I used to like to walk through the Plaza Hotel, before it was converted to condos bought by Russian oligarchs who leave them empty and dark. I liked the liveliness of the place, the ladies in the Palm Court, the tourists snapping pictures of the chandeliers, the heavy, rich, old New York feeling of it all. Now it just feels dead inside.
I liked, once in awhile, to have a drink in the Oak Room and bar. It closed in 2011 because it had filled with all of the most horrible people in the city and they ruined it. Sometimes, I'll wander in and peek through a crack in the closed doors of the old Oak Room. It's empty and dark inside, a haunted space. But it used to be something.
1959--The Oak Room in Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock's day:
Through the 1960s--Gore Vidal and Truman Capote lunch weekly at the Oak Room: "where they nibbled at their friends during the first course, devoured their enemies during the second, and savored their own glorious futures over coffee and dessert." (Gerald Clarke, Capote)
1981--The Oak Room in Arthur, when the presence of a hooker in hot pants was still a scandal:
In 1980, New York described it: "There is about the place a breathless, frenetic vitality, and on any given evening one is likely to spot a few luminaries like Liza Minnelli...or Harry Reasoner. Of course, you have to pay $4.05 a drink for the privilege. But the peanuts and pretzels on the table are plentiful and free."
"There are a lot of very important ghosts here," wrote New York in 1990, "celebrating in the brooding haute-German gloom." And it's "a snug reminder of what it was supposed to feel like to be a grown-up."
Paging Roger Thornhill. Come back to the Plaza, Mr. Thornhill.