In earlier times, many Europeans escaped poverty and/or religious persecution by leaving from Rotterdam. These emigrants usually left for North America, hoping for a better life. In 1873 the Nederlandsch Amerikaanse Stoomvaart Maatschappij company was founded, officially renamed ‘Holland America Line’ in 1896. Emigrants embarked in Rotterdam in large numbers, most of them debarking in New York City on arrival in the ‘Promised Land’ of America. In 1971, after more than 100 years of transporting passengers, the Nieuw Amsterdam left the city on the Maas for its last crossing. An important episode in Rotterdam’s nautical history had come to an end.
Hotel New York is situated in the beautiful former head office of the Holland America Line, also known as ‘The Grand Old Lady’. This office was built in the Jugendstil style in 1901 by the architects J. Muller, Droogleever Fortuin and C.B. van der Tak. In 1977 the Holland America Line’s head office moved to Seattle and in 1984 the building on Wilhelmina Pier was put on sale. One fine day in the early nineties, a few people regarded the building from across the water. With its tall towers and spinning weathercock, the building seemed to say: “Yes, I’m still here!” That is when the idea of a hotel and large café-restaurant on Wilhelmina Pier first took shape, leading to Hotel New York opening its doors on May 5, 1993.