The history tour of Century Plaza concludes with a photo of James Lee, a doorman who has worked at the Century Plaza hotel for the last 40 years. The photo on the left comes from a tiny viewfinder that Lee keeps in his locker: In that photo, he is standing facing the hotel. Lee can't remember the date the photo was taken, but he says it would have had to have been before 1974, the year the Century Plaza towers on Century Park East (designed by Minoru Yamasaki, the same architect behind the Plaza) went up. And obviously, there is no Gensler-designed CAA building (at 2000 Avenue of the Americas) at this point.
So if there's going to be a human interest story about the Century Plaza and its possible destruction, it'll be about the staff. Despite the hotel's numerous owners, many of the staff have been there 30 plus years. The youngest doorman has been there for 24 years, according to Lee. At least two staffers (one just retired) have been with the hotel since it opened in 1966. The bartender in the lobby told us he'd been there 30 years. "A lot of our staff have been here for many, many years," says Erika Garcia-Lavyne, director of public relations for the Hyatt, noting that some staffers have had children who have gone on to work at the hotel. Meanwhile, we hear that the doormen know the best stories about the hotel and its famous guests. Of course, these guys will know everything. [Photos of the Century Plaza Towers, CAA Building in gallery]
· PHOTO RETROSPECTIVE OF CENTURY CITY [Century City Chamber of Commerce]
· Getting to Know You: Threatened Century Plaza [Curbed LA]