Fifty years ago today one of the biggest pop acts in history touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport for the first time. They were whisked into a press conference at the Pan American Airlines International Arrivals building, as dubious journalists tried to figure out if these guys were for real, and 4,000 adoring fans waited outside, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new British band, The Beatles.
After a cheeky display for the press, John, Paul, George and Ringo were driven in separate cars to the Plaza Hotel in Midtown, where they stayed in a row of Presidential Suites on the 12th floor (as even more fans swarmed below). The police required to maintain order, and the hordes of people outside, reportedly led the hotel to not invite the Liverpudlians back. (On subsequent trips, the band stayed at the Warwick Hotel, which recently renovated its Signature Suites.)
Two days later, on February 9th, 1964, the Beatles made their legendary U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show. Seventy-three million viewers tuned in for the performance, about two-fifths of the entire population, as the foursome performed All My Lovin’, and made eyes at the camera. On February 11th, they put on their first concert stateside, for 8,000 screaming fans at the Washington Coliseum, in D.C.
In the Capitol, the Fab Four stayed at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, and in remembrance of the occasion, the property is hosting a small exhibition featuring Beatles memorabilia, and photography by Mike Mitchell, who captured the Washington concert on film. Oh, and discounted room rates of course (starting from $119).
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, back in New York, is hosting their own impressive display: “Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beatles!” (through May 10th), is an exhibition that seeks to transport visitors to the 1960’s, when Beatlemania ran rampant across the United States, creating hysteria among throngs of young American women.
There are some true gems in the interactive show—like archival video from the Ed Sullivan Show, instruments for visitors to pick up and play, and a pre-recorded drum lesson taught by Ringo Starr queued up on screen in front of a drum kit that visitors are encouraged to "jam on." There are also effects from other artists that inspired the band's music, like costumes worn by Ray Charles and James Brown, and a sheet of lyrics scrawled in Bob Dylan’s chicken scratch—and even more nods to the class acts of the 1960’s. Eat your heart out Justin Bieber.
Marguerite Suozzi is Associate Research Editor at Travel + Leisure.