Waldorf Astoria New York

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Waldorf Astoria New York
Waldorf Astoria exterior.jpg
Waldorf Astoria, Park Avenue facade
Waldorf Astoria New York is located in Manhattan
Waldorf Astoria New York
General information
Location 301 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10022
United States
Coordinates 40°45′23″N 73°58′27″W / 40.75639°N 73.97417°W / 40.75639; -73.97417Coordinates: 40°45′23″N 73°58′27″W / 40.75639°N 73.97417°W / 40.75639; -73.97417
Opening 1893 (Waldorf Hotel)
1897 (Astoria Hotel)
1931 (Waldorf-Astoria Hotel)
Owner Anbang Insurance Group
Management Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts
Height 190.5 m (625 ft)
Technical details
Floor count 47
Design and construction
Architect Schultze & Weaver
Lee S Jablin, Harman Jablin Architects
Other information
Number of rooms 1,413[1]
Number of restaurants Peacock Alley
Bull and Bear Steakhouse
Oscar's Brasserie
Official website

The Waldorf Astoria New York is a luxury hotel in New York City. It has been housed in two historic landmark buildings in New York. The first, designed by architect Henry J. Hardenbergh, was on the Fifth Avenue site of the Empire State Building. The present building, at 301 Park Avenue in Manhattan, is a 47-story 190.5 m (625 ft) Art Deco landmark designed by architects Schultze and Weaver and dating from 1931.


The name of the hotel is ultimately derived from Walldorf in Germany and the prominent German-American Astor family that originated there.[5] The hotel was originally known as The Waldorf-Astoria with a single hyphen, as recalled by a popular expression and song, "Meet Me at the Hyphen." The sign was changed to a double hyphen, looking similar to an equals sign, by Conrad Hilton when he purchased the hotel in 1949.[6] The double hyphen visually represents "Peacock Alley", the hallway between the two hotels that once stood where the Empire State building now stands today. The use of the double hyphen was discontinued by parent company Hilton in 2009, shortly after the introduction of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts chain.[7] The hotel has since been known as the Waldorf Astoria New York.


Original buildings[edit]

The original hotel started as two hotels on Fifth Avenue built by feuding relatives. The first hotel, the 13-story Waldorf Hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, was opened on March 13, 1893[8] at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, on the site where millionaire developer William Waldorf Astor had his mansion.[8] On November 1, 1897, Waldorf's cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, opened the 17-story Astoria Hotel on an adjacent site.[8]

William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, had built the original Waldorf Hotel next door to her house, on the site of his father's mansion and, more recently, Empire State Building. The hotel was built to the specifications of founding proprietor George Boldt; he and his wife Louise had become known as the owners and operators of the Bellevue, an elite boutique hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Broad Street, subsequently expanded and renamed the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Boldt continued to own the Bellevue (and, later, the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel) even after his relationship with the Astors blossomed. William Astor's construction of a hotel next to his aunt's house worsened his feud with her, but, with Boldt's help, John Astor persuaded his mother to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astoria Hotel and leased it to Boldt. The hotels were initially built as two separate structures, but Boldt planned the Astoria so it could be connected to the Waldorf by Peacock Alley. A corridor was constructed to connect the two buildings, which became known as the "Waldorf-Astoria", which became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.[9][10]

The Waldorf Astoria transformed the building from a facility for transients into a social center of the city as well as a prestigious destination for visitors and a part of popular culture.[9] The Waldorf Astoria was influential in advancing the status of women, who were admitted singly without escorts. Founding proprietor Boldt became wealthy and prominent internationally, if not so much a popular celebrity as his famous employee, Oscar Tschirky, "Oscar of the Waldorf". Boldt built one of America's most ambitious houses, Boldt Castle, on one of the Thousand Islands. George Boldt's wife, Louise Kehrer Boldt, was influential in evolving the idea of the grand urban hotel as a social center, particularly in making it appealing to women as a venue for social events.

The United States Senate inquiry into the sinking of the RMS Titanic was opened in the hotel starting on April 19, 1912 and continued there for some time, before moving on to Washington, D.C..[11] By the 1920s, the hotel was becoming dated, and the elegant social life of New York had moved much farther north than 34th Street. The Astor family sold the hotel to the developers of the Empire State Building and closed the hotel on May 3, 1929. It was demolished soon after.[8]

Current building[edit]

The new Art Deco hotel was designed by architects Schultze and Weaver and constructed at 301 Park Avenue, just north of Grand Central Terminal. That area was developed by building atop the existing railroad tracks leading to the station, with buildings like the Waldorf Astoria utilizing "air rights" to the space above the tracks.[12]

The new building opened on October 1, 1931. The 47-story 190.5 m (625 ft) hotel was the tallest and largest hotel in the world, and remained so for a number of years.[13] The large mass of the building covering the entire block, up to the 17th floor, consisted of public rooms and 1500 hotel rooms, while the slender central tower was known as the Waldorf Towers, with its own private entrance on 50th Street, and consisted of 100 suites, about one third of which were leased as private residences.[14] President Herbert Hoover said on the radio, broadcast from the White House: "The opening of the new Waldorf Astoria is an event in the advancement of hotels, even in New York City. It carries great tradition in national hospitality...marks the measure of nation's growth in power, in comfort and in artistry...an exhibition of courage and confidence to the whole nation..."[8]

Conrad Hilton acquired management rights to the hotel on October 12, 1949.[15][8][16] The Hilton Hotels Corporation finally bought the hotel outright in 1972.[17] Then, Lee Jablin, of Harman Jablin Architects, fully renovated and upgraded the historical property to its original grandeur during the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. The hotel was named an official New York City Landmark in 1993.[8] In 2006, Hilton launched Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, a global luxury brand named for the iconic hotel. The Waldorf Astoria New York is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The Waldorf Towers" continues to operate as a boutique "hotel within a hotel".[8]

The Waldorf Astoria was the first hotel to offer room service.[18] The modern hotel has three American and classic European restaurants, and a beauty parlor located off the main lobby. Several boutiques surround the lobby, which contains Cole Porter's Steinway & Sons floral print decorated grand piano on the Cocktail Terrace, which the hotel had once given him as a gift.[19][20] Porter was a resident at the hotel for 30 years and composed many of his songs here.[21]

The hotel also had its own railway platform, called Track 61, as part of Grand Central Terminal, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Farley, Adlai Stevenson, and Douglas MacArthur, among others. An elevator large enough for Franklin D. Roosevelt's automobile provides access to the platform.[22][1] However, it is rarely opened to the public.[23][24]

In October 2014, it was announced that the Anbang Insurance Group, based in China, had purchased the Waldorf Astoria New York for US$1.95 billion, making it the world's most expensive hotel ever sold.[1][25]

In culture[edit]

Waldorf salad[edit]

The classic Waldorf Salad

The Waldorf salad—a salad made with apples, walnuts, celery, grapes, and mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-based dressing—was first created in 1896 at the Waldorf in New York City. Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf's maître d'hôtel (and developed or inspired many of its signature dishes) is widely credited with creating the recipe.[26] In 1896, Waldorf Salad appeared in The Cook Book by "Oscar of the Waldorf"; the original recipe did not contain nuts, but they had been added by the time the recipe appeared in The Rector Cook Book in 1928. The salad became popular enough that Cole Porter featured it in his 1934 song "You're the Top". The salad was also popularized by its central role in the plot of the "Waldorf Salad" episode of the British sitcom Fawlty Towers.[27]

Popular media[edit]

The hotel features prominently in several popular media. Ginger Rogers headlined an all star ensemble cast in the 1945 movie Week-End at the Waldorf; the movie was set at the hotel and filmed partially on location there.[8][9] Additionally, Langston Hughes wrote a poem entitled "Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria", criticizing the hotel and inviting the jobless and homeless to take over the space of the hotel.[28]

Cole Porter's Steinway & Sons grand piano is in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria.[29][30]

Notable residents and tenants[edit]

Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Park Avenue with Helmsley Building and Met Life Building in background

During the 1930s, gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel owned an apartment at the Waldorf.[31]

Around the time of World War I, inventor Nikola Tesla lived in the earlier Waldorf-Astoria.[32]

Postmaster General James Farley occupied two adjoining suites in the current Waldorf Astoria during his tenure as the Chairman of the Board of Coca-Cola's International division from 1940 until his death in 1976, arguably one of the landmark's longest housed tenants.[33]

The Presidential Suite at the hotel come from when, during the 1950s and early 1960s, former U.S. president Herbert Hoover and retired U.S. General Douglas MacArthur lived in suites on different floors of the hotel. Hoover lived there from after the end of his presidency[34] until he died in 1964; former President Dwight D. Eisenhower lived there until he died in 1969.[35] MacArthur's widow, Jean MacArthur, lived there from 1952 until her death in 2000. A plaque affixed to the wall on the 50th Street side commemorates this. There is also a re-creation of one of the living rooms of Hoover's Waldorf-Astoria suite in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.[34] Since then, every President of the United States since Hoover has either stayed over or lived in the Waldorf Astoria.[34]

In 1955, Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel for several months, but due to costs of trying to finance her production company "Marilyn Monroe Productions", only being paid $1,500 a week for her role in The Seven Year Itch and being suspended from 20th Century Fox for walking out on Fox after creative differences, living at the hotel became too costly and Monroe had to move into a different hotel in New York City.[36] Around the same time, Cole Porter and Linda Lee Thomas had an apartment in the Waldorf Towers, where Thomas died in 1954. Porter's 1934 song "You're the Top", contains the lyric, "You're the top, you're a Waldorf salad..."[9]

The official residence of the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations is located in the Waldorf Towers.[37]

During her childhood in the 1980s and 1990s, Paris Hilton lived with her family in the hotel.[38]

From 1992 to 2013, Kenneth, sometimes called the world's first celebrity hairdresser,[39] famed for creating Jacqueline Kennedy's bouffant in 1961,[40] was responsible for the hairdressing and beauty salon.[41]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Bagli, Charles V. (7 October 2014). "Waldorf-Astoria to Be Sold in a $1.95 Billion Deal". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  2. ^ Waldorf Astoria New York at Emporis
  3. ^ Waldorf Astoria New York at SkyscraperPage
  4. ^ Waldorf Astoria New York at Structurae
  5. ^ Emmerich 2013:7
  6. ^ "The Waldorf-Astoria". Edwardianpromenade.com. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "Waldorf Astoria Drops the Equals Sign We'd Barely Noticed". HotelChatter. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Hotel history". Waldorfnewyork.com. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Guard shot during robbery attempt at Waldorf-Astoria". CNN. 2004-10-07. 
  10. ^ "The Waldorf Astoria" on New York Architecture
  11. ^ "Six Degrees of Titanic". History.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Chapter 6: Historic Resources, East Side Access Project, mta.info (pp. 6–7). Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  13. ^ Korom 2008:422
  14. ^ "Waldorf Astoria". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  15. ^ J. Randy Taraborrelli (2014). The Hiltons: The True Story of an American Dynasty. New York: Grand Central Publishing. pp. 978–1455516698. 
  16. ^ Stanley Turkel (1931). "A New Waldorf Against The Sky". Old and Sold. Retrieved 26 February 2011. 
  17. ^ "New York Luxury Hotels & 5 Star Vacations - The Waldorf Astoria New York Legacy". Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  18. ^ Hilton 1957:227
  19. ^ Davis 2011:27
  20. ^ Hotels.about.com, "Cole Porter Piano", accessed September 20, 2012.
  21. ^ Martinez, Jose. "Cole Porter's apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria can be yours for $140K a month", New York Daily News, July 20, 2010, accessed May 16, 2014
  22. ^ "Waldorf-Astoria's private rail platform forever closed". NewYorkology. 7 February 2006. Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  23. ^ Nelson, Craig (11 November 2013). "Secrets of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel". New York.com. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  24. ^ Brennan, Joe (2002). "Grand Central Terminal, Waldorf-Astoria platform". Abandoned Stations. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  25. ^ Robert Frank (October 6, 2014). "Waldorf becomes most expensive hotel ever sold: $1.95 billion". CNBC. Retrieved October 6, 2014. 
  26. ^ "The History of Waldorf Salad". Kitchen Project. Retrieved 2007-09-20. 
  27. ^ Leah A. Zeldes (7 October 2009). "Eat this! Waldorf Salad, A Apple-licious Fall Favorite". Dining Chicago. Retrieved 22 February 2011. 
  28. ^ The Big Sea: An Autobiography by Langston Hughes.
  29. ^ "About.com". Hotels.about.com. 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  30. ^ "New York Holidays". Bestatnewyorkcitybreaks.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  31. ^ "Biography of a Gangster". Essortment.com. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  32. ^ Broad, William J. (May 4, 2009). "A Battle to Preserve a Visionary’s Bold Failure". New York Times.
  33. ^ Scroop, Daniel (2006). Mr. Democrat: Jim Farley, the New Deal, and the Making of Modern American Politics. press.umich.edu. pp. 215–229. ISBN 9780472021505. OCLC 646794810. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  34. ^ a b c Mayerowitz, Scott (22 September 2009). "Behind the Scenes at the Waldorf Astoria's Posh Presidential Suite". ABC News. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  35. ^ Christopher Klein (October 7, 2014). "Iconic Waldorf Astoria Hotel Changes Hands". History. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Marilyn Monroe's Personal Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Invoices". Marilynmonroecollection.com. 1956-12-18. Retrieved 2013-04-11. 
  37. ^ "United States Mission to the United Nations" "Protocol supports the Permanent Representative and USUN Ambassadors by planning, managing and executing events at the Mission, the residence of the Permanent Representative at the Waldorf=Astoria Towers,..."
  38. ^ [1] Video - WalkAbout NY: Paris Hilton Returns to Her Roots. June 5, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2010.
  39. ^ Reed, Paula (2012). Fifty Fashion Looks that Changed the 1960s. Design Museum, London: Hachette UK. ISBN 1840916176. 
  40. ^ Wong, Aliza Z. (2010). Julie Willett, ed. The American beauty industry encyclopedia: Hairstylists, Celebrity. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood. pp. 151–154. ISBN 9780313359491. 
  41. ^ Collins, Amy Fine (1 June 2003). "It had to be Kenneth.(hairstylist Kenneth Battelle)(Interview)". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]