77. The Commodore Hotel, New York

The Commodore Hotel, right next door to Grand Central Station, is still there, although you’d never recognize it today. The black glass Grand Hyatt New York is actually the Commodore, rebuilt by Donald Trump.

The original Commodore opened on January 28, 1919. It was designed by Warren & Wetmore, and was part of a project known as Terminal City that was conceived to bring hotel and office buildings to the area around Grand Central Station. All were owned by the New York State Realty and Terminal Company, a division of the New York Central Railroad—a company in which Cornelius Vanderbilt (a.k.a. the Commodore) had a controlling interest.

The Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corporation leased the property, designed the hotel’s interior, and ran it. Bowman-Biltmore's own Herbert R. Stone oversaw the decor of all 2,000 rooms, including the lobby, which was also the single largest room of the day. It had modern low ceilings and an indoor waterfall. By 1929, Bowman-Biltmore was also running the adjacent Biltmore Hotel and the nearby Roosevelt Hotel, which gave them access to all the northeast corridor railroad passenger traffic in and out of New York City.

With such a pedigree, it’s only fitting that the hotel ended up in the hands of Donald Trump. He bought it in 1977, when its railroad company owner was bankrupt. Trump decided to completely rebuild the hotel. The first few floors were gutted down to their steel frame. The architects left the exterior bricks of the Commodore in place, covering them with the reflective glass skin. The hotel re-opened in 1980 as the Grand Hyatt New York.

Grand Hyatt New York
109 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017