The Plaza Hotel as seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and 58th Street in Manhattan
|Location||768 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York City 10019|
|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 is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel and condominium apartment building in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of the borough of Manhattan, New York City. It opened in 1907 and is now owned by Katara Hospitality.
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 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. 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.
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.
It soon became apparent that the first hotel was far too small, and it was demolished in 1905. A new and larger Plaza Hotel, a French Renaissance château-style building designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, was constructed in twenty-seven months at a cost of $12.5 million, opening to the public on October 1, 1907. When the hotel opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night, the equivalent of $65.66 in 2017. The same room cost over $1,000 per night in 2001. The hotel proved so popular that a huge 300-room annex was added to the hotel along 58th Street from 1920-1921.
Conrad Hilton bought the Plaza Hotel for $7.4 million in October 1943 (equivalent to $105 million in 2017) and spent $6 million (equivalent to $84.9 million in 2017) refurbishing it. Hilton sold the hotel ten 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. 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 $57.8 million in 2017). Childs had partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel, (now the site of the General Motors Building). Sonnabend created the Hotel Corporation of America (HCA) in 1956, to leverage tax losses from Childs. HCA assumed management of the Plaza from Hilton in January 1960. HCA changed its name to Sonesta International Hotels in 1970. Sonesta sold the Plaza to Western International Hotels in 1975 for $25 million (equivalent to $114 million in 2017). Western International changed its name to Westin Hotels in 1980.
Westin sold The Plaza to Donald Trump for $390 million on March 27, 1988 (equivalent to $807 million in 2017). 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. 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. Trump made plans to pay off the hotel's debt by selling off many of its units as condominiums. A deal was instead reached for the Plaza's creditors, a group of banks led by Citibank, to take a 49 percent stake in the hotel in exchange for forgiveness of $250 million in debt and an interest rate reduction. The agreement was submitted as a prepackaged bankruptcy in November 1992.
The hotel was sold in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent to $875 million in 2017) 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 Hotel on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations costing $450 million. Beginning May 2005, the Plaza Hotel's contents were available to the public via a liquidation sale.
The hotel reopened on March 1, 2008, offering 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condominium 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. Most of the condominium units are usually empty, used as pieds-à-terre by their wealthy owners.
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.
On July 31, 2012, India's business group Sahara India Pariwar agreed to buy a 75 percent controlling stake for $570 million from El Ad Properties. The stake included 100 of the Plaza's 150 hotel-condominium units and a retail portion that included the Oak Room bar.
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.
In 2016, Saudi businessman Al-Waleed bin Talal, who already controlled a 50 percent 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. 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.
The Plaza Hotel was accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969; it was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1986 for its lavish architecture.
Long the site for notable performers and guests, it has also been the meeting place for important political meetings. The 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.
Unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar; women favored the Palm Court for luncheons and tea.
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.
On November 28, 1966, in honor of the publisher Katharine Graham, the 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.
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 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 currently 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.
In popular culture
- 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 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.
- It was one of the main settings in the series The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot; it was where Mia's grandmother (or grand-mère) stayed.
- 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.
- Eloise (1956) starring Evelyn Rudie as Eloise, the child who lived "on the top floor", with cameo appearances by Conrad Hilton and Eloise author Kay Thompson.
- North by Northwest (1959)
- 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)
- The 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), much of the film takes place in and around the hotel, and then-owner Donald Trump makes a cameo appearance, with a line directing Macaulay Culkin towards the lobby ("Down the hall and to the left").
- Flodders in America (1992)
- Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
- It Could Happen to You (1994)
- The Associate (1996)
- Antz (1998)
- Almost Famous (2000)
- 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 by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight
- The Plaza Hotel is seen in the intro of the film Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York (2006)
- A parody of the hotel appears in the Grand Theft Auto IV video game (2008)
- In Bride Wars (2009) 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 Carraway, Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan talk in a suite at the hotel
- American Hustle (2013)
- The Post (2018)
- The American Dad! episode "Fart-Break Hotel" featured the hotel as a main setting.
- In the Family Guy episode "A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Bucks", the Griffin family stays in this hotel.
- The Sopranos:
- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
- Ugly Betty character Wilhelmina Slater owns an apartment facing Central Park at the Plaza Hotel.
- What I Like About You
- List of New York City Designated Landmarks in Manhattan from 59th to 110th Streets
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Manhattan above 59th to 110th Streets
- National Park Service (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Plaza Hotel". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 18, 2007.
- "History - The Plaza Hotel New York".
- "Timeline - The Plaza".
- Morehouse, Ward. Inside the Plaza: an Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. New York: Applause, 2001
- "Childs Approves Plaza Purchase", The New York Times, November 18, 1955
- McKim, Mead, and White, architects; demolished in 1964.
- "Timeline". April 13, 2016.
- "Western Hotels Co. Buying the Plaza For $25‐Million". November 13, 1974 – via www.nytimes.com.
- Cole, Robert J. (March 27, 1988). "Plaza Hotel Is Sold To Donald Trump For $390 Million" – via www.nytimes.com.
- Marion M. White (September 26, 1988). "Ivana Trump: Hard work, discipline and self-reliance". Tampa Bay Times – via NewsBank.
- Floyd Norris (June 5, 1990). "A haze of debt clouds the Plaza Hotel's gleam". New York Times. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
- Richard D. Hylton (April 9, 1991). "Trump expected to sell rooms in Plaza Hotel". Los Angeles Daily News – via NewsBank.
- "Trump yields 49% of Plaza Hotel in N.Y." The Star-Ledger. Newark, NJ. March 19, 1992 – via NewsBank.
- "Trump's Plaza Hotel bankruptcy plan approved". New York Times. December 12, 1992. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
- "Trump Is Selling Plaza Hotel To Saudi and Asian Investors", The New York Times, 1995 12 April
- "Eloise Gets a New Landlord: Plaza Sells for $675 Million", The New York Times, 2004 14 Aug
- 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.
- Elizabeth A. Harris (February 11, 2013). "Why Buy a Condo You Seldom Use? Because You Can". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
- Collins, Glenn (November 22, 2011). "Food Hall at Plaza Hotel Is Expanding". The New York Times.
- "Sahara checks into iconic New York hotel". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on August 3, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
- Bagli, Charles V. (August 22, 2014). "Legal Woes of Owners Help Put the Plaza Back in Play". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
- "Beleaguered Plaza Hotel purchase may soon be finalized".
- Satow, Julie (3 May 2018). "Deal is Reached to Sell the Plaza Hotel". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
- ""Plaza Hotel", undated, by Carolyn Pitts". National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination. National Park Service. n.d.
- Mike Capuzzo (December 21, 1993). "Marla finally becomes Mrs. Trump". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
- The WPA Guide to New York City, 1939 (reprinted 1982) (ISBN 0-394-71215-3)
- The Plaza Hotel, from the website of a former New York Post architecture critic
- 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.
- Fairmont to manage New York City's Plaza Hotel, CBC News report
Media related to Plaza Hotel at Wikimedia Commons
- Official website
- The Plaza: 768 Fifth Avenue, detailed building information, building ratings, pros and cons
- The Plaza Hotel, New York Architecture images
- Images, descriptions, and reviews of The Plaza