Photo from Library of Congress
New York City has always been a hot spot for luxury hotels, which compete with each other for the latest amenities, most unique architecture, and more. But the cycle of construction, demolition, and rebirth is as old as the city itself, apart from the much needed landmarks preservation designations, and many of what were once New York’s grandest hotels have been lost to history. As a look back, here are ten notable hotels no longer standing.
1. Grand View Hotel in Brooklyn
Photo in public domain, pre 1893.
The Grand View Hotel once stood at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn overlooking the Narrows and Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. The hotel was built in 1886 for $122,000, with a capacity of 1,000 guests. Built onto a bluff, the water side of the hotel had ten stories, and the street side had seven, with wraparound open-air balconies much like a Mississippi show boat. As was the fashion of the time, some New Yorkers spent the summer months there on a long-term basis. It was built by the Brooklyn City Railroad, and purchased in 1891 by Adolph Ruehl for just $80,000, because as The New York Times reported, it had “been a failure.” But just two years later in 1893, the hotel went up in flames.
A New York Times article reported that the fire was caused by an explosion in the basement where an “amateur photographer’s outfit of chemicals” were kept. Ruehl told the newspaper that had the Hamilton Fire Engine Company arrived in a timely matter, the building could have been saved, but alas the officers were “at their annual ball at New Utrecht-Town Hall, far away.” The entire structure burned to its foundations. Further compounding the unfortunate situation, Ruehl had allowed the insurance policy on the property to lapse, and could only hope that the Brooklyn Railroad City company’s $45,000 insurance would be enough to rebuild.