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The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel
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The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Journalist Julie Satow's thrilling, unforgettable history of how one illustrious hotel has defined our understanding of money and glamour, from the Gilded Age to the Go-Go Eighties to today's Billionaire Row.

From the moment in 1907 when New York millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt strode through the Plaza Hotel's revolving doors to become its first guest, to the afternoon
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Twelve
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3.79  · 
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 ·  224 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel was a delightful look at the Plaza Hotel in New York City from the opening of its first location in 1890 to the luxurious hotel it became when it reopened its doors in 1907 at Fifty-Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. This is not only a well-researched history and biography of the famed Plaza Hotel and many of its famous residents as well as its investors over the years, but a remarkable history of New York City and Am ...more
Kathryn in FL
The Plaza is sure to thrill the history buff and those with an interest in how the upper crust, wealthy have chosen to live over more than a century. It is an examination on how a successful business adapts to sociological changes and changes to financial cyclical seasonality. The Plaza experienced major transitions in services and delivery to accommodate the needs of its customer base, while its competitors failed to be adaptable. This would serve any marketing student with a greater understand ...more
Karen Miles
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Reading a book about a landmark was definitely out of my comfort zone. However, I was intrigued to learn the history about the Plaza Hotel from the beginning till the present. I have seen the Plaza Hotel many times but have never entered the building.

I think the different stories included about residents and the multiple owners (including Donald Trump) was fascinating. I would recommend this book to others who are curious to know how a landmark became to be an integral part of New York City.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a well written book and I am regretting that I never went to the Plaza in its heyday for tea or to see the Eloise suite. Lots of interesting facts about the construction of the building and I enjoyed reading about the guests and residents (Seriously? If I had the money I would live in a hotel!)
Amazing that the hotel survived the great depression but it took one egotistical man in the late 80s only four years to drive it into bankruptcy. You know who he is - he lives in Washington, DC
Aug 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The author obviously worked hard to include a comprehensive history of the gorgeous building. I appreciate that and enjoy reading about NYC history through the lens of a regal building. I don’t like reading tabloids, though, and I can’t be bothered with celebrity. I think someone who enjoys reading People Magazine would be more enamored by all the name dropping. I wanted to hear more about the workers who are not known but exploited in keeping the place running. I found the last 100 or so pages ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I was really excited to read this book, eager to learn more about the magical and icon Plaza hotel. While the book is well-written and taught me some about the history of the Plaza, it left me disappointed overall. The author seems to have researched the history of the Plaza a great deal, but reading the book felt like reading a gossip column that started in 1907 and ended close to present day. Sure, I want to learn about the people who played significant roles in the hotel over the ages, but I ...more
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m a Southern girl, me, and I love a stay at a nice hotel, but glamorous New York City hotels have never been a big part of my life.  However, there are hotels, and there are icons – like The Plaza.  Today’s Plaza is actually the second one on the site and opened in 1907, the same year that taxicabs were introduced in New York.  The Plaza.  Let’s do a little name-dropping here.  The first recorded guest – Alfred G. Vanderbilt.  There’s F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, Conrad Hilton, Truman Capote ...more
J Earl
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: won, first-reads
The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel from Julie Satow is an engaging history of this iconic hotel, and by extension a bit of a social history of NYC and the country. The ups and downs, the types of issues and problems, as well as some of the solutions parallel much of what was going on in the country.

One concern when reading a book like this is that it will actually be a history of only one aspect of the subject, in this case a hotel. Satow managed to truly write a history o
Heidi Potenza
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book and truly appreciate the research the author put into her story!! Some of the anecdotes of the characters that lived and partied in The Plaza were fascinating! I especially liked the earlier years and all of the owners, residents and fun that went on. I think the book got mired toward the end in the more technical aspects or who was buying and why. I happened to have the tv on at one point and Home Alone 2 was on! There was President Trump way back when in his movie cameo and ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Super read! In a marvelous story telling voice Satow takes her readers into the origins of the Plaza Hotel, it's owners, residents, foibles and major events. Growing up in New York I remember bits and pieces like the Beatles arrival at the Plaza -- although I couldn't go )-:. The ups and downs of the owners is told interspersed with events occurring at the time in New York and the world. Famous personages such as Truman Capote and the not so real Eloise traveled through the hotel.

Even if you do
Donna W
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It read more like a biography. Yes, there were a lot of facts, but it really flowed and there was a true story to tell. I finished it in just a few days. Having been in the travel business for many years, it was interesting to hear about the stories behind the scenes as well as the ownership issues. It's so easy to go into a hotel and make a judgement about it, but this story reminds us that it is not just those that we see that can make or break our exper ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are equal parts of information about the famous Plaza Hotel building in NYC and important stories about the people who built it and were residents. I was familiar with Eloise, the fictional resident of The Plaza made famous by books and movies. Eloise has her own chapter in this book. The second Plaza Hotel was built in 1907, with lots of social and physical improvements made over the years. Many famous guests have graced the rooms. Who knew that Chef Boy-Ar-Dee were created there?
Aug 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
What doesn't The Plaza have? Over the years they have had just about everything, including a long-term guest who brought a lion and a family of alligators to live with her. Scandal, parties, crime, drama and drama and more drama! I'd love to time travel and visit the Plaza during its heyday. Satow does a great job of bring the building to life, lots of great stories and interesting people are in this book.
Sherri Lewis
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have a fascination with famous hotels, so this book was right up my alley. It started with the building of the hotel and covered all of the changes in ownership and the changes the new owners made to the hotel itself. The stories of the guests were fascinating and I found myself reading many of them aloud. My only complaint about the book was that sometimes it felt like it meandered a bit and got a bit off course. But if you are taking a trip down memory lane, that often happens.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was ok, some lovely insights into what it was like to start a hotel in New York at the start of the 20th Century and the various challenges in each decade. For some reason, the author names the title and author of all works cited in the main text. This makes the audiobook version very long winded. There are also detours into the lives of the characters who inhabited the hotel, some of which are very interesting and others which are a bit tedious.
Oliver Cohen
Jul 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Satow does a fabulous job making material that could easily be dreadfully boring palatable, but The Plaza frustratingly lacks in self-awareness. Specifically, this seems to fall most flat in its inability to pick a side in the oft-alluded to and ongoing culture war in New York City between the billionaire class and local people. While the research is compelling, the loss—both culturally and literally speaking—of this landmark to greedy developers is a sadly overlooked topic.
Charles Monagan
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
An entertaining, satisfying social history of one of Manhattan's essential landmarks. The Plaza has lost its mojo, and much of its identity, in recent years, devolving into an echoing, largely unpopulated resting place for overseas currencies. But in its day it was one of the city's great crossroads, humming with the news of the day, the latest gossip, eccentric residents and visitors from all over the world. Satow's book captures all of that.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Being from New York and spending my wedding night at the plaza as countless other New Yorkers did this book just brought back so many memories. This happened in the 1960s. Reading about all of the craziness of the plaza going forward was amazing. I’m glad I have my memories and not memories from later dates.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The Plaza by Julie Satow is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.

A chronology of events within the Plaza Hotel from its construction in 1890 into the present-day related to famous guests, extensive & expensive requests, and changes in ownership. Opulent, a little full-of-itself, bigger than big, epic tone, punctuated by media quotes/stories.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
While this started out as an interesting account of an iconic New York landmark, it was reduced into a compilation of Big Money deals, with shady bagman and plenty of questionable characters and motivations. Maybe that's the real story, but I didnt enjoy it.
William Krasne
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellently researched story of a true New York landmark, the Plaza Hotel. Satow has incredible access to key players, owners, and employees of the Plaza and is able to shed light on many amazing stories. Great read
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Definitely an interesting read. I wished though she had gone more in depth with staff memories and who use to stay there. It felt like more of a light overview and then got bogged down at the end with how many times it was sold.
Jane Dunn
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Definitely five stars for this painstakingly researched account of the hotel itself but also all the characters and the drama that swirled around this building over the years. I do think it’s a great bedtime or anytime read!
Daniel Kukwa
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An excellent overview of the history of one of New York's most famous hotels, although the pre-Donald Trump era history of its early glamour is far more interesting than the story of its last 15 years. As for the Trump era of the's so bizzare that it might as well be fiction!
Laura Lewakowski
Jul 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty fascinating history right from the get go! I lost interest towards the end of the book, however, as the details of the real estate transactions became the focal point, and hard to follow. Loved the colorful stories though!
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This book is unique, well-written, and I found it to be very interesting. At times I had trouble putting it down and it was extremely engaging. Highly Recommend.
Aaron Elstein
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you live in New York, have ever visited New York or think you'd like to one day, read this book. It is dazzling fun, with something important and interesting to say about the city and its many, many dreamers and schemers. Emphatically recommended reading.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I found this book very interesting, even though I have no experience with the Plaza. In fact, I've never even been to New York. I did find some part of the book, like the intro quite repetitive.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting.
Andres Kabel
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written, well researched history of a New York icon. Some of the tale is scarcely believable. Recommended.
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Julie Satow is an award-winning journalist and the author of The Plaza: The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel, out June 4, 2019