When The Roosevelt Hotel opened its doors in Manhattan on Sept. 22, 1924, it ushered in some of the most significant events in history and pop culture. But the fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic has proved to be too much for the storied hotel, which will shut down permanently before the end of 2020.
“Due to the current, unprecedented environment and the continued uncertain impact from COVID-19, the owners of The Roosevelt Hotel have made the difficult decision to close the hotel and the associates were notified this week,” the hotel said in a statement to CNN. “The iconic hotel, along with most of New York City, has experienced very low demand, and as a result, the hotel will cease operations before the end of the year. There are currently no plans for the building beyond the scheduled closing.”
The centrally located Midtown hotel, just blocks from both Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, is owned by Pakistan International Airlines. Despite implementing safety measures, the property felt the impact of travel restrictions early on, as some of its 500 employees were furloughed back in March, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News. The local station also reported that the hotel would shut down by the end of October.
Named after the 26th U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel’s architecture and style were both an ode to him, according to its site. Bandleader Guy Lombardo and his orchestra made their debut playing at the hotel’s Roosevelt Grill on Oct. 3, 1929 — and continued playing there for three decades. One of Lombardo's performances broadcast from there sparked the New Year’s Eve tradition of singing “Auld Lang Syne.”
The hotel also served as the election headquarters for Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948, when he announced that he had defeated Harry Truman, winning the U.S. presidency. While it, of course, turned out to be an error, the headline was printed in Chicago Tribune.
Throughout the years, The Roosevelt Hotel also played a starring role in Hollywood movies, including "Boiler Room," "Wall Street," "Quiz Show," "Malcolm X," "Men in Black 3," and "Maid in Manhattan," as well as on the small screen in "Blue Bloods" and Netflix’s "The Irishman."
A historic part of the New York City skyline for the last century, The Roosevelt is the latest hotel in the city to close in the wake of the pandemic. The nearby Omni Berkshire Place, built in 1926, closed in July, and the Hilton Times Square closed on Oct. 1. Two Courtyard by Marriott hotels in Manhattan have also closed permanently.
According to an Oct. 1 release by the American Hotel & Lodging Association, New York has 2,336 hotels statewide, with an estimated 1,565 closures to occur without congressional aid. Nationwide, there are 57,180 hotels, with 38,311 estimated to shut down without aid.
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