or what it had been?
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The Hotel Theresa was a vibrant center of black life in Harlem, New York City, in the mid-20th century. The hotel sits at the intersection of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and West 125th Street (Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard). The hotel was built by German-born stockbroker Gustavus Sidenberg (1843–1915), whose wife's name was Theresa, and designed by the firm of Buchman and Fox in a neo-Renaissance style. It opened in 1913 and was from then, until the construction of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building across the street in 1973, the tallest building in Harlem. It has a striking white terracotta facade and was known as the "Waldorf Astoria of Harlem." In its early years the hotel accepted only white guests, but in 1940 the hotel administration decided to end its racial segregation policy.
Louis Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne, Josephine Baker, Dorothy Dandridge, Duke Ellington, Muhammad Ali, Dinah Washington, Ray Charles, Little Richard, and Jimi Hendrix all stayed in the hotel or lived there for a time. Fidel Castro and his entourage, while in New York for the 1960 opening session of the United Nations, stayed at the Hotel Theresa after storming out of the midtown Hotel Shelburne because of that hotel manager's "unacceptable cash" demands. Castro's entourage rented 80 rooms at the Theresa for $800 per day.
The hotel profited from the refusal of prestigious hotels elsewhere in the city to accept black guests. As a result, black businessmen, performers, and athletes were thrown under the same roof.
After leaving the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X maintained his competing Organization of Afro-American Unity at the hotel and hosted meetings there. He met Cassius Clay in the hotel on various occasions.