A legendary hungarian coffeehouse THE "NEW YORK"
At the end of the 19th century the New York Life Insurance Company extended its business interests to Hungary, and commissioned the famous architect Alajos Hauszmann (1847-1926) to build flagship premises in Budapest. A four-story, eclectic building was constructed, with striking architecture emphasized by a tower that rises from the center of the frontage. A spacious café opened on the ground floor, sumptuously furnished with marble, bronze, silk, velvet, sculptures, and frescoes in the Art-Nouveau style of the turn of the century.
The proud building, which has in the meantime needed renovation, has withstood the vagaries of time and the Café New York still welcomes guests from all over the world. They come to experience a delicious lunch or dinner in the part of the café rhat is used as a restaurant, or to chat at the cafe’s little marble tables, relaxing after a sightseeing trip or recovering from a shopping spree.
Indeed, they come to savor a little of the atmosphere of a bygone era. At one time in its history the New York was a hive of activity around the clock. From rhe day it opened, the cream of the Hungarian literary and artistic worlds met here. Soon the same people would meet at the same table every time, and there was a core of regular patrons which changed depending on the time of day. On a whim, the dramatist Ferenc Molnár (1878—1952), with the active approval of his friends, threw the keys to the café into the Danube, so that it should never close its doors again.
“The New York … attracted aristocrats, the bourgeois, and artists alike. … No-one could resist its magic. Here everyone knew everyone else,” wrote the Pest author Jenő Heltai. Numerous world-famous careers started in the New York. When the Hungarian movie industry was still in its infancy, a movie producer once asked a fellow regular whether he knew of anyone he could turn into a movie director.
The friend pointed to a young, cigar-smoking journalist: “Young Korda. Try him …” Thus began the world-famous career of the man who became Sir Alexander Korda (1893-1956), to whom the British cinema owes so much. Other regulars in their youth were Michael Curtiz (1888-1961), subsequently Hollywood’s star director, whose works include the cult classic Casablanca, and the king of operetta Imre Kálmán (1882-1953), composer of the immortal works The Czardas Princess and Countess Maritza.