With its neoclassical architecture towering over downtown Pittsburgh, the Omni William Penn Hotel exudes an elegant, timeless charm. Since first opening its doors in 1916, this luxurious hotel has played host to celebrities, dignitaries and Pittsburgh visitors for over a century.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The Omni William Penn Hotel first opened in 1916, making it over 100 years old today.

In this article, we’ll explore the long, fascinating history of this Pennsylvania landmark. We’ll cover the hotel’s origins, opening, renovations, and changes in ownership over the decades as we answer: How old is the Omni William Penn Hotel?

Early Planning and Construction

Henry Clay Frick began planning the hotel in 1909

The historic Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh has a rich history that dates back over a century. The hotel was the brainchild of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, who began planning its construction in 1909.

Frick, a prominent figure in Pittsburgh’s business community, envisioned a luxurious and grand hotel that would attract visitors from all over the world.

The original design called for 20 stories and 600 rooms

When the plans for the Omni William Penn Hotel were first drawn up, it was intended to be a massive structure with 20 stories and 600 rooms. The design was ambitious, reflecting Frick’s desire to create a hotel that would be unrivaled in elegance and opulence.

The architects and engineers involved in the project worked tirelessly to bring Frick’s vision to life.

Construction faced delays due to WWI, opening in 1916 with 23 floors

Unfortunately, the construction of the Omni William Penn Hotel faced significant delays due to the outbreak of World War I. The war disrupted supply chains and diverted resources away from civilian projects. As a result, the hotel’s construction was put on hold for several years.

Despite the setbacks, the hotel finally opened its doors to the public in 1916. By this time, the original design had been modified, and the hotel stood at 23 floors instead of the initially planned 20.

The Omni William Penn Hotel quickly gained a reputation as one of the most luxurious and prestigious hotels in the country, attracting guests from near and far.

For more information on the history of the Omni William Penn Hotel, you can visit Omni Hotels.

Grand Opening and Early Years

The Omni William Penn Hotel, a historic landmark in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to its grand opening on March 11, 1916. This iconic hotel, located in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, has been a beloved establishment for over a century.

The William Penn Hotel opened on March 11, 1916

On a crisp spring day in 1916, the doors of the Omni William Penn Hotel were opened to the public for the first time. The grand opening was a highly anticipated event, drawing in crowds of eager guests who were excited to experience the luxury and opulence that awaited them inside.

The hotel quickly became a symbol of sophistication and elegance in the city.

It was the largest hotel in Pittsburgh at the time

When it first opened its doors, the Omni William Penn Hotel was the largest hotel in Pittsburgh, boasting over 1,000 guest rooms and a wide array of amenities. Its grandeur and scale were unparalleled, making it a standout destination for both locals and visitors alike.

The hotel’s size and reputation solidified its place as a premier establishment in the city.

Jazz Age updates were made in the 1920s

During the vibrant and lively Jazz Age of the 1920s, the Omni William Penn Hotel underwent a series of updates and renovations to keep up with the changing times. The hotel embraced the spirit of the era by adding luxurious art deco touches to its interior, creating a stylish and trendy atmosphere.

The Jazz Age updates made the hotel even more alluring, attracting famous celebrities, politicians, and socialites from around the world. The hotel became a hub of activity, hosting glamorous parties and events that epitomized the spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

Today, the Omni William Penn Hotel continues to stand as a testament to Pittsburgh’s rich history and heritage. It remains a beloved landmark that has preserved its original charm while adapting to the modern needs of its guests.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a luxurious getaway, a visit to the Omni William Penn Hotel is sure to transport you back in time to a bygone era of elegance and grandeur.

Mid-Century Decline and Revival

The Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a rich history that spans over a century. However, like many historic buildings, it experienced a period of decline in the mid-20th century.

The hotel struggled in the postwar period

Following the end of World War II, Pittsburgh, like many cities, faced challenges as the economy shifted and urban centers experienced a decline. The Omni William Penn Hotel was not immune to these changes and saw a decrease in occupancy rates and overall deterioration.

The hotel faced tough competition from newer, more modern establishments and struggled to attract guests.

During this time, the iconic hotel went through several ownership changes and faced financial difficulties. The grandeur and elegance that once defined the Omni William Penn Hotel seemed to fade away as it fell into disrepair.

Major renovations restored it to glory in the 1980s

However, the Omni William Penn Hotel would not remain in a state of decline forever. In the 1980s, a major renovation project took place, bringing the hotel back to its former glory. The restoration efforts aimed to preserve the historic elements of the building while updating it with modern amenities and conveniences.

The renovation project included updates to the guest rooms, public areas, and the addition of new restaurants and event spaces. The goal was to recreate the luxurious ambiance that had made the hotel a popular destination in its early years.

After the completion of the renovations, the Omni William Penn Hotel once again became a sought-after destination for both locals and visitors. The hotel regained its status as a symbol of elegance and sophistication in Pittsburgh.

Historic landmark status was granted in 2002

In recognition of its historical and architectural significance, the Omni William Penn Hotel was granted historic landmark status in 2002. This designation solidified the hotel’s place in Pittsburgh’s history and ensured its preservation for future generations to enjoy.

Today, the Omni William Penn Hotel continues to be a beloved landmark in Pittsburgh, attracting guests from around the world. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and luxurious amenities make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a taste of the city’s past.

21st Century Renaissance

The historic Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh has seen its fair share of transformations over the years. One of the most significant changes occurred in 2001 when Omni Hotels took over the management of the hotel.

With their expertise in hospitality, they brought a fresh perspective to the iconic establishment.

Omni Hotels took over management and updated amenities in 2001

When Omni Hotels took the reins of the Omni William Penn Hotel in 2001, they wasted no time in implementing changes to enhance the guest experience. They recognized the importance of keeping up with modern trends and technology, and thus embarked on a mission to update the hotel’s amenities.

Their efforts resulted in a range of improvements, such as the introduction of high-speed internet access, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, and upgraded conference rooms. These updates not only catered to the needs of contemporary travelers but also positioned the hotel as a leading destination for business and leisure guests alike.

Another renovation focused on modernizing rooms

In addition to upgrading amenities, the Omni William Penn Hotel underwent another renovation aimed at modernizing its rooms. The hotel’s management recognized the importance of offering guests a comfortable and luxurious stay, complete with all the amenities they would expect in the 21st century.

The renovation included the installation of new bedding, updated bathroom fixtures, and the integration of smart technology. Guests can now enjoy amenities such as smart TVs, USB charging ports, and mobile check-in options, adding a touch of convenience and sophistication to their stay.

The hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016

With a rich history dating back to 1916, the Omni William Penn Hotel reached a significant milestone in 2016 – its 100th anniversary. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the hotel hosted a series of events and special promotions throughout the year.

Guests and visitors were treated to a glimpse into the hotel’s past, with historical exhibits showcasing its heritage and iconic moments. The celebrations not only honored the hotel’s legacy but also highlighted its enduring commitment to exceptional hospitality and service.

Today, the Omni William Penn Hotel stands as an exquisite blend of timeless elegance and modern sophistication. Its continued commitment to innovation and guest satisfaction ensures that it remains a cherished landmark in the heart of Pittsburgh.

By the Numbers: Omni William Penn Hotel Timeline

1909: Early hotel planning started by Henry Frick

The story of the Omni William Penn Hotel begins in 1909 when the renowned industrialist Henry Frick initiated the planning for this iconic establishment. Frick, known for his contributions to the steel industry, had a vision of creating a luxurious hotel that would showcase Pittsburgh’s growing prominence.

With meticulous attention to detail, Frick began laying the foundation for what would become one of the city’s most treasured landmarks.

1916: Grand opening after 7 years of construction

After seven years of construction, the Omni William Penn Hotel finally opened its doors to the public in 1916. The grand opening was a momentous occasion, attended by dignitaries, celebrities, and the local community.

The hotel’s stunning architecture, featuring intricate details and a blend of neoclassical and French Renaissance styles, captivated all who entered. With its opulent ballrooms, luxurious guest rooms, and world-class amenities, the Omni William Penn Hotel quickly became a symbol of elegance and sophistication in Pittsburgh.

2021: Omni celebrated the hotel’s 105th birthday

In 2021, the Omni William Penn Hotel proudly celebrated its 105th birthday, marking over a century of providing exceptional hospitality to guests from around the world. Over the years, the hotel has undergone renovations and updates to stay current while preserving its historic charm.

From hosting celebrities and political figures to serving as the backdrop for countless weddings and special events, the Omni William Penn Hotel continues to be a beloved destination for travelers and locals alike.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Omni William Penn Hotel, you can visit their official website at https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/pittsburgh-william-penn.


From its stately origins in the early 1900s to its modern incarnation today, the Omni William Penn Hotel has evolved while retaining its old-world elegance. This Pittsburgh classic is now over a century old and still welcoming guests with luxury accommodations and historic charm.

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