Nobody Asked Me, But... No. 148;
Hotel History: Radisson Martinque on Broadway (1896), New York, New York*
By Stanley Turkel, CMHS
The Raddison Martinque on Broadway, orginally known as the Hotel Martinique, sits at the northeast corner of Broadway and 32nd Street was constructed in three phases in 1897-98, 1901-03 and 1909-11. Developer William R. H. Martin built and expanded his hotel because the center of theater life had moved up Broadway to 39th Street where the Metropolitan Opera House had been built in 1883. Martin hired the distinguished architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh (1874-1918).
Born in New Brunswick, N.J. of Dutch lineage, Henry Hardenbergh attended the Hasbrouck Institute in Jersey City and received architectural training from the Beaux-Arts trained Detlef Lienau in 1865-70. Hardenbergh, who began his own architectural practice in New York in 1870, became one of the city’s most distinguished architects. Recognized for their picturesque compositions and practical planning, his buildings often took their inspiration from the French, Dutch, and German Renaissance styles.
Hardenbergh is best known for his luxury hotel and apartment house designs. Among the earliest of these are the German Renaissance-style Dakota Apartments, a designated New York City Landmark, and the Hotel Albert, now known as the Albert Apartments. His three earliest midtown hotels, including the original Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue and West 34th Street and the Manhattan Hotel on Madison and East 42nd Street, have all been demolished but at the time of construction they were the standard for luxury hotel design, both the exterior and interior. The turrets, gables, and balconies seen on the exteriors formed a picturesque composition, while the elaborate interior arrangements, and fine decoration added to the pleasure of the visitor’s experience. Hardenbergh continued to perfect his luxury hotel designs in the Plaza Hotel, a designated New York City Landmark, and in Washington, DC the now demolished Raleigh Hotel.
The owner and developer of the Martinique Hotel was William R. H. Martin, a large landowner in Manhattan at the turn of the century and a founding member of the clothing firm of Rogers, Peet & Company. Martin was born in St. Louis and lived in Brooklyn as a child. He entered the clothing business with his father John T. Martin, who had been a large army contractor during the Civil War. Later the Martins formed a wholesale clothing business with Marvin Rogers; it was known by several different names before becoming Rogers, Peet & Co. Martin served as head of the company from 1877, but had retired from active involvement several years before his death in 1912. Martin used his wealth to invest heavily in Manhattan real estate, and at the time of his death his holdings were valued at more than $10,000,000. These investments included such properties as the Marbridge Building, an office building located on the northeast corner of Broadway and 34th Street, and the Martinique Hotel, which he named for himself and nearby property at Broadway and 31st Street. Martin also built and supported the Trowmart Inn, a home for working girls.
Martin clearly thought the 34th Street-Broadway area was a vital, growing section for business and investment. Rogers, Peet & Co. opened a store at 1260 Broadway in 1889, even before such big department stores as Macy’s and Saks moved to 34th Street. Martin began purchasing property for himself on this block in 1892, and made further purchases in 1893 and 1895 until he owned a large, irregularly- shaped parcel facing West 33rd Street, West 32nd Street and Broadway. Martin chose to build his new hotel on this property, close to Greeley and Herald Squares because the location was beginning to offer many opportunities for shopping, theater and restaurants to attract the tourist trade, and was close to several modes of transportation.
Hardenbergh created a French Renaissance design which capitalized on the openness of Greeley Square with a boldly-scaled mansard roof, towers and ornate dormers. The façade reflects Hardenbergh’s reputation for designing buildings for long-term use, not short-term profit. The glazed brick, terracotta-and limestone-clad structure also features stonework, balconies and prominent cartouches on all three of its main facades.
*excerpted from my book Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi (AuthorHouse 2013)
About Stanley Turkel, CMHS
Stanley Turkel was designated as the 2014 and 2015 Historian of the Year by Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This award is presented to an individual for making a unique contribution in the research and presentation of history and whose work has encouraged a wide discussion, greater understanding and enthusiasm for American History.
Stanley Turkel is one of the most widely-published authors in the hospitality field. Two of his hotel books have been promoted, distributed and sold by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry and Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi). A third hotel book (Built To Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels in New York) was called "passionate and informative" by The New York Times. His fourth hotel book was described by The New York Times: "Nostalgia for the City's caravansaries will be kindled by Stanley Turkel's...fact-filled...Hotel Mavens: Lucius M. Boomer, George C. Boldt and Oscar of the Waldorf."
Built to Last: 100+ Year-Old Hotels East of the Mississippi is available for purchase from the publisher by visiting bookstore.authorhouse.com.