Plaza Hotel

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Coordinates: 40°45′53″N 73°58′28″W / 40.764712°N 73.974574°W / 40.764712; -73.974574

Plaza Hotel
The Plaza Hotel as seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street in Manhattan
Location Manhattan, New York City
Built 1907
Architect Henry J. Hardenbergh; Thomas Hastings, et al.
Architectural style Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 78001878
Significant dates
Added to NRHP November 29, 1978[1]
Designated NHL June 24, 1986 [2]
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[edit]

The Plaza, ca. 1920
The Plaza and its International Modern style neighbors, seen across The Pond in Central Park
The Plaza Hotel turned 100 years old in 2007, celebrating with ceremonies and fireworks.

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.[3] 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.

History[edit]

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.[4]

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.[2][5][6] 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.[4] 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[edit]

Karl Bitter's Abundance, or Pomona in the Pulitzer Fountain
Augustus Saint-Gaudens' General Sherman monument

Conrad Hilton bought The Plaza for US$7.4 million in 1943 (equivalent of $101 million today) and spent US$6.0 million (equivalent of $81.8 million today) refurbishing it. The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain which partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel,[7] (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 $55.7 million today).[8] Childs subsequently changed its name to Hotel Corporation of America, now known as Sonesta International Hotels Corporation.[9] Donald Trump bought the Plaza for $407.5 million in 1988 (equivalent of $812 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 $503 million today) to Troy Richard Campbell, from New Hampshire. He sold it in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent of $843 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.[10] El Ad temporarily closed The Plaza on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations.[11] Beginning May 2005, the Plaza's contents were available to the public via a liquidation sale. The Plaza reopened on March 1, 2008,[12] 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.[13]

On 31 July 2012, India's business group Sahara India Pariwar agreed to buy a 75% controlling stake for $570 million from El Ad Properties.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

Literature and publications[edit]

  • 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. Another scene in the novel features a confrontation between title character Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan in a suite 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[edit]

The hotel has been featured in numerous motion picture productions set in New York. See film backdrop and television backdrop, below.

Film backdrop[edit]

It was also a setting for:

Television backdrop[edit]

The Plaza is mentioned and shown in numerous television shows, including:

Plaza Hotel facilities, guest services and public spaces[edit]

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.

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Plaza Hotel". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ Central Park Conservancy Grand Army Plaza
  4. ^ a b Morehouse, Ward. Inside the Plaza: an Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. New York: Applause, 2001.
  5. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated. 
  6. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated. 
  7. ^ McKim, Mead, and White, architects; demolished in 1964.
  8. ^ "Childs Approves Plaza Purchase", The New York Times, November 18, 1955
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Danto, Ginger. "Suite Deal for the Plaza", Brandweek 2005 April 25: 30.
  12. ^ Baltic, Contributing Editor Scott. "New York's Plaza Hotel Reopens After $400M Renovation", Commercial Property News 2008 March 3: NA.
  13. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/dining/food-hall-at-plaza-hotel-is-expanding.html
  14. ^ http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/CorporateNews/New-York-s-Plaza-Hotel-sold-to-Sahara-for-570-million/Article1-905742.aspx

Bibliography

External links[edit]