Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The New Yorker "is a Huge Machine"

I really enjoyed Rolando's post on Urbanite last Thursday on the glorious Hotel New Yorker. The hotel's room-by-room renovation is drawing near a conclusion, notes Rolando, who had the chance to take a tour of the place with Joe Kinney, the hotel's engineer and historian.  Here are a few passages from the post:

The striking pyramidical, set-backed tower was financed and built before the Wall Street crash of 1929, and opened into a sobered-up world on Jan. 2, 1930, with the Great Depression already under way.

The 43-story hotel boasted many extremes when it opened: It was the biggest, the tallest, the one with the largest switchboard, the largest kitchen, the largest private power plant. Today, its massive LED sign is a skyline fixture and is possibly the largest of its kind anywhere.

You hear of the ice follies at the Terrace Room, of visits by actor Mickey Rooney and band leader Benny Goodman, and of Nikola Tesla, the electrical genius whose obsession with numbers and his love for pigeons still draw the curious to the hotel, where he spent his final years.

The New Yorker Hotel's historically minded renovation comes at a time when the future of its former swing-era arch enemy, the Hotel Pennsylvania, has been in question, and during a time when the wrecking ball has been tearing down old New York with abandon.

The hotel’s rebirth is due in no small part to Kinney's curiosity and cheer-leading for the hotel's history.

Read this follow-up post here.

Meanwhile, I came across this article from the April 1930 issue of Popular Science Monthly on the hotel's grand opening. 

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