by Kevin Walsh

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.


Jonathan Baker November 2, 2021 - 1:25 pm

Wasn’t that the Doral Inn in the late 1980s? I was involved in a self help semi-cult that held meetings there regularly. One guy from my group worked as a watch repairman in a jewelry store next to the lobby entrance.

Peter November 2, 2021 - 4:55 pm

Better to be vacant than to be one of the hotels the city uses to house skells.

JH November 4, 2021 - 11:16 pm

Skells? You mean somebody’s child, brother/sister, parent, friend? Look in the mirror i you want to see a skell.


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