The Original New Yorker (and yes, this is the hotel)
There is a hotel called the New Yorker at the corner of 34th Street and 8th Avenue that I cross all the time and have photographed often, not because of the hotel as such but because at a specific angle the name New Yorker aligns perfectly with a view of the Empire State Building in the same shot, and it is a photograph I cannot resist taking every time I cross it. You can see for yourself below, the color of the Empire State Building definitely confirms these were taken on different days, and there are plenty more where these came from!
Fast forward to 23 years after I moved to New York, and it is only recently started tripping on to a lot of New York history that went down at the New Yorker Hotel! This history is all way older than Hillary Clinton’s concession speech which was given in their ballroom which is pictured below. I always thought it was at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, but I stand corrected.
I am working on a series of posts based on all I am discovering, but all this research started from a tidbit I stumbled upon regarding Nikola Tesla having spent the last 10 years of his life at this hotel. My interest in Tesla has been heightened after my visit to Serbia in 2021, which is ironic given I live a neighborhood away from where he spent the last 10 years of his life, and I navigate the same streets he used to, such as Bryant Park which has a street named after him.
I am now learning about Muhammad Ali’s stay at the hotel after his big fight with Joe Frazier in 1971, the underground tunnel that connected it to Penn Station, an ice skating rink in the hotel, the hotel housing largest private generator in all of the US for a while, a radio station that broadcast music during WWII, and the list goes on. As I make my way through researching – and visiting – the hotel, here are a few of the highlights that have blown me away.
For starters, there is an escalator going down from the lobby to the The New Yorker History Exhibit that anyone can visit! I encourage anyone that is interested in New York history to visit as going there was like opening a time capsule for me.
Not only does the Hotel have 2 suites named after Nikola Tesla, but there is a whole corner dedicated to Nikola Tesla, and a number of his things that the hotel has displayed, including handwritten letters from Tesla and pictures of Tesla hosting dignitaries in his New Yorker hotel room and study. I am pasting only a few pictures in this post, there is definitely more to come.
There is a suite called the Muhammad Ali Suite where he stayed after his big fight with Joe Fraisier as it is spelt at the New Yorker, and Joe Frazier as it is spelt at Madison Square Garden. There is definitely a post in the making with more details about this soon.
There are fascinating old marketing pieces and news articles about the New Yorker Hotel –
There’s a section that plays music that was broadcast during WWII to troops overseas. I tried to record this as it was amazing, but the sound of the escalator unfortunately drowned out the music in the videos I took on my phone.
The tunnel from the New Yorker Hotel to Penn Station, which is now blocked as you go deeper in, is not an urban legend at all! I have some grainy pictures of which were taken by a friend (and yes I have permission to use them!) below, stay tuned as I hope to get some myself soon.
Here’s a fascinating Sanitary Code Sign that was at the New Yorker Hotel’s women’s locker room in the 1930s requiring women to bathe at least daily, but change underclothes at least three times weekly. I am so thankful our current sanitary code supports more frequent changes of underwear at least, though women today are clearly in violation of the make up code!
Here’s an announcement about all the technology offered by the New Yorker Hotel, including a radio in every room in 1930, and in 1948 the hotel had more TVs under one roof than any other building in the world, though it seems like you had to request a room with one –
It would be nice to get these rates back for any hotel in NYC.
Discovering the New Yorker Hotel has been what makes this blog such a treat for me, as pulling on one thread starting with Nikola Tesla is leading me to find such interesting history hiding in plain sight around the streets that I traverse every single day, and I am just about scratching the surface of everything there is yet to discover.