THE Montclair Hotel was designed. by prolific NYC architect Emery Roth and built in 1928, across the street from the lodestone of Lexington Avenue hotels, the former Waldorf Astoria on East 49th, which was shuttered a few years ago and is now in a chrysalis while it’s being converted into condominiums. Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin got their start at the Montclairin the late 1940s.
It spent several years as the W Hotel with a redesigned lobby and in the last few years a couple of different hotels have filled the space. It seems as if the Covid-19 Pandemic has closed it for now, as the entrances are gated off.
The hotel’s calling card is the four terra cotta elephant heads above the front entrance. Till recently, they were dirty and encrusted with exhaust grime, but the W has spiffed them up and repainted them light brown. Unfortunately their former long trunks that were entwined around the hawsers that formerly held a sidewalk canopy have all broken off: two were fairly intact until 2018 or so.
Why elephants? Even the late great Christopher Gray didn’t deign to address this in his 2009 article about “hotel alley” on Lexington.