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[graphic] 2005

Hotel Theresa
Photo by Anthony Robins, courtesy of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
The Hotel Theresa, built from 1912 to 1913, has been one of the major social centers of Harlem. Serving from 1940 until its the late 1960s, when it was converted into office use, it was one of the most important community institutions for African Americans. The New York City hotel is also a noted work of the accomplished architectural firm of George and Edward Blum, and exemplifies the firm's singular approach to ornamentation and inventive use of terra cotta. Although planned primarily as an apartment hotel, the Theresa also welcomed traveling guests for short stays. In addition, the hotel contained a two-story dining room used for banquets, weddings, meetings and other functions, and a bar and grill that became a major gathering place for Harlem's black celebrities.

Hotel Theresa
Photo by Anthony Robins, courtesy of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation

During the 1940s and 1950s, the Theresa was known as the "Waldorf of Harlem," playing host to many of America's most prominent black social, political, entertainment and sports figures, as well as to many foreign dignitaries. The Theresa was also home to important Harlem institutions, including the March Community Bookstore and Malcolm X's Organization of Afro-American Unity. The Theresa entered the national limelight in 1960 when Cuban premier Fidel Castro chose to stay at the hotel while visiting New York to speak at the United Nations General Assembly; while at the Theresa, Castro hosted a visit from Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev. Encompassing the entire western block front of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard, between W. 124th and W. 125th streets, the Theresa is one of the most visually striking buildings in northern Manhattan. The Hotel Theresa was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 16, 2005.

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