In 1931 the landscape of America was crippled by depression, organized crime, and the stark reality that sunk in after World War I. When one hears of the cornerstone of a massive and majestic hotel being laid down in 1929 one can not help but wonder how these social and economic events may have played a part in the design and construction of such a building.
In August of 1929 the plans were announced for the construction of two massive skyscrapers that would rise out of the heart of Cincinnati. The Carew Tower and Netherland Plaza hotel were designed to be "a city within a city" where people could work, shop, dine, stay and never have to set a foot on the street. The plans were bold and would require a substantial investment. John Emery, the Cincinnati millionaire behind the plans approached the bank to provide backing for the project but the idea was too new and risky for their interests. "Emery, convinced his project would be a success, sold all of his stocks and securities, despite advice from his financial advisers." In October 1929 the stock market crashed and sent the country plummeting into the Great Depression. All of the country, except Cincinnati, that is.
The plans to build the Carew Tower and the Netherland Plaza were underway when the stock market crashed. Since Emery had removed all of his money from the bank and cashed out his investments he and his money were safe. His project to build a "City within a City" employed more than 1000 men consistently until January 1931.
In 1981 the hotel underwent a massive restoration effort. After removal of old dingy carpets the fabulous marble floors were exposed for the first time in 50 years. Dirt and grime were removed from the beautiful relief carvings and paintings in the Palm Court. Paint that covered the rare Brazilian Rosewood was scraped off. And $28 million dollars later the hotel was returned to its Art Deco glory.
After all of the extensive and careful restoration work the hotel earned National Historic Register and National Landmark status in 1985 and then in 1989 the Netherland Plaza became a charter member of Historic Hotels of America.