From the moment in 1907, when Alfred Vanderbilt strode through the Plaza’s doors to become its first guest to the day in 2007, when a mysterious Russian oligarch bought the hotel’s largest penthouse, the white tower at the corner of Central Park has radiated wealth and luxury. For some, the Plaza evokes images of F. Scott Fitzgerald frolicking in the Pulitzer Fountain or Eloise pouring water down the mail chute. But there are also dark hidden secrets: the murder perpetrated by construction workers building the hotel, how Donald Trump bankrupted the Plaza, and how a disgraced Indian tycoon once ruled the hotel from a jail cell in Delhi. Read about Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball and The Beatles’ first stateside visit, but also follow the money trail. Learn how rich dowager widows became the financial lifeline that saved the hotel during the Great Depression, and how today foreign billionaires transformed iconic guest rooms into condominiums that shield their ill-gotten gains.
With glamour on the surface and strife behind the scenes, this 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.