• The Plaza

  • The Secret Life of America's Most Famous Hotel
  • By: Julie Satow
  • Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
  • Length: 11 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (286 ratings)

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The Plaza  By  cover art

The Plaza

By: Julie Satow
Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
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Publisher's summary

Journalist Julie Satow's thrilling, unforgettable history of how one illustrious hotel has defined our understanding of money and glamour, from the Gilded Age to the Go-Go Eighties to today's Billionaire Row.

From the moment in 1907 when New York millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt strode through the Plaza Hotel's revolving doors to become its first guest to the afternoon in 2007 when a mysterious Russian oligarch paid a record price for the hotel's largest penthouse, the 18-story white marble edifice at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street has radiated wealth and luxury.

For some, the hotel evokes images of F. Scott Fitzgerald frolicking in the Pulitzer Fountain, or Eloise, the impish young guest who pours water down the mail chute. But the true stories captured in The Plaza also include dark, hidden secrets: the cold-blooded murder perpetrated by the construction workers in charge of building the hotel, how Donald J. Trump came to be the only owner to ever bankrupt the Plaza, and the tale of the disgraced Indian tycoon who ran the hotel from a maximum-security prison cell, 7,000 miles away in Delhi.

In this definitive history, award-winning journalist Julie Satow not only pulls back the curtain on Truman Capote's Black and White Ball and The Beatles' first stateside visit - she also follows the money trail. The Plaza reveals how a handful of rich dowager widows were the financial lifeline that saved the hotel during the Great Depression, and how, today, foreign money and anonymous shell companies have transformed iconic guest rooms into condominiums that shield ill-gotten gains, hollowing out parts of the hotel as well as the city around it.

The Plaza is the account of one vaunted New York City address that has become synonymous with wealth and scandal, opportunity and tragedy. With glamour on the surface and strife behind the scenes, it is the story of how one hotel became a mirror reflecting New York's place at the center of the country's cultural narrative for over a century.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Julie Satow (P)2019 Twelve

Critic reviews

"THE PLAZA reads like the biography of a distant relative as much as the history of a landmark building; the hotel feels alive to anyone who loves it. It's a wild and sometimes vicious life, but so affectionately told that you might come out of the chaos still wanting to visit the old place, after all." (NPR)

"Throughout this sumptuous, busy history, [Satow] enlightens and entertains with stories and anecdotes that recount the hotel's many famous and colorful guests.... An infectiously fun read." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Julie Satow's THE PLAZA expertly shows not only the characters and events that shaped one of New York's most iconic landmarks but how it became a plaything of a global class of uber-wealthy whose questionable finances often ran through tax havens and Swiss bank accounts." (Jake Bernstein, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Secrecy World)