Posts Tagged ‘midtown hotels’

The colossal midcentury hotels of 46th Street

July 4, 2011

Small boutique hotels with an air of chic exclusivity are all the rage in Manhattan today.

But back in the 20th century, Times Square hotels advertised themselves as if they were mini cities—hundreds of rooms, bars, restaurants, and ballrooms.

With its row of shrubs and lack of a street view, the Hotel Century doesn’t even look like an urban hotel.

Built in the 1920s on 46th Street and Sixth Avenue, it boasted “16 floors of hospitality” and 350 rooms—each with a private bath, shower, radio, and television, according to this 1950 postcard.

So who stayed there? Well, in the 1930s, the top floors were home to a Columbia University fraternity. Suicidal people booked rooms as well. Newspaper accounts note several suicides in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Hotel Century is long gone; 111 West 46th Street is now the site of a theater that looks like it dates to the 1960s.

Unlike the Century, the Hotel Edison, on Broadway between 46th and 47th Streets, still exists. And judging by all the tourists hanging around its gaudy Art Deco lobby, it’s doing a thriving business.

Opened in 1931, the Edison had 1,000 rooms, three restaurants, radios, “circulating ice water,” and air conditioning—in its “public rooms” only.

Too bad the massive “Hotel Edison” signage on top of the building, as seen in this postcard, no longer exists. It was a beauty.

The glorious past of the Hotel New Yorker

June 10, 2010

New York City is home to some pretty luxe hotels. But how many featured their own working hospital with four operating rooms?

Only the Hotel New Yorker, still hosting guests on 34th Street and 8th Avenue but without the extravagance it had when it opened in 1930. 

Among the amenities back in the day: More than 2,500 rooms (each one with its own radio). Ten private dining rooms. A 42-chair barber shop. Five restaurants.

This 1940s postcard, with the slogan “where night turns into play,” makes it sound like a decadent destination.

The New Yorker had a sports past too. Leo Durocher made it the Dodgers’ headquarters during the 1941 World Series. Joe Di Maggio even lived there. 

The oldest working phone number in New York

May 3, 2010

It just might be (212) 736-5000, otherwise known by its old-school moniker PA 6-5000.

It’s the main line for the Hotel Pennsylvania, the massive, worn and weary on Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street open since 1919.

The phone number dates back to at least 1930, when seven-digit numbers replaced five-digit and two-letter numbers.

And it’s immortalized in the Glenn Miller song of the same name.

Call the number, and a recording plays 10 seconds of the song before you’re connected to an operator.

The Hotel Pennsylvania may be reduced to a pile of bricks soon; reportedly it’s to be torn down and an office tower put up in its place.

Once the largest hotel in the world, this McKim, Mead & White building (they designed the original Penn Station) doesn’t seem to have many fans these days.