This weekend, we got the following note from an anonymous commenter: "Yesterday, a sign was posted on the front door of the Elk Hotel simply saying 'Hotel Closed.'"
I followed up with a phone call and spoke to a gentleman who confirmed it, saying, "We're closed. No more hotel no more." Closed for good? "For good."
We've been watching this one for awhile, waiting for the venerable old hot-sheets flop to fall, especially once the luxury glass towers started rising all around it at 42nd and 9th. Still, it always stings to get the news. And I regret never going inside--they rented rooms by the hour, after all--just for a look, to soak in the atmosphere. (I never went into the Shore Hotel, either.)
A New York Observer writer rented a room in 1999. He called the Elk "one of the few surviving remnants of 42nd Street’s seamy and seedy side, a barely living connection to the gray days when Times Square was the reigning kingdom of sex and sin."
Nothing much had changed by 2004 when the New York Times went in and asked a pair of sightseers how they liked the accommodations. ''Other than the mice, the hookers and the transvestites,'' said one, ''it's fine.''
And the same goes right up until now. Last summer, a commenter to my original post about the Elk wrote in situ: "I'm currently In the elk hotel As I write this . I've been coming here for the last 25 years, and this hotel hasnt changed much.there's a constant stream of prostitution and drugs flowing throughout the building."
14 to 42 dates the Elk Hotel back to 1925. A grandchild of the long-ago owners, writing anonymously at my original post, provides a running historical narrative there, stating that George M. Cohan slept at the hotel and "Yes there is a STRONG FORCE up above in Heaven now keeping the ELK from the wrecking ball!"
But after 87 years, that heavenly force must have finally given up. The Elk has gone to the vanished New York--and that fantastic Pepsi-Cola sign, always reminding us that something seedy yet remains, will likely be going with it.