“You follow me to the south side of Central Park, in front of The Plaza.” —Tom Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby
Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) sets a pivotal scene in his best-known novel, The Great Gatsby, at The Plaza Hotel. Mr. Fitzgerald knew of what he wrote. Along with his wife Zelda and their artistic and literary companions, Fitzgerald lived at the white marble-clad hotel, making it their social playground on and off throughout the 1920s. This sparkling couple was the very embodiment of the Roaring ’20s.
While designing Guggenheim Museum, just outside Central Park at Fifth Avenue and East 88th Street, architect Frank Lloyd Wright lived in Suite 223-225 at The Plaza for six years beginning in 1950. Recently the 4,000 square-foot corner suite, now a condo, was put on the market for $39.5 million. The four-bedroom, four and a half bath home offers 13-foot tall ceilings, a formal dining room, a chef’s kitchen and large windows to maximize the views of Central Park.
One of The Plaza’s most famous residents is the ever elusive and capricious Eloise was introduced to the public in Kay Thompson’s 1955 Eloise: A Book for Precocious Grown-Ups. Miss Thompson lived at The Plaza while she was creating the six-year old charmer, who lived on the top floor of the hotel. In 1998 the New York State Empire Friends of Libraries designated The Plaza a Literary Landmark because of Eloise.
“And we all took the less explicable step of engaging the parlor of a suite in the Plaza Hotel.”
—Nick Carraway, from The Great Gatsby
Completed in 1907, after two years of construction, the Plaza Hotel opened on October 1st, at a cost of $12.5 million. At the time the hotel’s single rooms started at $2.50 per night. The Plaza’s first guests were Mr. & Mrs. Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1847–1918), who had designed The Dakota more than 20 years earlier, was the architect of the 19-story luxury hotel. Its logo, the reflective ‘P’ for Plaza, is seen throughout the building. Pictured here are few of the places it can be found.
The Plaza made its movie debut was in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 North by Northwest. Other motion pictures it provided a setting for have been Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, The Cotton Club, Crocodile Dundee I and II and Home Alone II: Lost In New York.
Designated a New York City Landmark in 1969, The Plaza is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it is the only New York City hotel to be designated a National Historic Landmark.
Our Central Park Walking Tour begins opposite to The Plaza in front of the Pulitzer Fountain. On this fun tour discover the many details in the Park, the world’s greatest urban oasis.