Plaza Hotel

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Plaza Hotel
NYC Landmark No. 0265, 2174
New York - Manhattan - Plaza Hotel.jpg
Seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street
Plaza Hotel is located in Manhattan
Plaza Hotel
Plaza Hotel is located in New York
Plaza Hotel
Plaza Hotel is located in the United States
Plaza Hotel
Location768 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City 10019
Built1907
ArchitectHenry J. Hardenbergh; Thomas Hastings, et al.
Architectural styleLate 19th and 20th Century Revivals
NRHP reference No.78001878
NYCL No.0265, 2174
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 29, 1978[1]
Designated NHLJune 24, 1986[2]
Designated NYCLDecember 9, 1969 (exterior)
July 12, 2005 (interiors)

The Plaza Hotel is a 20-story luxury hotel and condominium apartment building in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. It opened in 1907 and is now owned by Katara Hospitality.

The hotel is located on the western side of Grand Army Plaza at the intersection with Central Park South (59th Street), on the southeastern corner of Central Park and just west of Fifth Avenue. Construction on the first Plaza Hotel at this location began in 1883. After the original builders foreclosed, McKim, Mead & White completed the hotel and it opened in 1890. The current 19-story, French Renaissance-inspired château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh. Built in 27 months, it opened in 1907. The green terracotta-tile roof was manufactured by Ludowici and can be seen from many vantage points around the city.

The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1969 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Plaza Hotel was also made a National Historic Landmark in 1986.[2][3] Its interior was made a New York City designated landmark in 2005.

Site[edit]

The Plaza Hotel and its International Modern style neighbors, as seen from across The Pond in Central Park in May 2010

With a height of 250 ft (76 m) and a length of 400 ft (120 m), the hotel occupies the west side of Grand Army Plaza, from which it derives its name, and extends along Central Park South, which is abutted to the north by Central Park. The nearest cross-street is Fifth Avenue, which 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.[4] The hotel's main entrance at 768 Fifth Avenue faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza, which commemorates the Union Army in the Civil War, whence its eponymous predecessor derived its name.[5] An entrance to the New York City Subway's Fifth Avenue–59th Street station is located within the base of the hotel at Central Park South.[6]

History[edit]

Predecessor[edit]

Construction on the first Plaza Hotel at this location began in 1883, on the site of the New York Skating Club. The builders ran out of money, and the New York Life Insurance Company foreclosed and hired the most-celebrated architects of the era, McKim, Mead & White, to complete the hotel, which finally opened on October 1, 1890.[7] Prior to 1904, John L. Scherz was in charge of the Plaza Hotel. He also built a hotel casino in Harlem and was later in charge of the Manhattan Beach Hotel in Rockaway Beach, and the Sea Side Hotel.[8]

Reconstruction and 20th century[edit]

Plaza Hotel during the early-20th century

It soon became apparent that the first hotel was far too small, and it was demolished in 1905 by new owners, hotelier Fred Sterry, Harry S. Black and German financier Bernhard Beinecke, who envisioned a much larger, new Plaza Hotel, which was designed as an opulent, 19-story, French Renaissance-inspired château-style building by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh.[4] The new hotel was constructed in 27 months, at a then-unprecedented cost of $12.5 million, up from previous estimates of $8.5 million.[9][10] It was opened October 1, 1907; the first guest was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt.[9][11] When the hotel opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night (the equivalent of $68.6 in 2019[12]).[13] The hotel proved so popular that a huge, 300-room annex was added along 58th Street from 1920–1921.[7]

Conrad Hilton bought the Plaza Hotel for $7.4 million in October 1943 (equivalent to $109 million in 2019) and spent $6 million (equivalent to $88.7 million in 2019) refurbishing it. Hilton sold the hotel 10 years later, in 1953, to Boston industrialist A.M. "Sonny" Sonnabend for $16 million. Hilton sold the Plaza to raise funds for construction of the Beverly Hilton, but immediately leased the Plaza back for two and a half years, and then another four when that lease expired.[14] Sonnabend became president of the Childs Company, a national restaurant chain, two years later, and Childs purchased the Plaza on November 18, 1955, for $6.2 million in stock (equivalent to $60.4 million in 2019).[15] Childs had partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel,[a] (now the site of the General Motors Building). Sonnabend created the Hotel Corporation of America (HCA) in 1956,[16] to leverage tax losses from Childs.HCA assumed management of the Plaza from Hilton in January 1960.[14] HCA changed its name to Sonesta International Hotels in 1970.[16] Sonesta sold the Plaza to Western International Hotels in 1975 for $25 million (equivalent to $119 million in 2019).[17] Western International changed its name to Westin Hotels in 1981 and the hotel was renamed soon after, becoming the Westin Plaza.[18]

Westin sold the Plaza to Donald Trump for $390 million on March 27, 1988[19] (equivalent to $843 million in 2019).[12] Trump commented on his purchase in a full-page open letter 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." Trump installed his wife, Ivana Trump, as the hotel's president.[20] After $50 million in renovations, the hotel was earning a healthy operating income, but not enough to make the payments on its heavy debt load.[21] Trump made plans to pay off the hotel's debt by selling off many of its units as condominiums.[22] A deal was instead reached for the Plaza's creditors, a group of banks led by Citibank, to take a 49% stake in the hotel in exchange for forgiveness of $250 million in debt and an interest rate reduction.[23] The agreement was submitted as a prepackaged bankruptcy in November 1992.[24]

In 1995, CDL Hotels International and Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal purchased a controlling stake in the Plaza in a deal that valued it at $325 million (equivalent to $545 million in 2019).[25]

21st century[edit]

The Plaza Hotel turned 100 years old in October 2007, celebrating with ceremonies and fireworks

The hotel was sold in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent to $914 million in 2019) to Israeli-owned Manhattan-based developer, El Ad Properties.[26] El Ad bought the hotel with plans of adding residential and commercial sections. Because the Plaza Hotel is a New York City designated landmark, Tishman Construction Corporation, the construction management company hired to complete the renovations and conversions, had to comply with landmark regulations.[27] El Ad temporarily closed the Plaza Hotel on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations costing $450 million.[28][29] Beginning May 2005, the Plaza Hotel's contents were available to the public via a liquidation sale. The hotel reopened on March 1, 2008,[30] offering 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condominium units; it was managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Diamond retailer Lev Leviev put in the first bid for a Plaza apartment at $10 million. Most of the condominium units are usually empty, used as pieds-à-terre by their wealthy owners.[31]

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, anchored by the Todd English Food Hall in collaboration with Chef Todd English.[32] The Plaza Food Hall was the first American food hall concept; it was designed for English by restaurateur Brian Crawford, in collaboration with El Ad CEO Miki Naftali and famed architect Jeffery Beers.[33][34] On July 31, 2012, India's business group Sahara India Pariwar agreed to buy a 75% controlling stake for $570 million from El Ad Properties. Later that year, Kenneth Bordewick of Beverly Hills Luxury Interiors was hired to redesign several of the Penthouse Suites, the Palm Court, the Rose Club, and the Champagne Bar at a cost of $145 million. The stake included 100 of the Plaza's 150 hotel-condominium units and a retail portion that included the Oak Room bar.[35] In August 2014, Sahara's Subrata Roy announced he was seeking a buyer for his company's majority stake in the Plaza, along with similar stakes in the Dream Hotel in New York and the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. A $4 billion price tag was placed on the Plaza stake. Speculation that Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei would be the buyer was quashed by the sultan.[35]

In 2016, Saudi businessman Al-Waleed bin Talal, who already controlled a 50% stake in the building's hotel, restaurant, and retail portion through his Kingdom Holding Company, partnered with the Qatar Investment Authority to purchase the hotel, but the deal fell through. He partnered again in 2017 with Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation in another attempt to purchase control of the structure.[36] In May 2018, the Sahara Group announced it had finalized a deal with Shahal M. Khan, founder of Dubai-based White City Ventures, and Kamran Hakim of the Hakim Organization to buy a majority share of the hotel for $600 million. That deal was expected to close on June 25, 2018. In October 2018, Qatar's Katara Hospitality's chairman Sheikh Nawaf Al-Thani announced the expansion of its global portfolio with the acquisition of the Plaza.[37]

Use[edit]

Notable uses[edit]

1941 letter from Mina Edison, Thomas Edison's wife, on Plaza Hotel stationery

Long the site for notable performers and guests, it has also been the meeting place for important political meetings. Internationally known singers Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Marlene Dietrich, Lena Horne, Kay Thompson, Sandler and Young, Ethel Merman, Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, The Mills Brothers, Patti Page, and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room. Miles Davis recorded a live album in the Persian Room in 1958.

The Beatles stayed at the Plaza Hotel during their first visit to the United States in February 1964.[38] Visitors were allowed to take pictures with the Beatles and Dr. Joyce Brothers in the Terrace Room.[39] Four years later, the same room was the site of a press conference where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton talked about their film Dr. Faustus.[40]

On November 28, 1966, in honor of publisher Katharine Graham, writer Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed "Black and White Ball" in the Grand Ballroom. The ballroom was also the site, in 1993, of Donald Trump's wedding to Marla Maples in front of 1,500 guests.[41]

In September 1985, ministers of developed countries met at the Plaza Hotel 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.

In 2016, the Plaza Hotel launched "The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program" teaching modern manners and etiquette to all ages, as taught by Myka Meier of Beaumont Etiquette, who has been named "America's Queen of Good Manners", by The Times in 2018.[42] In the summer of 2018, the Plaza launched a national tour of the course.[43]

Facilities[edit]

The Plaza Hotel has 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 Rose Club, the Grand Ball Room, the Plaza Food Hall, and the Todd English Food Hall Restaurant and Marketplace, as well as meeting rooms and conference rooms.

The Grand Ballroom, Terrace Room, and meeting spaces are managed by CPS Events, a joint venture between Delaware North Companies and the high-end caterer Great Performances. The Oak Room, now closed, was another restaurant in the Plaza. Unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room; women favored the Palm Court for luncheons and tea.

During 2013, a 900-square-foot (84 m2) suite on the 18th floor of the building was furnished with various decorations from the movie The Great Gatsby. The furnished room was based on the novel of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which had several scenes at the Plaza Hotel (see § In media).[44][45] As of 2020, the suite was still available for reservation.[46]

In media[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.[47]
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby 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.[44][48]
  • In the 1992 film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York protagonist Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) uses his father's credit card to check into a suite at the Plaza.[49] A significant portion of the film is set at the Plaza.[50]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ McKim, Mead, and White, architects; demolished in 1964.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 15, 2006.
  2. ^ a b "Plaza Hotel". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 18, 2007.
  3. ^ ""Plaza Hotel", undated, by Carolyn Pitts". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. n.d.
  4. ^ a b "The Plaza". Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America; National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved November 16, 2018.
  5. ^ "History – The Plaza Hotel New York".
  6. ^ "MTA Neighborhood Maps: Midtown" (PDF). mta.info. Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 2018. Retrieved October 1, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Timeline – The Plaza".
  8. ^ "Leases the Seaside Hotel". Brooklyn Citizen. March 13, 1904. p. 4. Retrieved July 9, 2020 – via newspapers.com open access.
  9. ^ a b Landmarks Preservation Commission 2005, p. 5.
  10. ^ "New Plaza Hotel Cost $12,500,000; $4,000,000 More Than Original Estimate, but the Fund Was Easily Raised". The New York Times. September 12, 1907. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  11. ^ "Another Fine Hotel Now on the City's List; Built During the Last Two Years on Site of Old Plaza Hotel Which Was Demolished to Make Place for New Structure. The New Hotel Is Eighteen Stories in Height and Is One of the Most Superbly Fitted Hostelries in the United States". The New York Times. September 29, 1907. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved January 1, 2020.
  13. ^ Morehouse, Ward (2012). Inside the Plaza : an intimate portrait of the ultimate hotel. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1-55783-823-0. OCLC 758824111.
  14. ^ a b Turkel, Stanley. "A. M. Sonnabend (1896-1964): Legendary Financier, Squash Champion and Hotel Pioneer" (PDF). ISHC. p. 3. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  15. ^ "Childs Approves Plaza Purchase; Holders Also Agree to Lease 3 Other Hotels, Change Corporate Name". The New York Times. November 18, 1955. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Timeline". April 13, 2016.
  17. ^ "Western Hotels Co. Buying the Plaza For $25‐Million". The New York Times. November 13, 1974. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "In Hotels View, It's Better to Give". The New York Times. August 3, 1985. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  19. ^ Cole, Robert J. (March 27, 1988). "Plaza Hotel Is Sold To Donald Trump For $390 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  20. ^ White, Marion M. (September 26, 1988). "Ivana Trump: Hard work, discipline and self-reliance". Tampa Bay Times – via NewsBank.
  21. ^ Norris, Floyd (June 5, 1990). "A Haze of Debt Clouds The Plaza Hotel's Gleam". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Hylton, Richard D. (April 9, 1991). "Trump expected to sell rooms in Plaza Hotel". Los Angeles Daily News – via NewsBank.
  23. ^ "Trump yields 49% of Plaza Hotel in N.Y." The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. March 19, 1992 – via NewsBank.
  24. ^ Reuters (December 12, 1992). "Company News; Trump's Plaza Hotel Bankruptcy Plan Approved". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  25. ^ Gilpin, David Stout With Kenneth N. (April 12, 1995). "Trump Is Selling Plaza Hotel To Saudi and Asian Investors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  26. ^ Barron, James (August 14, 2004). "Eloise Gets a New Landlord: Plaza Sells for $675 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  27. ^ Knudson, Brooke (March 2008). 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. p. 43.
  28. ^ "The Plaza Says It'll Be History After April 30". The New York Times. March 5, 2005. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  29. ^ Danto, Ginger (April 25, 2005). "Suite Deal for the Plaza". Brandweek. p. 30.
  30. ^ Baltic, Scott (March 3, 2008). "New York's Plaza Hotel Reopens After $400M Renovation". Commercial Property News. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  31. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A. (February 11, 2013). "Why Buy a Condo You Seldom Use? Because You Can". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  32. ^ Collins, Glenn (November 22, 2011). "Plaza Food Hall Is Growing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  33. ^ See:
  34. ^ "Q & A with Miki Naftali". The Real Deal New York. May 24, 2011.
  35. ^ a b Bagli, Charles V. (August 22, 2014). "Legal Woes of Owners Help Put the Plaza Back in Play". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 9, 2020.
  36. ^ "Beleaguered Plaza Hotel purchase may soon be finalized".
  37. ^ "Katara Hospitality Celebrates Qatar National Day 2019". Katara Hospitality.
  38. ^ Landmarks Preservation Commission 2005, p. 15.
  39. ^ Gathje 2000, pp. 124–125.
  40. ^ Gathje 2000, p. 84.
  41. ^ Mike Capuzzo (December 21, 1993). "Marla finally becomes Mrs. Trump". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  42. ^ Pavia, Will (March 10, 2018). "How to behave like royalty" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  43. ^ Blumberg, Perri Ormont Southern Living; May 15, 2018.
  44. ^ a b Ceallaigh, John O' (April 30, 2013). "The New York Plaza hotel's new Great Gatsby suite". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  45. ^ Kurutz, Steven (April 24, 2013). "Check In Under 'Jay'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  46. ^ "The Fitzgerald Suite | The Plaza Hotel New York". The Plaza. Retrieved June 5, 2020.
  47. ^ Thompson, Kay (1955). Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-ups. Simon & Schuster.
  48. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1925). The Great Gatsby. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  49. ^ Hughes, John (1992). Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (Motion picture). 20th Century Fox.
  50. ^ Alberts, Hana R. (November 7, 2017). "The definitive guide to 'Home Alone 2' filming locations in NYC". Curbed NY. Retrieved July 22, 2020.

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]


Coordinates: 40°45′52″N 73°58′28″W / 40.7645°N 73.9744°W / 40.7645; -73.9744