Clothed in red brick and limestone, her feet encased in ebonised wrought iron, her crown a sloping mansard. In 1902 a star on Broadway was conceived, of French ideals the American way. A plot of land owned by a construction company, designed by Harry Allen Jacobs this was no ordinary eleven floors but one of happiness, mystery and sadness.
What stories these opulent surroundings have bore witness to.
An apartment hotel created because developers wanted more dollar signs to their brick façades, to bypass laws to line their pockets, developed out of greed is it any wonder the ghosts of the past walk its corridors.
Apartment buildings came to fruition in New York towards the end of the 19th century. Built to house the middle and upper middle class, these buildings or French flats were of multiple dwellings and classified as tenements not what you would expect those classes of people to joyously celebrate, wealthy Americans of living so close to each other and their servants, the remedy was the Apartment hotel.
With the purpose of housing permanent and short term clients in suites and single rooms, no need for personal servants as the hotel provided meals via their large kitchen and restaurants on the ground floor.
Apartment hotels first appeared in 1889, becoming plentiful and in some cases ugly. A new building code was introduced and the Tenement House Law of 1901 followed , under this new law, these buildings were classified as hotels rather than tenements, from then on the construction of these premises was regulated by this new building code.
Now commercial buildings, less fireproof, taller, larger per square footage, a bigger return on an investment.
The Marseilles had seventeen suites per floor with a choice of one room or three it was popular for guests that didn’t intend on staying too long.
One guest on the 7th floor a wealthy, well dressed widow, concealing a secret.
Four days later a doctor arrives to whispers of a pregnancy and an self induced abortion, no treatment could reverse both lives, the coroner was called to retrieve a dying statement, leaving empty handed as she would not talk.
She died with her secret, not wanting to facilitate the arrest of the man responsible for her condition as he was now a guilty part in the crime of suicide and abortion.
An answer was never uncovered at the inquest.
A penny princess - a wealthy socialite who marries a foreign title checked in with her husband a Count and their children. With a yearly income of 2.7 million dollars and many substantial properties to her name, the Count hatched a plan, by declaring her insane her wealth would fall to him. A jury ruled her incompetent and gave the responsibility of her wealth to her sons, much to her husbands disgust.
In 1911 a woman with hopes of becoming an actress arrives, spending six weeks traipsing Broadway searching for her big break, selling her fine jewellery to keep the dream alive. Found on the third floor hysterical and later committed, insanity her final act.
A twenty five year old corporal in the United States Army granted a leave of absence, proposed to his love, before his deployment to France. Both eager to marry but their parents wanted them to wait until after the war, concerned he might not make it back. Frustrated at his mother for her lack of support, he tried to convince her, awaiting her response, none came, from his eighth floor room he jumped.
Although the focus remains on the negative, the hotel did have positives, from lavish parties, meetings of American Irish and their role of Ireland’s Independence and housing Jewish war survivors offering recreation halls, medical facilities and a kosher dining hall.
At street level she may have changed her shoes, but this building now a home to the more senior of society is a reminder of a Parisian dream on Broadway!