The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

by Julie Satow
The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

by Julie Satow


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Journalist Julie Satow's thrilling, unforgettable history of how one illustrious hotel has defined our understanding of money and glamour, from the Gilded Age to the Go-Go Eighties to today's Billionaire Row.

From the moment in 1907 when New York millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt strode through the Plaza Hotel's revolving doors to become its first guest to the afternoon in 2007 when a mysterious Russian oligarch paid a record price for the hotel's largest penthouse, the eighteen-story white marble edifice at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street has radiated wealth and luxury.

For some, the hotel evokes images of F. Scott Fitzgerald frolicking in the Pulitzer Fountain, or Eloise, the impish young guest who pours water down the mail chute. But the true stories captured in The Plaza also include dark, hidden secrets: the cold-blooded murder perpetrated by the construction workers in charge of building the hotel, how Donald J. Trump came to be the only owner to ever bankrupt the Plaza, and the tale of the disgraced Indian tycoon who ran the hotel from a maximum-security prison cell, 7,000 miles away in Delhi.

In this definitive history, award-winning journalist Julie Satow not only pulls back the curtain on Truman Capote's Black and White Ball and The Beatles' first stateside visit — she also follows the money trail. The Plaza reveals how a handful of rich dowager widows were the financial lifeline that saved the hotel during the Great Depression, and how today, foreign money and anonymous shell companies have transformed iconic guest rooms into condominiums that shield ill-gotten gains, hollowing out parts of the hotel as well as the city around it.

The Plaza is the account of one vaunted New York City address that has become synonymous with wealth and scandal, opportunity and tragedy. With glamour on the surface and strife behind the scenes, it is the story of how one hotel became a mirror reflecting New York's place at the center of the country's cultural narrative for over a century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455566655
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 172,458
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Julie Satow is an award-winning journalist who has covered real estate in New York City for more than a decade. A regular contributor to the New York Times, her work has also appeared on National Public Radio, the New York Post, HuffPost, and elsewhere.

Table of Contents

Timeline xiii

Introduction xix

Part 1

Chapter 1 Parade of Millionaires 3

Chapter 2 A Typical French House 19

Chapter 3 A Greek Tragedy 35

Chapter 4 The Wet Age 53

Chapter 5 The Big Landlord 69

Part 2

Chapter 6 The Thirty-Nine Widows of the Plaza 87

Chapter 7 Wartime 105

Chapter 8 The Real Eloise 122

Chapter 9 Party of the Century 139

Chapter 10 Prostitutes' Promenade 160

Part 3

Chapter 11 Trump's Mona Lisa 179

Chapter 12 The Prince and the Billionaire 200

Chapter 13 Save the Plaza 221

Chapter 14 Shell Game 242

Chapter 15 The Indian Great Gatsby 262

Epilogue 283

Acknowledgments 289

Notes 293

Bibliography and Sources 323

Index 347

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