The Plaza Hotel as seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Architect||Henry J. Hardenbergh; Thomas Hastings, et al.|
|Architectural style||Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals|
|NRHP Reference #||78001878|
|Added to NRHP||November 29, 1978|
|Designated NHL||June 24, 1986 |
|Designated NYCL||December 9, 1969|
The Plaza Hotel, located in the borough of Manhattan, New York City, is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel with a height of 250 ft (76 m) and length of 400 ft (120 m) that occupies the west side of Grand Army Plaza, from which it derives its name, and extends along Central Park South in Manhattan. Fifth Avenue extends along the east side of Grand Army Plaza. The Plaza Hotel is recognized as a Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Grand Army Plaza
The hotel's main entrance faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza, commemorating the Union Army in the Civil War. Grand Army Plaza is in two sections, bisected by Central Park South. The section in front of the Plaza Hotel is centered by the Pulitzer Fountain, of Abundance by Karl Bitter, funded by the will of the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer: the statue in the fountain is specifically Pomona, Roman goddess of orchards. The statue was posed for by Doris Doscher, also famous for posing for the Standing Liberty Quarter. The north side of Grand Army Plaza, a corner cut out from Central Park, has Augustus Saint-Gaudens' part-gilded bronze equestrian statue of General Sherman. Scholars Gate, behind Grand Army Plaza, provided one of the two original main entrances to the carriage drives of Central Park, the other being Merchants Gate at the Grand Circle, now Columbus Circle.
On the south side of the Plaza (between 57th and 58th Streets) once stood the French Renaissance château of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, designed by George Browne Post; rising behind its gated front court, it was the grandest of the Fifth Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age. Bergdorf Goodman occupies its site.
The Plaza is the second hotel of that name on the site. The French Renaissance château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened to the public on October 1, 1907. At the time, it cost $12.5 million to construct. When the hotel opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night (equivalent of $63 today). Today, the same room costs from $695 upwards.
The Plaza was accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969; it was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1986. The Waldorf-Astoria is the only other New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Long the site for famous performers and guests, it has also been the meeting place for important political meetings. The nationally known singers Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Kay Thompson, Sandler and Young, Andy Williams, and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room; unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar; and women favored the Palm Court for luncheons and teas. The Beatles stayed at the Plaza during their first visit to the United States in February 1964. On November 28, 1966, in honor of the publisher Katharine Graham, the writer Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed "Black & White Ball" in the Grand Ballroom.
In September 1985, ministers of developed countries met at the Plaza to consult on finance issues and affirmed their agreement by signing the Plaza Accord. It served as an agreement among the finance ministers of the United States, Japan, West Germany, France and Britain to bring down the price of the U.S. dollar against their currencies.
The hotel offers tours of its interior to the public.
Ownership changes and renovations
Conrad Hilton bought The Plaza for US$7.4 million in 1943 (equivalent of $99.8 million today) and spent US$6.0 million (equivalent of $80.9 million today) refurbishing it. The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain which partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel, (now the site of the General Motors Building), purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1955 for 1,100,000 shares of Childs common stock, valued at approximately $6,325,000 (equivalent of $55.1 million today). Childs subsequently changed its name to Hotel Corporation of America, now known as Sonesta International Hotels Corporation. Donald Trump bought the Plaza for $407.5 million in 1988 (equivalent of $803 million today). Trump commented on his purchase in a full-page open letter he published in The New York Times: "I haven't purchased a building, I have purchased a masterpiece — the Mona Lisa. For the first time in my life, I have knowingly made a deal that was not economic — for I can never justify the price I paid, no matter how successful the Plaza becomes."
After Trump's divorce from wife Ivana Trump, the Plaza's president, Trump sold the hotel for $325 million in 1995 (equivalent of $498 million today) to Troy Richard Campbell, from New Hampshire. He sold it in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent of $834 million today) to Israeli-owned Manhattan-based developer, El Ad Properties.
El Ad bought the hotel with plans of adding residential and commercial sections. Since The Plaza Hotel is a New York landmark, Tishman Construction Corporation, the construction management company hired to complete the renovations and conversions, had to comply with landmark regulations. El Ad temporarily closed The Plaza on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations. Beginning May 2005, the Plaza's contents were available to the public via a liquidation sale. The Plaza reopened on March 1, 2008, offering 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condo hotel units; it is managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Diamond retailer Lev Leviev put in the first bid for a Plaza apartment at $10 million.
In November 2008 the Plaza Hotel unveiled its retail collection, an underground mall featuring luxury brands such as Vertu and Demel Bakery (closed as of March 2010), an Austrian-owned business. In 2010 the Plaza Food Hall opened in the underground mall, run by Chef Todd English.
In popular culture
Literature and publications
- It was the setting for Kay Thompson's series of Eloise children's books published in the 1950s, about a young girl who lived at the hotel.
- The novel Anonymous Rex has the main character, Vincent Rubio, checking into the hotel at great expense after threatening the front desk clerk.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), features the characters Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker having a conversation in the tea garden at the Plaza Hotel.
- Also it was one of the main settings in the series, by Meg Cabot The Princess Diaries, It was where Mia's Grandmother or Grandmere lived in the book.
- It was the setting for a children's book on manners, "The Golden Rules of Etiquette at the Plaza for Discerning Children of All Ages" by Tom Civitano, Lyudmila Bloch, and Rosemary Carroll (2004)
- It was a base camp used by the demigods in The Last Olympian in Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series (2009). The Pomona statue appears.
Films and television
- The Plaza was featured notably in the original 1956 TV film Eloise, starring Evelyn Rudie as Eloise, the child who lived "on the top floor", with cameo appearances by Conrad Hilton and Eloise author Kay Thompson.
- Although the hotel had appeared briefly in earlier films, it made its major film debut in the 1959 film North by Northwest.
- The building appeared in the 2008 videogame, Grand Theft Auto IV, but the name of the building is the Emissary and is non enterable.
It was also a setting for:
- Barefoot in the Park (1967)
- Funny Girl (1968)
- Plaza Suite (1971)
- The Way We Were (1973)
- Love at First Bite (1979)
- Arthur (1981)
- They All Laughed (1981)
- Cotton Club (1984)
- Brewster's Millions (1985)
- Crocodile Dundee (1986)
- Big Business (1988)
- Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
- King of New York (1990)
- Scent of a Woman (1991)
- In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), then-Plaza owner Donald Trump appears, directing the main character Kevin to the lobby. In one of the film's more memorable scenes, when the hotel staff accuse him of credit-card fraud, Kevin eludes them by sliding through the Plaza's lobby into a waiting elevator. To make the scene logistically possible, the film crew had to remove the wall-to-wall carpeting, exposing the original tiles. When Trump saw the beautiful mosaics, he instantly fell in love with the look and insisted it remain that way after filming, which it did until renovations in 2005 began.
- Flodder in America! (1992)
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
- It Could Happen to You (1994)
- The Associate (1996)
- Almost Famous (2000)
- Inside the Osmonds (2001)
- Hollywood Ending (2002), a Woody Allen film.
- Eloise at Christmastime (2003), a live-action film adapted from the eponymous 1958 children's book written by Kay Thompson and illustrated by Hilary Knight
- Eloise at the Plaza (2003), a live-action film based on the Eloise series of children's books drawn and written by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight
- The Plaza Hotel is seen in the intro of the film Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York (2006)
- In Bride Wars (2008) with Kate Hudson, Anne Hathaway's character was shot in the Grand Ballroom, the Terrace Room, and in corridors and the Palm Court. The film also shows the lobby and exterior.
- "The Great Gatsby" (2013), Nick, Jay, Daisy, and Tom talk in a suite at the hotel.
The Plaza is mentioned and shown in numerous television shows, including:
- In the Family Guy episode "A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Bucks", the Griffin family stays in this hotel.
- American Dad episode "Fart-Break Hotel"
- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
- Gossip Girl
- Sex and the City
- The Sopranos:
- What I Like About You
- "Ugly Betty" Character Wilhelmina Slater owns an apartment facing Central Park at the Plaza.
Plaza Hotel facilities, guest services and public spaces
The Plaza Hotel offers its guests and residences many services including a butler on every floor, baby-sitting and concierges, a shopping mall, the Palm Court under the restored stained glass ceiling, the Champagne Bar located in the hotel lobby with views of Grand Army Plaza, the Edwardian Room, the Terrace Room, the Oak Room Restaurant and Bar (which eventually closed and was re-opened by Chef Eric Hara), the Rose Club, the Grand Ball Room, the Plaza Food Hall by Todd English, as well as meeting rooms and conference rooms. The Grand Ballroom, Terrace Room and meeting spaces are currently managed by CPS Events, a joint venture between Delaware North Companies and the high end caterer Great Performances.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15.
- "Plaza Hotel". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-18.
- Central Park Conservancy Grand Army Plaza
- Morehouse, Ward. Inside the Plaza: an Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. New York: Applause, 2001.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated.
- McKim, Mead, and White, architects; demolished in 1964.
- "Childs Approves Plaza Purchase", The New York Times, November 18, 1955
- "Sonesta International Hotels Corp - Company Timeline". During Sonesta's ownership, the board of directors included Joe Appelbaum the investor of Daisy and Bugles corn chips and past President of Doxsee Foods Corp in Baltimore. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
- Knudson, Brooke. "Restoring a New York icon: Tishman Construction Corporation puts its constructions management skills to the test on The Plaza Hotel renovation and conversion in New York City and came out a winner", Construction Today 2008 March: 43.
- Danto, Ginger. "Suite Deal for the Plaza", Brandweek 2005 April 25: 30.
- Baltic, Contributing Editor Scott. "New York's Plaza Hotel Reopens After $400M Renovation", Commercial Property News 2008 March 3: NA.
- amNew York Interactive report on The Plaza[dead link]
- The WPA Guide to New York City, 1939 (reprinted 1982) (ISBN 0-394-71215-3)
- Ward Morehouse III, Life on the Top[dead link]
- Official website
- The Plaza Hotel, from the website of a former New York Post architecture critic
- The Plaza: How it was Sold, a December 2004 article from a NYC real estate website
- The Plaza Says It'll Be History After April 30, a March 2005 New York Times article (registration required)
- The Plaza Lives! - an oral history of the Plaza Hotel that appeared in New York magazine in May 2005.
- The Plaza: 768 Fifth Avenue - Detailed building information, building ratings, pros and cons
- Fairmont to manage New York City's Plaza Hotel - CBC News report.
- The Plaza Hotel - New York Architecture Images
-  Images, descriptions, and reviews of The Plaza
-  Hotel Website for Travelers
- Ward Morehouse III, author of Life at the Top and Inside The Plaza: An Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel