There will be a meeting of the local Community Board 5 in New York City this Tuesday evening to discuss the possibility of landmark status for the Hotel Pennsylvania, home of the HOPE conferences, and a magnet for tourists from all over the globe for nearly a century.
We first reported the story of the hotel's planned demolition back in January. Since then a number of efforts have been made to get the public's attention and to help preserve what we consider to be a truly historic place. The replacement being proposed would do little to welcome visitors to New York and would result in another flashy advertisement structure to replace the 1700 relatively cheap rooms that are filled year round.
The first HOPE conference took place there in 1994. The Last Hope is scheduled for July 18-20, 2008.
The fight to save the hotel faces an uphill battle for a number of reasons. It simply is not luxurious enough for many tastes. The rooms are not generally huge as they are quite old. And while the outside of the structure is quite impressive, much of the inside has been changed and refurbished over the decades. Many New Yorkers simply don't see the need for another old structure to be preserved. But New Yorkers are also the least likely to benefit from the hotel in the first place. People from all over the world stay there when visiting New York because of its remarkable accessibility (right across the street from Penn Station) and prices that are about half that of other hotels. It is very unlikely we would be able to find another venue in New York to hold HOPE conferences that wouldn't cost many times more. The same holds true for all sorts of other events that have chosen this particular hotel. So, regardless of what many think of the architecture and the current condition of the place, there is history and there is significance. Most of all, there is a need. That need will certainly not be filled by yet another huge financial tower.
If you'd like to speak at the meeting on Tuesday, it starts at 6 pm and will be at 227 West 27th Street, "A" Building, 8th floor, room A802. For those who can't attend (including those of you from overseas who make the hotel your home when coming to HOPE), you can always send an email to the community board expressing your concerns. Please be nice and articulate. These people can be very helpful.
There are other fronts to fight for the preservation of the hotel which are being discussed at our online forum. Please join the discussion and spread the word.
Recent articles about the hotel's impending doom: