The Desk with Too Many Drawers

The first Easter Egg I want to tell you about, appears in Episode 9 “Serenade to a Savage” in a scene where Adina and Jacob are having a heated discussion at City Hall in a private room, while Betty deals with Donny’s downfall on stage. Here’s a reminder of the scene:

Adina pushed through, letting the door fall back on Jacob as he followed. Jacob looked around cautiously as he shut the door and was relieved to find they were alone. They were in a long, brightly lit room. Two golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling, each decked with masses of tall, ivory gas-light candles. They illuminated Verdigri français-painted walls hung with dozens of full-length gilded portraits of historical leaders. Ancient mahogany armchairs and cabinets lined the walls of the room, and in the center was a long dining table covered in papers. Jacob glanced at them as he passed, following Adina to the low-burning fireplace near a small desk at the far end of the room. A sinking feeling settled in his stomach. Official-looking documents. Military insignia. Maps. Clearly, they’d stumbled into somewhere they shouldn’t have.

The room they break into is on the second floor of New York City Hall, just past the staircase overlooking the rotunda (I’ll mention that area again later). Jacob breaks the door-handle lock so distressed Adina can push her way in, as she struggles to get out of earshot of other Gala Ball attendees milling nearby. Jacob follows her and they have an argument. I picked this room, which is a real room in City Hall, because it was so interesting. This room is a very famous one called the ‘Governor’s Room’. Everything from the number of ornate painted portraits displayed, to the furniture and colour of the paint on the walls (“French Green”) are true to life as it was in 1943. 

This room is now used for official receptions at City Hall and has in the past played host to important dignitaries including Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein and Dr. Martin Luther King, among others. This room also houses one of the most important collections of 19th Century American portraiture. One of the most interesting parts of this room though, is the desk on which Jacob later finds a secret file about Betty, left by some high-ranking military official. 

The desk is a simple, long piece of furniture and it really does have too many drawers! There are seven ‘real’ drawers with brass pulls, eleven ‘faux’ drawers, and six document shelves. The style is frequently emulated by the country’s elite. It once belonged to George Washington, and was originally used by him in Federal Hall, where he was inaugurated as President in 1789. After Federal Hall was demolished in 1812, the desk was sent to the almshouse (a charity ‘poorhouse’) for over thirty years. Eventually, officials recovered it (they were “horrified” to find it being used for such a purpose), so they transferred it to the Governor’s Room in 1844. These days, if you tour the building, you’ll find the desk behind a roped off area, in its simple elegance, and beautifully restored.

During the Second World War, the Govenor’s Room was indeed used as “supplementary quarters” for Civil Defense office staff. Important documents were created and kept under lock and key in this room, which had strategic importance to the war. So it seems only fitting that in this room, along with official documents and military maps, we might find information on those persons the government might be keeping a close eye on in their critical search for traitors and spies. This might include, perhaps, an unmarked folder containing a single typed page. A dossier and photograph of Mrs. Betty Jones…  

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