The Hotel Pennsylvania
It went through four name changes but it also started as The Hotel Pennsylvania when it opened at 401 Seventh Avenue (15 Penn Plaza) in Manhattan, across the street from Pennsylvania Station and Madison Square Garden in New York City, right across the street from the Pennsylvania Station and was designed to be the main hotel for visitors who took the train to New York. When it opened on January 25, 1919, and for a long time it was the largest hotel in the world. It was bought and renamed the Hotel Statler on January 1, 1949, and the hotel became The Statler Hilton in 1958. In 1991, it was renamed the Hotel Pennsylvania
Animated films Hotel Transylvania I, II, III, IV – AND a Bugs Bunny Cartoon spoofed the Transylvania Hotel idea.
The hotel was first owned by Ellsworth Statler, he is the basis for one of the two cranky old Muppets who sit in a theatre balcony – Statler and Waldorf.
The TV Show Mad Men made several references to the hotel, which was still called the Hilton-Statler in the 60s.
There was Scandal Too- it was the location of the famous– foul/play murder in 1953 of Frank Olson, he was a CIA agent, who was deliberately given LSD without his knowledge. The CIA confessed to that in 1975.
On January 21, 1972, the first Star Trek Convention took place in New York, at the Statler-Hilton Hotel. Because the idea of the Star Trek Future outlasted the show, it created a real community. Star Wars and the MCU are bigger now, but today there are dozens of conventions centered around TV Shows, Horror Conventions, with hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of visitors among them. I don’t think any of that would have happened if a few thousand fans didn’t show up in New York that first weekend in January 1972.
Pennsylvania Hotel’s Musical Connection
Starting with the Phone Number- Before Tommy Tutone came out with 867-5309 in (#4 in 1982), the Hotel’s Number- Pennsylvania 6- 5000 (212-736-5000,) came out as a song by Glenn Miller. Tommy made up 867-5309, but Pennsylvania 6, 5000 was and is the real number for the Hotel. They claim that it is the longest continually used number in New York City, which would make it one of the longest-used 7 digit phone numbers anywhere. We’re talking 100 years old at this point.
Glenn Miller was the Top Artist of the day. He had 20 Top Ten Hits between 1939 and 1943- he had 120 Top 30 Hits, all in under 5 years. Nobody has matched that success in such a short time, including chart-toppers like The Beatles, Drake, or Taylor Swift. Pennsylvania Six 5000 was one of his Signature Songs, he performed at the hotel more than any other artist.
In the Early Days of Radio, the 30s, and 40s, live entertainment was based in New York, and Live Broadcasts on NBC had a lot of bands and orchestras that were broadcast from a restaurant/showroom that was part of the Hotel called The Cafe Rouge. Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Doris Day, and of course Glenn Miller played there. In the forties, it was the hottest nightclub in New York.
The Annual Westminster Dog Show is across the street at Madison Square Garden, so a lot of the contestants and their owners stayed there,
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission denied several requests to get it listed as a Historic Landmark.
It’s just a walk from the train station, and it was last renovated in 2008- they planned on renovation again, but the building was just too old to renovate. They closed it on April 1, 2020, and it was demolished in 2022.