American name, Italian design, Hungarian intellectuals. Commissioned by the New York Life Insurance company as its European head office, the New York Palace was built between 1891 and 1894 in Italian Renaissance-style. Best known for the New York Café, which became a mecca for intellectuals, the building is part of Hungarian literary history. Most great Hungarian writers, poets and journalists of the 20th century were regulars here and the café became a meeting place for literary minds. So much so, that waiters served ink and paper along with coffee and pastries. Moreover all influential newspapers of the time were edited here. Other artists, like painters, actors and filmmakers were also welcome, in fact the New York Café served as a hangout for the Hungarian Impressionists Circle.
The café's golden days lasted until WWII. The once opulent building was damaged during the war and it fell into disrepair. It's hard to imagine, but after WWII it became a sporting goods store. The first attempt to revive the New York Palace was in 1954, when it reopened as the Hungária Restaurant. The re-launch wasn't very successful and it wasn't until 2006 that the New York Palace was fully restored to its original splendor by a new owner: Boscolo Hotels. These beautiful photos by Márk Mervai offer a sneak peek into the golden era in Hungary at the turn of the 20th century.