The New York Optimist
August 2008
The Gramercy Park Hotel's Haute Bohemian heritage has been honored
and renewed in the transformation by Ian Schrager. It is still the
Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City but better! It represents a
sensuous vision of artful diversity. Bohemia reinvented for the 21st
century with an original combination of styles, with great pieces of
furniture and art and the extraordinary use of color.

It is a balancing act which only Ian Schrager could pull off, as well as
a fresh approach which represents a new departure for him. It brings
together a number of creative forces, not chosen for their
compatibility, but for their shared commitment to the modern lifestyle.

This luxury Manhattan hotel has been created by Ian Schrager’s long
time partners, Michael Overington and Anda Andrei, with a little help
from some of Ian’s friends, including the painter Julian Schnabel.

The Gramercy Park Hotel's idiosyncratic, eclectic vision offers a
perfect modern alternative to the institutional approach one now finds
in even the most high-end boutique design hotels. As Morgans marked
a paradigm shift in hotels twenty years ago and created a new
industry, so the new Gramercy Park Hotel NYC will accomplish the
same impact today. It will be the most spirited and charming hotel in
New York, reflecting a fabled heritage and the lively, adventurous
spirit of an emerging age.

A great hotel is not just a building, its an individual, with personality,
spirit and authenticity.
The Gramercy Park Hotel was one of New York’s truly
legendary hotels, designed by Robert T. Lyons and built by the
famous developer brothers Bing and Bing in 1925. The hotel
occupies the site of the former homes of flamboyant architect
Stanford White and controversial agnostic Robert Ingersoll.  In
the hotel's first two years, Humphrey Bogart lived in the hotel
with his first wife Helen Menken, just after marrying her,  and
the Joseph P. Kennedy family stayed on the 2nd floor before
moving to London. During the Great Depression, Babe Ruth was
a regular bar patron. An autographed picture of Ruth hung in the
bar until it disappeared in the 1960s. In the 1940s, Edmund
Wilson lived in the hotel with novelist Mary McCarthy.  

The Weissberg years
In 1958, Herbert Weissberg, a prominent New York hotel owner,
bought the Gramercy Park Hotel. He added a gift shop, doubled
the size of the bar, and gave tenure to Pinky, the beloved hotel
bellhop. Guests were drawn to its bohemian character, low
prices and locale.  The hotel's reputation for discretion attracted
such musicians as Bob Marley and Bob Dylan in the 1970s. The
Canadian and Chicago part of the first cast of Saturday Night
Live stayed in the hotel during the show's premiere and Paul
Shaffer, the show's original bandleader, continued to live in the
annex for another 16 years. Other former residents include writer
S. J. Perelman, actor James Cagney, character actress Margaret
Hamilton, actor Matt Dillon, and playwright David Mamet. Other
notable guests include the Clash,[4] Madonna, Debbie Harry, and
David Bowie.
Ian Schrager Renovation
Following Herbert Weissberg's death in 2003 the Gramercy Park
Hotel was sold to Ian Schrager. It is now again a luxury hotel,
completely redone but still somewhat reflecting the original
bohemian feel of the original hotel. The hotel's eclectic history is
pulled off in a collaboration with artist Julian Schnabel who designed
the interiors and many fixtures and furniture pieces throughout the
hotel. The hotel also exhibits 20th century masterpieces by artists
Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst,
Richard Prince, and Julian Schnabel.