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Plaza Hotel
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
NYC Landmark
The Plaza Hotel as seen from the corner of 5th Avenue and 59th Street in Manhattan
Location: New York City
Built/Founded: 1907
Architect: Henry J. Hardenbergh; Thomas Hastings, et al.
Architectural style(s): Late 19th and 20th Century Revivals
Added to NRHP: November 29, 1978[1]
Designated NHL: June 24, 1986 [2]
Designated NYCL: December 9, 1969
NRHP Reference#: 78001878

The Plaza Hotel in New York City is a landmark 20-story luxury hotel with a height of 250 ft (76 m) and length of 400 ft (120 m) that 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. It is managed and operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.


Grand Army Plaza

Karl Bitter's Abundance, or Pomona in the Pulitzer Fountain
Augustus Saint-Gaudens' General Sherman monument

The hotel's main entrance faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza, commemorating the Union Army in the Civil War. Grand Army Plaza is in two sections, bisected by Central Park South. The section in front of the Plaza Hotel is centered by the Pulitzer Fountain, of Abundance by Karl Bitter, funded by the will of the newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer: the statue in the fountain is specifically Pomona, Roman goddess of orchards. The statue was posed for by Doris Doscher, also famous for posing for the Standing Liberty Quarter. The north side of Grand Army Plaza, a corner cut out from Central Park, has Augustus Saint-Gaudens' part-gilded bronze equestrian statue of General Sherman.[3] Scholars Gate, behind Grand Army Plaza, provided one of the two original main entrances to the carriage drives of Central Park, the other being Merchants Gate at the Grand Circle, now Columbus Circle.

On the south side of the Plaza (between 58th and 59th Streets) once stood the French Renaissance château of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, designed by George Browne Post; rising behind its gated front court, it was the grandest of the Fifth Avenue mansions of the Gilded Age. Bergdorf Goodman occupies its site.


The Plaza is the second hotel of that name on the site. The French Renaissance château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened to the public on October 1, 1907. At the time, it cost $12.5 million to construct. When it opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night ($58.2 in today's dollars). Today, the same room costs from $695 upwards.[4]

The Plaza was accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1988 and is, with the Waldorf-Astoria, the only New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark. In the 1950s it was the setting for Kay Thompson's series of Eloise books, Eartha Kitt and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room, unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar and the Palm Court was favored for luncheons and teas.

The Beatles stayed at the Plaza during their first visit to the United States in February, 1964.[5]

On November 28, 1966, in honor of publisher Katharine Graham, Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed "Black & White Ball" in the Grand Ballroom.

In September 1985, the Plaza Accord was signed at the Plaza. The Accord 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.

The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1978.[2],[6][7] Tours are offered to the public.

Ownership changes and renovations

The Plaza and its International Modern style neighbors, seen across The Pond in Central Park
The Plaza Hotel turned 100 years old in 2007, celebrating with ceremonies and fireworks.

Conrad Hilton bought the Plaza for $7.4 million in 1943 and spent $6.0 million refurbishing it. The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain which partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel,[8] now the site of the General Motors Building), purchased the Plaza Hotel in 1955 for 1,100,000 shares of Childs common stock, valued at approximately $6,325,000.[9] Childs subsequently changed its name to Hotel Corporation of America, now known as Sonesta International Hotels Corporation.[10] Donald Trump bought the Plaza for $407.5 million in 1988. Trump commented on his purchase in a full-page open letter he had published 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."

After Trump's divorce from wife Ivana Trump, the Plaza's president, Trump sold the hotel for $325 million in 1995 to a partnership between Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.

It was sold in 2004 for $675 million to a Manhattan 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.[11]

El Ad closed The Plaza on April 30, 2005, to undergo extensive renovations.[12] The Plaza reopened on March 1, 2008.[13] Today the Plaza offers 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condo hotel units and is managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Diamond retailer Lev Leviev put in the first bid for a Plaza apartment at $10 million.[14] In May 2007, a new apartment in the Plaza was sold for a record $50 million,[15] but prices dropped through 2009.[16]

In November 2008 the Plaza Hotel unveiled its retail collection, an underground mall featuring luxury brands such as Vertu and Demel Bakery, an Austrian owned business.

The Plaza Hotel's famous Palm Court closed to the public in January 2009.

Plaza Hotel facilities, guest services and public spaces

The Plaza Hotel offers its guests and residences many services including a butler on every floor, baby-sitting and concierges, a gymnasium managed by the world renowned trainer Radu, 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 Square, the Edwardian Room, the Terrace Room, the Oak Room Restaurant and Bar, the Rose Club, the Grand Ball Room, 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.

Movie backdrop

Although the hotel had appeared briefly in earlier films, it made its major movie debut in the 1959 film North by Northwest. It was also a setting for Barefoot in the Park (1967), Funny Girl (1968), Plaza Suite (1971), The Way We Were (1973), Love at First Bite (1979), Arthur (1981), Cotton Club (1984), Brewster's Millions (1985), the first two Crocodile Dundee movies, Big Business (1988), King of New York (1990), Scent of a Woman (1991), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), It Could Happen to You (1994), Almost Famous (2000), and Inside the Osmonds (2001), and several episodes of The Sopranos (most notably The Test Dream, Season 5, Episode 11) feature scenes occurring in a suite at the Plaza. The recent Bride Wars (2008) with Kate Hudson, and Anne Hathaway 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 Plaza is also mentioned and shown in shows including Gossip Girl and Sex and the City.

Then-Plaza owner Donald Trump appears in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, directing the main character Kevin to the lobby. In one of the film's more memorable scenes, Kevin must elude the hotel staff by sliding through the Plaza's lobby into a waiting elevator. To make the scene logistically possible, the film crew had to remove the wall-to-wall carpeting, exposing the original tiles. When then-owner Donald Trump saw the beautiful mosaics, he instantly fell in love with the look and insisted it remain that way after filming, which it did until renovations in 2005 began.

The book Eloise at the Plaza and its film adaptations Eloise at the Plaza and Eloise at Christmastime are set here as well. The Plaza was featured notably in the original 1956 TV movie Eloise, starring Evelyn Rudie as Eloise, the child who lived "on the top floor", with cameo appearances by Conrad Hilton and Eloise author Kay Thompson.

Eloise in Paris is set to start shooting in 2009, starring Jordana Beatty as Eloise and Uma Thurman as Nanny. The film will have various shots of the Plaza Hotel.

A building resembling the Plaza Hotel called "The Emissary" can be seen in the game Grand Theft Auto IV. It is also located south of Middle Park, the in-game rendition of Manhattan's Central Park.

Although not necessarily a movie backdrop, the Plaza Hotel made an appearance in Percy Jackson & the Olympians as the base of operations in The Last Olympian for the demigods as they fought to defend Manhattan against Kronos

Future of the Plaza brand

Construction began in early 2008 on The Las Vegas Plaza, a $5 Billion multi-use luxury hotel, private residence, retail and gaming complex being developed on the Las Vegas Strip opposite Wynn Las Vegas.[17]

References and sources

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2006-03-15. 
  2. ^ a b "Plaza Hotel". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ Central Park Conservancy Grand Army Plaza
  4. ^ Morehouse, Ward. Inside the Plaza: an Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. New York: Applause, 2001.
  5. ^ Morehouse, Ward. Inside the Plaza: an Intimate Portrait of the Ultimate Hotel. New York: Applause, 2001.
  6. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated. 
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. undated. 
  8. ^ McKim, Mead, and White, architects; demolished in 1964.
  9. ^ "Childs Approves Plaza Purchase", The New York Times, November 18, 1955
  10. ^ "Sonesta International Hotels Corp - Company Timeline". Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Danto, Ginger. "Suite Deal for the Plaza." Brandweek 2005 April 25: 30.
  13. ^ Baltic, Contributing Editor Scott. "New York's Plaza Hotel Reopens After $400M Renovation." Commercial Property News 2008 March 3: NA.
  14. ^ The Forward: Israelis in NY real estate
  15. ^ "Apartment at Plaza goes for big sum"
  16. ^ CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY (January 17, 2010). "Dream for the Plaza Fades in a Not-So-Gilded Age". New York Times. 
  17. ^

External links

Coordinates: 40°45′53″N 73°58′28″W / 40.764712°N 73.974574°W / 40.764712; -73.974574

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