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A historic hotel in Midtown Manhattan that closed during the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has been reopened as the new arrival center for illegal immigrants being bused into the city.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced the Roosevelt Hotel will serve as a “centralized intake center,” providing medical, legal and social services for the newly arrived. There will initially be 175 rooms available to house families and children, which will be scaled to approximately 850 rooms.

“New York City has now cared for more than 65,000 asylum seekers — already opening up over 140 emergency shelters and eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers in addition to this one to manage this national crisis,” said Adams. “While this new arrival center and humanitarian relief center will create hundreds of good-paying, union jobs and provide the infrastructure to help asylum seekers reach their final destination, without federal or state assistance, we will be unable to continue treating new arrivals and those already here with the dignity and care that they deserve.”

The Roosevelt Hotel opened in 1924 and was named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. Located adjacent to Grand Central Station, it was one of the city’s most popular hotels – New York Gov. Thomas Dewey maintained offices at the hotel, and he was at the Roosevelt on Election Night in 1948 when he learned that he lost the presidential election to an upset victory by incumbent Harry S. Truman.

For decades, the hotel was the center of year-end national attention when bandleader Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians would broadcast their annual New Year’s Eve concert from the hotel’s Roosevelt Grill. The Beaux-Arts design of the hotel was also popular with film and television producers, and its use as a location for “Mad Men” inspired the hotel to sell vacation packages tied to the TV show.

Photo by Billy Hathorn / Wikimedia Commons