It was once said, “Nothing unimportant ever happens at The Plaza.” One of America’s most celebrated hotels, The Plaza opened its doors on October 1, 1907, amid a flurry of impressive reports describing it as the greatest hotel in the world. Located at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, this luxury hotel was constructed in the most fashionable residential section of New York City. From its original 19th century construction to its magnificent $450 million dollar restoration in 2008, the world’s most famous hotel has had a remarkable history.
The Plaza was the dream of financier Bernhard Beinecke, hotelier Fred Sterry, and Harry S. Black, President of the Fuller Construction Company. They purchased a 15-year-old hotel of the same name on the site. The three men set out to replace it with what is surely one of the most elegant hotels in the world. Construction of the 19-story building (a skyscraper back then) took two years at a cost of $12 million – an unprecedented sum in those days. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, who also designed the Dakota apartments, the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. and The Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston, set about his task to provide all the pomp, glory, and opulence of a French chateau. No cost was spared. The largest single order in history for gold-encrusted china was placed with L. Straus & Sons, and no less than 1,650 crystal chandeliers were purchased.
For over 100 years, The Plaza has been the New York hotel to see and be seen. Kings, presidents, and stars of stage and screen have all gathered and stayed at The Plaza. The most lavish social affairs, as well as classic Hollywood films have all used the legendary hotel as their setting.