The Hidden Courtyard At The Plaza Hotel

A few months ago, I was scouting some apartments in the Plaza Hotel when my guide asked if I wanted to see the Plaza’s courtyard.

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Now here’s the thing: not only did I have absolutely no idea the Plaza had a courtyard, I couldn’t even figure out where a courtyard would fit. But, after winding our way through a maze of hallways, we finally came to a door…

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…and stepped out into the Plaza Hotel’s hidden courtyard.

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Though you’d never know it from the street, the Plaza Hotel is actually U-shaped, to afford windows and airflow for its inner rooms.

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The courtyard stretches the entire length of the inner area, and features manicured gardens and several pools, beginning with this large one at the widest part of the building…

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Then, a series of tiered pools continue out to the west (water flows from pool to pool)…

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…finally ending in a large fountain…

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…and a garden beyond:

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Here are some pictures of the fountains in action during the warmer months from Delta Fountains, the architects/manufacturers responsible for the space.

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The pools feature a series of underwater lights, which must look beautiful at night when shimmering up at the towers surrounding them.

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I tried to turn up some of the courtyard’s history, but for some reason, there’s next to nothing to be found.

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One neat perk is that most of the courtyard level rooms feature personal balcony spaces, a pretty good consolation if you can’t get a street view:

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Looking up:

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I’m a big fan of hidden urban oases, and I love how the Plaza’s courtyard offers a private and tranquil sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city, yet never lets you forget you’re in the heart of Manhattan.

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I’m sure there are a number of readers out there who have seen this while staying at the hotel; in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this one of the few spaces in New York better known by tourists than locals. Definitely going to have to try to go back now that the gardens are in bloom.

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I’m also going to make it a point to really appreciate the remaining 73 days of summer, because man was this past winter brutal.

-SCOUT

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7 comments

  1. I stayed at the Plaza many years ago and had an interior facing room. The courtyard was not there at that time (just a roof top) so I assume this must have been added during the restoration work. Much nicer than a plain rooftop!

    • My father and stepmother were married at the Plaza in 1967 and there was no courtyard at that time, so yes, it was definitely put in during the reno. Kind of strange that the original building did not make use of the space in this way! Even my building at 105th and WEA had a courtyard (still does, but it looks more like a rooftop now, because insurance regs keep tenants out of the space).

  2. If I remember correctly, that courtyard was introduced during the recent renovation/conversion to condos. Historically I believe the courtyard was, as you say, intended to provide light and air to the upper floors, and I think it also provided light to the Palm Court restaurant off the lobby, which once had an enormous skylight. I seem to recall reading that they were going to restore that during the renovation; haven’t been back since then and can’t confirm.

    • NB – I mean the courtyard as an occupiable outdoor space dates to the recent renovation; the space itself has always been there

  3. Barry Saltmarsh

    Fascinating as always Scout! Plus the other associated links are also incredible.
    I can’t wait to read your posts as you do them so well and captivate your audience.
    You have a great ability and passion about your works. Thank you..
    Barry. Tasmania Australia

  4. Wow!!! Never knew this existed. Thank you so much.

  5. I always thought this was a solid building too until I saw it from google earth close up. I was so surprised even though I stayed there and had breakfast at the Palm Court. The space looks like it flows without a gate to the rear of 22 CPS. Underneath that space/ground is a subway entrance. What do they mean by saying it was a roof top before?

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