2005_11_newyorkerhotel.jpgThe New York Times explains a lot about the New Yorker sign that we always see when we're driving through the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey (yes, that happens sometimes). The sign, which refers to the New Yorker Hotel, not the magazine (which was never that far West - heavens!), at 481 Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, is in the process of trading in its white letters for red ones that can light up.

Built in 1929 by the same architects and builders who later erected the Empire State Building, the New Yorker opened in January 1930, so it is no stranger to hard times. But with its two-story lobby, grand ballroom, marble floors, brass finishes and highly stylized furnishings, it became a prominent gathering spot for movie stars and other notables, including Spencer Tracy, Joan Crawford, Muhammad Ali and Fidel Castro, who ate, drank, danced and rattled sabers there. Later, the hotel fell on hard times, as did the entire neighborhood, and the beautiful and important people moved on.

It's the story of the city! In 1975, the Unification Church bought it and used it as a residence, but then in 1994 reopened part of it to be a hotel. Now, the New Yorker Hotel Management Company has decided to continue to keep it as a mixed use buliding, part office, part hotel, part dorms, even though it thought about converting it to condos. The hotel will be renovated, but not to its former Art Deco glory. At any rate, it'll be an improvement as it's pretty drab nowadays.