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Savoy-Plaza Hotel

Savoy-Plaza Hotel

Savoy-Plaza Hotel was demolished in 1965 to make way for the General Motors Building.

Location: 767 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10153  |  Google Maps
People: Edward Durell Stone, Elliott Willensky, Adolph Zukor
Places: Central Park
Above: Sherry-Netherland Hotel and Savoy-Plaza Hotel, New York City, c. 1927; Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

The Savoy-Plaza Hotel was a 33-story hotel overlooking Central Park. It was designed by McKim, Mead & White and built in 1927. Along with other buildings in the area, such as the Sherry-Netherland Hotel and the Plaza Hotel, the Savoy-Plaza was representative of the Beaux-Arts architectural style, which had its heyday in America in the early 20th century. Paramount Pictures founder Adolph Zukor and his wife occupied the penthouse at the top of the Savoy-Plaza for many years. The top of the building was sometimes referred to as his rooftop chateau, with its distinctive double chimneys and slanted roof.1 In 1958, the Savoy-Plaza was purchased by Hilton Hotels and continued to operate under the name The Savoy Hilton. In August 1964 it was announced that the new General Motors Building would replace the hotel. After failed protests and boycotts of G.M. products, the hotel was demolished in 1965, and construction began on the 48-story General Motors Building, designed by Edward Durell Stone.2

The Savoy-Plaza Hotel was never designated a New York City Landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and was demolished.

The Action Group for Better Architecture in New York was a leader in the fight to save the Savoy-Plaza Hotel. They held a “Funeral March” for the hotel at Grand Army Plaza on Fifth Avenue. Led by Elliott Willensky of the Cornell University College of Architecture, about 100 students and faculty of various architectural schools gathered in the rain to protest the demolition. They carried signs with slogans such as “Landmarks Preservation Weak” (in reference to Mayor Wagner designating a week in the fall of 1065 "Landmarks Preservation Week"), “Don’t Blast the Past,” and “Renege of Rampant Wrecking.”3 In addition, women of the elite class of New York became involved in the efforts to save the hotel, calling for a nationwide boycott of General Motors products (the company headquarters was replacing the historic building), from home appliances to cars.4

Foster Haley, “Savoy Plaza to be Razed for G.M. Offices,” The New York Times, 21 August 1964.
Glenn Fowler, “48-Story Tower to Rise on Savoy Plaza Site,” The New York Times, 16 December 1964.
Thomas Ennis, “Coming Demise of Savoy Plaza Mourned by Student Marchers,” The New York Times, 3 October 1964.
  4. Anthony C. Wood, Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City’s Landmarks (New York: Routledge, 2008), pages 336-338.