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Important, Romantic, and Notorious

A look back at the history of the Royal York Hotel, which is now up for sale.

In the 1950s, or so the story goes, a writer meeting a friend in the lobby of the Royal York Hotel was heard to comment, “I can’t afford to eat here. I just wanted to catch the flavour of confidence and assurance, so I decided to come in and absorb some atmosphere. I just like to sit here and think that everyone I see is either important, romantic, or notorious.” In saying this, the unnamed writer managed to sum up the image and character the hotel has been crafting since it opened on June 11, 1929.

Less than two weeks before the Royal York’s 85th anniversary, news broke that the building is up for sale. Although it’s obviously too early to say what changes the new ownership will bring, this provides us with an opportunity to review the changes the hotel has undergone throughout its long and storied past. Please don your snappiest formal wear before heading into the gallery.

Additional material from the February 3, 1927, May 12, 1928, August 22, 1928, June 12, 1929, and May 27, 1932 editions of the Globe; the March 10, 1953, April 1, 1954, June 11, 1954, November 21, 1956, February 21, 1959, December 3, 1971, and April 26, 1971 editions of the Globe and Mail; and the July 8, 1927, June 8, 1929, June 11, 1929, June 12, 1929, November 24, 1956, March 6, 1971, September 25, 1971, and March 3, 1989 editions of the Toronto Star.


  • nevilleross

    What, again? And who’s going to buy it?

    And why is it the the Royal York can and could get a buyer to go on, but not places like the Sutton Place hotel, or the Valhalla Inn, or Inn On The Park, or even the Constellation Hotel? Why were those places allowed to die?

  • nevilleross

    Yes, they do. The Constellation Hotel was a modernistic, futuristic design inspired by aviation (and named after the famous Super Constellation airliner of the 50′s and early 60′s) that should have been preserved, but for the greed of the owner Regal Investments Ltd. And the Valhalla Inn is also important, as are the Inn On The Park and Sutton Place. People like you that can’t see the future (or can’t accept how people of the past were believers in and acceptors of the future) just don’t get it.