15 Vanderbilt Ave
Glamorous and luxurious, this hidden bar was once the private office of railroad tycoon John W. Campbell.
The opulent office of railroad tycoon John W. Campbell, measuring 60-feet long, 30-feet wide, and 25-feet high, was one of the largest ground floor spaces in the city at the time. It was decorated to look like a Florentine palazzo, with hand-painted ceiling beams, a mahogany balcony, an expansive window of century-old leaded glass, and an enormous fireplace in which Campbell kept his steel safe.
There used to be more. There was a pipe organ, a baby grand piano, 19th-century Italian furniture (made to resemble the 13th century), and Campbell’s overpowering desk. There was an art collection worth more than $1,000,000 lining the walls as well as the biggest treasure of all, a custom-woven Persian rug that covered the entire area. The carpet cost Campbell $300,000 in 1924 – equivalent to over $3 million today.
Mr. Campbell worked at his famed enormous desk pant-less. He hated wrinkled trousers and took them off before sitting at his desk. After the working day was over, Campbell put his pants on and turned his office into an entertainment space. He was known to invite up to 60 guests for private recitals.
John Campbell kept his office from 1923 until his death in 1957. The opulent furniture and the Persian carpet disappeared shortly thereafter, with the space falling into disrepair. For a while, it was used by police as a gun storage and as a day jail.
In the late 1990s Campbell’s office was resurrected as a posh bar called The Campbell Apartment. It got better yet when bar owner Mark Grossich gave it a major makeover in 2007, restoring it to its 1920’s chic and splendor.
The Campbell Apartment is starting its new chapter being re-opened after renovations by new owners. Hopefully, it’ll retain its unique identity.
It’s better to visit the place on the weekends or late at night when it’s not bustling with kill-vibe commuters.