18. Hotel Theresa (1913)

The Hotel Theresa in Harlem

The Hotel Theresa on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard is an iconic 13-story building in Harlem that served as a center for African-American life in the mid-1900s. Now an office building known as Theresa Towers, the hotel was considered the “Waldorf of Harlem” and was designed by German stockbroker Gustavus Sidenberg in 1913. As a symbol of Black culture in Harlem, the hotel actually only accepted white guests until 1940, when African-American businessman Love B. Woods bought the hotel and ended its policy of racial segregation.

The hotel served as the location of organizations like the Organization of Afro-American Unity, founded by Malcolm X, and the March on Washington Movement, organized by activists A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin. Politicians like Roy Brown, Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton, and Charles Rangel, member of the House of Representatives, worked in the hotel. Fidel Castro and his associates famously stayed at the hotel in 1960 for the opening session of the United Nations, renting out 80 rooms. Castro was visited at the hotel by figures like Nikita Khrushchev, Langston Hughes, and Gamal Abdel Nasser. However, the hotel closed in 1967 as the hotel suffered from business due to Harlem’s deterioration, and the building was renovated into office spaces in 1970.