Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Historic New Yorker Hotel

Have you ever visited someplace where history seems to hover, practically floating through the air like dust partials? Recently, during a trip to Manhattan, I encountered a place just like that. The New Yorker Hotel. As soon as I entered through the revolving front door and stood in the massive two-story Art Deco lobby, I knew there were stories to be told and tales to be heard, so of course, I had to discover a few.                              
The Iconic New Yorker 

After only twenty-two months of construction, the forty-three-story New Yorker Hotel in New York City opened on January 2, 1930. Located in the heart of Manhattan on the corner of 8th and 34th Street, the unadorned cascading fa├žade sits in the shadow of the Empire State building. There were 2,503 rooms available for rent starting at $3.50 per night, and beginning in 1932, a private (now abandoned) underground pedestrian tunnel ran from the basement of the hotel to Penn Station. Originally, the hotel housed five restaurants, bell-boys who were toted as being as “snappy as a West Pointer”, and sixty-four luxury suites available to those who could afford the best in New York lodging.

From hotel collection 
The interesting, yet sad story about one of the Hotel New Yorker’s residents, Nikola Tesla. He was one of the greatest minds in the evolution of electrifying New York City and the development of A/C electricity. Tesla moved to the New Yorker from the Waldorf/Astoria. Some say it was because of the New Yorker’s “state of the art” electric power plant in its basement. For the last ten years of Mr. Tesla’s life, he lived in rooms 3327 and 3328. He passed away in his rented rooms at the age of eighty-seven, penniless.              

From hotel archive collection
At the height of the jazz age, the hotel boasted some of the most modern features of its time. Each room had its own radio with four channels available, a luxury most couldn’t afford. The hotel had its own power plant, strong enough to provide power to a small town. Starting in 1941, a fun, though tiny bit strange luxury was the sanitizing “Protecto-Ray” UV lights in the bathrooms. After the Protecto-Ray treatments, all bathrooms were sealed with cellophane. Imagine! A cellophane covered potty may have led to some serious disinfection needs!

In the 40’s and 50’s the New Yorker was the popular place to be amongst the rich and famous. Actors, politicians, athletes, even mobsters, stayed at the  
Archival collection at the New Yorker

fashionable hotel. In part, due to the nightly entertainment of likes of Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and other well-known bands of the day. In 1939, NBC Radio began broadcasting live from the New Yorker. CBS would also eventually broadcast from the hotel. There was even a retractable ice rink in the Terrace Room. The Ice Follies of the New Yorker Hotel performed to the live music daily while guests ate lunch or dinner, and when the performance was over, the ice rink slid under the band stand until needed for the next show.

In 1941, the Brooklyn Dodgers moved into The New Yorker during the World Series. Dubbed the first of the “Subway Series” the Brooklyn Dodgers ended up losing to the New York Yankees in five games. Then thirty years later in 1971, Mahammad Ali recuperated at the New Yorker after his legendary “fight of the century” against Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden.

Modern New Yorker lobby 
With story after story of the rich history of the New Yorker, it shouldn’t be a surprise that even today the iconic hotel continues to create historic events. For example, during the horrific attacks of 9/11, the hotel donated 10,000 rooms to volunteers. In 2016, former First Lady and New Yorker, Hilary Clinton gave her concession speech in the Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker.

So, it’s your turn, have you ever visited a place that held years of history? Share your experiences in the comments below, and thank you for stopping by Heroes, Heroines, and History.




Award winning author, Michele K. Morris’s love for historical fiction began when she first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. She grew up riding horses and spending her free time in the woods of mid-Michigan. Married to her high school sweetheart, they are living happily-ever-after with their six children, three in-loves, and eight grandchildren in Florida, the sunshine state. Michele loves to hear from readers on Facebook, Twitter, and soon at Michelekmorris.com.

Michele is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency


  1. I have been to many historic forts, and have been to Monticello and Campobello. It's true that you can almost feel history seeping from the walls. I don't recall going to a really old hotel or commercial site, though. Thanks for the post!

  2. You're welcome, Connie! If only walls could talk, what an interesting story they'd tell! The old saying is so true, isn't it? :) Thank you commenting.

  3. Interesting. Thank you for sharing about the New Yorker Hotel.

    1. You're welcome, Melissa. Thank you for the comment!

  4. I'm sharing your post with my daughter who is in NY City this week! I love wondering about the stories in historic buildings ... "if those walls could talk"!

    1. Stephanie, I love that you shared this with your daughter! Praying for a safe and amazing trip for your girl! Thank you for the comment.

  5. I've stayed at the New Yorker twice and loved your post about its history! I have also stayed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and enjoyed to talks by their historian. Thank you!

    1. Oh, Linda, I'd love to stay at the Grand! I'm originally from Michigan and have been to the island often but have never stayed.Someday I'll do it! Thank you much for your comment.