5. A Monkey Once Ran Through the Lobby

Lobby at Hotel Pennsylvania
McKim, Mead & White. (circa 1919). Page No. 003 – The Main Lobby. Columbia Digital Library Collections

In September 1935, a furry creature caused quite a stir in the hotel lobby. On a Saturday night, a monkey bounded into the lobby of the Hotel Pennsylvania. “Through the entrance the monkey scurried, bouncing along the gleaming corridor rimming the hotel’s telephone booths,” The New York Times reported. As two nearby taxi drivers chased after it, “the monkey leaped from table to lamp and showed no interest whatever in being captured.”

Eventually, the creature was caught and driven to a police station. One of the drivers surmised that the monkey had come from Frank Buck’s jungle camp in Massapequa, Long Island, while others thought it might have been one of the escaped monkeys from the Willard Parker Hospital where the animals were used for medical experiments and drug tests. Four escapees were on the loose at the time.