New York Architecture Images- Midtown

Hotel Pennsylvania


McKim, Mead and White


401 7th Ave at 33rd Street




Renaissance Revival


Built between 1918-1919 by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Originally operated under Hotels Statler Co.


  Center tower in picture is rendering of proposed new Vornado tower that would replace much lower Hotel Pennsylvania

Hotel Pennsylvania was built in 1919 by the Pennsylvania Railroad for Penn Station. It's lower colonnaded facade was designed to mimic that of Penn Station to create a cohesive design. There used to be an underground passageway that linked Penn Station directly to the hotel. Construction started in circa 1918. From it's grand opening on January 25, 1919 to 1928 it was the largest hotel in the world with 2,200 rooms and 2,200 guest baths and 22 floors. Hotel Pennsylvania was one of the first hotels (if not the first) to have a private bathroom for each guestroom. Amenities in the hotel included the following: concierge, a dentist, a fully-functioning hospital, a men and woman's plunge (pool), a barber shop, drug store, numerous lounges bars and cafes, a coffee shop, a library filled with thousands of books, Grill Room (restaurant), Cafe Rouge (famous main dining room), numerous conference rooms for organizations like the Automotive Club of NY and the executive offices of Hotels Statler Co., a carpentery shop, florist, a small department store for men and women, shoemakers, a grand ballroom with 3 separate lounges available for rent, a spa, and a Roof Garden Restaurant (with panoramic views of the city).

On each guest floor, there was a pair of "Sample Rooms" which I am assuming were shown to people who wished to rent out rooms in the hotel over long periods of time. As mentioned above each guestroom had a private bath. There were a few suites on each floor of the hotel containing at least a Dining Room or Living Room and a spacious bedroom. Some suites were even grander and contained more rooms. E.M. Statler, the founder and owner of Hotel Pennsylvania lived in his own private suite in the hotel until the day he died. He also died inside his suite surrounded by his family.

Transition from 1919 to today:

The original lobby was two stories. It was surrounded by fluted columns which held up the upper level mezzanine. The ceiling was a giant artificially illuminated stained-glass skylight. The current lobby has a dropped ceiling which covered the entire upper level. The original fluted columns have been covered.

The Cafe Rouge Restaurant was off the main lobby. It had had a bandstand in it which housed famous performers such as Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the Andrew Sisters, Dorsey Brothers, and Glenn Miller. Glenn Miller had a very close relation to the hotel. He was a frequent performer as well as a guest at the hotel. He also spent his honeymoon at the hotel. The Glenn Miller hit song "Pennsylvania 6-5000" was written about the hotel's phone number. The hotel's phone number PE 6-5000 is the longest continuously running phone number. The Cafe Rouge is no longer in use. It is inaccessible from the hotel. The Cafe Rouge is currently used for storage, however is still retains all of its ornamentation and original beauty.

The Roof Garden restaurant is no longer in use. Today it is known as the Penn Top Ballroom. The Penn Top Ballroom does not resemble the Roof Garden anymore except for the shape of the room and ceilings.

The Ballroom is no longer a ballroom. It currently houses NEP Studios and is the set for shows such as Sherri. The Ballroom has been totally stripped down and does not resemble it's former self.

The remaining cafes, lounges, and luxury rooms are either closed off behind locked doors or false walls or are used for other things.

The hotel is currently owned by Vornado Realty Trust. They have plans to build a 1,216 ft glass tower on top of the site of the hotel. The giant tower will block views of the Empire State Building from certain angles. The hotel was not designated a landmark due to a series of bribes from Vornado as well as corruption. Ironically, the LPC was created because of the demolition of Penn Station and yet, the hotel, a building that was made for Penn Station has been denied landmarking. The Building is in a state of disrepair and this is done on purpose. Vornado feels that if the hotel is hated by New Yorkers, no one will oppose the demolition. They are right because the hotel went from being the most luxurious and popular hotel in the world, to the hotel that was sued millions of dollars for a bed bug infestation. If saved, Hotel Pennsylvania could be somewhat easily restored to it's orginal beauty.

Important Link-

With special thanks to Steven Lepore, Gregory Jones, and the Save Hotel Pennsylvania Foundation.


links The Hotel Pennsylvania- Where are the Preservationists?