18. Vanderbilt Hotel, Park Avenue and 34th Street

Vanderbilt Hotel

The Vanderbilt Hotel was a hotel on Park Avenue and 34th Street whose penthouse served as a city residence for Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. Alfred was a wealthy businessman and son of Cornelius Vanderbilt II who died in the sinking of the RMS Lusitania. Alfred envisioned an upscale hotel located next to the new Grand Central Terminal six blocks south on Park Avenue.

Warren & Wetmore were tasked with completing the project, with an elegant terra cotta facade and design looking back to 18th century England. The building specifically drew from the designs of the Adam style, named after the neoclassical style of Scottish architect William Adam and his sons. They did deviate a bit, though, with their terra cotta lion heads and Italian Renaissance sculptures. The building was also notably fireproof, since an intense fire did no damage to the building’s fourth floor just three days after it opened on January 10, 1912. Guastavino tiles were featured in the Della Robbia Room underground (now a restaurant). The hotel closed in 1966, even after a boost in revenue from the 1964 World’s Fair, and the building was converted into office space and apartments.