Posts Tagged ‘Old hotels New York City’

The Commodore: “New York’s Newest Hotel”

December 15, 2014

Recognize this stately building? Probably not, though it still stands today, a commanding presence next to Grand Central Terminal on 42nd Street.


Opened in 1919, it’s the Commodore, billed on the back of this postcard as “New York’s newest and most up-to-date hotel . . . containing 2,000 rooms with baths and circulating ice water in every room.”

CommodorehotelmcnyAfter the hotel’s owner (the New York Central Railroad, owner of Grand Central too) went bust in the late 1970s, Donald Trump came along.

He remodeled the exterior in reflective glass and gave it a more contemporary name, the Grand Hyatt—erasing the reference to Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, railroad tycoon and owner of the original Grand Central Depot.

It’s been the Grand Hyatt since reopening in 1980. Here’s another view of it and the rest of what became of Pershing Square.

[Left: The Commodore in 1926, from the MCNY Digital Gallery]

Staying at Midtown’s Hotel Bristol in the 1940s

March 10, 2014

Today, there’s a Chipotle at the Rockefeller Center address the Hotel Bristol once occupied.

The Bristol, as this postcard shows, was one of dozens of smart, modern city hotels catering to the influx of businessmen and tourists in the early 20th century.


The Bristol appears to have been a happening place through the 1940s. That Pink Elephant restaurant must have been the site of many boozy business dinners.


A 1922 ad showcases the Bristol’s endorsement by the YMCA: “A good hotel that Y men can recommend, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. 400 rooms, 300 baths. Rooms with bath: single $2 to $4. Double $5, $6, and $7.”

I don’t know if there’s any connection to the Bristol Plaza Hotel in the East 60s today—or if it’s a larger version of the six-story Bristol Hotel at the corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue in the late 19th century.

Cool old phone exchange: Circle!

A 19th century hotel sign comes back into view

May 25, 2013

A few days ago, workers renovating the exterior of a corner building at Eighth Avenue and 25th Street uncovered a relic of old New York.


It’s the faint letters spelling out an old sign for Utah House, a hotel that existed as early as the 1850s and served as a meeting place for political conventions and trade groups.

But Utah House’s most dramatic moment came during the Orange Riots of 1871.

On July 12, crowds of Irish Catholics clashed with a group of Irish Protestants (“Orangemen”), who were marching down Eighth Avenue on the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne, which established Protestant rule in Ireland in 1690.


More than 60 people died. Spectators watched the carnage from the hotel’s front steps.

“The Utah House, on the north-east corner of Eighth-Avenue and Twenty-fifth-street, is among the buildings which bear conspicuous evidence of having been chipped by the musket balls,” wrote The New York Times on July 13 in a chronicle of the violence.

[Thanks to the Ephemeral readers who tipped me off about the sign and Joe R. for the link to the illustration]