The Plaza

So much has occurred at The Plaza, including changing hands, that it would take books—and there are many—to tell its story. Here’s a curated timeline and a glimpse of the historic property’s evolution and select milestones.

1883: Construction begins on the first Plaza Hotel, on the former site of the New York Skating Club on Fifth Ave.; builders fail to raise funds to complete and New York Life Insurance Co. forecloses, hiring architects McKim, Mead and White to complete the hotel and redesign the interior.

1890: The first Plaza Hotel opens on Oct. 1.

1905: The first Plaza Hotel is demolished in order to build an even larger hotel.

1907: The new Plaza Hotel, constructed in 27 months at a cost of $12.5 million, opens its doors on Oct. 1.

1910: Lord Kitchener, British officer and statesman, stays at The Plaza during a much-publicized visit to New York; Summer Garden, a seasonal restaurant, opens in the area that later becomes known as The Rose Room; The Champagne Porch, an outdoor café along the Fifth Ave. side of the hotel, opens.

1920: The National Prohibition Act, aka The Volstead Act, closes the Men’s Bar. It later becomes The Oak Room; Construction of a 300-room annex begins on the 58th St. side of the hotel.

1925: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is published, with scenes set in the hotel.

1930: The Studebaker Corp. gives up its showroom in the hotel, and The Rose Room reverts to space for private functions; The break up of larger suites begins to create permanent guestrooms for visitors.

1933: Prohibition is officially repealed in December.

1940: The hotel enforces a three-day maximum stay during the war years.

1943, Conrad Hilton and Atlas Corp. acquire the hotel for $7.4 million.

1945: The Oak Bar opens on Jan. 13.

1950: Industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss remodels The Persian Room; Architect Frank Lloyd Wright moves into Suite 223-225, where he lives for the next six years; The State Suite opens to the public as a space for

private functions.

1955: National restaurant chain, The Childs Co., buys the hotel for $6.2 million; Kay Thompson writes the first Eloise, a now-iconic series of books illustrated by Hilary Knight, about a little girl who lives at The Plaza and the mischief she stirs up.

1956: The Childs Co. changes its name to Hotel Corp. of America.

1960: A portrait of Eloise vanishes after a college dance in the ballroom; The Plaza 9 cabaret opens in the basement space that was the former home of Rendez-vous.

1964 The Beatles arrive at The Plaza on Feb. 7 for a six-day visit.

1966: Author Truman Capote presides over the now-legend Black and White Ball, a masquerade event, on Nov. 28 at the hotel.

1969: The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission grants the hotel landmark status.

1970: Hotel Corp. of America changes its name to Sonesta International Hotels; The Edwardian Room transforms into The Green Tulip restaurant to meet the flower-power vibe of the time period; The Cinema 3 movie theater opens in the basement space that was formerly The Plaza 9 Music Hall.

1975: Sonesta International Hotels sells The Plaza to Western International Hotels for $25 million.

1978: The Plaza is added to The National Register of Historic Places.

1980: Western International Hotels changes its name to Westin Hotels; The Plaza is added to the New York State Register of Historic Places.

1982: The hotel celebrates its 75th anniversary with a dinner benefiting the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

1988: Westin Hotels sells The Plaza to real estate mogul Donald J. Trump for $390 million.

1991: The movie Home Alone 2 begins filming in the 59th St. lobby of the hotel in December

1993: The Plaza owner Donald J. Trump weds actress Marla Maples in The Grand Ballroom on Dec. 20; The Plaza Spa opens in the lower level space formerly occupied by Trader Vic’s and Cinema 3.

1995: Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal and CDL Hotels International acquire a controlling stake in The Plaza in a deal reportedly valued at $325 million.

 

 

 

2004: The 805-key hotel is sold for $675 million to Israeli-owned developer Elad Properties (now  Elad Group).

2005: The Plaza closes its doors for an extensive lobby-to-roof restoration by Elad Properties; the public is invited to buy items from the hotel, from uniforms to doorknobs to samovars to drapery and chandeliers in a liquidation sale. The line wraps around the block every day of the sale.

2007: The Plaza celebrates its 100th birthday.

2008: The $450-million renovation is complete. The hotel reopens with 180 private condominiums, 152 hotel condominiums and 130 hotel rooms. A retail mall becomes part of the hotel’s lower level.

2010: The Plaza Food Hall opens in the mall, anchored by The Todd English Food Hall, in collaboration with the celebrity chef.

2012: India’s business group Sahara India Pariwar agrees to buy a 75% controlling stake (including 100 of the hotel/condominium units) from Elad Properties for $570 million.

2014: Sahara’s Chairman Subrata Roy says he’s seeking a buyer for the majority stake in the hotel while facing legal entanglements in India.

2015: Eloise turns 60; NBC’s Saturday Night Live celebrates its 40th anniversary with a party in The Grand Ballroom.

2016: Al-Waleed bin Talal partners with Qatari Investment Authority to purchase the hotel, but the deal does not go through.

2017: Reports have Al-Waleed bin Talal partnering with Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. to buy out Roy; Sahara puts the property up for sale again, hiring JLL Hotels and Hospitality Group to market it. At press time, formal bids were in-house at JLL, according to International Director Jeffrey Davis and Managing Director Gilda Perez-Alvarado, who also leads JLL’s Global Hotel Desk. The Plaza marks its 110th birthday  on Oct. 1.

 

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