It's now a residential building called the Herald Towers that somewhat blends in with surrounding tall architecture, but when it was first built in 1912, the Hotel McAlpin was a formidable presence. At 25 stories tall, it was the largest hotel in the world with 1,500 rooms, not including the Turkish bath, roof garden (a solid amenity if there ever was one), ballroom (throwback to the Gilded Age), and convention hall (meh).
|The McAlpin going up, March 1912. Photo: MCNY|
The building was designed by American architect Frank Mills Andrews and besides its fortuitous location next to the Sixth Avenue El train, it was smack in the center of rapidly changing part of the city. In 1912, the Macy's store on West 34th Street and Broadway (across the street) was celebrating its tenth year, and the area was quickly transforming from the den of sin it was in the late 1800s to a retail and hospitality center. A few blocks away on 34th Street at Park Avenue, the Vanderbilt Hotel was under construction; the Titanic sank in April 1912, taking with it Macy's founder Isidor Strauss; and the first monument dedicated to a woman was celebrated in Bryant Park. One year earlier, the New York Public Library opened its doors to the public, and in 1913, the Grand Central Oyster Bar opened its doors. In short, people were traveling, shopping, and eating out more.
The Hotel McAlpin opened for business on December 29, 1912, a Monday.
A year after the hotel's opening, members of the Blackfoot Confederacy from Montana visited the hotel. The visit was arranged by Louis W. Hill, fonder of the Northern Railroad Company to promote train service from western states.
|Marine Grill, c. 1924. Photo: MCNY|