Founded in 2006, The Hotel Pennsylvania Preservation Society is a not-for-profit organization founded with the goal of preserving New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania, as well as other NYC buildings worthy of preservation.
Hotel Pennsylvania opened on January 25th, 1919. Designed by the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the hotel owned by The Pennsylvania Railroad and operated by The Hotels Statler Company. At the time of its opening it was the largest hotel in the world, boasting 2,200 rooms – a title it held for nearly a decade. Throughout the years it’s walls were graced by the likes of William Faulkner, Herbert Hoover, Charlie Chaplin and, of course, Glenn Miller who would immortalize the hotel’s phone number in his hit song “Pennsylvania 6-5000”.
Unfortunately for Hotel Pennsylvania, the grand old days of extravagant hotels ended and the streets of Manhattan began to decline significantly. In an attempt at saving the hotel and making it more profitable, Elie Hirschfeld conducted an extreme renovation, seemingly stripping every original detail from interior in the mid 1980s. Ceilings were lowered, public spaces gutted and modernized and the room count was reduced to 1,700. What may have been done with good intentions would nearly lead to the demolition of Hotel Pennsylvania.
Hirschfeld sold the newly renovated Hotel Pennsylvania – a shell of its former grandeur. It was eventually purchased by Vornado Realty Trust who saw the building as nothing but a cash cow until they could secure plans to demolish it and build and office tower nearly as tall as the Empire State Building in its place. Despite preservationists woes, the hotel was denied landmark status due to the extensive renovations done to the interior.
Hotel Pennsylvania sits in a current state of limbo. The economy is too poor for Vornado to proceed with the planned skyscraper. Recently, they announced they would spare the hotel and renovate it instead of demolishing it. As of now, renovations have not started, and the hotels demolitions still looms over its head.
The Hotel Pennsylvania Preservation Society’s goal is to have Hotel Pennsylvania restored to its original grandeur and to preserve NYC’s forgotten treasures. Follow us on our journey to bring back Midtown’s Grand Dame.