At the turn of the last century, all the world came to Broadway to shop, dine, flirt, find amusement, and meet acquaintances,” wrote Henry Collins Brown, curator of theMuseum of the City of New York. In 1897, the Hotel Martinique on Broadway opened amidst the boom of hotel and theater life. Broadway was said to have a champagne sparkle with an artistic glow, and the trend setting culture found on this famous boulevard flourished. Around the same period, Pennsylvania Station, Macy’s, and the extended PATH train made their celebrated debut.
It was the perfect time for William R.H. Martin, owner and namesake of the Hotel Martinique, to submit plans to dramatically increase the size of the Hotel Martinique. Martin hired the Hotel Martinique’s original architect, Henry Hardenberg for the redesign and expansion. Hardenberg, a slender man, who favored a starched high collar and pearl stickpin, was known as one of the greatest architects of his time for building Castles in the Air. His artistry was built on structural strength that has endured for generations.
According to Christopher Gray, architectural historian “Hardenbergh designed buildings for long-term use, not short term profit”. To his credit Hardenberg also designed the Dakota Apartments, the original Waldorf Astoria at Fifth Avenue, the Plaza Hotel and the famed Willard Hotel in Washington DC. A parade of celebrities, the actress Lillian Russell, Diamond Jim Brady, John Wanamaker, Mark Twain, and Oscar Hammerstein, were constant visitors at his architectural gems.
With the expansion completed, the Hotel Martinique re-opened on December 21, 1910 to a fanfare of elegantly dressed guests who arrived in horse drawn carriages. They were immediately impressed when they entered the vast lobby, which featured an inspiring mosaic tile floor and an 18-story spiral staircase, both of which are intact today.
Significant to the legendary history of the Martinique is the formation of the Professional Golfers Association of America. In 1916, department store magnate, Rodman Wanamaker, sponsored a luncheon at the Hotel Martinique, where 35 prominent golf professionals created The PGA. The Charter for the PGA was signed on April 10, 1916 at the Hotel Martinique.
A copy of the original Charter is on display in the PGA Gallery, located on the second floor of the Radisson Martinique
Just steps from the Martinique, construction of the Empire State Building began on March 17, 1930. Just over a year later, President Hoover pressed a button in Washington, D.C. officially opening and turning on the Empire State Building’s lights for the first time. At that same moment, guests celebrated at the Martinique, by lifting their glasses and toasting their new neighbor, the Empire State Building.
Just as it was during the Gilded Age, the Hotel remains a symbol of Grand Hospitality, in the same stunning Beaux Art Building of 1896.