Exploring The Abandoned McKittrick Hotel on West 27th Street

Since I became a location scout, it’s been my dream to get into the old McKittrick Hotel at 530 West 27th Street.

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Built in 1939, the McKittrick Hotel is said to have been one of New York City’s finest, providing lavish accommodations on a far more intimate level than larger hotels like the Waldorf~Astoria or Plaza Hotel could manage.

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Before long, the McKittrick became the place to be and be seen, and the upper crust found themselves fighting for reservations years in advance. Alfred Hitchcock, an early guest, would later name the hotel in Vertigo after the McKittrick, having so enjoyed his stay:

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However, despite its initial success, the McKittrick did not survive the year. Mere days after its opening, World War II broke out, and the fortunes of the McKittrick quickly soured as reservations were canceled and prices dropped. Barely able to pay staff wages, let alone the millions of dollars of debt, the McKittrick – along with countless other New York City hotels – closed its doors and was sold.

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Finding any history on 530 West 27th Street beyond this point is difficult. There are a few minor NY Times articles about attempts to re-open the McKittrick as a hotel throughout the 1950′s, but nothing ever seems to have panned out.

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You can find the address via a Google Books search in a handful of print advertisements through the 1960′s and 1970′s, suggesting it might have been used as a commercial/office space (a taxidermy shop was once located in “Suite 3F”). But pickings are slim, and after 1978 – nothing.

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For as long as I’ve known it, 530 West 27th Street has been padlocked and under scaffolding. When I learned about its past as a hotel as a year or two ago, I tried to get inside to see if anything still remained of the old McKittrick – but I couldn’t even find a phone number.

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I figured the McKittrick Hotel, like Hart Island, was simply one of those insanely cool New York places I’d never get to explore.

Then, out of the blue last Friday, I got a letter from someone who I can only describe as having access to the property. The person is a big fan of my site, and told me, if I was interested, she could sneak me in to see something “incredible.”

I met her later that afternoon.

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Inside the front door is an entrance hallway, and I was immediately surprised by the decor…

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…wallpaper that appeared to be decades old…

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…with dusty lamp lit paintings lining the walls. I started to ask my guide if this was from the old McKittrick, but she told me to wait a minute…

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And then we turned a corner, and I found myself in the original McKittrick lobby.

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For a second, I couldn’t speak.

Other than minor alterations, like new lighting and exit signs, this is EXACTLY what guests would have seen when the McKittrick Hotel first opened in 1939, carefully preserved for over 70 years.

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I’m even told the furniture and decorations, down to the pool balls in the billiard room, are original to the hotel. But how was any of this possible??

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Apparently, the hotel was never sold. Despite significant debt, the hotel remained in the McKittrick family over the years. Parts of it were indeed leased as office space for a period in the 1960′s and 1970′s (you can find remnants of a taxidermist’s shop on an upper level), but it ultimately wasn’t worth the money.

The debt was slowly but surely paid off as the property was handed down through two McKittrick generations with the hope that it would someday find new life as a hotel. And after a decades long wait, it appears that process is finally beginning again.

In the lobby: three original phone booths. The lines are STILL working, and are believed to be among the oldest exchanges in the city. And yes, that’s a ROTARY payphone inside:

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Another awesome feature: the key rack behind the check-in desk.

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Each room in the hotel is opened by a skeleton key (I’m told this tradition will continue when the hotel reopens):

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The check-in desk ledger and lamps. Note the old call bell:

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The hotel’s original phone – again, still working after all these years.

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A notepad on the counter:

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The beautiful handmade lobby rug, purchased by one of the McKittrick’s in Turkey in the early 1940′s for less than $8.

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A chandelier, which once held lit candles (electrified, one of the few “modern” changes):

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An old radio that once broadcast 1940′s programs for guests. In fact, news of the war’s beginning was heard through its speaker. My tour guide asked that I excuse the dust on the floor (the McKittrick is still undergoing significant cleaning):

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Much of the furniture was covered with sheets for protection. Below, a piano in the far corner of the lobby:

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A side table…

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…with ash trays (funny to think how the original founders would react to the stringent NYC smoking laws of today)…

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An interesting nook with what appears to be package slots…

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An old ash tray:

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A lounge table, and three dusty shot glasses – one wonders when these were from:

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I desperately wanted to open one of these letters…

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But my tour guide strictly forbade it. It was about this point that I started getting the sense she was having second thoughts about inviting me inside.

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From there, we moved into a small, VERY dark parlor…

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My favorite feature: a beautiful wall decoration made of peacock feathers. Again, all original to the hotel:

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On the table:

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My guide then brought me into the smaller of the hotel’s two dining rooms:

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Tables were still set as if visitors were expected later that evening. Note the monogrammed napkins:

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I noticed one of the hotel’s stranger elements on the dining room wall…

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Crosses formed from spoons and knives, stuck into piles of salt. Perhaps something to do with a family symbol?

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Nearby was a powder room…

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An old hair brush – with hair!

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More brushes…

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And strangely, sheet music:

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The longer I explored the McKittrick, the more something felt…off about it. Behind the front desk, I found this strange sculpture in one of the corners…

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According to my tour guide, vagrants were found be living in the hotel following its demise, and are thought to be responsible.

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Then again, there’s some belief that these strange icons may have been present during the hotel’s brief run:

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Nestled in the corner, what appears to be a taxedermied bird – perhaps from the shop upstairs?:

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There was a lot more to explore, but to be honest, my guide was clearly trying to get me to go at this point. I begged her to take me up to just one of the bedrooms, but she told me these were strictly off limits for the time being.

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It was right about then that I heard a strange thud from the bedrooms above us…and then what could only be described as a slithering, dragging sound. My guide had repeated numerous times that the place was empty, but before I could ask, she had me out the front door.

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I hope you enjoyed my tour of the McKittrick Hotel. I have a feeling they won’t be allowing any photographers in anytime soon following my visit – so these pictures will just have to suffice until that padlock is removed for good.

Finally, in doing further research about the McKittrick, I learned that a murder allegedly took place while it was in business as a hotel. Anyone know anything more about this? Rumors abound that it was this, and not the war, that really shut the hotel down for good.

-SCOUT

PS – Confused? You should probably read this…

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66 comments

  1. Don’t want to burst your bubble, but this place is not abandoned.

    http://www.sleepnomorenyc.com/

    • I don’t think he’s saying it’s abandoned anymore, from the pictures it’s clearly being restored. But from that website:

      “Completed in 1939, the McKittrick Hotel was intended to be New York City’s finest and most decadent luxury hotel of its time. Six weeks before opening, and two days after the outbreak of World War II, the legendary hotel was condemned and left locked, permanently sealed from the public. Until now, 72 years later…”

    • your an asshole

  2. What “very famous” bands have performed in the red room recently?

  3. Late April Fools?

  4. I’m sure our intrepid Scout knew that the place is not actually abandoned, but thanks for spoiling it for the rest of us, jackie.

  5. Well, if everyone is already in on the joke: here is the website of one of the set designers for Sleep No More: http://www.props.eric-hart.com/showcases/sleep-no-more/

  6. Gee, it made a good story. Sorry you got snookered. Obviously, more stuff is happening there then you were allowed to see.

  7. I love these annual posts more than you can know. Making us wait 3 days makes it even better!

  8. EXTREMELY BOSS!

    Good for you, me, and all others enthralled by history.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Michael Scully

  9. Definitely a late April Fools…last year was a day early…

  10. Jeremy In Kansas

    Sooooooo…..real? Fake? I hope that it’s real, but you know what they say about things that seem too good to be true.

  11. Wow. That’s creepy; I bet I’d SLEEP NO MORE if I were to stay in that hotel.

    Although the bit about the murder is actually only part of this post that isn’t a hoax. Back in 2007 when the building housed a night club called “BED” a guy got pushed through the elevator doors into the open shaft during a fight and fell six stories to his death. Murder charges were eventually dropped, but it was this incident that lead to the club’s closing. (The building actually has a pretty sordid history, if you look into it.)

  12. I GASPED when I got to the reveal – You sir, are a meaniepants.

  13. If this is an attempt at creating a viral, it might have been better to do it before Punchdrunk got all the press about the production. It could have been a great viral but clearly the cat is out of the bag.

  14. Whether it’s true or noy it’s still pretty amazing!

  15. Beautiful shots! What an interesting place. But I get the feeling there may not be just bedrooms and hotel shops upstairs….

  16. astonishing. Place looks full of voodoo. And ghosts. Last shot reminds me of the doorway of the Keller Hotel. Why did she want to get you out so fast?

  17. oh its’ a joke. I kind of resent being snookered myself.

    • Me too. There’s no such thing as a late April Fool’s Day. It was a long piece that took quite awhile to read and raised lots of hopes of the kind that mean a lot to people who would read a blog such as this one. Bad faith toward the readers.

  18. Found your site via a friends link on facebook. I will wander round when I’m not at work…oh, and kudos to you saving that doggie, too. As a vet tech, I like to end each day knowing I helped an animal and you stepped in and did a compassionate and brave thing!

  19. Please keep the April Fool’s jokes to APRIL FOOLS DAY!!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/theater/sleep-no-more-from-punchdrunk-transforms-chelsea-warehouses.html

    this post was a real letdown

  20. Why is everyone making a huge fuss about an April Fools post being late? Who even cares? It was interesting, and entertaining, and Scout went out of his way to put all this together for everyone to see and all he gets is shit for it? Come on, people. He’s giving you these cool glimpses into the past and into some places that are off limits to the public for *free*. Quit being jerks.

    • Do you understand that this isn’t a glimpse into the past, or closed to the public? If he wants to show us the set of a play he thinks is great, he can go ahead and do that & not tell us it’s the thing we come here for (i.e., glimpses into the past, off-limit places). I don’t think I’m being a jerk if I feel my time was wasted. I don’t think he’s a jerk for doing it, but I wish he hadn’t. April Fool’s Day is annoying enough one day of the year, and that day has passed.

      • I wasn’t specifically referencing this post as having a glimpse into the past or being closed to the public – but look at all of his other posts. He’s been into a few places the vast majority of us would never be able to step into, let alone take pictures of. People are entitled to have their opinion, but everyone’s whining and crying over something that was still pretty awesome, jokes and theatre sets aside.

  21. I have to say I suspected the April Fools midway through the post–everything was too dust-free to have been abandoned for several decades!!

  22. Shades of the Hollywood Towers Hotel. Great set up.

  23. Wow! So cool to see everything untouched! Thanks for the sneak peak!

  24. Yeah, I suspected an April Fools gag about midway through – even checked to see the date of the blog. And yeah, Im disappointed, but ya know, once a year, I can handle being snookered. As long as you give us the real thing the other 364 days of the year!

  25. I was suspicious right from the start. Why in the world would anyone have built a luxury hotel so far west?

  26. Totally cool! You really are getting to be like an old new yorker. As someone who was born in Manhattan and raised a new yorker, welcome! To those who criticize you, i bet a million they were conceived in iowa
    or worse yet, new jersey. as a kid, we used to make believe all the
    time, especially when roaming the village and central park. that’s
    the fantasy about being from and living in nyc. great work nick!

  27. This was a great read. I realized from the start that it was way way too good to be true. Also I was expecting an April Fool’s post at some point, and since there was no post on the actual day, I wasn’t too surprised when I got to the reveal at the end.
    Thanks for a fun story, Scout! I love this blog, even though I’ve never been to New York. But I might actually go this summer.

  28. I was fooled, although my suspicions were aroused by the claim that this hotel had trouble getting guests during WW2 — not likely! The town was probably jammed with travelers and expats.

  29. This is most definitely the most interesting post I’ve seen on here. I’m sure there are more photos and I can only imagine what they look like.

  30. H.P. Lovecraft would be proud of you. Great work, and fun to read.

  31. Bad blood! but I will return. impossible not to…

  32. you rotten bastard…

  33. Ha! Totally fooled.

  34. In Australia we have an expression that superbly fits all the cry babies boo booing cause they felt betrayed by this post. Pull ya head in!

  35. Great article, great pictures, all of it. Real or not, joke or not, I loved everything about it!

  36. I knew this was tongue in cheek, but as far as I’m concerned, Scout can do no wrong. He brings us fascinating, unique perspectives on the city we love every week, he is intrepid and cheerful and, when you get right down to it, he owes us nothing. We don’t even PAY for this great stuff for Pete’s sake!!

    Personally, I hate the whole concept of April Fool’s Day, I think it is hostile and stupid. I feel that way about practical jokes, I couldn’t even watch Candid Camera when I was a kid. But that is just my personal opinion. Scout wasn’t trying to publicly embarrass anyone, this was innocuous and he was having a bit of fun with a nicely written piece. Some people just take things, and themselves, too darn seriously.

  37. My friends went to this play and said it was AMAZING. You get to walk around the whole building while a play is preformed right around you. Sounds awesome!

  38. The photos here look amazing. I always had a thing for interiors and am now planning to go for sleepnomore just so I can look through the rooms =)

  39. This gives me chills. I see buildings like this all over and dream of going inside. Congratulations on your very special (yet odd) access! Stan

  40. So nice someone’s been paying the utility bills all these years. :-)

  41. I went to see the play before I read this article, so I was not fooled. The place is semi dark, (now I can appreciate its beauty, thanks Scout!) every one in the audience have to wear masks all the time, if go with friends you end up separated but it doesn’t matter, it is fun! if you are going to see the show, be ready to walk around all the time “chasing” actresses and actors to catch the story… It was an incredible experience!

  42. If it was built in 1939, why is the picture of the lobby from the teens? Why is the wallpaper from the 1890s? Are you in on the PR ploy?

  43. This is absolutely amazing! We can’t believe how they preserve the hotel over the years so well–and without anyone knowing. Its very eerie–almost reminiscent of the hotel in The Shining. Your connection could be in some trouble if the owners ever found out. But for these photos, it was so worth the risk!

  44. These photos are NOT of an “abandoned” hotel. If the property were abandoned, it would have:
    1. Peeling wallpaper
    2. Rust on the metal
    3. Water damage from broken windows and leaking roofs
    4. Graffiti
    5. Vandals would’ve broken in and taken all of the small items
    6. The wood on the structure and furniture would’ve rotted
    7. The upholstery on the furniture would’ve been a mess

    It looks like a set from the “Boardwalk Empire” series on HBO.

  45. Isn’t this the building where Twilo was (open) in the late 1990′s?

  46. ugh. I was actually looking for info about 530 W 27th. it’s the space that twilo used to represent.

    This isn’t, and never was, a real hotel. The McKittrick hotel is a reference to Vertigo… the whole thing was set up as part of a play.

    The building isn’t abandoned, never has been. Since the 90s, several clubs have occupied the space (home, spirit, guesthouse, etc). Simple google maps search can show you that.

    Either the author is a moron or this was a bad PR stunt.
    lame

  47. This is pretty brilliant – I was totally into the story and overly excited to see the play this weekend… I was indeed tricked. What an amazing prank. Good one!

  48. This was just amazing to read. I am going to see Sleep No More on Aug 9 and was thrilled to read about this extraordinary hotel and its history. Thank you for all the remarkable photos!!!
    JoAnn

  49. That’s disappointing. I guess I was hoping that a miracle had occurred.

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