New Yorker Hotel

The New Yorker Hotel, is located 481 Eighth Avenue in New York City. The 43-story Art Deco hotel opened in 1930.

The New Yorker Hotel is a 900 room, mid-priced hotel. It is located in Manhattan's Garment Center, central to Pennsylvania Station, Madison Square Garden, Times Square and the Empire State Building. The one million square foot building offers two restaurants and approximately 33,000 square feet (3,100 sq.meter) of conference space. Since re-opening as a hotel in 1994, it has undergone approximately $100 million in capital improvements, including lobby and room renovations and infrastructure modernization. The Unification Church purchased the building in 1975, and since 2000, it has been part of the Ramada franchise.

The New Yorker Hotel was built by Garment Center developer, Mack Kanner. When the development was announced in 1928, the Sugarman and Berger designed building was planned to be 38 stories, at an estimated cost of $8 million. However, when it was completed in 1929, the building had grown to 43 stories, at a final cost of $22.5 million and contained 2,500 rooms, making it the city's largest for many years. Hotel management pioneer, Ralph Hitz, was selected as its first manager, eventually becoming president of the National Hotel Management Company. An early ad for the building boasted that the hotel's "bell boys were 'as snappy-looking as West Pointers'" and "that it had a radio in every room with a choice of four stations" It was a New Yorker bellboy, Johnny Roventini, who served as tobacco company Phillip Morris' pitchman for twenty years, making famous their "Call for Phillip Morris" advertising campaign.

Much like its contemporaries, the Empire State Building (1931) and the Chrysler Building (1930), the New Yorker was designed in the Art Deco style which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. In his book, New York 1930, Robert A. M. Stern said the "New Yorker's virtually unornamented facades consisted of alternating vertical bands of warm gray brick and windows, yielding an impression of boldly modeled masses. This was furthered by the deep-cut light courts, which produced a powerful play of light and shade that was enhanced by dramatic lighting at night".

In addition to the ballrooms, there were ten private dining "salons" and five restaurants employing 35 master cooks. The barber shop was one of the largest in the world with 42 chairs and 20 manicurists. There were 92 "telephone girls" and 150 laundry staff washing as many as 350,000 pieces daily.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s the hotel was among New York's most fashionable and hosted many popular Big Bands, such as Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, while notable figures such as Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford and Fidel Castro stayed there. Inventor Nikola Tesla spent the last ten years of his life in near-seclusion in Suite 3327, where he died, largely devoting his time to feeding pigeons while occasionally meeting dignitaries. The New York Observer noted that in the building's heyday, "actors, celebrities, athletes, politicians, mobsters, the shady and the luminous—the entire Brooklyn Dodgers roster during the glory seasons—would stalk the bars and ballrooms, or romp upstairs". In later years, Muhammad Ali would recuperate there after his March 1971 fight against Joe Frazier at the Garden.

Notwithstanding its early success, New York's changing economy and demographics caused the building to slowly decline and, as a result, its ownership changed several times. It was purchased by Hilton Hotels in 1953 for $12.5 million and following an antitrust suit by the federal government, was sold just three years later, in 1956, for $20 million to Massaglia Hotels. In 1959, Massaglia sold the hotel to an investment syndicate known as New York Towers Ltd., which went bankrupt, allowing Hilton to reacquire the building in 1967.

By the time Hilton reacquired the hotel, the pronounced decline in New York's fortunes, coupled with the construction of new, more modern hotels, caused the New Yorker to become unprofitable. As a result, Hilton closed the hotel in April 1972. Initially left vacant, several different proposals were made for the building, including redevelopment as a low income housing development, and a hospital. Ultimately, in 1975, it was purchased by Sun Myung Moon's, Unification Church for $5.6 million. The church converted much of the building for use by its members.

source and more information: wikipedia