The Hotel Theresa opened in 1913 at Seventh Avenue, between 124th and 125th Streets. The Harlem hotel ended its racial segregation policy in 1940. The Theresa quickly became the most important hotel in Harlem and was dubbed the “Waldorf of Harlem” (or “Waldorf-Astoria of Harlem” or “Harlem’s Waldorf"), after New York’s famous and exclusive Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The nickname was popularized by an Ebony magazine article on the Theresa called “The Waldorf of Harlem,” published on April 1, 1946.
The Hotel Theresa closed in 1966 and became office space in 1971, renamed “Theresa Towers.” The building was landmarked in 1993.
Wikipedia: Hotel Theresa
The Hotel Theresa, located at 2082-96 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard between West 124th and 125th Streets in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was, in the mid-20th century, a vibrant center of African American life in the area and the city.
The 13-story hotel was built in 1912-13 by German-born stockbroker Gustavus Sidenberg (1843–1915), whose wife the hotel is named after, and was designed by the firm of George & Edward Blum, who specialized in designing apartment buildings. The hotel, which was known in its heyday as “the Waldorf of Harlem”, exemplifies the Blums’ inventive use of terra-cotta for ornamentation, and has been called “one of the most visually striking structures in northern Manhattan.”
The building, now an office building known as Theresa Towers, was designated a New York City landmark in 1993 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
30 March 1946, Chicago (IL) Defender, “New Ebony Features Famed Hotel Theresa,” pg. 12, col. 4:
It is only six years since the Hotel Theresa “went colored” but it is already ‘The Waldorf of Harlem,” a pictorial feature states in the April issue of Ebony, new Negro picture magazine.
With 12 floors, 300 rooms and over 100 permanent residents, the Theresa is the biggest of the nation’s some 400 Negro hotels.
21 September 1960, New York (NY) Times, “Theresa Hotel On 125th St. Is Unruffled by Its Cuban Guests” by Philip Benjamin, pg. 16, col. 2:
The Theresa Hotel, where Premier Fidel Castro and his party are now entrenched in forty rooms, is a kind of village green in Harlem.
That is, politicians hold rallies in and around it, and Negro celebrities receive the acclamation of the multitude there. It has also been described as Harlem’s Waldorf -Astoria.
7 February 1965, New York (NY) 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.
Harlem, the Great Black Way, 1900-1950
By Jervis Anderson
London : Orbis Pub.
ABOVE: The Hotel Theresa (Harlem’s Waldorf-Astoria) is the background of a 1946 parade in honor of Joe Louis
12 May 1991, New York )NY) 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 (NY) 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 (NY) 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 NY) 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 (NY) 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.
Wired New York
Hotel Theresa - 125th Street at Seventh Avenue - Harlem - by George & Edward Blum
February 9th, 2002, 07:42 PM
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.
Wired New York
Hotel Theresa in Harlem
October 24th, 2002, 09:51 PM
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.
Meet Me at the Theresa:
The Story of Harlem’s Most Famous Hotel
By Sondra K. Wilson
New York, NY: Atria Books
In 1936, Woods’s corporation made an offer to the Seidenberg family to purchase the Theresa Hotel. Woods dreamed of transforming (Pg. 64—ed.) the Theresa into the black Waldorf-Astoria of Harlem, but his bid fell short.