U.S. Grant turns 100 - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

U.S. Grant turns 100

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - What do Elvis, Wyatt Earp and Al Capone have in common? They've all spent a night at the U.S. Grant Hotel.

"We opened up in 1910. We had 470-plus rooms, 350 of the rooms had running water and electricity. That was considered high tech back in the day," historian Clifford Smith said.

Throughout its four renovations, countless world leaders have stopped and flopped there.

"We had 14 presidents here, from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush," Rita Moore of Starwood Hotels said. "The most recent president that we've hosted was President Bush, junior."

It's best to let sleeping president lie, but in 1929 one room housed a radio station where FDR once delivered a fireside chat. Charles Lindbergh climbed a marble staircase there after working on The Spirit of St. Louis and Albert Einstein pondered relativity while sitting around the chandeliered lobby. In 1979, the Grant was almost visited by the wrecking ball, but has since been placed in the Historical Registry of Buildings.

"We're not a museum. We're a living, breathing testimony to what San Diego is," Moore said.

Today the U.S. Grant is owned by the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians, which means the property has come full circle.

"12,000 years ago this was all tribal land and the Sycuan Band was deeded their reservation in the East County by President Ulysses S. Grant," Moore said.

The tribe has sunk an additional $60 million into the property to restore it to its glory days.

"It's an extraordinary blend of the historic and the modern contemporary,"

Now, after a century of being San Diego's centerpiece, if we could get these walls to talk, we'd have a real story.

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