Alfred G. Vanderbilt III
My grandfather, the first Alfred Vanderbilt, was the Plaza’s first guest. He signed the registry “Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt,” but Mrs. Vanderbilt didn’t come because Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt were having “difficulties.” The original marketing plan of the hotel was to attract people like my grandfather. His main residence was in Newport, and this was his pied-à-terre, until he built his own hotel. His parents had a house where Bergdorf is now. The question I had was, “If Mom and Dad had 154 rooms across the street, why take an apartment at the Plaza?” And the rumor was because of the girl. He was a big equestrian and one day he was riding in Central Parkdf and he met a girl whose horse got away from her. He stayed at the Plaza so he could see her. Then she gave way to [his second wife], my grandmother, whom he also met at the Plaza. He was the most photographed man in America at the time. In 1915, he was bringing his horses to London on the Lusitania and became a hero when he went down with the ship. He gave away his life preserver to a woman who survived. He was the richest man in America, and he couldn’t swim.
The Beatles’ Invasion (1964)
They had a whole wing to themselves on the fifteenth floor. I shared a room with George—a room, not a bed, you know? It was the beginning of Beatlemania. [The label] wanted to give them a real New York launching. There was a piano in the room, and they wrote songs in there. “Michelle,” I think. We’d all slip out and go to the Playboy Club, which was just down the road. They ordered room service all the time. They would get the steak and bottles of whiskey and never touch it. Or they’d just take a swig. They did it because it was a thing—they can spend money. It was very childish.