(Image: MÃ©moire2citÃ©. The abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental)
Imposing and unloved, the hulking form of the abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental dominates a hilltop overlooking the PortuguÃ©s Urbano neighbourhood of Ponce, Puerto Rico. According to Latin Flyer, the years between 1960 and 1975 were the heyday of this modernist ruin. It was the place to be seen. Celebrities, diplomats, and politicians alike would book into the towering hilltop edifice whenever they were in Puerto Rico.
Construction of the “futuristic” design began on January 6, 1958, embracing both elegance and luxury. The man behind theÂ Hotel Ponce Intercontinental was New York City-based architect William B. Tabler, who was known for contracting with some of the biggest names in the hotel business.
From Statler to Hilton, Tabler not only worked for them; he also knew what they wanted. While capturing the unique spirit and design that was characteristic of Puerto Rico, he also capitalised on the stunning views surrounding the El Vigia Hill. The hotel soon found itself at the heart ofÂ 1960s high society, the birthplace of art, political movements and social happenings.
(Image: Tito Caraballo)
What’s more, theÂ Hotel Ponce Intercontinental was equally special to those living in the surrounding community. Latin Flyer’s Mark Chestnut writes of how a family member held onto the dress she once wore to an event there, even decades after it closed. And why exactly the hotel did shut down is still a subject of debate.
There was no slow decay, no downhill slide. Yet on May 31, 1975, theÂ Hotel Ponce Intercontinental closed its doors for good. There were rumours of labour conflicts, and speculation that a lack of decent roads and other infrastructure linking to the hotel may have played a part in its demise.
Many ideas for remodelling the once-grand hotel have been floated over the decades since its closure more than 40 years ago. The once-luxury hotel wasÂ briefly given a new purpose in 1985 when it was used as temporary housing for those displaced from their homes by a landslide. There has also been talk of turning it into a convention centre, banquet facilities, villas, a hotel and casino, or even demolishing it entirely to clear way for an apartment complex.
(Image: Roca Ruiz)
The most recent proposal came in 2016, when local architect Juan JosÃ© Acosta laid out plans to transform the abandoned Hotel Ponce Intercontinental into a housing community for homeless LGBT youths. His idea was reportedly recognised as one of the outstanding proposals at the SOURCE Awards. Perhaps soon, this iconic monument of Puerto Rico’s recent past may be given new life.
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