Architecture Images- Midtown
Waldorf=Astoria Hotel Top 25 NY Buildings
|Schultze & Weaver|
|301 Park Ave., between E49 and E50.|
|Base is of granite facing, and the upper facade is clad in brick and limestone.|
|Special thanks to Carter B. Horsley of the www.thecityreview.com|
|info on the previous Waldorf Astoria|
Designed by the renowned hotel architects
(Sherry Netherland, Pierre) Schultze & Weaver, the 47-storey new hotel
cost $42 million and was the largest in the world at the time of its
completion. Crowning the luxurious and monumental hotel (2,200 rooms
occupying a whole city block), the twin Waldorf Towers rise to 190.5 m,
high above the 20 floors of the main hotel building.
The private apartments of the Waldorf Towers, which has its own entrance on 50th Street, has seen many famous tenants from the Duke of Windsor and Douglas MacArthur to "Lucky" Luciano. The presidential suite at the 35th floor has been the traditional staying place of the President of the United States while in New York City.
Building's base is of granite facing, and the upper facade is clad in brick and limestone. The towers are topped with stylized bronze-clad cupolas.
There are a number of lobbies running through the building, decorated with murals, and the Park Avenue lobby has the floor mosaic The Wheel of Life by Louis Rigal. The 3 m high clock in the central lobby originated from the 1893 Chicago World Fair and was subsequently bought by the Astor Family for the old hotel. The clock's eight-faced base is decorated with portraits of American presidents and Queen Victoria and the quarterly chime sound is copied from the London Westminster Cathedral's clock tower.
The 53-meter long Starlight Roof was in its heyday in the 1930s and 1940s a high-society meeting place, from which also regular radio broadcasts were sent. The room occupies the Park Avenue side setback and has floor-to-ceiling windows extending along the whole wall, as well as an outdoor terrace. The 6 m high ceiling of the room is covered with a grille and -- giving the room its name -- originally had a retractable roof.
The large hotel ballroom, the place for prominent galas and promotional parties, is four storeys high and several smaller ballrooms are adjoined to it. In all, the hotel's ballrooms could accomodate 6,000 people.
Built above the railway tracks leading to Grand Central Terminal, the hotel had also its own underground railroad siding and an elevator for direct entrance from private railway cars.
In 1999 the hotel underwent a $60 million renovation, restoring also the original lobby decor. Two years later, the Starlight Roof underwent a renovation, although the retractable roof of the original was not restored.
Waldorf=Astoria Hotel and Park Avenue with Helmsley Building and Met Life
Building in backgroundThe Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is a famously luxurious
hotel in New York. It has been housed in two historic landmark buildings
of New York City. 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, 625 ft. (191 m)
Art Deco landmark designed by architects Schultze and Weaver that dates
from 1931 and is now part of the The Waldorf=Astoria Collection, a chain
of very upscale hotels consisting of hotels previously of the Hilton
Hotels and Conrad Hotels chains, as well as some new hotels.
The name, Waldorf=Astoria, now officially appears with a double hyphen, but originally the single hyphen was employed, as recalled by a popular expression and song, "Meet Me at the Hyphen."
The modern hotel has three American and classic European restaurants, and a beauty parlor located off the main lobby. Several luxurious boutiques surround the distinctive lobby, which has won awards for its restoration to the original period character. An even more luxurious, virtual "hotel within a hotel" in its upper section is known as The Waldorf Towers operated by Conrad Hotels & Resorts.
An Astor family feud contributed to the events which led to the construction of the original Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue.
It started as two hotels: one owned by William Waldorf Astor, whose 13-story Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893 and the other owned by his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, called the Astoria Hotel and opened four years later and four stories higher.
William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt, built the original Waldorf Hotel next door to her home, on the site of his father's mansion and today's 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 home worsened his feud with her, but, with Boldt's help, John Astor persuaded his aunt to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astor Hotel and leased it to Boldt. Initially foreseen as two separate entities, Boldt had planned the new structure so that it could be connected to the old by means that became known as Peacock Alley. The combined Waldorf-Astoria became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.
The Waldorf=Astoria is historically significant for transforming the contemporary hotel, then a facility for transients, into a social center of the city as well as a prestigious destination for visitors. The Waldorf=Astoria was influential in advancing the status of women, who were admitted singly without escorts. Founding proprietor, George C. 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 American'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.
When the new skyscraping Waldorf-Astoria was built on Park Avenue, under the guidance of Lucius Boomer, the manager of the old Waldorf, a cast of furnishers and decorators with good reputations was assembled, to give it a grand yet domestic atmosphere. Boomer retired to Florida after the old Waldorf Astoria was demolished, but he had retained exclusive rights to use the name "Waldorf-Astoria", which he transferred to the new hotel. He died in an airplane crash in 1947, and Conrad Hilton bought the Waldorf Astoria in 1949. 
In 2006 Hilton Hotels announced plans to build a second Waldorf=Astoria near Walt Disney World in Florida, and in 2007, plans were announced that another Waldorf=Astoria will be built in Beverly Hills, where Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard cross. A combination hotel and condominium Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Residence Tower has been announced by third parties to be developed for Hilton in Chicago.
On August 24, 2007, Dimension Development Company of Natchitoches, Louisiana announced the purchase of the New Orleans Fairmont Hotel and plans to convert the hotel into a Waldorf Astoria. It was not immediately known whether the name would be changed to Waldorf Astoria or whether it would revert to its former name, The Roosevelt with the tagline, a Waldorf Astoria Collection Hotel. In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, The Roosevelt was home to the World Famous "Blue Room" which brought--for the first time--the best Hollywood and Las Vegas talent to the Deep South on a regular basis.
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. A plaque affixed to the wall on the 49th Street side commemorates this. There is also a recreation of one of the living room of Hoover's Waldorf-Astoria suite in the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.
Around the time of World War I, inventor Nikola Tesla lived in the earlier Waldorf-Astoria.
Gangsters Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Charles "Lucky" Luciano once lived in the Waldorf-Astoria.
Cole Porter and Linda Lee Thomas had an apartment in the Waldorf Towers, where she died in 1954. Porter's 1934 song "You're the Top," contains the lyric, "You're the top, you're a Waldorf salad..."
Contestants of America's Next Top Model Cycle 3 lived at the Waldorf-Astoria until they went to Tokyo, Japan
After a New York ticker-tape parade in his honor for winning four Olympic gold medals, Jesse Owens had to ride the freight elevator to attend a reception for him at the Waldorf-Astoria due to its segregation policies.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup end-of-season awards banquet has been held at the Waldorf-Astoria every year since 1981, initially in the Starlight Room, but since 1985 in the Grand Ballroom, except 2001 and 2002. A formal awards ceremony (not a banquet) was held in those two years, with the 2002 awards ceremony being held at Hammerstein Ballroom, with the pre-show banquet held at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Presidential Suite is reserved for the Series Champion.
The annual International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria is held to formally introduce young high society women.
On May 1, 2004, the Waldorf-Astoria was the venue for the Grand Europe Ball, a historic black-tie charitable affair co-chaired by Archduke Georg of Austria-Hungary which celebrated the Enlargement of the European Union.
The Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School and Syosset High School traditionally hold their Senior Proms in the grand ballroom of the hotel. Regis High School in Manhattan holds their annual Senior Prom at the Waldorf's Starlight Ballroom.
References in popular culture
In the 1988 movie Coming To America the king of Zamunda (played by James Earl Jones) and his family stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria; one joke in the movie showed the King "punishing" Semi, the prince's servant, by ordering him to confine himself to the hotel's royal suite.
In the 1992 movie Scent of a Woman, Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Al Pacino) and his traveling companion Charles Simms (Chris O'Donnell) stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria
In the 2001 film Serendipity, a number of scenes take place between the two main characters in the Waldorf-Astoria.
Statler & Waldorf, a pair of Muppet characters, are named after posh New York City hotels, the Statler Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Waldorf's wife, Astoria, looks like Statler in drag.
The U.S. government keeps a large suite on the hotel's 42nd floor as the ambassadorial residence for its United Nations ambassador.
The hotel has its own railway platform as part of Grand Central Terminal, used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, and Douglas MacArthur, among others. An elevator large enough to fit Franklin D. Roosevelt's car provides access to the platform.
Waldorf salad — a salad consisting of apple, nuts (especially walnuts), celery, and mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-based dressing — was first created in 1896 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York by Oscar Tschirky, who was the maître d'hôtel.
The original Waldorf-Astoria was used in the investigation into the Titanic sinking.
Pianist George Feyer spent his remaining years of public performing here, between 1980-1982.
Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack on July 6, 1971 at age 69, the night after playing a famous show in the Empire Room.
In 1954, Israeli statesman and archaeologist Yigael Yadin met secretly with the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Mar Samuel in the basement of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to negotiate the purchase of four Dead Sea Scrolls for Israel. Yadin paid $250,000 for all four.
^ The list gives a repertory of eminent firms working in New York: "Among those who contributed to its solution are: Sir Charles Allom of White, Allom & Co., London and New York; L. Alavoine & Co., of Paris and New York; Arthur S. Vernay, Inc., New York; Barton, Price and Willson, Inc., New York; Jacques Bodart, Inc., Paris and New York; Mr. R. T. H. Halsey, Maison Jansen, Paris; Francis Lenygon, of Lenygon & Morant, London and New York; Nordiska Kompaniet of Stockholm, Sweden; W. & J. Sloane, New York; Mrs. Charles H. Sabin, consultant decorator of transient section of the hotel; Schmieg, Hungate & Kotzian, New York, Nathan Straus & Sons, New York, and A. Rutledge-Smith, general consulting decorator of the Hotel Corporation." ("A New Waldorf Against The Sky", 1931)
^ The “New” Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (1931), by Stanley Turkel
^ As quoted in "Owens pierced a myth" by Larry Schwartz in ESPN SportsCentury. (2005)