Commodore Hotel, Grand Central New York 1945
Named after “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt, the railroad tycoon and founder of the New York Central Railroad System, the Commodore Hotel was constructed adjacent to Grand Central Station and opened in 1919. The stately building was hailed as York’s “newest and most up-to-date hotel . . . containing 2,000 rooms with baths and circulating ice water in every room.” It also had what was then called “the most beautiful lobby in the world,” with a waterfall and elegant seating areas and the Century Room, where a full orchestra played daily. Vanderbilt, a showman at his roots, was once told by a guest that New York City was like a circus – so he arranged to have a circus – complete with elephants – perform in the grand ballroom. Operated by the Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Group, the imposing Commodore Hotel offered food and lodgings to the thousands of people who flocked by train through Grand Central Station to make their marks on New York City. If you look carefully at the image you can see that the vast majority of the people are in uniforms. A sure sign that this was done in 1945 after WW2 had ended and service men and women were returning home.
It was refurbished in the 1960s and sold in the 1970s to the Trump Organisation, which gutted the building and remodelled the exterior in reflective glass. The company erased references to “Commodore “Vanderbilt” and it has been the Grand Hyatt since reopening in the 1980s.
Courtesy Private Collection.
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