It was July 1, 1982. Approximately 4,000 followers of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon were entering and exiting the second-floor Grand Ballroom of the New Yorker Hotel at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue. There they entered into marriage contracts with strangers whom the reverend, the Korean-born founder and head of the Unification Church, had picked for them. Then, the same day, they walked barely a block and entered Madison Square Garden—most in formal wear—where they were declared husband and wife en masse by Reverend Moon.
Photos of the Moonie marriage ceremony were distributed worldwide. It would be hard to forget—though the New Yorker Hotel would prefer that you did.
The venerable old hotel, once the largest inn on earth, with 2,500 rooms and 1 million square feet over 43 floors and the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Benny Goodman swinging by, has tried mightily to shake off the Moonies’ shadow ever since the church, which reveres the reverend as the Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ, bought it in the bad, old Beame days of 1976, and started using it exclusively for church housing (the Moonies still own it, through their Holy Spirit Association).
The latest gambit: marketing the largest contiguous block of Class B space in New York City, 287,000 square feet over five floors now occupied by egg-salad tenants like insurance firms and the Barbizon Modeling School. Read More