of Boston is from the air. He does venture into New England, going into Vermont for the events of For Your Eyes Only, but for that trek, he flies into Montreal, not Boston.
Boston is city on the east coast of the United States, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The city is one of the oldest (settled in 1630) in America and the site of much rich history – including some of the earliest rebellions of the colonists against the British Empire. (We’re friends now though, right?) Fleming mentions the city in three of the novels.
In Live and Let Die the city is used as part of Bond’s cover while on assignment:
He was given a military haircut and was told that he was a New Englander from Boston and that he was on holiday from his job with the London office of the Guaranty Trust Company.
In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond gets a brief view of the city as he flies into New York.
And then there were three hours when the plane hung dead-steady in the middle of the world, and only the patches of bright sunshine swaying slowly a few inches up and down the walls of the cabin gave a sense of motion. But at last there was the great sprawl of Boston below them, and then the bold pattern of a clover-leaf on the New Jersey Turnpike, and Bond’s ears began to block with the slow descent towards the pall of haze that was the suburbs of New York.
Finally, in Thunderball the city is mentioned simply as a geographical marker:
Bond said, “Did the American D.E.W. line pick it up—their Defense Early Warning system?”
“There’s a query on that. The only grain of evidence we’ve got. Apparently about five hundred miles east of Boston there was some evidence that a plane had peeled off the inward route to Idlewild and turned south. But that’s another big traffic lane—for the northern traffic from Montreal and Gander down to Bermuda and the Bahamas and South America. So these D.E.W. operators just put it down as a B.O.A.C. or Trans-Canada plane.”
Actually it was the DISTANT Early Warning system, but I’ll give Mr Fleming the benefit of the doubt and say he was being dramatic. Also, the hijacker of the Vindicator, Giuseppe Petacchi notes his location in relation to Boston while delivering the plane to S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
The coastline of America should be on the screen by now. He got up and had a look. Yes, there, 500 miles away, was the coastline map already in high definition, the bulge that was Boston, and the silvery creek of the Hudson River.
And that’s it. I’m just glad Boston was on Fleming’s radar – no pun intended – while he was writing the Bond novels.
When James Bond is posing as Peter Franks in Diamonds Are Forever, he can’t help but ask his intriguing cohort Tiffany Case out to dinner. They agree that after their smuggling job is over that they will have dinner in New York at 21 on Friday night.
21 is a historic restaurant located at 21 West 52nd Street in Manhattan. Like Sardi’s it is a hangout for the rich and famous. It was once a speakeasy during Prohibition (never busted) and has been in its current location since 1929.
They talk shop, with Bond discreetly trying to get information from her about her employers, consume several vodka martinis (shaken, and not stirred and with lemon peel) order dinner and Clicquot Rose champagne.
They were interrupted by the arrival of the cutlets, accompanied by asparagus with mousseline sauce, and by one of the famous Kriendler brothers who have owned ’21’ ever since it was the best speak-easy in New York.
“Hello, Miss Tiffany,” he said. “Long time no see. How are things out at Vegas?”
“Hello, Mac.” The girl smiled up at him. “Tiara’s going along okay.” She glanced round the packed room. “Seems your little hot dog stand ain’t doing too badly.”
“Can’t complain,” said the tall young man. “Too much expense-account aristocracy. Never enough pretty girls around. You ought to come in more often.” He smiled at Bond. “Everything all right?”
“Mac” was Maxwell Arnold “Mac” Kriendler. Fleming interjects a real person into the narrative here, likely he had dined at 21 and knew “Mac” from those visits.
After James Bond discovers that Felix Leiter has been doing a front tail on him in Manhattan in Diamonds Are Forever, the pair decide to go for lunch and drinks to catch up, having not seen each other since Leiter was brought to The Everglades wrapped in bandages in Live and Let Die.
They moved out on to the street and Bond noticed that Leiter walked with a heavy limp. “In Texas even the fleas are so rich they can hire themselves dogs. Let’s go. Sardi’s is just over the way.”
Leiter avoided the fashionable room at the famous actors’ and writers’ eating house and led Bond upstairs. His limp was more noticeable and he held on to the banisters.
Bond goes to the washroom to clean up a bit, and take stock of his impressions of Leiter. He then returns to the table.
There was a medium dry Martini with a piece of lemon peel waiting for him. Bond smiled at Leiter’s memory and tasted it. It was excellent, but he didn’t recognize the Vermouth.
“Made with Cresta Blanca,” explained Leiter. “New domestic brand from California. Like it?”
“Best Vermouth I ever tasted.”
“And I’ve taken a chance and ordered you smoked salmon and Brizzola,” said Leiter. “They’ve got some of the finest meat in America here, and Brizzola’s the best cut of that. Beef, straight-cut across the bone. Roast and then broiled. Suit you?”
Sardi’s is a world-famous restaurant located near Broadway in Manhattan. It opened in 1927, and is known for the hundreds of caricatures of actors, singers and other show-business figures that line its walls.
The “Brizzola” ordered by Leiter is probably actually “Brizola” which is a rib-eye steak. Bond later concludes that while the Nova Scotia salmon couldn’t compare to his beloved Scottish smoked salmon, the Brizola was all that Leiter said it would be.
When James Bond is in New York City as Peter Franks (but traveling as James Bond, if that makes sense) in Diamonds Are Forever, he is booked into the Astor Hotel by the diamond smuggling organization he is working for.
Because of that, unlike in Live and Let Die at the St Regis, Bond does not get the top suite in the hotel, just a standard room. He spends most of a weekend there, including most of the day on Saturday when he sat in his air-conditioned room, avoiding the heat and composing his report.
Tiffany Case is also staying at the Astor, and as Bond leaves her at her door Friday night, she suddenly kisses him and then pushes him away.
In the short story 007 in New York, Bond also stays at the Astor.
The Astor. It was as good as another, and Bond liked the Times Square jungle – the hideous souvenir shops, the sharp clothiers, the giant feedomats, the hypnotic neon signs, one of which said BOND in letters a mile high. Here was the guts of New York, the living entrails.
The Astor was located in what is now Times Square in Manhattan. Built in 1904, it played a large role in making Times Square the center of New York. The hotel operated until 1967 , it was destroyed in 1968 and replaced with a 54 story office building – One Astor Plaza.
Gandy Bridge is a six-mile bridge connecting Tampa with St Petersburg.
James Bond drives across the bridge from St Petersburg to Tampa after his second meeting with The Robber in Live and Let Die.
The original bridge was constructed in 1924 and this was the one on which Bond traveled. Three years after the novel takes place, a second span was added to the bridge. At one time it was the longest bridge in the world.
Bond enjoys the cool air of the bay on his face, and at the end of the bridge, he turns left towards the Tampa airport, spending the night at the first motel that looked awake. After awaking at midday, he writes his report to the FBI and heads to the airport.
In Live and Let Die, James Bond and Felix Leiter make their Florida headquarters on Treasure Island, at a place called The Everglades. Treasure Island is next to St. Petersburg, and has been a popular beach area for many years.
Bond describes how he and Solitaire arrived there:
they were checked at the intersection of Park Street and Central Avenue, where the Avenue runs on to the long Treasure Island causeway across the shallow waters of Boca Ciega Bay.
Bond paid off the cab at The Everglades, a group of neat white-and-yellow clapboard cottages set on three sides of a square of Bahama grass which ran fifty yards down to a bone-white beach and then to the sea. From there, the whole Gulf of Mexico stretched away, as calm as a mirror, until the heat-haze on the horizon married it into the cloudless sky.
They’re assigned to cabin number one – right on the beach.
While this is not The Everglades, it is another group of cottages on Treasure Island from about the same time period.
When Felix Leiter goes missing one morning, Bond receives a call at The Everglades from a “Dr Roberts” at Mound Park Hospital, saying his friend is there. Bond hurries over.
The call turns out to be a misdirection play to get Bond away from the cottage.