A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 04, 2005
Waldorf of Harlem (Hotel Theresa, now Theresa Towers)
The Hotel Theresa opened in 1913 at Seventh Avenue, between 124th and 125th Streets. It quickly became the hotel in Harlem and was dubbed the "Waldorf of Harlem."

The Hotel Theresa closed in 1966 and became office space in 1971, renamed "Theresa Towers." The building was landmarked in 1993.

The famous Theresa Hotel is located in Harlem at 125th and Seventh Avenue (Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard).

President Fidel Castro of Cuba stayed there on his first visit to the United Nations in NY after coming to power in Cuba. Malcolm X often held O.A.A.U. meetings there.


Opens on Seventh Avenue between 124th and 125th streets. Designed by architects George and Edward Blum.


After it is desegregated, it is frequented by black celebrities, including Louis Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. Joe Louis celebrates victories at the Theresa.


Ron Brown, who would go on to become commerce secretary, lives there while his father manages the hotel. Around the same time, future U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) works as a desk clerk.


Fidel Castro receives Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev after the Cuban delegation's eviction from Shelburne Hotel, for alleged misdeeds that included cooking chickens in their rooms and causing $10,000 worth of damage. While at the Theresa, Castro also meets with Malcolm X, who maintained the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the hotel.


Renovated as office space.


Designated official city landmark.

7 February 1965, New York Times, "Mr. Nakasa Goes To Harlem" by Nathaniel Nakasa, pg. SM41:
I lived at the Hotel Theresa, apparently the Negro Waldorf of yesteryear. This is the tall, aging building where 7th Avenue meets 125th Street. From my room, I could see Harlem Square, where the local soapbox men hold forth in the summer.

12 May 1991, New York Times, "Landmarks: Now, It's Harlem's Turn" by Shawn G. Kennedy, pg. R10:
Another is the Hotel Theresa, at the southwest corner of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and 125th Street, Harlem's main commercial strip. Known as the Waldorf of Harlem, over the years the Hotel Theresa has been host to such world figures as Fidel Castro and Nikita S. Khrushchev. The white-brick building now contains mostly offices.

14 June 1993, New York Times, "4 Cornerstones of Harlem Life Are Designated as Landmarks" by David W. Dunlap, pg. B3:
The other new landmark is the former Hotel Theresa, on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard between 124th and 125th Streets, once called the Waldorf of Harlem, where Joe Louis celebrated his victories, Malcolm X maintained the Organization of Afro-American Unity and Fidel Castro received Nikita S. Krushchev. It is now the Theresa Towers office building.

10 November 1996, New York Times, "Retailers Have Harlem on Their Mind" by David W. Dunlap, pg. R6:
The gleaming structure is known in the history books (and on a fading sign on its western facade) as the Hotel Theresa, once renowned as the "Waldorf of Harlem." It was designated an official landmark in 1993.

7 December 1999, New York Times, "A Stimulating Trip Uptown WIthout Taking the A Train" by Walter Goodman, pg. E5:
He calls Micheaux's Bookstore " a mecca for black intellectuals," and he reports that when the Hotel Theresa opened its rooms to blacks in 1940, it became the "Waldorf Astoria for Harlem."

20 July 2001, New York Times, "Forget the Tour Bus; Stay a Night" by Amy Waldman, pg. B1:
When the Hotel Theresa, known as th Waldorf of Harlem, closed its doors in 1966, the idea of out-of-town visitors staying in the heritage-rich but harrowed neighborhood faded into history.

Posted by Barry Popik
Buildings/Housing/Parks • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 04, 2005 • Permalink