Friday, February 13, 2009

The Life and Times of the Elks Lodge #1 /Hotel Diplomat - New York City 1911-1994

A full-color postcard view of the Hotel Diplomat.
(Image: Original Postcard - NYCDreamin Archives)

UPDATED: 02/11/16

Back in the time-machine we go again, this time to 1973.

It's hot and sticky as we step out into the early evening hours of August 10th. The sun is just beginning to set as we step out in front of another decrepit old New York City Hotel, this one being the:

Hotel Diplomat (don't look for it, it's not there anymore...)
108 - 116 West 43rd Street (just west of 6th Avenue)
New York City, NY

*Make sure you click the links! They enhance the story.

It's early enough that we have time to venture to nearby Times Square, which in all it's 70's squalor, buzzes with all sorts of sordid activity, an amazing sight actually. But we have to grab a bite to eat and get back to the hotel, just a few blocks away. We cannot be late for this. A New York City legend is about to be discovered by the man who will help launch their career...but tonight they are still just another struggling, unknown band, albeit one with a quickly growing local following. They have been together for just 8 or 9 months at this point and only have a handfull of live performances under their studded belts.

We'll get over to the show after we learn a little more about this place we are about to witness this historic show take place in. The Hotel Diplomat has an amazing history and we always like to know more about these now-gone, much-rumored places. We'll get the background history of the place, go over and catch the show, and then wrap it all up with what eventually happened to the hotel.

About the Elks Lodge No. 1 / Hotel Diplomat

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Elks Lodge No. 1 Coat of Arms)    Elks Lodge No. 1, New York City, NY (Crest/Coat Of Arms)

Excerpt from:
"Streetscapes: The Elks Club; an Endangered Species on 43rd Street"
by Christopher Gray
New York Times - 12/13/87

Around 1910, the Elks had 250,000 members in the United States, with 10,000 in New York City. Fraternal orders were undergoing rapid expansion - the Masons were building a giant, two-section clubhouse at 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue, and big Elks clubhouses were going up in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. For their new Manhattan building...the Elks chose a site midway between Times Square and the district of social clubs clustered near Fifth Avenue.

Excerpts from:
The Real Estate Field
New York Times - 02/22/11
Elks Sell Old Clubhouse Site
The two five-story tenements 312 and 314 West Fifty-ninth street, covering a plot 50 by 100, has been sold by the New York Lodge B.P.O. Elks to Axel A. Olsen. An eight-story fire-proof garage will be erected on the site by the buyer.

The Elks bought the property in 1904. At that time, they intended to put up a new building there, but subsequently changed their plans and bought on Forty-Third Street, just west of Sixth Avenue, where a twelve-story structure costing about $1,000,000 is rapidly nearing completion.

Sale in Times Square District
The four-story business building at 125 West Forty-Third Street has been sold by Bernard Smyth & Sons for the estate of Julius Tilman to Isaac Freidenhelt. The plot, 20.10 by 100.5 is midway between Sixth Avenue and Broadway, adjoining the Hotel Woodstock on the east and is opposite the new Elks' Club, now nearing completion.

March 1910 Elks Lodge #1/ Hotel Diplomat under construction, NYC, NY
108-116 West 43rd Street, NYC, NY - Elks Lodge #1 under construction.
March 1910.

The "Elks Lodge #1" opened in July 1911. It originally served purpose as the "Mother Lodge" for the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks, functioning as a national meeting place for Elks' conventions. One can almost imagine the revelry that took place within it's walls during these times. The building was designed by Texas architect James Riley Gordon (08/02/1863 - 03/16/1937), who is seen in the two images below.

Architect James Riley Gordon (08/02/18/63 - 03/16/1937)001    Architect James Riley Gordon (08/02/18/63 - 03/16/1937)002

Elks lodge No.1 - Original side view floor plan (James Riley Gordon - Architect)
Elks Lodge #1, New York City, NY (1910 - Side View Floor Plan)

Elks lodge No.1 - Original "longitudinal" floor plan (James Riley Gordon - Architect)
Elks Lodge #1, New York City, NY (1910 - Longitudinal Section Floor Plan)

07/07/11 Elks Lodge #1 opened for private viewing (press and invited guests only)

The Hotel Diplomat 108-116 West 43rd Street originally opened as the Elks Lodge #1 in July 1911.
(Undated Photo by Wurts Bros. Photography via

New Elks' Home Completed
New York Times - 07/07/11

Building and Equipment Costing $1,250,000, Which Members Subscribed

The newly erected home of the New York Lodge #1, B.P.O.E., which is known throughout the United States as the Mother Lodge, was open yesterday for a private view. It will be open for the reception of delegates from the National Convention of the Elks in Atlantic City on July 17. It is a twelve-story steel frame fireproof structure, covering a plot 100 feet square with a roof garden and two basements. It is at 108-116 West 43rd Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, and was designed by James R. Gordon, the architect, of 402 Fifthe Avenue. The building with it's equipment cost $1,250,000, and has no mortgage, the money being subscribed for bonds held by the 3,000 members of the lodge. It is intended to be used as a big club.

The chief features of the Elks' home are a lodge room 87 feet by 93 feet, the walls rising to a height of 32 feet. There are two tiers of boxes, twenty-eight boxes in each, with a promenade encircling each tier for use when the room is used for balls or banquets. There is a foyer, lounging rooms, writing rooms, a handsome grill room and restaurant, billiard room, and spacious bowling alleys in the basement.

Above the lodge room there are 216 outside sleeping rooms, each with tiled bath. The charge for a room will be $1.50 a day, and there are twenty-four suites, which are rented at #3 a day. The entire roof is occupied by a solarium and roof garden.

Manager Gustave Schweyer said that the big official opening would not take place until the Fall, as the strike of the furniture makers at Grand Rapids has kept them back four months.

The building is equipped with four passenger and three freight elevators, a spacious marble staircase, and the latest ventilating, heating, and lighting appliances.

The classic facade of the Elks' Home is treated in granite, marble and limestone. All that visiting Elks need to use the privileges of the building is their membership card. In addition to a mail chute there is a telephone in every room. Edward J. Schalvey is the Exalted Ruler, James W. Carroll Secretary, and Louis H. Hyman Treasurer of the lodge. The trustees are Thomas F. Brogan, Edward Leach, and William T. Phillips. 07/17/11 Lodge #1 hosts it's first guests, Elks attending the 1911 National Convention of Elks in Atlantic City, NJ


Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Elks Lodge No. 1 Tapestry)
An original Elks Lodge No. 1 Apron

Below, two photographic examples of Elks Lodge No. 1 members outfitted in their uniforms, including a Lodge "apron" as seen in the photo above.
Elks Lodge No. 1, NYC, NY (Example of Uniform with Apron)001   Elks Lodge No. 1, NYC, NY (Example of Uniform with Apron)002

Excerpt from:
"Streetscapes: The Elks Club; an Endangered Species on 43rd Street"
by Christopher Gray
New York Times - 12/13/87
...the clubhouse was a rather severe neo-Classic structure with two-story screens of Doric columns at the top and bottom, and a rusticated base set behind deep moat. Four statues symbolizing the Elk ideals - charity, justice, brotherly love and fidelity - were planned around the door, but it is not clear if they were actually executed. Inside, a long foyer led past a circular fountain to a grand staircase at the rear, leading up to the main ballroom with a 32-foot ceiling. The building had a grill, dining and lodge rooms, a barber shop, bowling alleys, and a gym. Huge trusses spanned the public rooms on the lower floors, supporting the upper levels where 240 rooms awaited American Elkdom.

Lodge No. 1 Billiards room, located on the 2nd floor.
Elks Lodge No. 1, NYC, NY (Billiards Room)

Lodge No. 1 Kitchen facilities
Elks Lodge No. 1, NYC, NY (Kitchen)

Lodge No. 1 Dining Area
Elks Lodge No. 1, NYC, NY (Dining Room)

A beautiful, ornate doorknob, from one of the doors leading to the Elks Lodge #1 dining room. Our friend Jason Castlebury just added this one-of-a-kind piece to his private collection.
Elks Lodge #1, NYC, NY (Dining Room Doorknob - Jason Castlebury Collection)

(Below) Views of the Grand Lodge Room at Elks Lodge No. 1. This room was most likely became the "Crystal Ballroom" when the BPOE Lodge No. 1 was sold and became the Hotel Diplomat.
Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Grand Lodge Room/ Crystal Ballroom)(001)

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Grand Lodge Room/ Crystal Ballroom)(002)   Grand Ballroom - Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Lodge Room/ Crystal Ballroom 003)

"The Lodge Room"
Elks Lodge #1, New York City, NY ("The Lodge Room")

A typical guest room at Lodge #1.
(Undated) Guest Room at Elks Lodge #1 (aka Hotel Diplomat), NYC, NY

10/28/11 Lodge #1 hosts Grand-Opening and Dedication ceremonies

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Newspaper)
Visiting Elks Are Guests of the New York Lodge
Entertainment Follows Dedication of Magnificent New Home In Manhattan
Finest Hall In America
Lodgeroom Is Modeled After Basilica of San Paolo in Rome

"After the dedication of the Elks' home, West Forty-Third Street near Broadway, Manhattan, yesterday afternoon, the visiting Elks were entertained by the members of New York Lodge, and though there were not set speeches, there were informal words of praise for the gran monument to Elkdom erected by the lodge. A large number of the wives and women friends were in the evening admitted to the building and were enthusiastic in their praises.

The new Elks home is a twelve story, steel-frame, fireproof structure, which contains every improvement. The first floor is reached by massive steps through a granite platform thirty-six feet wide. Three large arched entrances are flanked with pedestals on which stand the heroic marble statues of Charity, Justice, Brotherly Love and Fidelity, representing the cardinal virtues of the Order of Elks.

On the ground floor are the restaurants, and the mezzanine entirely encircles the central rotunda and fountain, on which are the private dining rooms, banquet halls, and music balcony.

The lodgeroom, the principal feature of the building is also designed as the ballroom and entertainment hall and is considered the most spacious and beautiful hall in the country, being seventy-two feet in each direction between the great Corinthian colonnades, and ninety-three feet between the walls, rising to a height of forty feet above the parquetry floors. It is patterned after the Basilica of San Paolo in Rome. Above the lodge chamber 216 sleeping rooms and baths are provided, all furnished in Mahogany throughout and reserved for the exclusive accommodation of members and visiting Elks. The entire roof of the building is occupied by a solarium and roof garden."

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Gathering in Grand Lodge Room - Undated 001)
U.S. Army General John J. Pershing addresses the Elks at Lodge #1 sometime shortly after the cessation of hostilities during World War I.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Gathering - Grand Lodge Room - Undated 002)
(Above) Two images of (unknown/ unidentified) gatherings in the Grand Lodge Room.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Main Lobby)
The main lobby.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Main Dining Room)
The main dining room.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Lodge Cafe)
"The Café."

12/__/11 "Architecture & Building" Magazine
"New York lodge No. 1 - Benevolent Protective Order of Elks"

02/07/12 "Farmers Night & Quilting Bee" held at Lodge #1
12/02/12 Annual "Lodge of Sorrow" takes place at Lodge #1

In 1913, a huge Wurlitzer Organ was installed in the lodge.

02/17/13 Elks' 45th Anniversary Dinner at Waldorf Astoria

On of the most notable early events that took place at the lodge happened on November 04, 1926 when funeral services for the famed, recently deceased magician Harry Houdini were held in the building. Over 2,000 people attended the services, commanding newspaper headlines around the world.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (11/04/26 Harry Houdini Funerl Procession)
11/04/26 Harry Houdini funeral procession (Image via Corbis)

Elks Lodge No. 1/Hotel Diplomat Cigar Holder/Ashtray (Circa 1930's?)
An amazing and RARE brass Elks Lodge No. 1 cigar holder/ashtray.
(Image via Unknown)

Despite continued yearly increases in the number of registered members of the Elks, which exceede one million members by the 1940's lodge #1 floundered. In 1932 the lodge was opened to non-members. By 1934, the "Bank for Savings" had forclosed on the Elks, kicking them out and taking posession of their clubhouse.

"Hotel And Lofts Sold In Midtown"
New York Times - 08/02/39
Former Elks Club Property in West 43d Street Figures In Deal

Two large properties on the West Side of midtown Manhattan close to Times Square figured in the realty activity yesterday.

The Bank for Savings, which took over the twelve-story building at 108-116 West Forty-third Street in foreclosure in 1934, sold this hotel property to the Hotel Diplomat Inc., Louis B. Curran, president, and the new group took the property over yesterday.

The building formerly was the clubhouse of the New York Lodge #1 of the Elks. Since it was taken over by the bank it has been known as the Delano Hotel and as the Center Hotel. It will now become the Hotel Diplomat. The purchase price was reported to be about $600,000. David Leavenworth was the agent for the purchaser and also broker in the deal.

The new owners expect to make improvements in the hotel. They will remodel some of the lower space to provide for two stores on the ground floor and offices on the mezzanine.

Hotel Diplomat (110 West 43rd Street, NYC, NY) Postcard

A movie, "Murder in the Hotel Diplomat" was filmed in the hotel in 1935. It commonly appears with the re-worked title "One New York Night".

(Date N/A) United Mine Workers Ball @ Hotel Diplomat (by Weegee)
(Photo by Arthur (Weegee) Fellig)
People attending a "United Mine Workers Ball" in the Hotel Ballroom, probably sometime in the late 30's or early 40's. The name of the female singer is unknown, but the gentlemen down in front sure seem to be enjoying the show...

09/26/39 Foresters of America dinner party
10/04/39 Lafayette Camera Corporation photography seminar
10/06/39 Independent Labor Institute symposium
06/13/40 American Labor Party 'Keep America Out Of War' rally
08/24/40 Workers Socialist Party 'Leon Trotsky Memorial' service
*Over 1000 people attended this event

12/13/40 Annual Veteran Police Association of NY banquet

"Ex-Policeman Dies at Dance"
New York Times - 12/14/40
Albert Albinger, 53 years old, of 3465 Third Avenue, the Bronx, who retired from the police force Feb. 18, 1935, after serving twenty-six years, died suddenly of a heart attack at the Hotel Diplomat, 108 West 43rd Street, at 9:30 o'clock last night. He was attending the annual entertainment and dance of the Veteran Police Association of Greater New York, of which he was a member, when he became ill.

Date N/A United Mine Workers Ball /W/ guest Musicians
06/05/41 Workers Socialist Party Officers Nominations convention
09/11/41 United Department Store Employees of Greater New York meeting

03/11/42 Free Austrian Movement meeting
(/W/ Moritz Rosenthal (piano) & Zina Alvers (mezzo-soprano)

11/01/42 Workers Socialist Party rally /W/ Coleman B. Cheney
11/16/42 League for Health Education 'Modern Nutrition' symposium
12/31/42 New Years Eve Celebrations at Hotel Diplomat (See 01/08/43)
01/..../43 'Inside Spain' dinner-forum /W/ dancers Antonio & Luisita Triana

01/08/43 J. Edward Saltzman, owner/manager Hotel Diplomat fined $150.00
*He stood accused of blocking main fire exits in the hotel during celebrations
there on 12/31/42

01/20/43 Association for the Improvement of Conditions in State Mental Hospitals meeting
04/21/43 Committee for the Care of Young Children in Wartime meeting
11/07/43 Spanish Anti-Fascist Unity Committee meeting
05/19/44 Annual Typographical Union Members Memorial meeting
06/11/44 Jewish War Veterans memorial & medal presentation services
11/02/44 National Socialist Party rally
12/06/44 open meeting for Dental Technicians

12/10/44 Hebrew Sheltering and Immigration Aid Society Council of Organizations meeting /W/ Mayor La Guardia and several other speakers

Hotel Diplomat (Upper Right) seen in a circa 1940's photograph.
(1940's?) Hotel Diplomat, 110 West 43rd Street, NYC, NY (Upper Right Corner of Photo)

02/02/45 Civil Rights Defense Committee rally /W/ 12 ex-convict guests
03/18/45 Bessarabian Societies of Greater New York convention
05/12/45 American Council for Warsaw Jews convention

07/30/45 American Theatre Wing's 'Stage Door Canteen' relocates from 224 West 44th Street to it's new 'Temporary' home in the Hotel Diplomat

10/28/45 'Stage Door Canteen' final evening at the Hotel Diplomat
/W/ Duke Ellington & the Russ Smith Band among the entertainers

11/07/45 Veterans Committee against Discrimination meeting
11/17/45 'Youth and Radical Conflicts' conference

Musical events were probably always a part of the story of the hotel as long as it had been open. One of the earliest concerts that I've been able to trace happened on July 12, 1947 when the El Rayo De Luz ("The Ray of Light") Arsenio Rodriguez benefit was held in the Grand Ballroom. The show featured perfomances from a stunning lineup of performers including Bobby Capo, Miguelito Valdes, Olga Guilliot, Trio Johnny Rodriguez, Juan Boria, Jack Sague, Noro Morales Orchestra, Marcelino Guerra Orchestra, El Sexteto Puerto Rico de Leocardia Vizcarrando, Chano Pozo, Daniel Santos, Juan 'El Boy' Torres and Xavier Cugat.

..../..../48 Joseph Delaney Art Exhibition at hotel

11/30/48 Freedom Movement of Israel benefit dinner

01/19/51 Miles Davis/Charlie Parker/Al Haig/Tommy Potter/Roy Haynes

In 1951, the New York Branch of the U.S.O. headquartered itself in the hotel for a period lasting through 1953. A plaque was later installed in the hotel stating that between 1951 and 1953, 292,249 members of the armed services had been served there. Some of them serviced as well, no doubt.

Excerpt from:
"Streetscapes: The Elks Club; an Endangered Species on 43rd Street"
by Christopher Gray
New York Times - 12/13/87

Hotel Diplomat circa 1950's. (Photographer Unknown)
Hotel Diplomat, New York City (1950's - Photographer Unknown)

The Diplomat of the 50's was a respectable, moderately priced hotel, it's ballroom available for conventions.

A circa 1950's/1960's Hotel Diplomat Promotional Sugar Cubes packet.
(The Jason Castlebury Collection)
Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY - Promotional Sugar Cube Packet (Circa 1950's - 1960's)

A circa 1950's/1960's Hotel Diplomat matchbook.
(The Jason Castlebury Collection)
Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Matchbook Cover - Jason Castlebury Collection)

10/04/57 New York Recorder presents "Miss Sepia Contest"

__/__/65 *Click HERE to view a brief interview with actor/film director Woody Allen, filmed at the Hotel Diplomat. Can't really see much of the hotel detail at all but it is still an interesting clip.

09/19/65 Universal Philosopher "Morrison" lecture
09/20/65 Universal Philosopher "Morrison" lecture

04/08/66 College Mixer with The Young Rascals

04/08/66 The Young Rascals @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY
(Image: It's All The Streets You Crossed Not So Long Ago blog)

10/06/66 Radio City Synagogue Jewish Worship Services @ Hotel Diplomat

10/06/66 Radio City Synagogue "Shemini Atzeret" Jewish Religious Services

Starting around 1968, it is much easier to trace the events that happened at the hotel, and we are mostly concerned with the history of rock and roll at the hotel (at this point anyway.) Here are some of the more interesting events and shows that took place here.

(More will be added as they are uncovered - check back periodically to see what has been added.)

04/28/68 Albert and Donald Ayler
07/19-21/68 Peace & Freedom Party members Convention
11/??/68 Earth (featuring Bruce Springsteen)/Baker Street Division
1969-1973 Drag Balls and benefit shows organized by Lee G. Brewster
03/21/69 Political activist Jerry Rubin holds a press conference

05/13/69 MC5/Children of God/The Pageant Players/Pablo Light Show

05/13/69 Liberation News Service Benefit /w/ MC5/ More @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY
(Image: Pilfered from eBay)

09/..../69 A 3-day Libertarianism conference is held at the hotel

04/03/70 Holy Modal Rounders/ Jebediah Wood/ Liddlights @ Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY

04/03/70 Long Island Drug Division presents New Nation Celebration
/w/ Holy Modal Rounders/ Jebediah Wood/ Liddlights

04/16-18/71 Esalen Institute Seminar @ Hotel Diplomat (AD)

04/16-18/71 Esalen Institute Metaphysics Conference

02/04/72 Dana Beal Benefit Concert /W/ Evil David Peel & Lower East Side/Teenage Lust/Uncle Buck/+New York Dolls(?)

02/04/72 Dana Beal Benefit Boogie @ Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY (Poster)

Unknown Newspaper (02/04/72 Dana Beal Benefit Review)

Village Voice - 02/17/72
Teenage Lust, who closed the night, are a different story. Led by Lower East Side stalwarts Billy Joe White and Harold C. Black, the band played with an [energy] and vigor reminiscent of the early MC5. Combining strong rock melodies with trenchant lyrics, black and white songs cogently expressed adolescent exuberance. Newly formed and still a bit shaky, the band could use some tightening up. Through no fault of their own, the sound mixing was terrible. But I'm sure these problems will clear up as they become more experienced. Thus, even though they aren't first-rate yet, a solid foundation already exists, and I look forward to their development.

05/23/72 New York Dolls
05/29/72 New York Dolls/Jackie Curtis/Shaker

12/..../72 2nd Annual Dr. Pepper Awards Dinner

"Dr. Pepper TV Ads Have A Ball"
New York Times - 12/06/72
According to the Sunday society pages, Mary Wells Lawrence of Wells, Rich, Greene, was quite a hit at a charity ball in Dallas. Well, let it be noted here that Edward N. Ney, the chief of Young & Republican, did all right at the Hotel Diplomat, in fashionable West 43rd Street Monday Night.

The occasion was the second annual Dr. Pepper Awards Dinner. Dom Rossetti, a creative supervisor, was host and the affair was catered by Guido of New Rochelle, with music by Merrill Kaye and his orchestra.

The highlight of the evening was the showing of the eight commercials of the 1973 Dr. Pepper campaign. These may well turn out to be among the more enjoyable television commercials of the coming year, and the presentation of golden Dr. Pepper bottles to the actors and actresses by Mr. Rossetti.

12/30/72 Satan/Shaker/Magic Tramps/Teenage Lust/Harlots of 42nd Street

Below: A circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat Brochure
Circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Brochure 001)

Circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Brochure 002)

Circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Brochure 003)

Circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Brochure 004)

Circa 1970's Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Brochure 005)

03/16/73 New York Dolls/The Brats

Bob Gruen (Photographer)
Excerpt from:
"Glam! Bowie, Bolan and the Glitter Rock Revolution"
by Barney Hoskyns
(1988)[p. 87]
Kiss actually told me they were inspired by the Dolls. They had seen the kind of girls the Dolls attracted, and Gene Simmons certainly wanted to attract girls. Gene and Ace [Frehley] both told me they went to see the Dolls at the Diplomat Hotel, and the next night they had a band discussion about their image. They figured there was no point in trying to be beautiful, because they couldn't compete with the Dolls, so they decided to be monsters - they went the other way. Ace actually wore his make-up for the first time when he came to the Dolls [1973] Halloween bash at the Waldorf-Astoria.

Gruen actually captured Frehley on film that night. He can be seen briefly in the "Waldorf Halloween" clip that is included on the Gruen/Dolls DVD "All Dolled Up".

At some point in June 1973, the "Le Jardin" discotheque opens in the basement of the hotel. The address of Le Jardin was 110 West 43rd Street. The place was open through much of the 1970's. It closed at some point and was later re-opened as "The Oasis."

(Unknown Person)
Le Jardin stood head and shoulders above the rest of the clubs. It did so because of the naturalness of just how happening it was. It seemed to have happened all by itself, without any effort.

The place went on every night, all night. Straights mixed with Gays, Gays mixed with Blacks, Blacks mixed with Hispanics. The music was not exclusively discotheque music, it was seemingly music that went on and on, with a perfect mix. There will never be another club that parallels it.

Read SEVERAL amazing (and amazed!) descriptions and memories of Le Jardin at

07/13/73 The Brats/ Kiss/ Planets @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Paul Stanley Desinged Ad)

07/13/73 The Brats/Kiss/Planets

Gene Simmons (Bass/Vocals - Kiss)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Behind the Mask: The Official Authorized Biography)
by David Leaf and Ken Sharp
(2003)[p. 50]
It cost us $650 to rent the Crystal Room at the Diplomat, which was an accomplishment because no other group had that kind of money. And besides, we had a great, state-of-the-art sound system. We charged $3.50, which was competitive prices for a rock show at that time. There were three bands on the bill. Opening the show were the Planets, always a favorite group of mine that never made it. Then came Kiss, and headlining the show were the Brats.

Rick Rivets (Guitarist - The Brats)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002) [p. 21]
They told us we were going to rent the Hotel Diplomat because it's legal, and the cops won't be coming like they did at the loft. Then both bands would split the money, and if there were any losses, it wouldn't be that great. Ace [Frehley] had drawn up the ad for the show. He called me up and said that Kiss would headline since [the Brats] had headlined last time. I said it was fine with me; I didn't really care because most of the people left after they had finished anyway. Unfortunately, our singer found out and he went nuts. He called up Paul [Stanley] and was yelling at him over the phone - "You guys are nothing without us!" I was thinking 'What the hell are you doing? You know those guys are gonna blow us off the stage. Let them go on after us.' But he insisted that we were the stars.

08/10/73 Kiss/ Street Punk/ Luger @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Ad 2)

08/10/73 Kiss/ Street Punk/ Luger @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Ad 1)

08/10/73 Kiss/Street Punk/Luger

...which brings us to why we are here. We'll get back to the story of the hotel in a few minutes.
All you Kiss-haters please indulge us for just a few moments...

Right now, it is time to witness history. It is nearly 9:00pm as you approach the entrance to the hotel. You look around as you reach in your pocket and take out a fiver. No need for a hassle right now. You linger a few minutes taking in the scene, and a few minutes later you step into the hotel, into another world, and into rock legend itself.

The headlining act, Kiss, has arrived hours earlier in their rented bread truck that carries all of their gear, including a P.A. system custom built by their sound guy, Eddie Solan. There is no sign of the band, but there are quite a few people here. Gene Simmons has personally seen to that, mailing out invitations and free tickets to the show. There are friends of the bands, relatives, no doubt some people who had wandered by and seen that a show was going on. Maybe a few who had seen the ad that had run in the Village Voice the previous week. There is one person who, according to all the stories, has taken Simmons up on his invite. It takes a while, but we finally spot him, over there, looking quite young. He is here. History WILL take place in this hotel on this night.

Bill Aucoin (Kiss Manager, 1973 - 1981)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002)[p. 22]
The reason I went to see this group was because Gene kept sending me these little notes every week inviting me to see his band and he kept saying that he watched my television show 'Flipside'. One night, I was out to dinner with a friend, and I said to the guy, "C'mon, they're playing over at the Diplomat, let's go check them out." Of course the Diplomat is this old, broken-down, rat-trap of a hotel. Literally, there were holes in the floor. That's how bad the hotel was. The show itself was in the second floor ballroom. Kiss had black jeans on, and they didn't have all the makeup or whiteface yet, but they were really different, and I love things that are different. The more extreme it is, the more I like it.
*Aucoin has in more recent years managed the extreme-shock-metal group Lordi.

Gene Simmons (Bass/Vocals - Kiss)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Behind the Mask: The Official Authorized Biography"
by David Leaf and Ken Sharp
(2003)[p. 50]
At our [August 10th] show, Luger was the opening act. They had Ivan Kral on guitar, and he's in the Patti Smith group now. Also on the bill was Street Punk, a great little band. We always tried to help them out, but they killed themselves. They were their own worst enemy. Anyway, about five or six hundred people showed up.

Ivan Kral (Guitarist - Luger)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002)[p. 22]
We played a very short set. It was maybe seven or eight songs. I remember my brother came in afterward and told me, "You guys look pretty good, but those guys are outrageous!"

Nicky Martyn (Guitarist - Street Punk)(Recently Deceased)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002)[p. 22]

Gene liked us, and Street Punk had a really good draw in New York; he knew that we'd get people down there. Gene was very smart about it; he made sure Bill Aucoin came in after we were well off the stage. He later tried to repay us by getting Street Punk signed with Aucoin. Bill thought he could do nothing for us. He told Gene, "These guys aren't even a band." Kiss had a business sense about them, and we were a bunch of lunatics.

Eddie Kramer (Record Producer)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002)[p. 22]
It was an amazing show. I certainly saw the potential for the band to turn the world on it's ear in terms of show. It was raw, and they couldn't play very well, but I was impressed.

After the show, Aucoin cornered Kiss sound-man Eddie Solan at the mixing-board and asks Solan to introduce him to the band.

Bill Aucoin (Kiss Manager 1973 - 1981)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Alive Forever - The Complete Touring History"
by Curt Gooch and Jeff Suhs
(2002)[p. 22]
[After the show] I talked to Gene and Paul and said, "Look, I'd like to have a meeting with you and see if we get along and if we'd like to work together." About a week later they came by, and I met Peter and Ace and told them, "Why don't you give me 30 days, and if I can get you a deal and if you want to work together, we'll go forward."

Bill Aucoin (Kiss Manager 1973 - 1981)
Excerpt from:
"Kiss Behind the Mask: The Official Authorized Biography"
by David Leaf and Ken Sharp
(2003)[p. 53]
When I met Gene and Paul, I said, "If we're going to do it, if you're interested in working hard and making this a major, major group, then I'd be willing to put as much as I can behind it." I can remember them saying, "Boy, if we could just be as big as the New York Dolls." I kept saying to them, "I hope you're going to be a lot bigger." I saw flaws in the Dolls' situation.

Aucoin held good on his promise, signing Kiss to Niel Bogart's fledgling 'Casablanca Records' label in just a few weeks time. The band immediately set about recording their first album. It would be no overnight success for Kiss by any means, but by late 1975, things began to take off for them after the release of their 4th album, the timeless 'Kiss Alive!'. By 1978, they would become the biggest rock group on the planet.

And the rest, as they say, is Kisstory. You can read about it (ad nauseam) elsewhere.

...Now back to the Hotel Diplomat story.

Only a few weeks after this night of crazy rock and roll, the hotel was the scene of another, equally crazy event. On August 28, 1973, famed '60's radical/author Abbie Hoffman is arrested at the Diplomat on cocaine possession and distribution charges. Two weeks after his arrest, Hoffman skipped bail while awaiting trial. He became the subject of a 7-year manhunt by U.S. law enforcement officials.

10/31/73 Le Jardin Halloween Party

10/31/73 Satan's Celebration /W/ Elephants Memory/Chris Rush/White Satin/Susan Bader/Magic Tramps/Ruby & the Rednecks/M.C. Witch Hazel/Shawn Robbins/Witch Bruadia

11/04/73 Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye @ Le Jardin
11/..../73 Fredericks of Hollywood Fashion Show at Le Jardin

The year is now 1974. The hotel is purchased by the Durt Organization, an up-coming power-house real estate development company. This was but one of the purchases made along their decades-plus rise to prime-mover status among those connected to the Times Square Redevelopment plans of the late 1980's and 1990's. The hotel would eventually become a casualty of those very plans. But for now, the hotel continued to stand, maybe a little less proudly for it's age.

Excerpt from:
"Streetscapes: The Elks Club; an Endangered Species on 43rd Street"
by Christopher Gray
New York Times - 12/13/87

In 1974* the building was acquired by the Durst Organization, which now owns almost the entire block up to Broadway. The huge size and central location of the parcel - nearly 100,000 square feet of mostly low, vacant buildings - make it one of the largest midtown assemblages.

*The Times later (on 11/07/93) reports that the Durts had purchased the building in 1969.

On January 26th, 1974, the hotel sliding ever further into decrepitude, a man identified as Peter Green is killed in a fire in his hotel apartment. The rock and roll continues in the ballroom downstairs...

04/05/74 Dorian & Zero/Television/Super Dude Party
04/10/74 Television
04/14/74 Magic Tramps/Canon/Street Punk/Harlots of 42nd Street
*Two tracks from the Tramps' 04/14/74 set can be heard on their CD titled "Kickin' Up Moonlight Dust". You can order a copy HERE.

04/17/74 Le Jardin Spring Celebration

05/12/74 "The Great Kiss Off"
*An event staged by WPIX-FM Radio and Casablanca Records to promote their group Kiss, their just released 1st album, and their newest single, "Kissin' Time," a remake of the 1959 Bobby Rydell song. The event was staged in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Diplomat. German photographer Waring Abbott was in attendance to document the event but the photos taken are rarely seen and extremely rare to come by, even online. As of January 2016, no video is known to exist of this event.

03/03/75 Gloria Gaynor is crowned "The Disco Queen" at Le Jardin

06/06/75 Eros '75 - The First American Sex Festival held in the Grand Ballroom.

06/07/75 Eros '75 @ Hotel Diplomat (Ad)
(Image via: NYCDreamin Archives)

03/..../76 Porn star Marilyn Chambers' song-and-dance review "Le Bellybutton" opens for a short run at the hotel

"Going Out Guide"
New York Times - 01/24/77
Love Match
August Strindberg's one-act comedy, "Playing with Fire" is the new lunchtime show at the Quaigh Theatre, 108 West 43rd Street (in the Hotel Diplomat). Admission is $1.50 and curtain time is 12:15pm today through Friday for two weeks. Bring your own lunch and leave anytime.

03/18/77 WBAI radio station staff and owners hold a press conference
??/??/77 Neon Leon

04/25/77 - 05/09/77 The Performing Artservices Inc. presents "In Performance at the Diplomat", an ongoing series of music and dance performances.

Beginning around 1977, several early, pioneering Rap shows are staged in the hotel ballroom.

Kurtis Blow
Excerpts from:
"Kurtis Blow presents: The History of Rap Vol. 1" CD (Liner Notes)
In the early 1970's a musical genere was born in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of the South Bronx. Gifted teenagers with plenty of imagination but little cash began to forge a new style from spere parts. Hip-hop, as it was then known, was a product of pure streetwise ingenuity; extracting rhythms and melodies from existing records and mixing them up with searing poetry chronicling life in the hood, hi-hop spilled out of the ghetto.

From the housing projects hi-hop poured onto the street and subways, taking root in Bronx clubs like the Savoy Manor Ballroom, Ecstacy Garage, Club 371, The Disco Fever, and T-Connection. From there is spread downtown, to the Renaissance Ballroom, Hotel Diplomat, the Roxy, and Fun House. It migrated to Los Angeles, where a whole West Coast hip-hop scene developed, sporting it's own musical idiosyncrasies, it's own wild style.

In 1974, [Grandmaster] Flash began playing parties in the neighborhood and gained quite a reputation for rocking the house. Two years later he teamed up with rapper Keith Wiggins, who soon became known as Cowboy, and the pair rocked parties throughout the South Bronx.

In 1976 Flash and Cowboy were joined by Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Kidd Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Mr. Ness - aka Scorpio (Eddie Morris) - and later Rahiem (Guy Williams). Who knew then that they would become the premier rap group of the early 80's? Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 went on to gain immense recognition in the recording industry with several hit records.
I didn't get a chance to experience Flash until late '77 because I was a DJ an an MC myself, doing disco shows in and around New York. When I did seem him perform at the Hotel Diplomat, there was a spotlight on his hands. He had rings on every finger, and the reflection of the spotlight on his rings made it seem as if his hands were sparkling as he cut up the beats. He was a most incredible DJ.

Russell Simmons (Hip Hop Promoter/Record Label Executive)
Excerpt from:
"Buppies, B-boys, Baps and Bohos: Notes on Post-Soul Black Culture"
by Nelson George
(2001)[p. 51]
Still, rap and Russell didn't hit their stride until he started promoting rap shows at the Hotel Diplomat at West 43rd Street in 1977. The Times Square location meant that the shows could attract black teens from the outer boroughs as well as Harlem. Coinciding with this move was the brief mating of [Kurtis] Blow and Grandmaster Flash, with Kurtis on the mic and Flash on turntables. To promote this superstar hip-hop do, 15,000 fliers were distributed and another couple of thousand stickers plastered in subways by Russell.

"We had two thousand kids come see them that first night at the Diplomat," Russell recalls. "You know, people were standing outside Xenons waiting to be picked up to go in like Studio 54. And down the block you had B-boys coming down the street to the Diplomat show two doors away."

The Diplomat's shows truly helped widen raps audience. People like Hollywood, Eddie Cheeba, and the Furious Five all eventually appeared there. Yet there was danger surrounding these shows. "We went through a lot of security companies," Russell says. "They worked one show and then the next security company would come. They would work one show and that was it. It was like that rough. The Diplomat had bullet-proof box-offices. We stayed back there for most of the night. And Kurtis," Russell starts to laugh, "Would always come in the box office and stand around. When it was time to go on stage, he'd run up there and come right back in."

...and the rock and roll shows continued to be held at the hotel as well.

10/31/78 The Idols/The Senders/The B-Girls
09/15/78 The Buzzcocks/Mission of Burma/The Monochrome Set
09/27/79 The Police/The The/Fashion
09/28/79 The Police/The The/Fashion
09/29/79 The Police/The The/Fashion
*This show was broadcast live on WPIX Radio and circulates as a bootleg.

10/06 - 07/79 Rock and Roll Flea Market/ Record Meet/ Film Festival @ Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY

10/06 - 07/79 Rock & Roll Flea Market/ Record Meetup/ Film Festival
/w/ The Ramones/ The Mumps/ The Invaders/ Neon Leon/ David Peel & The Apple Band/
The Blues Blasters/ Buzzy Linhardt & the Buzzards

1980 The movie 'Fame': at the 1:04:30 mark, one of the characters mentions there are "open auditions over at the Hotel Diplomat for I was a Teenage Fag-Hag"

..../..../80 The Buzzcocks
*A photo of the group on this date can be seen in the amazing book "Blank Generation: The Early Days of Punk Rock Photography" in the section by George DuBose. I've been unable to locate the photo online.

05/26/80 The Selecter

05/26/80 The Selector @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY

07/12/80 Peter Gabriel

07/12/80 Peter Gabriel @ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY

1981 *3 views (below) of the decaying old Hotel...photographer unknown.

1981 Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY (Photographer Unknown003)

1981 Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY (Photographer Unknown002)

1981 Hotel Diplomat, New York City, NY (Photographer Unknown001)

12/31/81 MTV 1st Annual New Years Eve Party broadcast LIVE from the Hotel Diplomat
/w/ David Johansen/ Karla DeVito/ Bow Wow Wow

??/??/82 Heart Attack (/W/ Jesse Malin)

Fall 1982: A full wing of the hotel is remodeled into (another) discotheque. The place was to be called "The Cowboy Palace." Due to financial issues, it never opened it's doors. One can imagine, with the name "The Cowboy Palace", what clientele they were going after.

04/04/09 Update: Read more about the "Cowboy Palace" HERE.

12/29/83: United States Bankruptcy Court (S.D., New York) renders a "Decision on Motion for Order Dismissing Chapter 11 Petition" against the individual(s) who were to run "The Cowboy Palace." Seems the courts were none to pleased with the fact that a "company" with no hard or financial assets was seeking bankruptcy protection and protection from being forced out of the Hotel Diplomat when, indeed, they probably had no legal or financial basis to be running that sort of business to begin with. A portion of the decision reads:

"It is apparent that the debtor has no "business" to reorganize. See In re Mogul, supra. It was organized to operate a country western nightclub. However, the debtor has no income, no premises, and never opened its doors to the public. The debtor's only "business" consists of abusing the bankruptcy process by attempting to use this court as a forum for pursuing its tenuous state law claim for wrongful eviction. The state court would be the proper forum to resolve this claim."

Click HERE to read the entire decision on this matter.

It is unclear when rock shows ceased being held in the hotel ballroom, but presumably they were no longer being held by the time the Dursts took full control of the building sometime in the mid-late 1980's.

But, in 1986, another (!) discotheque did open in the hotel basement, the former location of Le Jardin. For a short time, "Midtown 43", a disco catering mostly to a gay and transgender crowd operated in the space. The club soon "packed up and moved across the street and down the block," according to one patron.

A Kiss fan going by "StarryEyedGuy" visited the Diplomat in 1986 and took these photos of the sign out front and of the interior of the hotel:

Excerpts from:
"Streetscapes: The Elks Club; An Endangered Species on 43rd Street"
by Christopher Gray
New York Times - 12/13/87
It seems like a typical, seedy, West Side hotel, no different than a score of other buildings in the west 40's. But if you look up, you can still make out the letters "BPOE" on the 1911 "Mother Lodge" of the Elks at 108 West 43rd Street. Now the Hotel Diplomat, the building sits on one of the largest assemblages in midtown, and a recent court ruling has removed the last legal obstacle to it's demolition.

The Diplomat eventually became an S.R.O. hotel, taking long-term tenants, generally the elderly and poor. Now some rooms rent for $268.00 a month, although the hotel accepts some transients at $32.00 a night.

But in 1985, the city enacted a moratorium on the demolition of S.R.O. units, both vacant and occupied, and renewed it for five years last February. Even if the tenants were to move voluntarily, an owner seeking to demolish an S.R.O. hotel would have to pay $45,000 a room to a fund for more S.R.O. housing - about $9 million in the case of the Diplomat.

The Durst organization and other owners and developers appealed to the State Supreme Court and last month the moratorium was decided illegal. If the ruling stands, the owner only needs to buy out about 50 S.R.O. tenants and the key parcel in the assemblage will be available for demolition.

Excerpts from:
"Two Directors Reshape Classic From 20's; Grand Hotel"
New York Times - 09/10/89
At one time this was a very classy hotel. It had a roof garden that...opened up to the sky. It was wonderful, but it's fallen on hard times. (Tommy Tume - Broadway Director/Choreographer)

In the shabby ballroom on the second floor, there are eight mirrored columns. Most of the mirrors are cracked. Industrial carpeting covers banquettes and surrounds a wooden dance floor. On the painted blue ceiling, tiny chandeliers with pinpoints of illumination alternate with hanging wires and blindingly bright, naked light bulbs.

The rooms at the Hotel Diplomat on West 43rd Street in Manhattan go for $45.00 a night. In the lobby, the paint is peeling from the walls and ceiling. There are holes in the sofas. The cashiers and clerks are imprisoned behind glass and a sign informs new guests that the maximum stay is 28 days.

The desolate and uninviting place, filled with the shadows of dances and dancers past, is the rehersal hall for the new musical "Grand Hotel", scheduled to open in the fall at the 46th Street Theatre.

02/18/90 New York Times reports there are still "about 30" residents living in the hotel.

02/..../92 - 03/14/92 "The Law of Remains" directed by Rezza Abdoh staged at the Hotel

11/18/92 Director Spike Lee's movie "Malcolm X" debuts.
The movie features a dance scene filmed in the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Diplomat.
A few "stills"/screen captures from this particular scene can viewed below...

Dancing at the Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Still from Spike Lee's "Malcolm X - 1992)003

Dancing at the Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Still from Spike Lee's "Malcolm X - 1992)002

Dancing at the Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Still from Spike Lee's "Malcolm X - 1992)005

Dancing at the Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Still from Spike Lee's "Malcolm X - 1992)001

...and below is the actual scene from the movie, in which you can see the Hotel Diplomat's Grand Ballroom in all it's glory...

...and here are a few additional scenes from the movie that contain footage of the old Lodge/Hotel. The scenes here where they are setting up in the big room...

...and the Malcolm X assassination scene, also filmed in the remains of the old Hotel Diplomat.

XX/XX/93 WOR-TV (NYC, NY) Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley (Kiss)
visit the (closed) Hotel Diplomat during a guided tour of the bands early NYC history.

Excerpts from:
"An aging Midtown Hotel That Will Not Go Quietly"
by David W. Dunlap
New York Times - 11/07/93
Now clad in a spindley web of scaffolding that heralds it's imminent demise, the Hotel Diplomat in mid-Manhattan earns a place in civic media not so much for it's eccentric life as for it's protracted death.

It has been nearly four years since the owners, the Durst organization, filed a demolition application for the decrepit single-room-occupancy hotel at 108 West 43rd Street. To create a home for the 31 residents they were displacing, the Dursts renovated Rosoff's Hotel across the street. Then they had to prod state housing officials to action, sometimes through court orders. They had to demonstrate that it made economic sense to replace a 13-story building with a one-story commercial "taxpayer" (so called because it pays the property-tax bills.)

And they had to deal with two tenacious holdout tenants who, for eight months or so, were the only occupants of the 13-story building. One was a writer who says she was harassed by hotel employees and is sueing for $108 million. The other was an elderly man who simply refused to go - an not, apparently out of financial desperation. A court-appointed guardian found that he controlled substantial bank accounts.

The Dursts bought [the building] in 1969, but did not take over operations until 1985. The Diplomat was primarily transient but there were residents who had been living there since the 1940's, placing the under rent control.

In mid-1989, the Dursts began talking with Chemical Bank about building a new headquarters on the west side of the Avenue of the Americas, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, the site that includes the Hotel Diplomat. Chemical needed large floor sizes, but the Dursts could not raze the Diplomat. So they moved the remaining occupants to the front of the building wit the idea of demolishing the rear 70 feet of the structure, thereby creating space for Chemical. Eventually, negotiations with the bank collapsed.

The last tenant coverd by rent control laws - rather than the lass stringent rent-stabilization laws - moved to a nursing home in January 1990. Within weeks, the Dursts filed for demolition.

Mr. Bell, the tenants lawyer, said he thought the Dursts brought on their own woes. "The bottom line," he said, "is that they made a business decision to go for this big development project. They withheld [housing] units from the market and they didn't do any upkeep. And then they came before the state and said, "Hey, we can't make a go of this." In my opinion, it was an abuse of the whole process."

The first relocation settlements were reached in June 1991. Tenants were offered their choice of rooms in the newly renovated Rosoff's, at the rents they were paying for their old rooms [at the Diplomat], about $200 to $400 a month. They were also offered $3,000 stipends, later raised to $5,000. Fourteen tenants accepted, Mr. Durst said, two moved into other Durst properties and two simply left.

In March 1992, prodded by a court order to decide the matter, the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal approved the demolition application. In April the Dursts applied to relocate the remaining 13 tenants to Rosoff's. After further prodding, state officials approved the application in October.

By November, only two tenants remained: Clement Gaines, who had lived there since the 1960's and Susan Baba, a writer who had lived there since 1981. They were evicted in June after Ms. baba, representing herself, put up a strenuous fight at the Appellate Division of the Stae Supreme Court.

Besides Ms. baba, tenants "did not raise any issues of harassment," Mr. Bell said. "I will not say that the Durst people harassed anybody," Mr. Bell said. "In fact, some of our tenants felt they were reasonable landlords. The dispute wasn't that they were doing anything illegal and hounding people out of the building. The dispute was the broader policy issue."

In 1994, the 83 year-old Hotel Diplomat is finally cleared and razed as part of the Mid-Town/42nd Street Renewal Project.

Seen in the eight photos below, the spring/summer 1994 demolition of 108 - 116 West 43rd Street, the site of the Elks Lodge #1 aka Hotel Diplomat.
(Images via - Bank Of America Skyscraper Site Page.)
1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

In the following two photos, you can see that the facade of the Henry Miller Theater, located at 124 West 43rd Street, was preserved during the demolition process. A new theater was eventually built behind it as the block was rebuilt. This is now the current location of the Stephen Sondheim Theater.

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

1994 Demolition of Hotel Diplomat (108 - 116 West 43rd Street), NYC, NY (Photographer Unknown)

Another historic New York City building gone. Over the next several years, the entire area surrounding the site is transformed from a crime-ridden, hooker-infested adults-only-playground, to a "Disneyfied" vacation destination for entire families.

The name "The Hotel Diplomat passes into rock and roll legend...

...and now you know.

Further suggested reading and notes on the demise of the Hotel Diplomat
and the Times Square Area Renewal Project:

(Articles cited above can be read in their entirety with these links:)
12/13/87 New York Times - "The Elks Club; an Endangered Species on 43rd"
09/10/89 New York Times - "Two Directors Reshape Classic from 20's"
02/18/80 New York Times - "For Durst, It's Now a Tower Instead of Taxpayers"
11/07/93 New York Times - "An Aging Midtown Hotel That Will Not Go Gently"
03/16/99 New York Times - "A Project 30 Years in the Making - Durst Tries to..."

1999 "Times Square Red, Times Square Blue" by Samuel R. Delany
*NO Hotel Diplomat information, but this book describes the end of the Times Square of old and some of the circumstances that brought about the eventual demolition of the hotel. This book is NOT cited in the above article. NOT recommended for those of an easily offended character due to Graphic Adult Sexual Content.

12/19/03 New York Times - "Durst Gets Land To Build Tower Near Times Square"

09/07/05 "Midtown Strutter's Ball(room)" at

*A special thanks is due to "Signed DC" over at this great blog. Her original post on the Hotel Diplomat is dated 09/07/05. I owe a great deal of credit her way as she did an excellent job researching her version. I'm merely updating, expanding and adding to the information, including more recently found links, etc. I've tried to expand the information available on the hotel itself, and the scene at Le Jardin. I've also re-arranged and re-ordered the information to be as chronologically correct as possible.

*A very special "Thank You!" goes to Jason Castlebury for supplying additional historical
photos and details on the history of Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat. This project would
not be what it has become without his continuing dedicated research.

Elks Lodge No. 1/ Hotel Diplomat, NYC, NY (Building Exterior)

Hotel Diplomat (NYC, NY) Luggage Tag (Undated)


Karate Boogaloo said...

Jesus, this is epic! Great work. Must have taken you ages to put together!

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks! Took me about 10 days working in spare time. I like to do one of these every once in a while...not sure what the next one will be, probably about a month or so away though.

jetboy said...

Nice job again.

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks Jetboy...
Thought you'd enjoy this one!

hntrnyc said...

Brilliant work, NYCDreamin. Very much appreciated and f*ckin' fascinating, love the Kiss/Dolls story. Makes me pine for the grit and filth.........

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks so much you guys!

Frank said...

This was truly priceless! Me and a couple of friends stayed here for a night when we were 16 or 1987 I was a crazy dump...nice to learn of it's grand past....thanks!!

Lou G said...

Satan The Eternal Fire Man
I played drums for him at the shows at the Hotel Diplomat(Lou Gagliano) I also was running Talent Recon Studios , later called dynamite studios is where I met Satan . The Harlots were know as Pheonx back then. Kiss was first calle Kick. Eightball drummer Vincent Calandar and I grew up together. We held 3 shows at that hotel. The Dolls were just ok compared to the other groups mentioned

NYCDreamin said...

Hey Lou G., thanks for the additional info! What ever became of Satan the Eternal Fireman anyway?!?

Brian said...

Very interesting, i love history and this was great, thank you for you hard work.

NYCDreamin said...

Thanks Brian...glad people are still finding this.

john mcpeake said...

this was awesome...thank-you.. from a kiss fan and a nyc phile.. you should write a book. thanks again...

NYCDreamin said...

@ John - Thanks for reading and leaving some kind words! This was a fun piece to put together - I should probably update it a bit at some point, I can't believe 4 years later people are still finding it and enjoying it!

Dan M. said...

Wow.. I enjoyed this. I stayed at the Diplomat in the 80s on 3 occasions. What a dump. But it was cheap and served its purpose. $45 bucks a night and the brochure showed it as it probably was 20 years before. Great location. I remember walking by the crowds outside of Xenon as we would head back to the hotel at night. We always heard loud music coming from someplace within the hotel as we entered the elevators. Little did we know, some history was being made just a few feet from us. Thanks again. Really enjoyed.

celticgods said...

I believe the Specials played there in 1981. My brother Brian saw the show. I was living in Kingston Jamaica at the time so missed it.

jason castlebury said...

Hello Dan M,

I would love to talk to you about your stay at the Diplomat Hotel to get a better understanding of the interior was like when it was the Elks Lodge! Can you email me at

jason castlebury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jason castlebury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jason castlebury said...

I forgot to post this in the last post.

I don't care how old or how long this might go unread.

Please , if you've really have been into the Diplomat Hotel tell me any and and all stories!
Do not hesitate to email any time any where, I want to hear your story odor see any pictures of the insides of that historical building.

Just Email at

It's hard to find any real stories or more pictures of the interior.
Please Help if you know any more or have more pictures!!!!!!!!!

jason castlebury said...

I would love to hear your story about staying at the diplomat hotel. Email me at

jason castlebury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jason castlebury said...


It took me years and a flight up to New York City and tour NY Elks Lodge#1. It's not so easy to find any thing from 1911 to 1934 towards lodge#1.
One has to be very patient and be persistent to find any thing about this grand old building that was wrongfully torn down!!!
No matter what it's flaws were...

jason castlebury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jason castlebury said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I will have to pull out the programs where I was the promoter -- had Halloween show with Elephants Memory. I remember their manager was complaining about to many people getting in for free and than the elevator door opened and out came a gaggle of young ladies and said we are with the band. The manager threw up his hands and just walked away. Andy Worwhol was there and John Lennon among others.

NYCDreamin said...

Hello "Anonymous Promoter" - I would absolutely LOVE to see ANYTHING you have about the Diplomat or any shows held there that we might be able to include here. Can I ask you if you would please scan that stuff up and send images over via email? Or more stories or photos you might have? Please get in touch with me - I'm the writer of this blog - my name is Bryan. Please email me at:

Mitchell Brandt said...

I have many memories of the hotel diplomat. My father owned the coffee shop in the hotel from 1954 to 1982. In the early 70's at night the sign on the diplomat coff shop would ne covered by a sign for Le Jardin. Many times stopping in I would see one of his regular customers, who when in town would order the same two items, grilled cheese and a malted, Robert Durst or Bob as my father called him thought he made the best malteds.

jason castlebury said...


I take it that your father owned the Oasis coffee shop on the far right hand side of the first floor upfront?
Did you ever walk around any other part of the building? Or take any pictures inside your dads coffee shop? I'm also looking for more videos of the interiors. Especially the second and third floor area of the Grand Ballroom area inside of it and outside in the hallway area. The gentlemen who made this blog has done a great job with this buildings history.
It will only get better as we both find new pictures, video,articles, posters, and on and on. We both can only do so much and find so much on the buildings past!
Now we are asking the public who reads this if they have stories, pictures, and or video to send it to either email address as a contact.

I was just sent two shirt handheld camera videos from a guy from Sweden to be placed on this sight very soon. It video showing the entrance into the Diplomat lobby in 1981. It's donations of media items like that will help this sight become even more interesting. Whether it has to do with the New York Elks Lodge #1 or KISS fans or people had been in the Diplomat or stayed in the Diplomat. Any thing that can be coughed up on the old Diplomat you can bet it will be displayed on the sight with full credit to the donor!

So surprise us with new stuff to put on here if you have anything or can find something new that's not on the sight already.
We need every ones help to bulk this sight up!

My email again is or email NYCDreamin at his hotmail address.
This is his sight and does a great job putting up with me and all the stuff I have on the NY Elks & the Diplomat Hotel years!

I will say it again to the Public please help us find more history on this building to display on the sight! Every bit helps.......

Thank you Mitchell for the story of your dads coffee shop. PS I hope your talking about Douglas Durst and not his serial killer brother Robert Durst. He's on trial right now.
But, I bet if Robert was the heir to owning this place. It still might be there and not wrongfully demolished in 1994. That's a wild guess and I could be wrong about that.

Noel Kirby said...

What a really great job you've made of this Diplomat history site - I've just dug out my ticket stubs from the Undertones gig there on 15th July 1980 ... hopefully I can forward these to you and you might even consider giving them some "airspace" on your marvellous site.
I spent the gig close by the stage trying to let frontman Feargal Sharkey know that my mum was from Derry City too ... 1980 was a fabulous summer to be a 22 year year old Irish student on a J1 visa in New York City!