< UNITED STATES | PHILADELPHIA: Hyatt at the Bellevue
In September 1904, Philadelphia unveiled The Bellevue-Stratford, the nation’s only rival of equal opulence and splendor to the New York Waldorf Astoria. Built for an unprecedented $8 million, the “Grande Dame of Broad Street” was the brainchild of one of the most successful men in the hotel industry, George C. Bolt, who lead the Waldorf into its celebrated status.
The Bellevue was quickly acclaimed as Philadelphia’s place for high society and played host to everyone from aristocrats and artists to literary, corporate and political lions. Nearly
every United States President since Theodore Roosevelt has stayed at The Bellevue.
Towering over the heart of Philadelphia at Broad and Walnut Streets, the 19-story, 1,000 room building was designed in an elaborate French Renaissance style of architecture. The hotel boasted the most magnificent two-tiered ballroom in the United States, delicate lighting fixtures designed by Thomas Edison and the most ornate hand-worked iron staircase in the city. The 529 suites with 14-foot-high ceilings were designed in Colonial, French, Italian or Greek decor to surpass the desires of discriminating international guest.
Incredibly, the rose garden perched atop the roof was a haven from the heat on summer nights and was frozen over in the winter for ice-skating. The hotel then housed an internal power plant that produced enough electricity for the entire building and each room was warmed with its own fireplace.
During the 1940’s and 1950’s, the richly decorative accents of the hotel were considered ostentatious, so a “modernization” period occurred which stripped The Bellevue of its ornate beauty. Souring Palladian windows were covered with painted board and the impressive domes hidden by lowered ceilings and black tar that had been poured over the stained-glass rooftops to block out light during wartime. The hotel was a mere shadow of its former self and closed in 1976.
Sale of the property was advertised around the world until a Philadelphia real estate developer, who shared Boldt’s vision of grandeur, purchased the aging Grande Dame. Following more than a decade of restoration and rejuvenation, the original Bellevue re-opened in 1989 as Philadelphia’s first building to house, luxury business offices, upscale restaurants and retailers, spa and salon, an adjacent Sporting Club and garage all within the same complex. Preserving the top eight floors for the hotel, housing 172 intimate rooms and suites, the opulence and elegance of the original structure was recaptured.
Still one of Philadelphia’s most revered landmarks, The Hyatt at the Bellevue’s continued commitment to revitalization has allowed it to once again reign as Philadelphia’s “Grande Dame of Broad Street.”
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