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 owned by El-Ad Properties and managed and operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Canada.
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. 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 57th and 58th 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 the hotel opened, a room at the Plaza Hotel was only $2.50 per night (equivalent of $59 today). Today, the same room costs from $695 upwards.
The Plaza was accorded landmark status by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1969; it was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1986. The Waldorf-Astoria is the only other New York City hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Long the site for famous performers and guests, it has also been the meeting place for important political meetings. The nationally known singers Eartha Kitt, Liza Minnelli, Kay Thompson, Andy Williams, and Peggy Lee played the Persian Room; unaccompanied ladies were not permitted in the Oak Room bar; and women favored the Palm Court for luncheons and teas. The Beatles stayed at the Plaza during their first visit to the United States in February 1964. On November 28, 1966, in honor of the publisher Katharine Graham, the writer Truman Capote hosted his acclaimed “Black & White Ball” in the Grand Ballroom. In September 1985, ministers of developed countries met at the Plaza to consult on finance issues and affirmed their agreement by signing the Plaza Accord. It 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 hotel offers tours of its interior to the public.
Conrad Hilton bought the Plaza for US$7.4 million in 1943 (equivalent of $94 million today) and spent US$6.0 million (equivalent of $76.2 million today) refurbishing it. The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain which partnered in the development of the neighboring Savoy-Plaza Hotel, (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 (equivalent of $51.9 million today). Childs subsequently changed its name to Hotel Corporation of America, now known as Sonesta International Hotels Corporation. Donald Trump bought the Plaza for $407.5 million in 1988 (equivalent of $756 million today). Trump commented on his purchase in a full-page open letter he 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 (equivalent of $468 million today) to Troy Richard Campbell, from New Hampshire. He sold it in 2004 for $675 million (equivalent of $785 million today) 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.
El Ad temporarily closed The Plaza on April 30, 2005, for extensive renovations. The Plaza reopened on March 1, 2008. Today the Plaza offers 282 hotel rooms and 152 private condo hotel units; it is managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Diamond retailer Lev Leviev put in the first bid for a Plaza apartment at $10 million. But lately, it is still possible to acquire ownership of the apartments at 50 sqm cost from $ 1.5 million In May 2007, a new apartment in the Plaza was sold for a record $50 million, but prices dropped through 2009. 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. In 2010 the Plaza Food Court, an eating establishment run by Chef Todd English, opened in the underground mall.
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