New Yorker Hotel

New Yorker Hotel
New Yorker Hotel
NewYorker Hotel.JPG
The New Yorker Hotel
Location 481 Eighth Avenue, New York City
Coordinates 40°45′10″N 73°59′38″W / 40.75278°N 73.99389°W / 40.75278; -73.99389
Opening date 1930
Architect Sugarman and Berger
Management New Yorker Hotel Management Company, Inc.
(franchisee of Ramada)
Owner Unification Church
Rooms 912 (2,500 when built)
Suites 64
Restaurants 2 (5 when built)
Total floor area 1,000,000 sq ft (93,000 m2).
Floors 21 Hotel (43 Total)

The New Yorker Hotel, is a hotel 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 m2) of conference space. [1] 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. [2] [3] 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. [4] [5] 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" [6] 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. [7]

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". [8]

In addition to the ballrooms, there were ten private dining "salons" and five restaurants employing 35 master cooks. [5] The barber shop was one of the largest in the world with 42 chairs and 20 manicurists. [5] There were 92 "telephone girls" and 150 laundry staff washing as many as 350,000 pieces daily. [5] [6]

Plaque Honoring Nikola Tesla
Close-Up of Tower

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, [9] 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.[10] 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". [1] In later years, Muhammad Ali would recuperate there after his March 1971 fight against Joe Frazier at the Garden. [1]

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. [11] [12] 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. [13]

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. [9]

Initially left vacant, several different proposals were made for the building, including redevelopment as a low income housing development, and a hospital. [9] 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. [14]


In 1994, the Unification Church elected to convert a portion of the building to use as a hotel again and the New Yorker Hotel Management Company took over operation of the building. It began the largest renovation project in the New Yorker's nearly 65-year history, completed in 1999, with $20 million in capital improvements. [15]

In August 2007, the hotel began a second capital improvement program, which was completed in February 2009 at a final cost of $70 million. These improvements increased the number of guest rooms available to 912 from just 178 in 1994, located on floors 19 through 40. [16] [17]

Former Manufacturer's Hanover Bank Branch Entrance

The renovation project was designed by Stonehill & Taylor Architects. [17] Interior improvements included room restructuring and augmentation (now called "Metro" and "City View" rooms). Other improvements included a refurbished front entrance, lobby redesign, foyer reconstruction, and ballroom renovations. The hotel also expanded its Wi-Fi and PDA support, and added high-definition flat-screen televisions in all rooms. In addition, individual room air-conditioning units were replaced with modern centralized heating and cooling systems throughout the entire hotel. In 2009, conference room space was added to the hotel through the conversion of a defunct Manufacturer’s Hanover Bank branch in the hotel, bringing the total meeting space to just over 33,000 square feet (3,100 m2), in two ballrooms and twelve conference rooms. In October 2005, one ballroom played host to a professional wrestling event, promoted by Ring of Honor. It featured one of pro-wrestling's most famous matches, Kenta Kobashi (representing Pro Wrestling Noah from Japan) versus Samoa Joe (representing Ring of Honor). They held their final New Yorker show on June 17, 2006.

Power plant

When initially built the New Yorker Hotel had coal-fired steam boilers and generators sufficient to produce more than 2200 kilowatts of direct current electric power. At the time this was the largest private power plant in the United States. The hotel's own direct current generators were still in use during the Northeast Blackout of 1965, but by the late 1960s the hotel's power system had been modernized to alternating current.[18] In a dedication ceremony held on September 25, 2008, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) named the New Yorker Hotel's direct current power plant a Milestone in Electrical Engineering. A bronze plaque commemorating the achievement was presented to the hotel by IEEE.

8th Avenue entrance


  1. ^ a b c Caught Between the Moonies and New York City: The New Yorker Hotel’s Office Idea
  2. ^ Sexton, R.W. (1929). American Apartment Houses, Hotels, and Apartment Hotels of Today. New York, New York: Architectural Book Publishing Company, Inc.. pp. 184–185. 
  3. ^ Plans for the New Yorker, 38-Story 8th Av. Hotel, Filed
  4. ^ GREATER ACTIVITY FOR 34TH STREET; Westerly Blocks Destined to Be an Important Office Building Centre. AMPLE TRANSIT FACILITIES Mack Kanner, Builder of Hotel New Yorker, Predicts Commercial Growth September 1, 1929
  5. ^ a b c d - History
  6. ^ a b One Thousand New York Buildings, by Jorg Brockman and Bill Harris, page 257, Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 2002
  7. ^ Joseph F. Cullman 3rd, Who Made Philip Morris a Tobacco Power, Dies at 92
  8. ^ New York 1930, Architectural and Urbanism Between the Two World Wars, by Robert A.M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin, Thomas Mellins, page 204, Published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1987
  9. ^ a b c New Yorker Hotel, Sold to Become a Hospital, Closes Doors After 42 Years
  10. ^ Cooing for a strange genius Bloomberg News, 2008-05-11
  11. ^ Hilton Chain Acquiring New Yorker Hotel Here
  12. ^ New Yorker Hotel Is Sold by Hilton Group To Massaglia, Owner of chain of 11 Units
  13. ^ New Yorker Hotel Repurchased by Hilton Chain; Purchase Subject to Debts
  14. ^ Biermans, J. 1986, The Odyssey of New Religious Movements, Persecution, Struggle, Legitimation: A Case Study of the Unification Church Lewiston, New York and Queenston, Ontario: The Edwin Melton Press ISBN 0889467102
  15. ^ Commercial Real Estate; Making New Yorker Hotel New Again
  16. ^ "New Yorker Hotel embarks on $65 million renovation". Press release.
  17. ^ a b Hotel-Online:Renovation Completion
  18. ^ Tom Blalock, Powering the New Yorker: A Hotel's Unique Direct Current System, in IEEE Power and Energy Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006

External links

Coordinates: 40°45′10″N 73°59′38″W / 40.75278°N 73.99389°W / 40.75278; -73.99389

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