The History of the New Yorker Hotel

Creators
Abril Ibarra Siqueiros and Karen Spitzer

Transcript
The New Yorker Hotel is one of the largest hotels in New York; it was conceived at the height of the roaring twenties but opened at the beginning of the Great Depression. Located at 481 Eighth Avenue, between 34th and 35th street, it was directly across the street from the majestic Pennsylvania Station, once the gateway for travelers coming to Manhattan. The hotel was built by Garment Center developer Mack Kanner and designed by the architecture firm Sugarman and Berger. When the project was announced in 1928, the building was planned to be 38 stories and approximately $8 million. The hotel opened in 1930 and ¬was larger and more expensive than the initial plan. The final product was 43 stories, 2,500 rooms, and cost $22.5 million.

The building contains numerous Art Deco elements that were popular in the 1920s and 30s. The most striking feature of the hotel is its tiered setbacks, which resemble a giant wedding cake; it shares this feature with the Empire State Building. In 1941, the prominent red “New Yorker” sign was installed on the top floors.

The hotel had ballrooms, private dining salons, restaurants, and one of the largest barbershops. There was even a small hospital with operating rooms. Single room rates began at $3.50 and $30 for suites. The hotel was popular with visiting celebrities such as, Joan Crawford, Nikola Tesla, and Fidel Castro. Big Band leaders such as Benny Goodman regularly performed at the hotel during its heyday.

In the early 1950s the hotel’s popularity began to decline and the building was bought by Hilton Hotels. Management continued to change hands for many years due to unpopularity and failing income. The New Yorker could no longer compete with the more glamorous hotels in Midtown and it became a destination for less affluent visitors and convention goers. This coincided with the bankruptcy of the Pennsylvania Railroad and the demolition of the train station in 1963. In 1967 the famous red sign went dark and remained unlit for nearly 40 years. The hotel eventually closed in 1972 with intentions of becoming a hospital. In 1976 the building was bought by Reverend Moon’s Unification Church and was used as apartments for members.

As the tenant population declined the Unification Church decided to convert a portion of the building back into a hotel. In 1994 the New Yorker Hotel reopened its doors. The Ramada Inn franchise has been managing the hotel area since 2000. In 2005 the “New Yorker” sign was rebuilt with new 20-foot letters and LED lights. In recent years tourism and business have increased in the surrounding area as the New Yorker Hotel hopes to regain its former glory.

Bibliography and credits
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2 comments

  1. I think this is one of the most significant information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on few general things, The web
    site style is great, the articles is really excellent :
    D. Good job, cheers

  2. Osvaldo C.

    Very interesting indeed, I was there in 1968 and still in my heart ! I still have a souvenir of the hotel wich is a wooden coat hanger that says HOTEL McALPIN, TWX 710581-5550 .BRODWAY & 34th STREET. Probably, before of the glorious name The NEW YORKER was owned by a different company.
    Great memories !!!

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