Posts Tagged ‘seedy hotels Times Square’

The reinvention of a deluxe Times Square hotel

April 5, 2013

As Times Square’s fortunes rose and fell over the last century, so did the opulent hotels created to accommodate its visitors.

Take the Hotel Woodstock. Built in 1903 on West 43rd Street a half-block east of Times Square, this Beaux-Arts luxury hotel boasted of 400 rooms, plus restaurants and a ballroom.

Woodstockhotelpostcard

It opened right in time to catch the area’s transformation into a theater district, nightlife hub, and of course, the crossroads of the world. Diamond Jim Brady and Lillian Russell (below photo) were regulars.

Woodstockhotel2013By the early 1970s, it was carved up into a seedy SRO for low-income tenants.

“As late as about three years ago, the police would not venture into the lobby of the Woodstock Hotel on West 43rd Street in Manhattan without a backup team outside,” states a 1978 New York Times article.

“Prostitutes loitered in the hallways. Alcoholics and panhandlers gathered outside. Fires and break-ins were common.”

Thirty-plus years later, Times Square is a tourist mecca again, and the hotel, with a darker facade and unglamorous lobby, is across from the chic Conde Nast building.

But the Woodstock isn’t opening its doors to jet setters. It is now owned by Project FIND, a nonprofit that houses elderly New Yorkers.