Midtown’s Hotel Pennsylvania — which first opened in 1919, right across the street from Penn Station — is currently being demolished by its owners, the Vornado Realty Trust. The company communicated the news with shareholders back in April, as reported by Bloomberg at the time, but now the demolition is actually underway.
From 1919 to 1928 it was the largest hotel in the entire world, boasting 2,200 rooms and 2,200 bathrooms across 22 floors, according to NYC-Architecture.
Though originally built by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and designed by the same architects as Penn Station itself, the hotel became known for its musical connection perhaps even more than its rail and travel ties. Its main restaurant, the Café Rouge, held countless live performances (that were broadcast on NBC Radio Network) from iconic musicians like the Dorsey Brothers, Wood Herman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and The Andrews Sisters through the 1930s and ’40s.
Then, from 1940-42, the Glenn Miller Orchestra played there. During their tenure at the nightclub Miller wrote the iconic “Pennsylvania 6-500” tune, highlighting the hotel’s phone number (which was also the longest NYC phone number in continuous use). Up until this past spring, you could still call the number and hear the refrain of the song play before you were connected with a worker.
Designed in the Renaissance Revival style, you can still witness its iconic columned facade that mimics Penn Station’s design. Apparently, there even used to be an underground tunnell that connected the two buildings.
According to Untapped Cities, who first reported news of the demolition currently underway, the interior is being gutted this month, which mean the exterior will likely take its fall within the next few weeks.
The hotel was first closed down during the start of the pandemic. The developer most recently planned to build a 1,200-foot skyscraper there, following Governor Cuomo’s — and now Governor Hochul’s — massive Penn Station revitalization project.
Though Hochul did alter the plans recently, they still involve adding 10 supertall towers to the neighborhood to offset the cost of renovations to the NYC transit hub, plus some public spaces including car-free bike and pedestrian streets.