Visionary Alexander Turney Stewart founded the Village of Garden City in 1869 on 7,170-acres of land outside of New York City. It was constructed to be the ideal place of residency with no expense spared on its development. The Garden City Hotel was to be the focal point of the community and was designed to attract the attention of the world's elite.
In the years that followed, from post-Civil War beginnings to the Roaring Twenties, the dawn of suburbia to the new millennium, the hotel became a favorite destination for the rich and famous including the Vanderbilts, Astors, Kennedys and Clintons. Today, The Garden City Hotel remains a Long Island landmark, synonymous with first-class service and timeless luxury.
1874-1886 – The Garden City Hotel was built in the Victorian style by Alexander Turney Stewart and opened to great fanfare on July 30, 1874. Stewart personally managed the hotel until he passed away in 1876. At that time, his wife Cornelia inherited the project and honored his memory until she was laid to rest at the Gothic Cathedral of the Incarnation in 1886.
New York Times Article published July 31, 1874
1886 – 1897 - The hotel was willed to Cornelia Stewart's family, who formed The Garden City Company to facilitate operations at the hotel. Her brother-in-law, renowned architect Stanford White, was elected to the board of The Garden City Company and his famous firm McKim, Mead and White was contracted to redesign the hotel in the Dutch Colonial style. A distinguished cupola, fashioned after Philadelphia's Independence Hall, surmounted the entire structure and the eastern and western wings were added. This second incarnation of The Garden City Hotel was opened to the public in 1895. A nine-hole golf course was unveiled in 1897, which later became the Garden City Golf Club.
1899 – 1901 - On September 7, 1899, the Garden City Hotel was consumed by flames and burned to the ground. The fire originated in the attic and was most likely caused by a defective flue. The hotel was evacuated immediately and no one was injured. The high-end appointments were destroyed, save for several paintings that were originally part of Alexander Turney Stewart's private collection. The hotel was rebuilt in the Georgian revival style, and this third and most famous incarnation was also designed by McKim, Mead and White, and opened on the same site in 1901.
New York Times Article published September 8, 1899
1904 – 1910 - William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. organized America's first international road race, the Vanderbilt Cup Races, to encourage American automobile manufacturers to challenge European quality. The races were held from 1904 to 1910 and were the greatest sporting events of their day. The events drew huge crowds of over 250,000 spectators and The Garden City Hotel was the center for the who's who of the racing scene.
1911 - The architectural firm of Ford, Butler & Oliver accepted the task of enlarging the hotel by extending the wings on either side in the Georgian revival style. The addition allowed to hotel to increase their capacity.
1927 - One of the most notable events associated with The Garden City Hotel occurred on May 20, 1927, when Charles Lindbergh spent the night before his historic trans-Atlantic flight. The event is honored with an annual anniversary celebration and festivities at the hotel.
1930 – 1947 - The Great Depression brought an end to the Gatsby-era excess at the Garden City Hotel. It wasn't until after World War II that the community around the hotel began to grow and flourish as a residential suburban village.
1948 - 1959: - The Knott Hotel Corporation purchased the hotel in 1948, expanding and redecorating the structure. The revitalized hotel attracted vacationers, business executives, and world leaders, including a 1959 visit by presidential-hopeful John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline.
1969 - The Village of Garden City celebrated their 100th anniversary in February 1969 with a large reception at The Garden City Hotel. The crowds who gathered to rejoice in the memory of A. T. Stewart found it fitting to celebrate at the very location he deemed the crown jewel of the village.
1971 – 1973 - The hotel was bought by builder Michael A. Forte and closed in 1971 before being torn down in 1973. Spectators gathered to watch the impending devastation of the village's longtime symbol of elegance as a wrecking ball destroyed the historic building to make way for a new structure. However, Forte was undercapitalized and the hotel was never reconstructed. The loss of the historic landmark was a traumatic experience for the community. Many bystanders took bricks from the rubble as a memento of the hotel, its grandeur and all it symbolized for the Village of Garden City.
New York Times Article published January 16, 1973
The Garden City Hotel is proud of the rich history that formed the foundation for their commitment to excellence. Today, The Garden City Hotel is recognized as a leader on the Long Island dining and lodging scene and top rankings from best food to best service are given year-to-year. The luxury hotel is one of 185 members, internationally, of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts Group and the only hotel on Long Island, having met the highest standards of quality and extraordinary service earning it Preferred Standard of Excellence status. The 280-room hotel with 16 suites, four of which are penthouse suites, has 25,000-square-feet of meeting and banquet space including a grand ballroom, spacious meeting rooms, a private ultra lounge and a signature restaurant, REIN. The hotel remains popular with today's high-flyers from the worlds of business, politics, sports and entertainment.