At the southwest corner of 34th Street and Park Avenue sits a beautiful building under going renovation. The building opened in 1912 as the Vanderbilt Hotel.
While the architecture firm of Warren and Wetmore were finishing up Grand Central Terminal for the Vanderbilt family, they were asked to start another project, a grand hotel. The facade was to use traditional English design, but the firm snuck in quite a few flourishes, including terracotta lions and depictions of Bacchus. The inside remained true to the style of Wedgwood and Chippendale traditions.
The hotel was said to be fireproof. The 4th day it was open, they had a fire in a store room and little damage was done outside of the store room, impressing even the insurance company.
Alfred Vanderbilt had the top 2 floors of the hotel made into a townhouse for his family and staff and they lived there quite comfortably, even through a strike of the hotel staff. But in 1913, Alfred traveled to Europe aboard the RMS Lusitania and was lost at sea with the sunken ship. Alfred had given his life jacket to a mother with an infant. His body was never found.
His widow left the hotel soon after. The “townhouse” became the home of the Women’s City Club. The hotel also attracted the wealthy and famous, including Howard Hughes, Jr. and opera singer Enrico Caruso.
The depression took its toll and the hotel went into foreclosure in 1935. It was turned into apartments and offices by an investment group. Apartments now rent in the building for $2700+ a month and there are also options to buy. There are 22 floors and 364 apartments in this great old pre-war building just blocks from Grand Central Terminal and Herald Square.