12 Crazy Facts About NYC’s Iconic Ansonia Hotel on the Upper West Side

Ansonia Apartments - New YorkThe Ansonia about 1904, image via Library of Congress

If there is one building that epitomizes the Upper West Side’s bohemian origins, it just might be The Ansonia with its rather scandalous and off-beat reputation. The Ansonia has been home to such a wide range of characters–from Babe Ruth to Igor Stravinsky to Natalie Portman–that it’s not surprising what an illustrious backstory it has. We decided to take a look back at a wonderful feature from New York Magazine in 2005 that revisits the ups and downs of the historic building (which had 1,400 rooms and 320 suites!) and share with you some of the most wild facts about the building.

1. The 1919 World Series was Rigged in the Ansonia

emailed handout photo for SPORTS - SAVED OCTOBER 4, 2012: PHOTO CREDIT: UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI, ARCHIVES & RARE BOOKS LIBRARY The Reds thought they won Game Two at Redland Field fair and square, too, but Chisox starting pitcher Lefty Williams (on mound, bottom right corner) was in on the fix. He intentionally lost his vaunted control in the fourth inning to walk three Reds batters and give up three runs that proved sufficient in the Reds' 4-2 victory. In this photo, Reds baserunner Greasy Neale is being tagged out at second base by Chicago shortstop Swede Risberg, also in on the fix. Photo Credit: University of Cincinnati, Archives & Rare Books LibraryGameplay from the 1919 World Series. Image via retro.cincinnati.com

The Ansonia had always been popular amongst athletes and the mixing between professional sports and the mafia found a match in 1919, when a group of White Sox players agreed to lose the upcoming World Series for $10,000 a player in the room of baseman Arnold “Chick” Gandil. The operation was bankrolled by Arnold Rothstein, a racketeer who was the inspiration for mobster Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby. Rothstein re-entered our cultural consciousness most recently as a character in Boardwalk Empire. For all the plotting, apparently the players didn’t practice to lose convincingly and after their 5-3 loss, they came under suspicion. Steven Gaines of New York Magazine calls it “baseball’s biggest scandal ever.”

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