The Imperial Hotel Looks Back at Its Iconic Incarnation

The Imperial Hotel celebrates the architect who brought the storied hotel a new level of international acclaim.

Opened on September 1, 1923, the second generation Imperial Hotel was designed by the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright and was an instant sensation. The iconic Mayan Revival style building soon became a destination for the international jet set. Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio stayed there for their honeymoon. Charlie Chaplin, Babe Ruth, and Helen Keller all stayed there as well.

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The 1964 Olympic torch makes its way past the old Imperial Hotel

More than four million kiln-fired tiles and bricks, designed by Wright himself and made in a factory specifically built for the Imperial Hotel, went into the making of the 1923 Imperial Hotel, and lent the hotel its unique appearance.

One of the four million pieces of hand-fired tile that was used in the 1923 Imperial Hotel

Wright’s building was torn down in 1967, and the next generation hotel went up in 1970. Die hard fans can still find the façade of the hotel at the Meiji-mura near Nagoya, and for those who might want to have a small version of the iconic structure, there are still Lego versions of Wright’s Imperial Hotel to be assembled.

The old 1923 Imperial, in miniature

For those looking to get a taste of this slice of Tokyo history gone by, the Imperial Hotel opened a new lounge last week in honor of Wright’s 150th birthday that offers the public an opportunity to see memorabilia of the historic building – everything from stationery to brochures and old building plans. Titled “Imperial Times – Once and Future Legacies,” the new space will be open indefinitely.

Image courtesy of the Imperial Hotel

Imperial-Hotel-memorabilia

When you drop by, be sure to finish your visit by dropping in at the Old Imperial Bar, an establishment that still holds a few touches of Wright’s work, from a mosaic at the end of the bar and a Wright-designed lamp that stands in a corner. In honor of the architect’s 150th, all this month the bar will be serving three cocktails in Wright’s honor: The Time, Imperial Legacy, and Wright’s Will.

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The Old Imperial Bar

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Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Imperial’s main lobby, as they’ll be doing more renovations that will feature Wright’s designs, up until 2020.

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