If you get a kick out of spotting old signs pointing to the past, next time you’re rushing through the Times’ Square subway, here’s something you might like. Head to the eastern end of the Track 1 platform on the Grand Central-Times Square-42nd Street shuttle.
Hiding in plain sight at the end of the platform you’ll find an unassuming white door with a faded metal sign that reads ‘Knickerbocker’.
This gem of nostalgia was once the entrance to the bar of New York’s most glamorous hotel, the now forgotten Knickerbocker Hotel, where F.Scott Fitzgerald and John D. Rockefeller once drank. It’s often thought that it was a secret doorway, but according to the New York Times, it was actually used as a direct entrance for people on the downtown platform of the Interborough Rapid Transit subway line in place at the time. Who knew?!
This Beaux Arts building with its 500 rooms, and restaurant and bars with space for 2000 people, was built in 1906 by American aristocrat millionaire business man, John Jacob Astor. In its heyday, it was the social centrepiece of the gilded age of old Times Square and a haven for refined elegance, commonly known as the 42nd Street Country Club. When John Jacob Astor died on the Titanic his son took over, but the hotel fell out of favor when prohibition swept the nation, the building eventually converted into offices for Newsweek magazine.