The 12-story building with the Hadson Hotel sign was constructed in 1903 as an extension to the original Grand Hotel (the building with the mansard roof at Broadway & 31st St.) and thus created the New Grand Hotel.
This image of the Grand Hotel from the New York Public Library's Robert N. Dennis
collection of stereoscopic views shows the Grand Hotel before construction of the
31st St. extension:
An earlier Christopher Gray Streetscapes article (New York Times, 31 Jan. 1993) details some of the early history of the Grand Hotel and shows a view of the Broadway side of the building dated 1911. (Unfortunately, the photo is not available in the online version of the article.)
This ad from 1892 appeared in Trow's New York City Directory 1 May 1892. This ad from 1897 appeared in the New York Tribune 30 Jan. 1897. This ad from 1905 appeared in the New York Times 30 April 1905. This postcard from 1910 shows a New Grand Hotel sign on the 31st St. extension.
The 1892 ad names Henry Milford Smith & Son as proprietors. Henry Milford Smith (1809-1887) can be found in the U. S. Census of 1880, age 70, living at the Grand Hotel, 1226 Broadway, with his wife, son (identified as L. D. Smith), daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Additionally there are 128 other residents who were counted. On his death in 1887 the New York Times, 21 Aug. 1887, p. 2, had this notice, "Henry Milford Smith, the veteran hotel man, died at 9:45 o'clock last evening in his family residence at 36 West Thirty-first-street... He was born in New-Hampton, N. H., in 1809... In 1847 Mr. Smith went to Baltimore and managed the Maltby House until 1862, when, with C. C. Willard, now of Washington, he opened the Girard House in this city [New York], since changed to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. In 1870 he leased and bought out the Grand Hotel, and had been its proprietor, assisted by his son, L. Dinwoodie Smith, since, a period of 17 years..." Writing in 1884 Richard Edwards had the following to say in his New York's Great Industries, "Mr. Henry Milford Smith ... was born in New Hampshire, and upon leaving home went first to Boston, where he began his career as a hotel proprietor in charge of the old Franklin House, remaining in Boston for ten years. From Boston, Mr. Smith went to Pittsburg [sic], where, as manager and proprietor of the old Exchange Hotel, he remained for eleven years... After a successful career in Pittsburg Mr. Smith went to Baltimore, where for fifteen years he was the esteemed proprietor of the well known Maltby House, one of the largest hotels in the city... Removing from Baltimore Mr. Smith came to the metropolis of New York, where he has been a permanent resident for the past twenty-two years, and the popular and enterprising proprietor of the Grand Hotel ever since it was opened... His son, Mr. Dinwiddie Smith, is a thoroughly practical hotel man, and actively associated with his father in the management of this magnificent hotel, which [has] two hundred and thirty-three rooms..." This image of the Grand Hotel accompanied Edward's article in the very commercial New York's Great Industries, 1884. Henry M. Smith's son is found in the U. S. Census reports of 1900 and 1910 living in East Orange, New Jersey. His first name is difficult to read, but probably is "Lemontte D." (Ancestry.com has indexed it as "Lemortte d" in 1900 and "Le Matti" in 1910.) The Census gives his birth date as Aug. 1849 and his place of birth as Maryland.
From around 1862 to 1869 Henry M. Smith ran a hotel at 129 Chambers St. on the corner of West Broadway called the Girard House (later the Cosmopolitan Hotel). As of May, 2008, the Cosmopolitan (click for image) is still at this location. A. K. Sandoval-Strausz's Hotel: An American History, 2007, has an illustration of an ad for the Cosmopolitan (probably ca.1870). The author's caption reads, "Middling establishments like the Cosmopolitan Hotel in New York offered modest but respectable accommodations at moderate prices. This hotel is still in business today, serving the same segment of the market." A more extensive history of the Cosmopolitan can be found in Christopher Gray's Streetscapes article in the New York Times, 8 Oct. 2009.
The 1905 ad names George F. Hurlbert as proprietor of the New Grand Hotel. He was George Forbes Hurlbert, born Forestville, N. Y., 13 Sep. 1860. A notice in the New York Times 4 Sep. 1904, p. 9, reads in part, "The Grand Hotel, at Broadway and Thirty-first Street, it was learned yesterday, has been sold to George F. Hurlbert of Jamestown, N. Y., by William G. Leland, the former owner and proprietor of the hotel... Mr. Hurlbert is the proprietor of the Sherman, at Jamestown and the Gable Inn, at Sharon, Penn." Hurlbert appears in the U. S. Census of 1900, age 39, living at 17-25 Third St., Jamestown, N. Y. The entry lists Hurlbert, his wife and 2 daughters at this address along with 7 boarders and 25 servants! Some of the servants were probably employees of the hotel, while others were residents. Hurlbert seems to have been the owner of the New Grand Hotel from 1904 until approx. 1914, although his name is listed in the Manhattan telephone directory at this address through 1929.
Sarah Bradford Landau and Carl W. Condit, writing in Rise of the New York Skyscraper, 1865-1913 (1996), describe the original Grand Hotel in these terms, "An early example [of the reigning hotel style of the 1850s and 1860s] is the Grand Hotel (1868-69), a mansarded, marble-sheathed block articulated by quoins and a champfered corner and still standing at the southeast corner of Broadway and West 31st Street. Its sophisticated design, created by German-born architect Henry Engelbert for the carpet merchant and manufacturer Elias S. Higgins, recalls the simpler styling of the new hôtels particuliers lining the side streets of Second Empire Paris rather than the high style of the Louvre. The total number of stories is eight, counting the two within the pavilioned mansard roof, and in the tradition of the French apartment house, a cast-iron ground-floor front initially provided large display windows for stores. The building was first intended to function as a family hotel - or, to apply the later term, an apartment hotel - essentially an apartment house without private kitchens and where meals are taken communally. But the location of the site in an emergent hotel district and entertainment center dictated that it become a transient hotel instead..."
The Museum of the City of New York website shows a view of the Grand Hotel in a photograph dated ca. 1914.
A much later photograph in the collections of the Museum of the City of New York shows the Grand Hotel and the Hadson sign ca. 1977. The building was known at that time as the Clark Apartments. This is a photo by Edmund V. Gillon, Jr., who did the photographs in Margot Gayle's Cast-Iron Architecture in New York (1974).
The Grand Hotel was listed in Rider's New York City: A Guide-Book for Travelers, compiled and edited by Fremont Rider, 1916, as, "Grand Hotel, Broadway and 31st st. (400 R. [rooms] 200 B. [baths]) Much patronized by traveling men. Prices low." The rates were $1 single room, $1.50 single room with bath, $2 double room, and $3 double with bath.
A Hadson ad from the 1963-64 Manhattan telephone directory gives 1234 Broadway as the address (corner 31st St.).
In 1957 Hadson Realty advertised space at 1234 Broadway as Entire Second Floor Remodeled.
There is also a Hadson sign on the east wall of this building (click for image). Faded and dim, the signs would appear to be quite old, but, no, they are relatively recent. In 1957 the former Milner Hotel became the Hadson, which was in business until 1971.
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