This is Mikado Inn

This postcard shows a sign that once existed along Truesdale Drive, marking the entrance to the Mikado Inn. The card was published circa 1920 by the Photo & Art Postal Card Co. in New York, but it was doubtlessly commissioned by the inn’s proprietor, “Admiral” George T. Moto. The sign is long gone, but part of the low stone wall and entrance (under the green roof in the postcard) are still there today.

Want to learn more about the Mikado? See these previous posts:

  • Oscar Levant Plays the Mikado
    Oscar Levant, the quick-witted pianist, composer, actor, author and quiz-show panelist performed there as a teenager, sharing “sleeping quarters with twenty or thirty Japanese waiters in the cellar.”
  • What’s Cookin’ at the Mikado?
    A tasty bit of Harmon history—a Mikado Inn menu featuring two Spring Lamb Chops for $1.50, Filet Mignon Mikado for $3.00 and a Porterhouse Steak for two for $5.00.
  • Mikado Inn “Real Photo” Postcard, circa 1920
    See the beautiful Japanese gardens behind the Mikado Inn.
  • The Motorist’s Playground
    An ad for the Mikado and two other Croton-area “road houses” from the June 12, 1921 issue of the New-York Tribune. The “Japanese gardens” highlighted in the ad are shown in the post above.

You might also be interested in the Nikko Inn across the street on Nordica Drive.

Croton-on-Hudson Phone Directory, 1938

Pages from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory. Courtesy of Carl Oechsner.

Pages from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory. Courtesy of Carl Oechsner.

Thanks to our friend Carl Oechsner we were able to get our hands on a copy of the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.1 The plan was to scan some of the ads like the ones for the Mikado Inn, Konco’s Garage, and Robbins Pharmacy shown below. But when we looked closer and saw listings for well-known Crotonites like Max Eastman, Margaret Mayo, and Miss Carrie E. Tompkins we decided to scan every page, run the images through an optical character recognition program, and post a searchable PDF on Google Docs. To see the PDF click here.

Do you have any early Croton phone directories or other Croton ephemera? We would love to scan other early directories, photographs of the village or similar material. If you have something you would like to share send us an email by clicking here.

Ad for the Mikado Inn from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for the Mikado Inn from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


Ad for Konco's Garage from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for Konco’s Garage from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


Ad for Robbins Pharmacy from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.

Ad for Robbins Pharmacy from the 1938 Croton-on-Hudson phone directory.


  1. Carl’s copy is missing the covers, which is why the first page is numbered 3.

A Sharp and Palpable Difference

Ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal, December, 1917

Ad from the Ladies’ Home Journal, December, 1917

In a previous post we displayed two ads from 1917 for Goodyear Cord Tires, featuring detailed pen-and-ink drawings of Nikko Inn. These clever bits of Jazz Age cross-promotion appeared in magazines ranging from the Atlantic Monthly and The New Country Life to Travel and Forest & Stream.

Tiny detail from the Ladies’ Home Journal ad.

Tiny detail from the Ladies’ Home Journal ad.

Now we’ve discovered a much more elegant ad from the same campaign, which ran in the December, 1917 issue of Ladies’ Home Journal. The art was created by Myron Perley, an illustrator and art director who is remembered today for his work for the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company.

Unfortunately the image of the Nikko is hard to discern in the background. We suspect that the art was done in full-color and published here in black-and-white to save money. Maybe another version will turn up and we’ll get to see the Nikko in full-color glory.

Until then we can try to imagine what an exotic and alluring destination the Nikko Inn must have been in those days—and the “sharp and palpable difference” we would have “felt in the riding quality” of our car “shod with Goodyear Cord Tires.”

For more on the Nikko, the Mikado and Harmon’s rich history, see these previous posts.

Goodyear-Nikko-Ad-1917_72dpi

Mikado Inn “Real Photo” Postcard, circa 1920

Mikado Inn, Harmon-on-Hudson, N.Y. [No publisher, but likely the Mikado Inn]. Circa 1920.

Mikado Inn, Harmon-on-Hudson, N.Y. [No publisher, but likely the Mikado Inn]. Circa 1920.
Click the image to enlarge it.

Come take a stroll in the beautiful Japanese gardens of the Mikado Inn, in Harmon-on-Hudson. Enjoy a dinner of exotic oriental dishes (or, if you prefer something more familiar, try the $5.00 Porterhouse Steak for two). After dinner you can listen to that clever young man, Oscar Levant, play “Yes, We Have No Bananas” on the upright piano.

The Mikado Inn was built around 1920 by “Admiral” George T. Moto (a.k.a. “Data Moto” and “Toshiyuki Moto”), a disgruntled employee of Clifford Harmon. Moto had managed the Nikko Inn and after a disagreement bought land across the street and built the Mikado. Both establishments, along with the Tumble Inn on the other side of town, were speakeasys during Prohibition—though in 1921 the Admiral was acquitted in what newspaper accounts at the time called the first case to be tried in Westchester County for alleged violation of the New York State liquor law.1

This postcard is what’s called a “real photo postcard” because the image is an actual photograph made from a negative, not a halftone reproduction. The process was invented in 1903 by Kodak with the introduction of the No. 3A Folding Pocket Kodak. The camera, designed for postcard-size film, allowed the general public to take photographs and have them printed on postcard backs, usually in the same dimensions (3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inches) as standard postcards. The process was perfect for small establishments and this card was likely produced and sold by the Mikado Inn.

This crisp enlargement is possible because the postcard is an actual photographic print.

This crisp enlargement is possible because the postcard is an actual photographic print.

Want to know more about the Mikado? See these previous posts:

  • Oscar Levant Plays the Mikado
    Oscar Levant, the quick-witted pianist, composer, actor, author and quiz-show panelist performed there as a teenager, sharing “sleeping quarters with twenty or thirty Japanese waiters in the cellar.”
  • What’s Cookin’ at the Mikado?
    A tasty bit of Harmon history—a Mikado Inn menu featuring two Spring Lamb Chops for $1.50, Filet Mignon Mikado for $3.00 and a Porterhouse Steak for two for $5.00.
  • The Motorist’s Playground
    An ad for the Mikado and two other Croton-area “road houses” from the June 12, 1921 issue of the New-York Tribune. The “Japanese gardens” highlighted in the ad are shown in the postcard above.

  1. New York Evening Telegram, July 12, 1921.
This simple stamp on the back is typical of real photo postcards.

This simple stamp on the back is typical of real photo postcards.

What’s Cookin’ at the Mikado?

Mikado Menu eBay a_e

Here’s a tasty bit of Harmon history, currently being offered on eBay. This vintage menu from the Mikado Inn features two Spring Lamb Chops for $1.50, Filet Mignon Mikado for $3.00 and a Porterhouse Steak for two for $5.00.

Just between us, I recommend the house specialty, Chicken or Beef Sukiyaki , “seasoned with Soyu Sauce served in a chafing dish with rice.”

Many thanks to the eBay seller who gave us permission to share this treasure. You can bid on it here.

Want to know more about what was cooking in the Mikado kitchen? See this previous post. Oscar Levant, the quick-witted pianist, composer, actor, author and quiz-show panelist was there, sharing “sleeping quarters with twenty or thirty Japanese waiters in the cellar.”

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Oscar Levant Plays the Mikado

Mikado Inn 011

Oscar Levant, the quick-witted pianist, composer, actor, author and quiz-show panelist, had his first "extended engagement" at the Mikado Inn in 1922. In his 1965 book, The Memoirs of an Amnesiac, Levant wrote about those days, which must have been quite an experience for a young man who was then just 16 years old.

Oscar Levant at 17 (right), with his brother Howard on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

Oscar Levant at 17 (right), with his brother Howard on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.

"During my second year in New York I played the piano in a Japanese roadhouse in the town of Harmon-on-the-Hudson, where I shared sleeping quarters with twenty or thirty Japanese waiters in the cellar. . . .

A three-piece orchestra played on weekends but during the week there was just the piano and violin. We alternated between classical and popular music. The place was called Mikado Inn. The rival restaurant . . . was the Nikko Inn. Japanese restaurants were comparatively scarce, so it was ironic that the leading proponents of Japanese cuisine should have been within such a short distance of each other. Consequently, the rivalry was keen.

The upright piano on which I played had a horizontal string across it, on which hung a one-dollar bill—a not too subtle hint for tips, which were mostly forthcoming as the evening progressed and the clientele grew boisterous and drunk. The most popular request was that great American spiritual "Show Me the Way to Go Home." Almost as popular were "Charlie My Boy," and "Yes, We Have No Bananas." For dinner we played concert music.

The proprietor, a rotund, jovial Japanese whom we addressed as Admiral Moto, was completely dominated by his forbidding Irish wife, a tall, dictatorial and quite respectable woman. Every Saturday night Admiral Moto would get loaded . . . There was great activity in the vast kitchen where the chef was a twenty-year-old Italian boy from nearby Croton. He had achieved his Oriental culinary skill under the tutelage of his predecessor, a Japanese chef who had left after a fight with Admiral Moto. This was an interesting anomaly: an Italian chef running a kitchen which served only sukiyaki.”

Coming soon: Admiral Moto’s “forbidding” wife saves his life—”grapples with attempted murderer [and] . . . chokes him into unconsciousness.” Years later she’s named in a New York Times article on the case against an ex-detective who is “vague on $99,240 in deposits” collected from “speakeasies” when he was a “plain-clothes man in the Eighth Inspection District in the Bronx.”

The Motorist’s Playground

Good-Roads

Here are ads for three Croton “road houses” from the June 12, 1921 issue of the New-York Tribune. They were part of a full page ad for Westchester hotels and restaurants that appeared under a banner reading “Westchester County, the Motorist’s Playground, 900 Miles of Good Roads.”

Croton-Hotel-Ads

It’s hard to imagine what driving was like in the 1920s, when most roads were not “good roads” and gas stations were few and far between, but another article, from a 1917 issue of Variety, gives us an idea of what it was like when the Croton road houses were “too far away from New York to catch any but” the “neighborhood trade” and “those owning fast cars.”

“The Blue Goose” is the proposed name for a road house to be promoted by E. H. Sommers on the co-operative plan. Mr. Sommers placed Tumble In, near Peekskill, N. Y., on a profitable basis. He recently left the management of that resort, which is a hotel (21 rooms) and restaurant, overlooking the Hudson. Previously Sommers had operated Nikko Inn at Harmon, N. Y., both in neighborhood vicinities and too far away from New York to catch any but those owning fast cars, depending upon road traffic and neighborhood trade. Mr. Sommers became quite well known in restaurant and road circles through his successes with these far-away places. His “Blue Goose” proposition is disclosed by a prospectus offering 750 shares at $100, par, in the corporation, no purchaser to secure more than one share, and all to participate in the profits, besides being allowed a 10 per cent discount upon all checks they may run up in the “Blue Goose.” The location is to be on the Boston Post road, this side of New Rochelle. The benefits to subscribers mentioned in the prospectus are the 10 per cent discount, secured upon presentation of a non-transferable membership card, . . . preference to shareholders in reservations, private parties, etc., use of reading and writing rooms, also showers, the general scheme being to lay out the road house on the plan of a country club. A co-operative road house around New York will be an oddity. Sommers also has an idea of opening a road house on the Albany Post road, situated between Nikko Inn and Tumble In.”

For some postcards of Tumble Inn, see here.

For a postcard of the Nikko Inn, where T. Moto of Mikado Inn previously worked, see here.