The collapse of Broadway’s Grandest Hotel

Built in 1870, the Broadway Central Hotel (originally the Grand Central Hotel), was the largest hotel in the world. The eight-story, 400-room structure fronted Broadway between Bleecker and Third Street, then called Amity Street. Located in a prime entertainment district, the Broadway Central was luxe all the way: three fancy dining rooms, top of the line linens and furniture, the works.

But as the city’s nightlife and theater district marched north, the Broadway Central became sketchy, then sleazy. By the 1970s the building housed a flophouse called the University Hotel and an after-hours club catering to a glam-rock crowd.

After years of neglect, a wall of the structure collapsed suddenly and magnificently in 1973, killing four residents. The site is now occupied by a New York University law school dorm.

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16 Responses to “The collapse of Broadway’s Grandest Hotel”

  1. The Booth brothers play Julius Caesar « Ephemeral New York Says:

    [...] staged at the opulent Winter Garden Theatre, on Broadway and West 3rd Street (later the site of the Broadway Central Hotel and now an NYU law school dorm). The Booth brothers, who had never performed together, hoped to [...]

  2. NYCDreamin Says:

    Hello wildnewyork:
    Spent the past few days digging through your blog – it’s amazing stuff!
    It’s cool you did a piece on the Broadway Central…I did a LENGTHY (7 parts) piece on the Mercer Arts Center about a month after you posted this. You might want to check it out…

    http://thisaintthesummeroflove.blogspot.com/2008/09/pre-punks-let-their-freak-flag-fly-at.html

    And there was another place located in the original hotel building from 1968-1972 called the St. Adrian Company…I just recently completed a piece on that as well. You can check that out here:

    http://thisaintthesummeroflove.blogspot.com/2008/12/giving-up-ghosts-of-st-adrian-company.html

    Best wishes on continued success with your blog…like I said, you’re doing some great work here. I have added a permanent link to your blog on mine…

    Cheers!
    NYCDreamin

  3. sheri fisher Says:

    I actually lived there for a time in 1968.

    • Eric Bernat Says:

      Hey Sheri
      I’m a writer doing some research on this Hotel in 1968, coincidentally. Would you be wiling to answer a couple of quick questions for me?
      Best,

      e

  4. Beth Gibson Says:

    I was wondering if you have any information about the chambermaids who worked at the Broadway Central Hotel during the time of 1916-1920? My grandmother, who had immigrated from St. Maarten went to work there, along with two of her sisters. I was wondering if it was a “gathering place” of young women from the islands to work as chambermaids? Any help/ideas would be appreciate. Thanks, Beth Gibson, Georgetown, Tx

    • Patti de Weever Says:

      To Beth Gibson: My great grandmother was a chambermaid who worked at the Broadway Central Hotel during that time. She also emigrated from St. Maarten. Her name was Agatha de Weever and I believe her maiden name was Herring.

      • Beth Gibson Says:

        Well, then, we are cousins. Agatha Herring was one of my grandmother’s ( Eleanor Herring) sisters . My grandmother married Joseph Carty , who also had emigrated from St. Martin, on the French side.

      • Beth Gibson Says:

        Are you related through Eddie deWeever or Carl? My grandfather went to live with Daisy Connelly in Washingtonville, after he had a stroke. We would go there when we would visit from Texas from 1960 on.

      • Beth Gibson Says:

        Oh , I see on our Ancestry site that you are Carl’s daughter. Cool. Do you live in NYC ?

  5. Marvin L Lessne Says:

    I was a student at NYU in 1952, and lived with a roommate at the Broadway Central hotel…. They has special rates for students. Best time of my life, I was only 21 years old. I was struck with the grandeur of the lobby and living in Greenwich Village.

    I am going to visit NYC soon ans wanted to see if the hotel was still there. Bye Bye, past……. Great memories..
    marvflorida@gmail.com 9-12-11

  6. Dave Clutton Says:

    I attended Pace College in the fall of 1965. Pace didn’t allow fraternities, but there were clubs call house plans. I was a member of one called the Wilson House made up of NJ students. That Fall, we had a long term lease on a room for a place to have parties. I remember that the stairs had a decided tilt to them, and it made the building seem unstable – it was! At least one other house plan was there as well.

    There were a couple of women down the hall from our room who were in business. But we didn’t bother them and they didn’t both us. Good memories dclutton@verizon.net

  7. Aileen Rosenberg Says:

    My father worked as the night manager in his NYU days in the 30′s or 40′s. Is there anyplace to get more info about the hotel. He as jewish so I guess it was not restricted?

  8. Craig Says:

    Spent a night at the Broadway Central in ’69 when I got stoned at a local bar drinking Manhattans and was too drunk to drive home. I forget what floor I was on, but I was puking out the window when I heard some lady screaming her head off somewhere in the distance. It was one of my Bukowski moments.

  9. Karin Elliott Says:

    I spent a few nights at The Broadway Central in 1967. In those days of strawberry incense it was totally fine to watch the roaches running round the ceiling fixture. My stoned friend got stabbed in the hand during an elevator ride and we washed his shirt and hung it out to dry from the window. Those were the daze!!!

  10. Philip Says:

    I also spent a night at the Broadway Central in ’69. We had just graduated high school in Long Beach, Long Island, and wanted to party hard in The City. Our friend who was a little bit older and wiser about the ways of the world suggested the hotel. We had quite a night of it. We were all doing barbiturates and completely gone when 2 of my friends stepped out on the wrong floor and before they could explain themselves, one of them was knifed. Turns out the knifer worked there. Go figure! The room was filled with roaches and so we all just kept to the bed and gave the wildlife the rest of the room. They seemed happy with that. I also remember a brown bag with something in it in the closet on the top shelf. None of us had the cojones to see what was in it. I think about that bag from time to time. Later, security came to our room to find out who’d been knifed and the circumstances. They could see we were weekend hippies from The Island and didn’t bother us after they determined our friend would survive. It was, “only a scratch.”

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