DR. PATRICK’S POSTCARD ROADSIDE: Good-Bye Pennsylvania 6-5000

DR. PATRICK’S POSTCARD ROADSIDE: Good-Bye Pennsylvania 6-5000

GOOD-BYE PENNSYLVANIA 6-5000

When this postcard was printed, New York City’s Hotel Pennsylvania, opened in 1919, was the largest hotel in the world with 2,200 rooms each with its own private bathroom, then an unprecedented amenity for a hotel of this scale.

The Pennsylvania Railroad built New York City’s Hotel Pennsylvania in 1919 (Number 5 on the postcard) right across Seventh Avenue from its Penn Station completed nine years before. This was the Pennsylvania Railroad’s counter to the New York Central’s Commodore Hotel, which opened next to Grand Central Station a few days later.

The Hotel Pennsylvania hosted just about every big-name swing band that came through New York, including Glenn Miller and His Orchestra who stayed at the hotel whenever they played its Café Rouge. The hotel’s 2L+5N phone number (two letters, five numbers, the way they used to do it): Pennsylvania 6-5000.

Penn Station was infamously swept from the streets of New York in 1968, replaced by Madison Square Garden and the Modernist slab One Penn Center recorded in this postcard soon after its 1972 completion. Penn Station was gone, but hiding behind One Penn Center in this 8th Avenue view, the Hotel Pennsylvania survived. Until now.

Vornado Realty purchased the Hotel Pennsylvania (on the left in this view from 7th Avenue) and let it slide, maybe even nudging it to some degree. Vornado announced its replacement in 2010. This is likely its future replacement, a 1,400-foot Jenga supertall called Penn15 (Penis? No, Penn15. Sure?) By comparison, the nearby Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall (sans antenna).