Save the Plaza
March 14, 2005 9:11 PM   Subscribe

Getting Bored is Not Allowed at the Plaza Hotel, at least not according to its famous fictional resident, the exhausting, spoiled and infectiously ebullient Eloise. Sadly, though, today's news is anything but boring: the Plaza's new owners announced plans to close the iconic hotel for 18 months, and renovate it to create private condos -- throwing hundreds of employees out of work. It's been said that nothing unimportant ever happens at the Plaza: from its 1907 opening to Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White Ball, the Plaza has hosted literati, glitterati, rock stars, and royalty. It has graced the screen in movies such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Great Gatsby, making Hollywood history when it became the first fully on-location film shoot for North by Northwest. Ernest Hemingway told F. Scott Fitzgerald to give his liver to Princeton and his heart to the Plaza; Dorothy Parker got her pink slip from Vanity Fair there. Residents, at various times, included Frank Lloyd Wright, Cary Grant, and Judy Garland. Every President since Taft has stepped through its giant engraved revolving doors. Chef Boyardee of canned-spaghetti fame got his start in its kitchens. No New York tourist's rounds are complete without a bloody mary and some bluepoints at the Oyster Bar, a martini in the Oak Room bar, or tea in the Palm Court, and its French-chateau facade is a Central Park centerpiece. An employees' group and a supporting 'Friends of the Plaza' group have begun working to save the gracious place, with the goal of preserving not only the building and their jobs, but the very idea of the quintessential New York luxury hotel. Almost enough to make folks want the Donald back.
posted by Miko (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
this post is incredible. thanks. The Plaza was the first big-time hotel I ever stayed in. I didn't know they were gonna close it. I also had NO IDEA that all of what you linked involved the place. this is really great.
posted by shmegegge at 9:59 PM on March 14, 2005

Dammit! There goes my small dream of spending a week in the Plaza. I can't begin to imagine what drove them to this decision. It's definitely one of the most iconic places in NYC.
posted by Plinko at 10:05 PM on March 14, 2005

I'm always sad to see a historic place like this fall to modernization. I probably wouldn't care about the apartments on the upper floors or renovating the rooms, but demolishing the Oyster Bar, the Terrace Room, and the Ballroom is a travesty. Places like this represent the American id, and should be preserved.

Thanks for the informative post Miko.
posted by sbutler at 10:39 PM on March 14, 2005

Excellent, Miko. Just from this, I would love to visit the Plaza Hotel someday. It seems like the sort of place people really care about.

Isn't there some other way for the community to do something to preserve the whole thing? I didn't know that the "historical landmark" designation made a distinction between external facades and interiors. So sad.
posted by Lush at 11:04 PM on March 14, 2005

I know the woman that "Eloise" was based on - she's not little anymore, and her two sons are well known Rock musicians in Europe. But she is the real Eloise... I think I'll give her a call and get her response!
posted by zaelic at 2:23 AM on March 15, 2005

Keith Richards used to stay there because he could walk to FAO Schwarz, buy a "Little Doctor" kit, go back to his room and shoot up use the little, perfectly functioning plastic syringe

I stayed at the Plaza once in the Nineties (thankfully, not for Keith's reason). I didn't really think it was that impressive, but it was a beautiful place, and I really liked the Oak Bar. all in all, if I had that kind of budget, I'd rather stay at the Carlyle.

it's sad to see the Plaza go but then, New York always changes -- they gutted the Essex House, too. and the Algonquin isn't certainly what it used to be. Ian Schrager's luxury-hospital style rules nowadays, doesn't it.
posted by matteo at 3:21 AM on March 15, 2005

Excellent. I love it when a post comes along about something I know next to nothing about, especially one as well put together as this. Note, fans of link-intensive posts -- context-sensitive/descriptive link text goes a long way to demystifying your post -- good one, Miko!
posted by nthdegx at 5:59 AM on March 15, 2005

I can't begin to imagine what drove them to this decision.

posted by scratch at 6:42 AM on March 15, 2005

I can't imagine how much they're going to be able to charge for those condos. If I was a rich man, lalalalalalalala...
posted by Eideteker at 7:10 AM on March 15, 2005

has hosted literati, glitterati, rock stars, and royalty

more than sufficient reason to obliterate the dump.
posted by quonsar at 8:14 AM on March 15, 2005

hey kids, The Oyster Bar is not, and never has been, part of The Plaza.

It has always been in Grand Central Station, and it is not going away just yet.

The Oyster Bar was where you had a last minute drink and snack before getting on the bar car heading for your home in the burbs.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:24 AM on March 15, 2005

I can't begin to imagine what drove them to this decision.


Or the fact that they're sitting on one of the most valuable pieces of land in NYC and have a responsibility to follow changing cultures... good for them to move past a very outdated hotel.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 9:12 AM on March 15, 2005

Um, maggiemaggie,the Grand Central Oyster Bar is in Grand Central.

The Plaza Oyster Bar is in the Plaza.

It's not on the Plaza web site because they closed it on February 4th.
posted by Miko at 10:57 AM on March 15, 2005

they're sitting on one of the most valuable pieces of land in NYC and have a responsibility to follow changing cultures... good for them to move past a very outdated hotel.

Oh, man, that is cold. A "responsibility to follow changing cultures"? That can cover all manner of evil.

Or are you kidding? Please tell me you're you're kidding.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:26 PM on March 15, 2005

If anyone is still reading, there is a fun piece in the Times today by that marvelously loony LA Weekly columnist Nikki Finke recalling her years as a deb at the Plaza.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:29 AM on March 20, 2005

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