Hotel Carter (Manhattan)
view from the east on 43rd Street
|Location||250 West 43rd Street,
New York, NY 10036
|Owner||Tran Dinh Truong|
|Design and construction|
|Number of rooms||700|
The Hotel Carter is a historic Manhattan lodging place located a half block west of Times Square. The facility was financed by a $2,200,000 loan to Harris and Percy Uris by the New York State Title and Mortgage Company in May 1929. It was chartered for $10,000 by M.C. Levine, of 535 5th Avenue, on April 22, 1930. Until October 1976 it was called the Dixie Hotel. The building is 24 stories tall, and at its opening, had 1,000 rooms. According to the hotel's website, it now has 700 rooms. When initially built, it extended from 43rd Street to 42nd Street, although the wing abutting 42nd Street has since been demolished.
Excavation for the new structure began with the removal of six old tenements from the site in May 1929. Tenements were razed between 250 - 263 West 43rd Street along with a two story taxpayer at 241 West 42nd Street. Several floors of steel work were added to the framework by mid-October.
In October 1931 a Federal judge appointed the Irving Trust Company as receiver in the bankruptcy of the Harper Organization, Inc., and Harris H., and Percy Uris, its officers. The defendant corporation owned the Dixie Hotel. James B. Regan, formerly proprietor of the Knickerbocker Hotel, was another appointed receiver.
The hotel and bus terminal were sold in March 1932, during the Great Depression, to pay a debt of $2,058,540. The property was valued at $2,300,000. In April 1932 the Southworth Management Corporation, headed by Roy S. Hubbell, assumed control of hotel operations. Hubbell formerly managed the Hotel Commodore and the Hotel Belmont in New York City. The Southworth Management Corporation was affiliated with William Ziegler Jr. The company had jurisdiction over the site of the demolished Hotel Belmont at 42nd Street and Park Avenue (Manhattan). Hubbell, whose primary residence was in Pelham, New York, died in October 1932, in his bedroom at the Dixie Hotel. He was 55.
The Carter Hotels Corporation took over management of the business in 1942. In 1976 the company allocated $250,000 for renovations and sign alteration in an effort to clean up Times Square. H.B. Carter, president of the company, wanted to change the hotel's name to give one of the establishments in the chain a corporate identity. The firm controlled four other hotels in Buffalo, New York and Boston, Massachusetts.
Vietnamese businessman and former ship owner Tran Dinh Truong purchased the hotel in October 1977. The Carter was described as an establishment which caters to middle-class tourists [and] has suffered with the decline of the surrounding area.
A bus depot in the Dixie Hotel was in use for 27 years before it closed in early July 1957. Opening in February 1930 the terminal handled 350 buses daily during peak summer seasons. The Central Union Bus Terminal had the largest enclosed loading space of any bus terminal in New York. It occupied the main floor of the hotel and was managed separately. It had entrances on 42nd Street and 43rd Street. The loading platform and waiting room were situated five feet below street level. Buses entered and departed utilizing separate ramps. A turntable with a diameter of 35 feet was employed to direct incoming buses to exits. Bus movements were governed by a dispatcher using an electric signaling device. It was called the Short Line Bus Terminal by July 1931. The terminal closed due to an inability to compete with the Port Authority Bus Terminal at 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets. Another business which was located in the hotel was Max Bachner's laundry. It was given a lease for operation in August 1929.
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1930, the Dixie Hotel displayed the Confederate battle flag. It hung from the south side of 43rd Street near 8th Avenue. One pedestrian mistook the flag for the Union Jack. Clarence Darrow encouraged representatives of the Associated Motion Picture Advertisers to resist all types of censorship during an April 1931 luncheon at the hotel.
In April 1942 the Dixie Hotel experienced an increase in the number of executives and business couples who selected its quarters as permanent residences. Management responded by redecorating and preparing one-room units for accommodation as living rooms during the day and bedrooms at night. Jacobowitz & Katz, investors, purchased the taxpayer which adjoined the hotel in July 1951. Located at 264 West 43rd Street, the building was formerly occupied by Loft's. The deal was brokered by Harry G. Silverstein. The property had a tax value of $35,000.
The 255 seat Bert Wheeler Theater opened in the hotel, ten steps above its entrance, in October 1966. Autumn's Here, a musical comedy, was its first attraction. The theater was located in the hotel's Plantation Room. It measured 60 feet in length and 45 feet in width. It was formerly used as a nightclub and later as a restaurant. A circular bar, 50 feet in circumference, adjoined the theater, and was located behind glass doors. It was closed during performances, except for during a twenty-minute intermission. Food was served in the Terrace Room, the hotel's restaurant. In June 1967 Follies Burlesque '67 reopened at the Bert Wheeler Theater, after opening at Players Theater in Greenwich Village. The cast included Mickey Hargitay and Toni Karrol.
From approximately 1942 to the mid-1970s, the hotel's restaurant was a daily gathering place for local and visiting professional and amateur magicians for lunch at the "Dixie Round Table" where they swapped tricks and stories. Famous regular visitors included Harry Blackstone, Cardini, and many others. The Carter Theater in the Carter Hotel presented Aesop's Fables in 15 theatrical styles in November 1979. The play was produced by th Theater Workshop and the Broadway-Times Theater Company. The off Broadway musical, Ka-Boom!, debuted at the Carter Theater in November 1980. The space is now occupied by Cheetah's Gentleman's club.
In December 1983 the Carter Hotel was home to 190 families. That month it was cited for its consistently low rate of compliance in correcting health and safety violations. The city sued the hotel in 1983 and 1984 for its failure to correct numerous infractions. In March 1985 Truong was found in contempt of court and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. New York City was using the hotel as a homeless shelter in June 1984. The hotel's 43rd Street entrance became a gathering place for teenagers and young children. By the end of 1985 the Carter had greatly reduced the number of homeless families staying in its rooms. The number of homeless families declined from 300 to 61. The city paid the Carter $62.62 to house a family in a small single room. In one instance the room was musty, with peeling wallpaper, and tattered carpet. The smell in the room was intense. The hotel began to make an effort to attract tourists once again. New York City removed all homeless families from the Carter in 1988 due to difficulties with plumbing, electricity, security, and vermin. In July 1990 the Penthouse Hostel operated with a lease on the 23rd and 24th floors of the Hotel Carter. The hostel sign was barely visible beneath the Carter marquee. Lodgings there provided an alternative to the American Youth Hostels organization.
In December 1998 the hotel was temporarily closed because an emergency fire exit was damaged.
Sidney Miller, a store clerk at the Dixie Hotel, was arrested for violating a New York state antismut law during a raid on Square Books, at 584 7th Avenue, in April 1966. His accomplice, Edward Mishkin, was previously convicted of publishing obscene material. His conviction was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in March 1966.
Darrell Bossett, an unemployed laborer, was arrested after scuffling with police in a fourth-floor room of the Carter Hotel, in December 1980. He was charged with first degree murder and second degree murder and possession of a weapon, in the shooting of New York City Police Department Officer Gabriel Vitale. 
At least nine deaths have occurred in the hotel.
William Lindsay Gresham, author of the noir novel "Nightmare Alley," discovering he had cancer of the tongue, checked himself into the hotel known as the Dixie Hotel during that time, and committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills on September 14, 1962. It was there he also wrote Nightmare Alley during his many frequent stays.
George R. Sanders of Brooklyn jumped from the 14th floor of the hotel on March 13, 1931. His body crashed through the roof of a single story restaurant adjacent to the Dixie. He landed at the feet of two customers and the night manager. He left a note in his room identifying himself and citing mental depression as the reason for killing himself.
Olga Kibrick, daughter of a wealthy Brockton, Massachusetts insurance executive, committed suicide by leaping from the roof of the hotel to a third-floor extension on the west side of the building, in October 1931. She had been staying on the 21st floor. Police found a Brockton Musical Chorus card in her room, along with 15 cents in change, her gloves, and a pocketbook.
The body of James M. Fairbanks, a former office manager of the brokerage firm of Tucker, Anthony, & Co., was discovered by hotel employees on the roof of a three-story extension, in April 1932. Fairbanks committed suicide to avoid being sentenced for embezzling $290,000 from his employers. He was staying in room 2002 the night before he would have been sentenced from five to 10 years for the offense.
In September 1941 a young man from Wayne, Nebraska burned to death after falling asleep smoking on the 12th floor of the hotel. The story made headlines when it was discovered that shortly after his arrival he received a letter from his father. Fredereick S. Berry Jr. was warned by his parent of a premonition his mother had of something dire happening to him. Berry was discovered by hotel employees seated in a chair, with the clothing on his upper body burned completely. He died after being taken to Roosevelt Hospital.
In 1987, a woman was thrown to her death out of a window from one of the top floors.
In July 1999 a clerk murdered a co-worker during a brawl near the front desk.
On August 31, 2007, a housekeeper found the body of Kristine Yitref, 33, wrapped in plastic garbage bags and hidden under a bed in Room 608. Sex offender Clarence Dean, 35, was charged with homicide. Yitref, as Mistress Kris, was formerly a member of the goth rock group The Nuns. She had turned to prostitution at the time of her death to support a drug addiction.
The Bed Bug Registry has listed many reports over several years citing former visitors' experiences with the hotel: Everything from mice and cockroaches to bed bug attacks.
In 2011, TripAdvisor.com had Hotel Carter listed as no. 4 on their Top 10 of America's dirtiest hotels, based on reviews and user ratings. The hotel was also mentioned in the USA Today in relation to "winning" the title as the dirtiest hotel in the US in 2009.
As of 2012 the hotel is still in the process of being renovated.
In popular culture
In 2012 the hotel is seen during the episode "Understudy" of NBC's show Smash, Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn is seen walking down the street.
- Dixie, Off Times Sq., Now The Carter Hotel, New York Times, October 23, 1976, pg. 29.
- 2,200,000 Loan to Finance Hotel Dixie, Near Times Square, New York Times, May 2, 1929, pg. 53.
- New Incorporations, New York Charters, New York Times, April 23, 1930, pg. 51.
- Hotels in West 30's Recover Their Aplomb, New York Times, February 20, 1994, pg. R1.
- Press releases - TripAdvisor
- TripAdvisor: Hotel Carter Traveler Reviews
- Landmarks Pass In Times Square, New York Times, May 5, 1929, pg. 172.
- New Hotel Operations Reveal Modern Trend for High Buildings, New York Times, October 13, 1929, pg. RE1.
- Receiver For Hotel Group, New York Times, October 17, 1931, pg. 10.
- James B. Regan Dies Of Pneumonia, New York Times, February 15, 1932, pg. 17.
- Offerings At Auction Aggregate $9, 898, 900, New York Times, March 16, 1932, pg. 39.
- Under New Management, New York Times, April 17, 1932, pg. N6.
- Roy S. Hubbell Dies; Hotel Dixie Official, New York Times, October 14, 1932, pg. 19.
- Midtown Suites In Demand, New York Times, April 26, 1942, pg. RE2.
- Vietnamese Buys Two Hotels, Seeks More, New York Times, April 23, 1978, pg. R1.
- Bus Terminal Completed, New York Times, February 13, 1930, pg. 45.
- Dixie Bus Depot Closes Its Doors After 29 Years, New York Times, pg. 29.
- 364 Deaths In Nation Is July Fourth Toll; Crowds Set Record, New York Times, July 6, 1931, pg. 1.
- Business Leases, New York Times, August 15, 1929, pg. 47.
- The Stars and Bars, New York Times, May 31, 1930, pg. 6.
- Darrow Scores Censors, New York Times, April 3, 1931, pg. 37.
- Owners Enlarge Plot In Midtown, New York Times, July 4, 1951, pg. 21.
- Musical To Open In Ex-Restaurant, New York Times, October 4, 1966, pg. 49.
- Follies To Reopen Uptown, New York Times, June 1, 1967, pg. 51.
- For Children, New York Times, November 23, 1979, pg. C23.
- News of the Theater, New York Times, October 22, 1980, pg. C22.
- State Is Penalizing City Over Shelter Conditions, New York Times, December 21, 1983, pg. B3.
- In Times Square, New World To Take On Nether World, New York Times, June 1, 1984, pg. B1.
- Hotel Near Times Square Closes Rooms for Homeless to Cater to Tourists, New York Times, December 29, 1985, pg. 27.
- Court Allows New York City To Take Over Welfare Hotel, New York Times, January 13, 1990, pg. 30.
- Alternative Hostels, Where the Price is Right, December 8, 1991, pg. XX3.
- Corrections, New York Times, September 10, 1999, pg. A2.
- Smut Case Figure Is Arrested Again, New York Times, April 6, 1966, pg. 13.
- Man Held in Slaying of Officer in Queens, New York Times, December 31, 1980, p. A2.
- "Bridge: Death of Gresham, Writer, Loss to Bridge World, Too", by Albert H. Morehead, 25 September 1962, New York Times
- C.H. Vanderhoof Dies In 67th Year, New York Times, April 6, 1931, pg. 21.
- Leaps To Death At Hotel, New York Times, March 14, 1931, pg. 7.
- Young Woman Dies In Leap From Hotel, New York Times, October 29, 1931, pg. 14.
- Embezzler Suicide On Eve Of Sentence, New York Times, April 21, 1932, pg. 44.
- Youth Burned To Death, New York Times, September 16, 1941, pg. 25.
- Infant Is Slain; Father Arrested, New York Times, November 23, 1983, pg. B8.
- Woman is Apparently Pushed from Window in Carter Hotel, New York Times, January 2nd, 1987.
- Metro News Briefs, New York Times, July 22nd, 1999.
- Body Found, New York Times, August 31, 2007, pg. A2.
- Find A Grave
- Sex offender sought after woman's body found in Times Square hotel New York Daily News, Friday, August 31st 2007
- The Nuns' Kris Murdered In New York, Salvation Films website, September 19, 2007
- Life of aspiring model murdered in August a tragic tale, New York Daily News, Monday, September 17th 2007
- Bed Bug Registry report on Hotel Carter, New York", Bed Bug Registry website, August 10th, 2011
- TripAdvisor list of top 10 dirtiest hotels in North America", TripAdvisor website, August 10th, 2011
- USA Today article", USA Today website, January 30th, 2009
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