Venue Spotlight: CUNY Graduate Center’s Elebash Recital Hall

21We’ve got a very cool venue for the first ever WomanCon – the elegant Elebash Recital Hall at the CUNY Graduate Center, located in the landmark former B. Altman building on Fifth Avenue between 34th & 35th Streets, across from the Empire State Building.

As an event planner, the basics are always the first things I look for – is it easy to get to? Check – great location close to the B,D,M,F trains, Penn Station, and Grand Central.

But even more important… this intimate theater space will let 200 awesome women learn up close from some incredible speakers, have lunch together, mingle and make some great connections.

The building also has an interesting history:

  • It was the first large scale department store on Fifth Avenue, and was designed to blend into the grand residences in the neighborhood when it opened in 1906. The store didn’t even display an outside sign for the first 25 years.
  • Designed by architects Trowbridge and Livingston, who also designed the St. Regis Hotel, the Hayden Planetarium, and J.P. Morgan headquarters on Wall Street
  • Had a rooftop running track used for training by the American Olympic team depicted in the film Chariots of Fire
  • Had a seven-bed medical department that provided medical care to employees and to customers in emergencies
  • Its onsite power plant allowed the store to stay open during the 1965 NYC blackout, giving people refuge from the dark and heat
  • The building closed in 1989 when B. Atman & Co. went out of business, and reopened in the mid 1990s when the Oxford University Press and the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry and Business Library opened on the Madison Avenue side, and the CUNY Graduate center made its new home on the Fifth Avenue side.