Storied Roosevelt Hotel, Once Musical Home to Guy Lombardo, to Close Amidst Pandemic

Grand Central Terminal in New York City

By Kurt Stolz on 13 October 2020
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The Roosevelt Hotel, named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt and located on Madison Avenue and 45th Street in Manhattan, announced plans to close amidst the coronavirus pandemic-induced downturn in travel.

The 1,025-key hotel welcomed its first guests on September 22, 1924.  Its last day open will be 96 years and 39 days later, on October 31, 2020 and it has served as a witness to history since opening day.

The Roosevelt was developed by Frank Dudley and his United Hotels Company of America.  It was acquired by Conrad Hilton in 1943 and Hilton eventually moved into the hotel’s 3,900-square-foot (360-square-meter) presidential suite as his home.  The Roosevelt Hotel, which was the first property in the United States to incorporate street-level storefronts instead of bars, was at one time linked with Grand Central Terminal via an underground passage.

In 1948, the hotel was the presidential campaign headquarters for New York Governor Thomas Dewey, who had used a room there as his New York City office while governor.

The iconic has appeared and been referenced in several major motion pictures and television shows, including “The Irishman,” “The French Connection,” “Wall Street,” “Maid in Manhattan,” “Man on a Ledge,” and “Mad Men.”

Guy Lombardo began leading the house band of the Roosevelt Grill in 1929 and in the same year began holding an annual New Year’s Eve radio broadcast with his own band, the Royal Canadians. Thus began a New Year’s Eve tradition that lasted until at the Roosevelt until 1959, when Lombardo moved to the Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom.  When Lombardo was on Long Island with his band during summers, Lawrence Welk took over his duties at the hotel.

More recently, in 1979, the hotel was acquired by the investment arm of Pakistani International Airlines, under whose ownership the property was renovated several times. The last renovation was in 2011.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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