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Villard Mansions

Villard Mansions (80)

In the late 19th century, Henry Villard, the wealthy founder of the Northern Pacific Railway and owner of the New York Post, ordered the construction of a mansion made of brownstone to prove to the world, and to himself, how rich and important he was. The McKim, Mead & White firm was commissioned to carry out the project. The project consisted of 6 private homes in what looks like a great Renaissance Palazzo, similar to those you would find in the Tuscan city of Florence, for example.

Eventually, Henry Villard was ruined and ended up giving them to different owners. Already in 1970, the private homes were acquired by the Helmsley Corporation, which planned to demolish the entire building and erect a 55-storey hotel that was to be called The Helmsley Palace Hotel. Fortunately, the authorities refused to tear down the Villard Mansions and decided to convert the patio and the interiors of the north and south wings into the entrance to the new hotel. Of course, the idea was a complete success.

The firm Emery Roth & Sons was responsible for lifting the aluminium and glass skyscrapers you can see right behind the former residence of Henry Villard. Thus, the hotel opened in 1981 and was renamed shortly thereafter to honour its origins. Today, the building is called The New York Palace Hotel.

If you do not plan to spend the night at this magnificent establishment, we recommend that you at least book a table at its restaurant, located on the south side, where you can enjoy both the bold decoration – which has truly preserved the the majesty of its past – and, of course, an excellent dinner.

Finally, on the north side you will find Urban Center Books, the bookshop of the Municipal Art Society, an institution that aims to protect monuments and historical buildings. Here you will no doubt find some interesting proposals for architectural tours of the city.

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