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New York's Historic Algonquin Hotel Sold Again - 2002-06-27

A legendary New York City hotel has been sold to a Denver partnership for an undisclosed sum. In New York, there is hope that the literary legacy of the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan's Theatre District will remain intact.

New York's Algonquin Hotel resonates with historic charm and literary significance. Since its opening, the 100-year-old hotel has held importance for people of letters. The hotel is known to many Americans as the place where one of the most celebrated literary groups in American history gathered in the early 20th century.

The New Yorker magazine librarian, Christopher Shay, says the hotel is indelibly associated with the literary life of the United States, and that those who gathered there went on to pursue great artistic endeavors. "The significance of it is that most of the people who were there to begin with wound up later on doing very interesting things, mainly for The New Yorker, but it also included people like Harpo Marx, who along with his equally amusing brothers would hang out there in the late teens," he said.

The group of writers, editors, critics and actors met regularly at the hotel, sitting at what became known as the famed Round Table. From 1919 to 1929, legendary American figures like Dorothy Parker, Aleck Woollcott and George Kaufman exchanged ideas, witty remarks and jokes over drinks and meals.

Mr. Shay says the hotel still attracts writers, editors and publishing types. He believes the new owners will keep the hotel's literary reputation alive and probably retain the famous table itself. "I imagine they would simply because people walk into the Algonquin Hotel just to see the Round Table," Mr. Shay said. "I do not know if people know what to expect beyond that, [or] whether or not the way it is now is something that is firmly fixed in people's minds, but I think it would be nice if they kept it up."

The new owners said the hotel would be renovated, and most of its staff retained. This is the third time in 14 years that the hotel has been sold. The last time was in 1997 when a Dallas-based real estate group purchased it for close to $33 million.