Saturday, July 03, 2010

Memories of the Times

In January 1984, this then-young Aussie on his first trip to New York City was advised by well-meaning friends to stay at the classy Gramercy Park Hotel, but it was twice as expensive as I'd anticipated. After one night there, I checked my finances, admitted defeat - and a local tourist advisory service recommended the Times Square Hotel on 43rd Street, instead, as "a place where Aussies often stayed when they couldn't afford the usual NYC prices".

My NY penpal was kind of horrified when she heard my new location. When I told Carolyn that I'd switched hotels she said, "New York's fine, so long as you stay away from Times Square. So where are you staying?"

Me: (in high pitched voice): "Times Square Hotel."

Yes, I couldn't have gotten much closer to Times Square itself if I'd tried! I must say that the Times Square Hotel's revolving door, quaint old foyer, cashier window, rickety elevator, incredibly noisy water pipes (at 3.30am every morning, like clockwork), a friendly maid who thumped on the door to clean the room at about 6.30am, the portable b/w TV with "rabbit ears" aerial (that had to be supplemented by touching the TV and raising one arm), the pathetic pigeon sheltering on a window sill from the blizzard outside, and not to mention the little mouse who visited me every night... Wow! What a way to get to know the real New York! I loved every second of it!

Times Square Hotel

I was under the impression that the hotel may have been demolished, but a bit of Googling today revealed that the Times Square Hotel is alive and well! Now a subsidised block of apartments, it is owned and operated by COMMON GROUND an organisation that develops solutions to homelessness.

According to a current resident, The Hotel Times Square "was built in the mid 1920s. It was a moderate-priced alternative to the great hotels in the neighborhood, the Hotel Astor (demolished) and the Knickerbocker (converted, still standing on B’way and 42nd St. The Hotel Times Square is very famous, since it was the neighbor to the New York Times building for much of the 20th Century. The NY Times moved to a new skyscraper a few blocks downtown, on Eighth Ave.

"The Hotel Times Square is on 255 W 43rd Street, at Eighth Avenue. It has a very grand lobby, a nice mezzanine, and a fine rooftop terrace/garden. It is not open to the public, but one may walk through the revolving door and have a quick look without trouble.

"There is an art gallery on the mezzanine. Most of the artwork is not terribly distinguished; but it is one way to get into the building. Ask to see the art gallery."
(The New York Times' In Transit blog.)

Very cool! I must go through my album of pics. Somewhere I have a 3D photo of my little friend, the New York pigeon, who huddled on the opposite window's sill every night. I snapped a great picture the night of a freezing blizzard and I was thrilled to get a photo of "3D snow"! January 1984 now seems so very long ago, but almost like yesterday.

Ah, found it:

3D Blizzard

And here's why I couldn't find Times Square Hotel on Google Earth "street view" last year! The building's front was being renovated (2009)!

Times Square Hotel - street view

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