Day 27 – Bronx Opera House Hotel & (former) Concourse Plaza Hotel
436 E 149th St, Bronx & Grand Concourse and 161st St, Bronx

An historic day, for a couple of reasons.
It occurred to me that so far all the hotels that have given birth to Roger Spoffin’s latest epic adventure have been located on Manhattan (save for the Book Cadillac in Detroit). There are good reasons for this, obviously. But the rest of New York has been around for a while too.
So I Googled ‘Historic hotels the Bronx’ and realized immediately why I haven’t been heading up there whenever I wanted to put pen to paper. But there were two. Kinda.

The Bronx Opera House opened in 1913 and in its early years featured Houdini and the Marx Brothers (the comedians – not the self-proclaimed hero of the working classes and his little known, less despotic sibling). It was the centre of culture in the Bronx. But this was a long, long time ago. It survived until around 2004 as a church, but like much of South Bronx had fallen into decay. The hotel opened only last year and I headed there full of hopes to see an historic gem, converted to new use, perhaps the lobby where the stage was, the pool in the orchestra pit. No luck. All that remains is the façade. And the name over the door with a few posters inside. The link to the past is tentative.
Nevertheless, the dudes on the front desk were very cool and after I’d explained what I was there for they let me in to help myself to complimentary coffee in the ‘guests-only’ breakfast bar (memories of the Washington Square Hotel came flooding back).

Then, I walked up to the Concourse Plaza Hotel. This former luxury hotel on the hill above Yankee Stadium was opened in 1922 and famously hosted a young JFK in 1960 when he was the Democratic candidate for the Presidency. But it was already on a downward slide then (which wasn’t helped a decade later by the catastrophic deterioration of the neighbourhood – type ‘Burning of the Bronx’ into Google to see what I mean). It’s been a nursing home since 1974, and not surprisingly it’s a nursing home that doesn’t permit random authors to write Middle Grade fantasy adventure novels in its former lobby. No matter. I managed to physically enter the building – through the ‘buzz me in’ security door but that was as far as I could go. And, unlike the former Hotel Theresa in Harlem, there was no White Castle for me to dine in. So, I worked in the park opposite and let the shadow of the hotel pass over me.

So, three ‘First’s’ were achieved that day.
First New York hotel outside of Manhattan.
First time I wrote at two hotels in the same day.
First time I didn’t actually write a single word inside a hotel.

Today’s word count: 2587

Word count to date: 66,130

  • The Bronx Opera House Hotel. Pretty much what you see here is all that remains of the original opera house.

  • The Author enjoying his complimentary coffee.

  • The news that morning. First strike inside Syria.

  • An original poster in the lobby.

  • Many famous performers featured at the Bronx Opera House.

  • The Concourse Plaza from the very pleasant park where I worked on a beautiful Autumn morning.

  • Panorama from the Bronx courthouse on the left, Yankee Stadium and the Plaza Concourse Hotel far right.

  • Guests no longer check out of this place.

  • The insalubrious entrance.