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Waldorf-Astoria hotel

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Waldorf-Astoria hotel

For other uses, see Waldorf-Astoria (disambiguation).
Waldorf Astoria New York
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Waldorf Astoria Park Avenue
General information
Location 301 Park Avenue
New York City, New York

40°45′23″N 73°58′27″W / 40.7565°N 73.97413°W / 40.7565; -73.97413Coordinates: 40°45′23″N 73°58′27″W / 40.7565°N 73.97413°W / 40.7565; -73.97413

Opening 1893 (Waldorf Hotel)
1897 (Astoria Hotel)
1931 (Waldorf-Astoria Hotel)
Owner Hilton Worldwide
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 1,508
Number of restaurants Peacock Alley
Bull and Bear Steakhouse
Oscar's Brasserie
[1] 2594[2][3]

The Waldorf Astoria New York is a luxury hotel in Historic Hotel of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Waldorf Astoria was the first hotel to offer room service, making a huge impact for the future of the hotel industry.

The modern hotel has three American and classic European restaurants, and a beauty parlor located off the main lobby. Several boutiques surround the lobby. A boutique "hotel within a hotel" housed on the upper floors is known as The Waldorf Towers. The hotel has its own railway platform 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.[4]

Its name is ultimately derived from Walldorf in Germany and the prominent German-American Astor family that originated there.


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 in 1897, four stories higher.

William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, built the original Waldorf Hotel next door to her house, 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 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. The combined Waldorf-Astoria became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.[5]

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 and a part of popular culture.[5] 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.

When the new Waldorf Astoria skyscraper was built over air rights of the New York State Realty and Terminal Company on Park Avenue, a cast of well reputed furnishers and decorators was assembled to lend the new hotel a grand yet domestic atmosphere. Former Waldorf manager Lucius M. Boomer had retired to Florida after the original Waldorf-Astoria buildings were demolished, but he retained exclusive rights to the name, which he transferred to the new hotel. Boomer died in an airplane crash in 1947 and Conrad Hilton bought The Waldorf Astoria in 1949.[6]

Spelling of the name

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.[7] 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.[8] The hotel has since been known as the Waldorf Astoria New York.

Notable residents

Notable events

  • The investigation into the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was held at the old Waldorf-Astoria. John Jacob Astor IV, who built the Astoria Hotel, which became part of the old Waldorf-Astoria, died on the Titanic. His second wife Madeline, seven months pregnant, survived the sinking.
  • On the evening of November 15, 1926, the National Broadcasting Company broadcast its inaugural program from the grand ballroom of the old Waldorf-Astoria. Among the entertainers heard by radio listeners was Will Rogers. The network became the Red Network on January 1, 1927 when NBC launched its second network, designated the Blue Network. It was sold in the early 1940s and became the American Broadcasting Company.
  • 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.[17]
  • On June 21, 1948 a press conference at the hotel introduced the LP record.
  • In 1954, Israeli statesman and archaeologist Yigael Yadin met secretly with the Syriac 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.
  • Since 1958, the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Football Hall of Fame have held its Annual Awards Dinner and Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria's Grand Ballroom. The Waldorf-Astoria has been the site of all but the first NFF Awards Dinner. The NFF's Gold Medal is also given out at the event. Seven U.S. Presidents, five U.S. Generals, three U.S. Admirals, one U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 28 Corporate CEO' s and Chairmen, John Wayne, Jackie Robinson and Bill Cosby have claimed the award.[18]
  • From 1960 until 1978, Guy Lombardo and The Royal Canadians televised their annual New Years Eve show live (in the Eastern and Central time zones) from the Grand Ballroom.
  • In 1985, the NBA held its first-ever draft lottery between non-playoff teams at the Starlight Room. The lottery was for the 1985 NBA Draft in which Patrick Ewing was the consensus number one pick. The New York Knicks wound up winning the right to select Ewing, an occurrence that many feel was fixed in New York's favor.
  • The NASCAR Sprint Cup end-of-season awards banquet was held at the Waldorf-Astoria every year between 1981 and 2008, 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[19] was reserved for the Series Champion. In 2009, NASCAR moved the event to the Wynn in Las Vegas.
  • The Metropolitan Opera Guild holds its annual member lunch at the hotel.
  • The annual International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria is held to formally introduce young high society women.
  • On Enlargement of the European Union.
  • The Bronx High School of Science, Stuyvesant High School, Xaverian High School and Syosset High School traditionally hold their Senior Proms in the Grand Ballroom of the hotel. Regis High School and Hunter College High School in Manhattan and Pelham Memorial High School have also held their prom in the Starlight Ballroom.[20][21]
  • Since 2006,Russian Children's Welfare Society (RCWS) hosts black tie gala - the "Petroushka Ball" - to raise funds to support orphaned and disabled children in Russia.[22]
  • New York University used to hold its annual International Hospitality Industry Conference, with the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, at this hotel. It is the largest-known annual gathering of hotel management professionals and hospitality business leaders.[23]
  • In 2011, Bette Midler's 2nd Annual Hulaween Gala to benefit the New York Restoration Project was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 31[24] with singer Gloria Estefan as the headliner, and other acts such as Kathy Griffin and Michael Kors.
  • St. John's University holds its annual President's Dinner in the grand ballroom.
  • New York Couture Fashion Week is held at the hotel.
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York celebrates its annual gala in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria where the Archbishop of New York presents the Deus Caritas Est Award for philanthropy.
  • The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner
  • In 2012, an amnesty program was offered for people who had wandered off with hotel property like spoons or coat hangers.[25]

In popular culture

  • 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 by Oscar Tschirky, who was the maître d'hôtel. This type of salad featured prominently in the plot of an episode of the British comedy Fawlty Towers.[26]
  • Ginger Rogers headlined an all star ensemble cast in the 1945 movie Week-End at the Waldorf.[5]
  • Cole Porter's Steinway & Sons grand piano is in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria.[27][28]
  • 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.[29]
  • Wallace Stevens wrote a poem entitled "Arrival at the Waldorf" in which the poet contrasts the wild country of the jungles of Guatemala to being "back at the Waldorf,/This arrival in the wild country of the soul" (lines 1-2).
  • The 1970 film The Out-of-Towners features numerous scenes shot at the hotel, including a sequence in the hotel lobby where Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis's characters discover their room has been given away.
  • The 1978 musical revue Ain't Misbehavin' features the song "Lounging at the Waldorf" about the hotel's past as a whites-only club and hotel for high society.
  • In the 1988 movie Coming To America, the king of Zamunda (played by James Earl Jones) and his family stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria in the final New York–based scene in the movie.
  • The 1993 Broadway musical My Favorite Year includes a setting called the Waldorf Hotel in 1954. There is an offstage chorus song dedicated to the "Waldorf Suite," and notably, the musical number "Welcome to Brooklyn" references the Astors.
  • In the 1994 film "The Cowboy Way (film)", a few scenes take place between the two main characters in the Waldorf-Astoria.
  • In the 2001 film Serendipity, a number of scenes take place between the two main characters in the Waldorf-Astoria.
  • Statler and Waldorf, a pair of Muppet characters, are named after posh New York City hotels, the Statler Hotel (now Hotel Pennsylvania) and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Waldorf's wife, Astoria, looks like Statler in drag.
  • In the 2002 film Maid in Manhattan, exteriors of the fictional Beresford Hotel were shot at the Waldorf-Astoria, though Interiors were shot nearby at The Roosevelt Hotel.
  • In 1978, a French teenager named Jean Pierre jumped from the 15th floor thinking he was Superman. French Canadian music composer Luc Plamondon wrote a song about this event, later in 1991 Celine Dion sang the song "Le fils de Superman" (Superman's son) in her album Dion chante Plamondon and a live version of this song can be also found in her 1994 album Celine Dion a l'Olympia.
  • In Meg Cabot's novel Jinx, the Chapman School Spring Formal takes place in the Waldorf-Astoria. It is at this point that Tory (The main antagonist) reveals Jean's first attempt at a love spell, which served as a catalyst for the novel's events.
  • In the 1992 movie Scent of a Woman, the lead actor Al Pacino, as Army Ranger Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade and his weekend caretaker, a prep-school enrolled student Charlie Simms, played by Chris O'Donnell stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel New York for the weekend, with Al Pacino stated the hotel as "The cynosure of all things civilized".

Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts

Hilton Hotels has established a brand of hotels worldwide using the iconic name of the New York hotel. As of early 2013, the chain consists of over 25 hotels worldwide.

- The Waldorf Astoria Orlando, near Walt Disney World in Florida, opened on October 1, 2009 - seventy-eight years to the day after the New York property.[30]

- Plans were announced in 2007 for a Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills. The project proposed by developer Oasis West Realty LLC would have expanded upon the nine-acre site of the Beverly Hilton formerly owned by the late Merv Griffin. Plans included removing existing low-rise buildings and adding a 12-story Waldorf-Astoria hotel and a pair of 8 and 18 story condo towers. Though the Beverly Hills City Council approved the $500 million project by a 3-2 vote local activists gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on their decision on the November 4, 2008 ballot. A week after the vote local Measure H was losing by 68 votes, with provisional ballots yet to be counted. On December 2, 2008, Yes on H passed by 129 votes, 7972 to 7834. The hotel was never built due to the 2008 economic collapse.

- A combination hotel and condominium Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and Residence Tower project to be developed by third parties for Hilton in Chicago was announced but canceled due to the economic collapse as well.[31] Instead, the Elysian Hotel in Chicago was renamed the Waldorf Astoria Chicago.[32]

See also


External links

  • Waldorf-Astoria New York Hotel
  • The Astor Collection at the University of Virginia virtual exhibition of Native American artifacts originally displayed in the Grill Room of the Astor Hotel
  • "The Waldorf Astoria - Host To The World", DVD-2008
  • Waldorf-Astoria at History of New York City
  • The Waldorf Astoria Archive

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