The New York Times has a story out about New York City buildings with doormen. New York City seems to be unique – I can’t think of any other city where there are doormen – Chicago, maybe?
In Boston, there are very very few buildings with doormen – The Ritz Carlton Towers have doormen, Atelier 505 has doormen (and hall porters, too), and I think 301 Beacon Street has a doorman (it’s one of the few co-ops in Boston).
Other buildings have concierges, who operate, for all intents and purposes, the same as doormen, except they don’t stand outside the building to open the door for you.
My building has a concierge/security guard. This person calls you if you have a visitor, signs for packages and dry cleaning, and walks food delivery men up to your unit.
The whole doorman thing is kind of weird. I mean, the doorman knows intimate details of your life – what packages you get, who comes to visit, etc. Yet, the doorman is also an employee of the association, and often seen as a service worker, meaning there is a built-in class distinction between owner and doorman.
I recently read a great book on the subject (mentioned in the NY Times article) – Doormen, by Peter Bearman, a Columbia University sociology professor (University of Chicago Press, 2005). He covers the topic, in depth including the big big issue: How much to tip your doorman at Christmastime!
Complete article: Why Some Say “No Thanks” to a Doorman – By Teri Karush Rogers, The New York Times
UPDATE: The Times just published an article about a doorman retiring after 49 years in the same building. Kind of interesting.
Door Closes on 49 Years of Opening It – By Toni Whitt, The New York Times