Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Iroquois Hotel: New York Luxury for 112 Years

In a city full of history and especially historical buildings like New York, the Iroquois Hotel owned by Shimmie Horn is one that truly gauges the changes and advances made in the hospitality industry, in the nation as a whole.

On July 28, 1911 the New York Times described 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues as
“a block of hotels and restaurants, fashionable clubs and garages… In the block are The New York Yacht, The Yale, The Harvard, and City Clubs…” and the Iroquois apartment hotel.

Construction of the Iroquois began in 1899, and this luxurious apartment hotel opened its doors in October of 1900. The hotel has gone through many changes in the 112 years since its opening and today it is owned and operated by one of New York’s key hoteliers, Shimmie Horn. The Iroquois was designed by Harry Mulliken, and immediately was recognized for its special luxurious accommodations.  Its status as an apartment hotel meant that the building housed permanent residents who desired the amenities of a hotel on a regular basis.

The Wigwam Bar was opened in 1939 and was decorated with pictures of pilgrims and Native Americans. The following year the hotel was leased to the Iroquois Hotel Corporation, led by William H. Peterken, who was well known for his abilities and his “splendid record in New York Hoteldom.”

The Iroquois has often been a gathering place for professional organizations, protests, and a spot for the rich and famous to meet. In 1949, The National Council of the Arts, Sciences and Professionals had their headquarters at the Iroquois, and the group sponsored the international Cultural and Scientific Conference at the Iroquois. In 1950 a protest march against the one year prison sentence Dalton Trumbo and John Howard Lawson received for refusing to say whether or not they were communists, was organized to begin at the Iroquois and end at Pennsylvania Station.

There is a suite at the Iroquois named after one of the hotel’s more famous residents, James Dean, who lived there for two years in the early 1950s. In 1987, a restaurant-cabaret was opened by Jan Wallman. Included in her line-up of performers were many who hardly ever performed elsewhere, including Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, and Woody Allen.

The Horn Family owned the Iroquois since the late 1950s, and in 1996 Shimmie Horn took over responsibility for this icon of luxury, sophistication, and excellent service. Since the turn of the 21st century the Iroquois has been affiliated as one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and a $13 million renovation was undertaken. Today the Iroquois truly embodies the heart of New York’s hotel industry.