Posts Tagged ‘old New York City hotels’

A sidewalk relic of the Hotel Carter’s better days

September 21, 2020

The Hotel Carter has been closed for months now—for good or because of a renovation, I’m not sure.

The infamous West 43rd Street hostelry, named the dirtiest hotel in America several times by TripAdvisor and the site of numerous suicides and a few horrific murders during its 90-year history (including this one in 2007), is currently hidden from view by scaffolding.

Sticking out on the sidewalk, however, is a Hotel Carter icon I’d never noticed before: this sidewalk sign—with the Carter name spelled out in script, a signifier that this is a hotel of class and taste.

Of course, the Hotel Carter was neither of these, at least in its later incarnation. Opened in 1930 as the Hotel Dixie (complete with its own basement bus station, see the sign for it at the far right in the photo below), the place was designed for business travelers who needed to be in the Times Square area.

The owners went bankrupt not long after that; the hotel changed hands over the years. The bus depot closed in 1957, unable to compete with the new Port Authority Bus Station around the corner on Eighth Avenue.

Rechristened the Hotel Carter in 1976, the hotel became largely a welfare hotel in the 1980s, though by 1984 it was so dangerous and decrepit, the city stopped sending people there, according to a 1989 Daily News article.

The Carter began attracting travelers again in the 1990s and 2000s, many of whom left illustrious scathing reviews (and photos of their bedbug-bitten skin).

Whatever becomes of the Carter, the wonderful vertical Hotel Carter sign is currently visible through the scaffolding.

Walk by and look up at it…and then down at the logo embedded in the sidewalk. If the Carter has a date with the wrecking ball soon, at least the sidewalk sign might stick around.

[Top image: Wikipedia; fourth image: New York City Department of Records and Information Services]

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.