Before it was the Hotel Carter . . .

Before being crowned Tripadvisor.com’s dirtiest hotel in America, before a corpse was found stuffed under a bed, before the wonderfully nonsensical sign “You Wanted in Times Square and Less” went up in the lobby, the seedy, one-star Hotel Carter was the Hotel Dixie.

And it must not have been too bad, since someone deemed it worthy of a postcard.

hoteldixiepostcard

Whatever the name, the hotel has a slightly tawdry history. It opened in 1930, and almost immediately, the owners went bankrupt. It had its own bus terminal, which went out of business in the 1950s because it couldn’t compete with the Port Authority. 

Several decades and suicides later, in the 1980s, the city used it as a homeless shelter. By the late 80s, the homeless were mostly out—and unsuspecting tourists and visitors with very little cash became the main clientele.

EV Grieve has rounded up some cool Hotel Carter signs

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31 Responses to “Before it was the Hotel Carter . . .”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Wow.

    Any links on the bus terminal? That’s an interesting element.

  2. Stoke Says:

    I’ve been perversely fascinated by the Hotel Carter ever since a friend admitted that he perversely enjoys staying there. Its cachet is through the roof now that I know about the underground bus terminal. I give that a big “WOW”.

    Did some Googling this morning, and Hotel Dixie ephemera (postcards, matchbooks, ashtrays, brochures) is plentiful. If I had bucks, I would be very tempted by the green Hotel Dixie ashtray at NewYorkFirst (scroll halfway down the page):

    http://www.newyorkfirst.com/store/display.cgi?product=247&floor=7#

    I love this bit: “The space was so confined that buses couldn’t turn around, so there was a large turntable that rotated to give the buses access to their different platforms when they arrived, and to point them to the exit ramp when they left.”

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for digging up the extra info. I’m going to see what else I can find on the bus terminal–look for it in a future post.

  4. m Says:

    Hello again! The guy who looks like Abe Relis here. I was a bellhop at the Carter a couple years in the 70’s. A lotta shananigans in that joint I tells ya. Great to see the old girl is still goin strong. Thanks again for your terrific site!

  5. Jessica Says:

    I am looking for people that use to work at the carter. The person who posted above me I would love to talk to you or anyone else about the carter hotel. Here is my email Jessica_Stuart@ymail.com

  6. Josie Says:

    My three elderly maiden aunts from Seneca Falls, NY stayed a night or two at the Hotel Dixie in July or August of 1958, and they did so on the recommendation of their brothers who lived in and shipped out from New York. The brothers would never have permitted their sisters to stay in questionable lodgings. My sister and I accompanied our aunts into their rooms, where they freshened up and left their luggage, and then had lunch with them in a cafe on the main floor. To our innocent children’s eyes, at least, it all looked perfectly respectable. It strikes me now that this occurred over half a century ago!

  7. nina sheeley Says:

    my family and i stayed at the dixie hotel when my siblings and i were very small.this had to have been in the early 70’s i have always wondered what happened tothat hotel, now i know thanks

  8. S.Cowen Says:

    I am searching for the original site/ any details about the Hotel Baltimore–it existed in NYC in 1921. Or any information about the Hotel de France–it also existed in NYC in 1921; it was the only hotel that permitted single women to register and stay. I had a relative who had to have her taxi driver sign them in as married so she could have a room at the Hotel Baltimore–the driver then left, but she was found dead the next morning in 1921. All my internet searches provide no info regarding either hotel–I’m hoping someone knows something about either. Thanks in advance.

    • S.Cowen Says:

      Correction: I’m looking for any information re: the Hotel Maryland in NYC–existed in 1921, but believe it existed also in the 1800s–it was located at 104 West 49th Street, NYC, NY. Does anyone know anything about that hotel, location, what is there now?

      • cara Says:

        the Hotel Maryland was sold in the 60s to the Rockefeller estate and that whole area is now Rockefeller Center — my family owned & operated the hotel for years up until my great uncle sold the hotel to Rockefeller for 1 mil.

    • thom Says:

      hi, the hotel de france I believe is now the radio city apartments @ 142 w. 49th st

  9. Josie Says:

    This is intended to help S. Cowen who posted of his quest for information about the Hotel Baltimore. I was intrigued by the post and sought information from the New York Times archives (that go back to 1851) where I often find useful historical tidbits about old NYC buildings. (Often the news stories are lurid reports of murders and other such mayhem). I got just one promising “hit” dated April 29, 1924, pertaining to a political meeting (Governor Smith for President backers) that allegedly took place at the Hotel Baltimore. The search engine blurb said “Hotel Baltimore” and so did the first paragraph review. But after I purchased the article, I discovered that the meeting actually took place at the Hotel Biltmore. In transcribing the first paragraph for the search engine blurbs, someone had made a typographical error, transforming “Biltmore” to “Baltimore.” I’ve requested a refund, not to worry. But just wanted you to know that there’s no useful information to be had from the NYT archives. I gather from other hits that there is or was a Hotel Baltimore in Kansas City that got into the news quite often. Sorry.

  10. Josie Says:

    Further to my last post and again addressed to S. Cowen’s request:
    The Hotel de France was bought or leased by one Ferdinand Delenne in 1918. He changed its name from Hotel Van Cortlandt to Hotel de France. Apparently it was quite a disreputable place. All according to a New York Times article dated May 12, 1920. I’ve emailed the free PDF article to ephemeralnewyork to pass on to S. Cowen, if possible.

    • S.Cowen Says:

      Josie: Thank you so much for helping research the hotels. I was in error regarding the name of the hotel: it was not the Baltimore, it was the Hotel Maryland, located at 104 West 49th St, NY. Do you know if it is still there, perhaps under a new name? I did not get the PDF article you forwarded to ephemeralnewyork–I don’t know if they would print my email address; if not, can you provide the link name for the article? Thank you, again!!!! S. Cowen.

  11. wildnewyork Says:

    S. Cowen,

    I just sent you the article Josie found–it’s a PDF.

    You can find information about the Hotel Maryland on the NY TImes home page. Type the name into their search and you’ll see old archived articles referencing it.

    ENY

  12. S.Cowen Says:

    THank you. It went to the NY Times and they list every article for the 1920s in several volumes by title–I couldn’t find any title that referenced articles just on 12 May 1920–nor any titles that included the name of the hotel or its proprietors. I did find an article on the proprietor in an earlier article, but not the one Josie found. Thanks to both of you for your help. S. Cowen

  13. S.Cowen Says:

    Josie and wildnewyork: thank you! I received the article regarding the hotel. I greatly appreciate your help! S. Cowen

  14. Josie Says:

    Re: HOTEL MARYLAND at 104 West 94th Street, NYC.
    So far I can’t find information about what might have stood on the site after the Hotel Maryland closed and/or torn down. Ultimately, however, it seems to have subsumed into the Rockefeller Center complex. See the wonderful Songlines site for 49th Street properties and their history,

    BUT HERE’S AN ENCOURAGING TIDBIT: The New York Historical Society, in its Library Collections: Hotel Files (George B. Corsa Hotel Collection), has some information on the Hotel Maryland at 104 West 49th Street. The New York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West between 76th & 77th Streets in New York City, telephone (212) 873-3400.

  15. steve spearman Says:

    Came across a original room menu ,4 Hotel Dixie room service,’ A CARTER HOTEL” In the heart of times SQUARE,43RD AND BROADWAY, . I has all there food & coctails listed& prices, extra charge of coaurse 4 room servce,.25 4 food& .005 4 every cocktail. ALSO shows detailed pix , & directions on how to make such cocktail,Scotch only was .60 to .70 cents,Side Car .65 cents,.Broiled Filet Mignon, Mushroom Caps,Green Salad, French Fried Potatoes only $3.25! Awsome wish we still had those prices. This Menu was copyrighted 1947. Also has name of Lounge”PLANTATION BAR &LOUNGE” .Resturantname is,”TERRACE ROOM Fine Dining.Very cool,This 1piece 4 page menu.Contact if u have any intrests or info that i could use.

  16. thecrunkbabe Says:

    here is a part 1 and part 2 about the hotel carter, it goes into a brieft history of the building but really tells the story of someone staying one night in the hotel in 2009

  17. barry pierce Says:

    hey..did anyone there encounter the floor that just has mirrors on the walls? its like something out of a bad 80’s discotheque……

    • Trisha Says:

      Absolutely! In the 1980’s there was a bar on the ground floor of the Hotel Carter called the “Circle Bar”. Even at that time, it was extremely eerie. My experience with the Carter was primarily in the mid 80’s, and at that time you weren’t able to stay for more that 2 consecutive weeks, so I had to stay at another location on 45th (between 9th and 10th) called the Hotel Longacre (which at that time was a crack house) – horrible place! The Hotel Carter and Hotel Longacre was owned by the same owner. Looking back on those years, I was extremely lucky to have made in out alive. I’ve seen my share of the seedy life (as it was in that time period). Across the street from the Carter was the Times Square Hotel (another frightening place). I had a friend who was a NY cop and told me of a shower hanging at that hotel. I, personally have witnessed a man jump to this death from the Times Square Hotel – I will never forget it. At the Carter, a prostitute was pushed from a window (obviously) to her death. There has been many deaths from these 2 hotels during this timeframe. I can be explicit about my experiences if anyone wishes to hear more……

  18. jones Says:

    I attended a university in Colorado in 1976. As part of a graduate class we went to New York to see seven plays in six days. $500 for the whole trip, including air fare. We stayed at Hotel Dixie. One night when I need to be let into my room the security guard took me to my room. When we got off the elevator, he pulled his gun, kicked in the door of an empty room, and ran through the room with his gun drawn . All the while I stood at the door. He put his gun back into the holster and took me to my room. He unlocked the door. I said thankyou. I never asked what was going on. It was just the accumulation of the week which included being propositioned by some guy who thought I was a prostitute or madam, being sung to by some guys on the connor who said “don’t run pretty girls we won’t hurt you”, and being told to get back to our motel because you will get killed on this street This was just a portion of my experience in New York with the Hotel Dixie.. What an experience for an unsuspecing college kid!. God was truly watching over me. .

  19. Ann Says:

    My dad died this year, at 95. When cleaning his house, I found an old wooden hanger that he and my mom must have gotten on their honeymoon in 1946. Stamped into this hanger were the names of six hotels: Hotel Dixie, NY; Hotel Governor Clinton, NY; Hotel Essex, Boston; Hotel George Washington, NY; Hotel Avery, Boston; and Hotel Garde, New Haven. These hotels must have been owned by the same person or company. Must have been nice places back in 1946

  20. Charles Windley Says:

    It was home to the Magic Round Table where magicians would have lunch everyday in a private dining room. When it became the Carter Hotel the round table moved to the Edison Hotel a few blocks away.

  21. Michael Murphy Says:

    Loved the old Dixie and its bus terminal turn table. In the early ’40s the bus cost $.25 to travel from Jersey City to Times Square.

  22. Gabriel Lori Says:

    CARTER HOTEL HAS LOTS OF EUROPEANS STAYING THEIR NOW!

  23. The appeal of a West Side parking garage sign | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] a strangely uplifting sight in an area once bookended by the super low-rent Hotel Carter and divey Smith’s Bar and is now home to sushi restaurants, a Westin Hotel, and the sleek […]

  24. tom sendall Says:

    I recall, as a kid growing up in Yonkers, taking a bus from the Dixie north to Harriman in Orange County, probably on a Short Line bus. This must have been around 1950. A bus terminal in the basement of a hotel sure struck me as odd.

  25. Al Hofer Says:

    I was going through some of my old army pictures from the 1950’s and found 3 of those unused post cards. I never researched the history until today very interesting.

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