Historic Address: A Look Back at The Carlyle, New York’s Foremost Luxury Landmark, a Presidential Favorite, and a ‘Palace of Secrets’ - The Scene

It was even referred to as “The New York White House” in the past.

If there is one landmark that encapsulates the spirit of New York City, with all its glamour, charm and singularity, it is The Carlyle Hotel.

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An Upper East Side institution since it opened in 1930, it has become synonymous with luxury, status and sophistication. Its suites have housed presidents and princesses, dukes and duchesses, and Hollywood’s most honored stars.

Hot spot

Built after World War I as the US economy was booming and American taste for skyscrapers was growing, it was planned as a 35-floor residential hotel. But as it was set to open, Wall Street crashed, signaling the start of The Great Depression.

Fortunately, as its ownership turned hands through its early years, the hotel survived until another economic boom after World War II. From their it became a prominent address, one that has attracted a succession of visits from US Presidents from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.

From left: The front desk at The Carlyle / Photo by Alpha Smoot, courtesy of Assouline;
Pedro Caballero, a bartender at The Carlyle / Photo by Andrew Moore, courtesy of Assouline

The Carlyle’s presidential appeal and link was at its strongest during the time of John F. Kennedy. In the last 10 years of his life, he maintained an apartment on the 34th floor of his “New York White House.” Here, Marilyn Monroe was supposedly snuck in for visits, making use discreet entrances and tunnels.

Discretion remained a consistent trait of the hotel, so much so that The New York Times referred to the place as a “Palace of Secrets.” Three years ago, Matthew Miele made Always at The Carlyle, which centered on its celebrity-filled history.

From left: The living room of the Presidential Suite / Photo by Humberto Cantu, courtesy of Assouline; The Carlyle’s lobby / illustration by Kera Till, courtesy of Assouline

Vibrant times

The hotel is celebrating 91 years this year. As a way of celebrating the New York landmark and to put a spotlight on its renovation project started last year by designer Tony Chi, Assouline is publishing an all new edition of the book The Carlyle. The tome explores hotel’s storied history and its status as an enduring icon.

With exclusive interviews with celebrity patrons and never-before-seen photographs from the earliest archives up to today’s most exclusive parties, this volume is an homage to the rich past and vibrant present of this grand, world-famous hotel.

Stars at The Carlyle, from left: Tom Sturridge and Jason Sudeikis / Photo by Rebecca Smeyne Getty Images, courtesy of Assouline / Orlando Bloom / Photo by Dave Kotinsky Getty Images, courtesy of Assouline

James Reginato, writer-at-large for Vanity Fair and a contributor to Sotheby’s Magazine, wrote the book’s introduction. He is also the author of Great Houses, Modern Aristocrats. An established journalist, he was formerly W Magazine’s features director.

The foreword, on the other hand, was penned by rock legend Lenny Kravitz, who has transcended genre, style, race and class over the course of a forty-year musical career. Reveling in the soul, rock and funk influences the 1960s and 1970s, the writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist has won four consecutive Grammy Awards.

His 11 studio albums have sold 40 million worldwide and his creative firm Kravitz Design Inc. touts an impressive portfolio of ventures, including hotel properties and high-end brands like Rolex, Leica, and Dom Pérignon. It’s a list that The Carlyle definitely belongs to.

For more information, visit Assouline.com.

Banner Photo: Jacqueline Kennedy and her sister, Princess Lee Radziwill, leaving The Carlyle, 1961 / Photo by Bettmann Getty Images, Courtesy of Assouline

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