Frederick Henry Harvey (1835-1901) was a London-born entrepreneur responsible for creating the first “chain” restaurants and hotels in America.
Harvey Houses, as his hospitality locations were known, were located along the new Santa Fe Railroad lines and helped open the Southwest to tourism in the 1890s by providing fine dining and selling souvenirs and jewelry to travelers.
Together, the Santa Fe Railroad and the Fred Harvey Company had a transformative impact on the image of the American Southwest. These two companies created the perception that Americans have of the Southwest that largely persists to the present day by changing the 19th-century Western narrative of cowboys, Indians, and buffalo to one that portrayed skilled artisans living in peaceful Native American cultures.
In addition to Fred Harvey Company’s involvement with food and lodging, the company also had a significant impact on the “curio’ trade, with Southwest-themed turquoise jewelry being one of the most popular items tourists purchased to take home.
Fred Harvey died in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1901. The Fred Harvey Company continued to be run by Harvey’s sons and grandsons until 1965; a conglomerate purchased it in 1968.