The McAlpin Hotel was built in 1912 by General Edwin A. McAlpin, son of David Hunter McAlpin. Not only was it the largest hotel in the world, it was also one of the most luxurious.
- Towards the end of 1912, when construction was almost complete, it was the largest hotel in the world at 25 floors.
- Hotel McAlpin was designed with 2 gender-specific floors and one floor known as the night sleep for night workers.
- On Christmas Eve 1916, a 19-year-old man was sexually assaulted and beaten by an assailant who rented two rooms on either side of his suite to try to suppress the screams.
The McAlpin Hotel’s amenities were as breathtaking as they were opulent, including a massive Turkish bath and plunge pool on the 24th floor. The hotel also had its own orchestra as well as its own fully equipped hospital.
When the McAlpin Hotel in New York was nearing completion in late 1912 as the world’s largest hotel, the New York Times noted that at 25 stories it was so high that it “appears to be isolated from other buildings.” With 1,500 employees, the hotel can accommodate 2,500 guests. It was built at a cost of $ 13.5 million (now $ 358 million). The hotel was designed by noted architect Frank Mills Andrews, whose design included two gender-specific floors: women checking into the hotel can reserve a room on the female-only floor, bypassing the lobby and checking in directly on their own floor. Another floor, known as the “sleepy sixteenth”, was designed for night workers who were kept quiet during the day. The hotel also had its own travel agency.
The McAlpin was expanded half a decade later. The owners had bought another fifty-foot facade on Thirty-fourth Street two years earlier. The new addition was the same height as the original twenty-five story building with an additional two hundred rooms, four additional elevators, and a grand ballroom. A major renovation worth $ 2.1 million was completed in 1928. All rooms have been renewed, modern bathrooms have been installed and the elevators have been updated.
The McAlpin family sold the hotel to Jamlee Hotels in 1938 under the direction of Joseph Levy, president of Crawford Clothes, a well-known real estate investor in New York, for $ 5,400,000. Jamlee reportedly invested an additional $ 1,760,000 in renovations. During the Jamlee ownership, the hotel was run by the Knott Hotel Company until 1952, when it was taken over by the Tisch Hotel Company. On October 15, 1954, Jamlee sold the hotel to the Sheraton Hotel Corporation for $ 9,000,000 and was renamed Sheraton-McAlpin. Sheraton completely renovated the hotel five years later, renaming it the Sheraton-Atlantic Hotel on October 8, 1959. Sheraton sold the hotel on July 28, 1968 for $ 7.5 million to the investment partnership of Sol Goldman and Alexander DiLorenzo, reverting to the hotel’s McAlpin name. Sheraton acquired the hotel for a short time in 1976 due to a buyer failure and quickly sold it to developer William Zeckendorf Jr., who converted the McAlpin into 700 rental apartments and named it Herald Square Apartments.
On Christmas Eve 1916, Harry K. Thaw, former husband of Evelyn Nesbit and murderer of the architect Stanford White, attacked 19-year-old Fred Gump Jr. in a large suite on the 18th floor. Thaw had lured Gump to New York with the promise of a job, but sexually assaulted him and repeatedly hit him with a stocky whip until he was covered in blood. According to the New York Times, Thaw had rented two rooms on either side of his suite to suppress the screams. The next day, Thaw’s bodyguard took Gump to the aquarium and zoo before the boy could escape. Gump’s father sued Thaw for $ 650,000 over the “gross indignation” his son suffered. The case was eventually settled out of court.