Often when confronting unsettling moments our lives, we tend to think of Rod Serling and his now iconic science fiction series on TV. The opening of his well-known Twilight Zone featured many objects including a clock, a window, and a suspended door. This was not the first time a door was used for this purpose. The notion of the beyond as something achieved only through a doorway has been used as a psychological device for thousands of years. Serling’s use of it was certainly nothing original. Doorways that allow one to enter into something new, or see new things, are an old, old concept. A closed door, in particular, arouses curiosity, wonder, and suspense. All this comes to mind because of a mysterious door, a real door, in one of the most heavily traveled places on the face of the planet. Very few know this door – yet thousands walk by it every day never taking notice, though the door is clearly marked.
Lost Door Knickerbocker Hotel NYC
New York City is a place that changes dramatically with every passing year. As with all concentrations of intense human competition, New York has seen some of the most spectacular buildings rise, fall, or change purposes over the generations. One of them is the eleven-story edifice at Broadway and 42nd Street originally built and known as the Knickerbocker Hotel. Constructed in 1906 as a hotel for the wealthy, it soon became a social attraction for the elite. The martini, it is rumored, was created in the main bar. Famous opera singers put forth mighty demonstrations of talent from the balconies. Prohibition, however, soured the martinis, forcing the hotel to change with the times. Old Knick was converted into offices in 1920 and has remained that way ever since. One ghostly feature, however, remains in evidence to this day. When built, the hotel offered its guests a private underground entryway to the 42nd Street subway. Anyone taking the 42nd Street shuttle to Grand Central walks by this long closed door to the past. Look for it when getting off the shuttle, as I did last week on another sojourn to the theatre district, one made pleasant with my warm Woolx. It’s right there, over in the corner where nobody looks – a pale white door all by itself with the original tile above it that reads Knickerbocker Hotel. Rod Serling is no longer around to open it. How about you?