Remembering the Roosevelt
I used to live in and around New York City for the two years during which I took leave of my senses and went to graduate school. The complaints are more or less true—it’s expensive, it smells bad, and so on. All the same, I like the place.
I returned after a long absence a couple weeks ago and noticed with sadness that the Roosevelt Hotel, an ancient and genteel fixture right by Grand Central, had been closed—a Covid casualty. The post-civilization atmosphere engendered by the transformation of Washington Square Park into an open-air drug market was more shocking, but it was that shut-up marble and brass facade that I have found myself returning to as I reflect on the trip.
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One of my fondest, New Yorkiest memories was watching Die Walküre at Lincoln Center on a warm spring Saturday, a performance that was (for us) punctuated by boozy trips to Fiorello’s. When the opera was over, it was to the Roosevelt that we repaired, where, at the fine old dark hotel bar, things got even boozier. We were drinking Tom Collinses; my friend lost and recovered his wallet. It was a fine evening.
I have learned from the newspaper that the Roosevelt is not merely to sit empty; it is to house migrants bused north from the border as the city copes with the post–Title 42 surge.
Sic transit gloria mundi. Oh well.