Information

Waldof Astor


Waldorf Astor, the son of William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor, was born on 19th May 1879. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, he married Nancy Langhorne in 1906.

A member of the Conservative Party, Astor was elected to represented the Sutton division of Plymouth in the House of Commons in 1910.

Astor was a supporter of the coalition government established by David Lloyd George in the First World War. In January 1917 he was appointed as the prime minister's parliamentary secretary. In July 1918 Astor became parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Food.

On the death of his father in 1919, Astor became a member of the House of Lords. His wife now became the party's candidate in the resulting by-election. Nancy Astor beat the Liberal Party candidate, Isaac Foot, and on 1st December 1919 became the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons (the first woman to be elected was Constance Markievicz in 1918 but as a member of Sinn Fein had disqualified herself by refusing to take the oath).

Astor remained in the government and served as parliamentary secretary to the Local Government Board (January 1919 to June 1919) and parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Health (June 1919 to April 1921).

Astor became proprietor of The Observer in 1919. He also served as a governor of Guy's Hospital and of the Peabody Trust. Other posts held by Astor included Chairman of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (1935-1949) and Lord Mayor of Plymouth (1939-44).

Waldorf Astor, died on 30th September 1952.


Iconic and Timeless, the Waldorf Astoria

One of the most iconic New York City landmarks, the Waldorf Astoria is deeply woven into the fabric and history of the city. The story begins with a friendly rivalry between cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV. William built the original Waldorf Hotel, igniting John to construct a taller hotel next door. Agreeing to put their rivalry to rest, the cousins connected the two hotels and so came to be the Waldorf-Astoria.

With an illustrious history of guests, the Waldorf Astoria has hosted some of the most storied galas and events with guest lists a veritable who’s who of some of the most famed cultural luminaries, world leaders and royalty of the last century.

Today, the Waldorf Astoria is being artfully restored to its original Art Deco grandeur, marrying the classic with the modern. The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria are being offered as condominium residences for the very first time. We met with Dan Tubb, Senior Director of Sales for The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria to hear the stories of its legendary halls, and about the exciting and opulent new residences.

Historic objects, such as Cole Porter’s 1907 Steinway piano, are featured in the 3D tour alongside relevant video content. Click here to launch the Matterport experience.

Q: What inspired the 3D capture of The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria?

We are honored to represent The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, the luxury residences offering the first opportunity in nearly 100 years to own a home in the iconic building, living within the same walls as Hollywood elite, every US President from Hoover to Obama, and international royalty and heads of state. The landmark is currently undergoing an extensive restoration to introduce 375 condominium residences at The Towers, as well as reopen the globally renowned Waldorf Astoria New York as a 375-key hotel which will provide their renowned True Waldorf Service to guests and residents.

With the worldwide name recognition of Waldorf Astoria New York, we were confident that a significant number of buyers would be internationally based even before the official launch of sales, we had several international buyers purchase sight-unseen.

So how do you bring the magic of the Waldorf to a buyer in Sydney or Dubai? We use Matterport within a broader array of virtual sales tools to showcase the incredible history and exciting future of Waldorf Astoria New York.

While the restoration of the Waldorf Astoria progresses, we have created an opulently appointed 14,000 square-foot residential gallery to pre-sell the condominiums. For those not able to visit in person, the extensive virtual tour transports buyers from anywhere in the world to an in-depth automated or self-guided tour through the magnificent space. This interactive virtual tour provides buyers with a rich multimedia experience, including video interludes of myself speaking as if the guest was at the gallery in person at certain points on the tour, buyers are able to view videos giving commentary and introductions on the history of The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, the residential interior design by Jean-Louis Deniot, the 50,000 square-feet of private residential amenities, and services from the famed Waldorf Astoria New York hotel that residents will have access to.

Virtual tours are sometimes seen as a compromise, a far cry from the visceral experience of seeing a home in real life (IRL). But we have created a virtual experience which is completely complementary many buyers will use the virtual tour after their in-person appointment to revisit their favorite aspects of the building.

Click here to launch a Matterport model that fully explores a two-bedroom residence with multimedia tags throughout.

Q: What are key elements you want to highlight about the restoration of the hotel and residences? What are the “must-sees” as visitors explore the digital tour of the Waldorf Astoria?

Our virtual tour by Matterport offers a look into the legendary history of the hotel, with its famous residents and celebrated Art Deco architecture. You’ll be able to see our larger than life building model, where we look at the layout of the property, which will feature both a 375-key hotel as well as the residences in The Towers above.

We demonstrate the privacy and security, with a discrete residential experience separate from the hotel, two fully staffed entry lobbies, and two porte cochères with 24-hour valet service, one for hotel guests and one for residents.

Be sure to check out the overview of the amenities. Residents will have access to over 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of private residential amenities, ranging from health and wellness to entertaining and business spaces including a stunning 25-meter pool with skylight, state-of-the-art fitness center, opulent private spas for men and women, and numerous spaces to host private events. At the residential gallery, our amenities are showcased through an impressive motorized scale model, where you can still see in our virtual tour, supplemented with a narrated video tour.

And of course the pièce de résistance–our opulent model residence, designed by world-renowned interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot. Each residence has a perfect balance of aesthetic and practical considerations to provide a contemporary residence within the building’s historic framework. There are numerous video tours throughout the space that offer even more information than an in-person tour. Are you an aspiring chef? Make sure to explore the kitchen and check out the specifics on our full suite of Gaggenau appliances. Zoom in on the custom Molteni&C cabinetry and watch a separate clip on how they are custom made in Italy.

At the entrance of the model residence, watch for a new element for The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria residences that is inspired by the legendary service of the historic hotel. Every residence has its own “Concierge Closet” seamlessly integrated into the entryway for the secure and private delivery of packages, laundry, and room service. In this age of social distancing, it’s the ultimate amenity – items will appear in the concierge closet with a notification from a dedicated team of 24/7 porters. There’s a little video of me demonstrating how it works—which I love to do, it never gets old.

Q: Do you have special stories you’d like to share about historical moments at the Waldorf Astoria, including fun facts about well-known cultural icons who have stayed there?

The Waldorf Astoria has a very rich history, both architecturally and culturally. The Waldorf Astoria name has been a part of New York City culture since the late 1800s, when The Waldorf hotel and The Astoria hotel, built by two warring Astor family cousins, were combined to become the Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue. That site is now occupied by another NYC building you may have heard of— the Empire State Building.

When the Waldorf Astoria opened on Park Avenue on October 1, 1931, it was the world’s first Art Deco skyscraper hotel, and it very quickly became known as “the unofficial palace of New York.” The building hosted countless historical figures and cultural events.

I’ve always thought it was fascinating that the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue was built in just a year to become the tallest and largest hotel in the world. 1931 was a banner year for New York City – the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Waldorf Astoria, all Art Deco icons, opened within months of each other that year.

Some of the twentieth century’s most notable names stayed or lived at the Waldorf Astoria – from stars Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, to royalty Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth II, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to heads of state like General Douglas MacArthur and Winston Churchill. Composer Cole Porter lived in suite 33A for nearly 30 years and wrote some of his most famous songs on a 1907 Steinway grand piano that he nicknamed “High Society.” Frank Sinatra later lived in that same suite, reportedly paying nearly $1 million a year. Today, Porter’s piano – which was recently completely restored by Steinway & Sons – now sits in the gallery for the residences, awaiting its return to the hotel when it reopens. Watch the Matterport tour for a feature on the piano!

Q: Many have a deep connection with the Waldorf Astoria. Any anecdotes you’d like to share?

Whenever we welcome someone into the residential gallery, it never fails to surprise me the deep passion that the building inspires among our prospective buyers. It seems like everyone has a personal connection to the Waldorf Astoria, whether they spent their honeymoon at the hotel, celebrated a life milestone in one of the many restaurants, or even just passed through the building every day on their way to work.

We even had a buyer who was a fan of General Douglas MacArthur, a well-known resident in The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria for many years the desk that he used in his suite is one of the artifacts that was displayed in the Presidential Suite in The Towers, along with JFK’s rocking chair. This buyer was interested in purchasing a residence located in exactly the same location where MacArthur had lived.

Q: Have you been able to continue to sell residences thanks to the 3D capture? Any stories from prospective residents that have stood out to you?

We were contacted directly by an interested buyer living in Australia who had fond memories of his stays at Waldorf Astoria New York.

We were able to show him the development and identify a residence for him completely virtually using digital marketing materials created in anticipation of sales launch, and he signed a contract to purchase a residence.

We fully appreciate the social and health imperative for people to stay home at this time, and we encourage interested buyers to remain at home while we virtually bring the sales presentation to them.

Q: How has the Matterport digital tour of the property been helpful or beneficial, especially with the hotel being closed for restoration and limited travel in general?

Technology provides a window to connect with our interested buyers across the globe. Each buyer is different, so we are able to use the Matterport tour and the variety of virtual materials we have on hand to customize the presentation as needed.

Just like with a sales gallery, you want to be able to get a sense of what interests them the most, what aspects you can see they want to learn more about. In a sales gallery you would prioritize certain areas, have the conversation focus on certain details you feel would appeal to them. We do that with our virtual tours and this virtual residential gallery by Matterport.

Q: Is there any advice you would like to offer your colleagues in travel and hospitality during this challenging time?

Right now, we are living in unprecedented times and it’s important to stay informed, be prepared, and stay safe! However, this doesn’t mean we need to put a stop to our lives, we just need to alter the way we operate. We are seeing ten years of virtual acclimation compressed into six months.

Whether people like it or not, virtual meetings, classes, and even home sales are here to stay. Some people will always need that tactile, in-person experience, but we have already seen several buyers purchase through virtual experiences alone.

Q: Anything else you would like to add?

We would invite anyone who is interested in purchasing a residence at The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria and becoming a part of the building’s legendary history to reach out to us. The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria will offer 375 condominium residences starting from USD $1,700,000, represented exclusively by Douglas Elliman Development Marketing. The residences range from gracious studios to opulent four-bedrooms and penthouses, many with unique floor plans and private outdoor spaces. Please visit waldorftowers.nyc, follow the building’s Instagram @WaldorfNYC , or call +1 212.872.1200 for a private appointment at the residential gallery.

As we like to say, living at The Towers will be the fulfillment of the dream that returning home doesn’t mean your vacation has to end!


Uncover the Scandalous Stories of NYC’s Waldorf Astoria

Known internationally as a symbol of elegance and luxury, Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria is one of the world’s most famous hotels. Its reputation as a host to political leaders and movie stars is matched only by the renown of its cuisine and soaring Art Deco architecture. In our upcoming virtual talk with historian David Freeland, based on his new book, American Hotel: The Waldorf-Astoria and The Making of a Century, we will go behind the glittering image, using rare photos and documents to reveal the full extent of the Waldorf’s contribution as a shaper of twentieth-century life and culture.

Waldorf Astoria and the Making of a Century

In this talk:

  • Uncover the history of Peacock Alley and how it got its name
  • Find out the truth about the “feuding” Astor cousins whose money built the original Waldorf- Astoria on Fifth Avenue, where the Empire State Building now stands
  • Discover secrets of the Waldorf’s “black book” – the detectives’ log of immoral and illegal activity kept hidden from all but the most senior hotel staff
  • Learn about the remarkable technological maneuvers that enabled the “new” Waldorf-Astoria – a skyscraper that opened on Park Avenue in 1931 – to be constructed on top of railroad tracks as passenger trains continued to run below.
  • Receive a 30% discount code to purchase Freeland’s book

Tickets to this talk are just $10. You can gain access to unlimited free virtual events per month and unlock a video archive of 100+ past events as an Untapped New York Insider starting at $10/month. Already an Insider? Register here! Can’t make it live? Register for this virtual talk and we’ll email you a recording of it after it ends.

Courtesy of the author

David Freeland is the author of Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan’s Lost Places of Leisure, Ladies of Soul, and American Hotel: The Waldorf-Astoria and The Making of a Century. Freeland is a historian and writer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York History, American Songwriter, and other publications. He lives in New York and leads walking tours on the history of the city.


Fact or fiction: The legend of Waldorf

When it re-opened in 1931, New York&rsquos Waldorf Astoria was the largest hotel in the world. The lobby of the second edition of the building (the first was built in 1893) was an Art Deco masterpiece with a ceiling so magnificent, it has been the subject of numerous Hollywood productions. US President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline spent their wedding night at the hotel. Close friend Marilyn Monroe was a frequent guest and even the salad at the Waldorf has a song dedicated to it. But earlier this week, the hotel went into the hands of China-based Anbang Insurance Group for a stunning $2 billion, making the Waldorf the most expensive hotel ever sold.

The legend
Ask any motivational speaker and chances are that he, or she, will be familiar with what&rsquos known as the Waldorf Principle &mdash a tale that attempts to explain how selfless service to others will one day return to benefit you. The anecdote tells the rise of the Waldorf Astoria&rsquos first ever manager, George C. Boldt. Many years ago, on one stormy night, an elderly man and his wife entered the lobby of a small hotel in Philadelphia. Running from the raging tempest outside, the couple was desperate for an overnight shelter. &ldquoWe&rsquod like a room, please,&rdquo the husband requested the front desk clerk. The younger man looked down at the list of reservations and frowned &mdash all the rooms were taken.

But with a winning smile he carefully explained: &ldquoI can&rsquot send a nice couple like you out in the rain. Would you perhaps be willing to sleep in my room? It&rsquos not exactly a suite, but it will make you folks comfortable.&rdquo The stunned couple was hesitant. &ldquoDon&rsquot worry about me, I&rsquoll make out just fine,&rdquo the clerk assured them.
After a good night&rsquos rest the husband, while paying the bill next morning, told the clerk: &ldquoFinding people who are both friendly and helpful is rare these days. You are the kind of manager who should be the boss of the best hotel in the United States. Maybe someday I&rsquoll build one for you.&rdquo

The clerk smiled and bade the couple goodbye.
Two years later, the clerk received a letter recalling the storm and how gracious his gesture was towards the couple. But also enclosed was a one-way ticket to New York along with a note asking the young man to leave for the city immediately. The couple received him in New York and after a short exchange of pleasantries the husband took the clerk to Park Avenue and pointed towards a towering new building. As he pointed, the elderly man said: &ldquoThat is the hotel I&rsquod like you to manage.&rdquo

The clerk was Boldt and the elderly gent was William Waldorf Astor. The building he pointed to was the Waldorf Astoria, in all its glory. Boldt soon went on to redefine hospitality. He introduced room service, abolished the segregated ladies&rsquo entrance, had his senior staff inspect the lobby round-the-clock and placed ashtrays at strategic locations, while insisting that all guests must be treated to fresh flowers and a copy of the day&rsquos newspaper in their rooms. &ldquoMake the Waldorf so comfortable they will never go to another place,&rdquo he was once quoted as saying.

The truth
Much of that story is actually true. Boldt did manage a tiny hotel and yes, he&rsquos the man who &lsquoinvented&rsquo room service. But in an obituary of Boldt, published in 1916, the New York Times finally revealed the true story. Turns out Boldt and his wife gave up their rooms at a resort for relatives of the Astors and their sick child. The child soon recovered and later, the relatives persuaded millionaire Astor that Boldt was the man he was looking for, to manage his new hotel in New York &mdash the Waldorf Astoria. Making the Waldorf Principle almost 90 per cent true.

So, George C. Boldt did set the gold standard of hospitality. His is also a tale from the earliest days of earnest industry, filled with near-legendary levels of humility, which is now kept alive by thousands who still recite the Philly lore to both inspire and motivate. And except for a minor technicality, what Boldt built form the blueprints of today&rsquos growing luxury hotel industry.


How a kind gesture turned a clerk into Waldorf Astoria’s first manager

The story goes back to the late 1880s. On cold, rainy night, an elderly couple walked into a small hotel in Philadelphia to shelter from the storm. The clerk, a young man, tried to accommodate the couple, but unfortunately the hotel was booked out. Not wanting to send them out into the rain and seeing no other alternative, he offered them his room for the night. “It's not exactly a suite, but it will make you folks comfortable.” Hesitatingly, the couple took up his offer. After a night's rest, the gentleman—while clearing the bill the next morning—told the clerk that he was touched by his gesture. He would be ideal to run the best hotel in the US, he said. “Maybe someday I'll build one for you,” is what he is rumoured to have said.

Some call it the origin of the Waldorf principle of selfless service, others an urban legend.

Two years later, the clerk received a letter recounting that fateful night in Philadelphia, along with a ticket to New York. The elderly gentleman was William Waldorf Astor and he wanted the young clerk to manage his new hotel. George C. Boldt took the challenge up and the rest, as they say, is history. Some call it the origin of the Waldorf principle of selfless service, others an urban legend. But what is certain is that the hotel and Boldt changed the hospitality sector, introducing the concept of 24x7 room service and other revolutionary practices that went on to become norm.

Over 120 years later, the hotel is set to close for renovations that will take at least two years. Now would be a good time to check in to the hotel, take in its rich history and chomp on that iconic salad. And remind yourself that good things do happen to good people.


Answers to Questions About New York

A. Absolutely. Faced with marble and lined with palm trees, it was the lobby-floor corridor of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which opened in 1897 at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. (The Empire State Building is there now.) The current Waldorf-Astoria at 49th and 50th Streets and Park and Lexington Avenues has a Peacock Alley Restaurant named after the original gathering spot.

What the Easter Parade did for hats, the original Waldorf-Astoria’s lobby corridor did for flowing gowns, pearl necklaces, diamond tiaras, white ties and tails. “Out-of-towners and New Yorkers alike were seldom as happy as when they were in Peacock Alley, either putting on a vain show or taking one in,” John Tauranac wrote in “The Empire State Building” (1995).

Peacock Alley, which was open to anyone who looked rich and powerful and wanted to display appropriate plumage, was built partly on the site of the least accessible and most coveted society showplace in New York: Caroline Schermerhorn Astor’s ballroom, which could hold about 400 guests, giving rise to the “Four Hundred” — those who received her invitations — and restricting high society to that number.

As the story goes, a feud arose between Mrs. Astor and her nephew and Fifth Avenue neighbor, William Waldorf Astor, who felt that if anyone was going to be society’s doyenne, it ought to be his wife, not his aunt. He built the Waldorf, a 13-story hotel that dwarfed his aunt’s mansion. When rumors started flying that Mrs. Astor might replace her house with an even bigger hotel, agents of the two Astors got together and agreed on a joint hotel. Its two separate parts were connected by corridors and a hyphen: the Waldorf-Astoria, with its long, very fashionable social promenade.

It seems fitting that the Central Park Zoo’s peacock, which escaped from its aviary on Aug. 2 and returned the next day, spent most of its 21-hour vacation on the ledge of a Fifth Avenue apartment building near 65th Street. When Mrs. Astor decamped from her soon-to-be-demolished ballroom mansion in the 1890s, she relocated to Fifth Avenue and 65th Street.


Waldorf Astoria History

When Conrad N. Hilton wrote "The greatest of them all" on a picture of the Waldorf Astoria New York in 1932, his dream to own the hotel and expand the brand was just being realized.

In 1949, Conrad N. Hilton acquired this legendary New York landmark and embedded in it, the ideal &ldquoto fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.&rdquo Today the hotel serves as the inspiration for the Waldorf Astoria Collection and for every unique Waldorf Astoria hotel and resort located in all corners of the world. The legacy of wonderful discoveries and extraordinary experiences created by the Waldorf Astoria has nurtured many of the most glamorous hotels around the world.

William Waldorf Astor, the son of John Jacob Astor III, founded the 13-story Waldorf Hotel on his own property on 5th Avenue, the most busy and vibrant street in New York. Since the hotel officially opened business in 1893, it has become the much-sought-after destination for successful businessmen, social elites and celebrities around the world. Four years later, Mr. Astor&rsquos cousin John Jacob Astor IV founded the 17-story Astoria Hotel next to the Waldorf Hotel. The two grandiose and renowned hotels were both designed by Henry Hardenbergh, a famous hotel designer unique in the field of aesthetics, who insisted on connecting the two hotels with a 300-foot long hallway. The hallway has now become a timeless symbol of the Waldorf Astoria New York and is visually represented by the double hyphen in the hotel&rsquos name &ldquoWaldorf=Astoria.&rdquo

Within the walls of the Waldorf Astoria lie legendary stories that are forever etched into the minds of our guests. Hollywood icons including Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly created unforgettable memories at the Waldorf Astoria. Heads of State and dignitaries from far and wide called the hotel their home away from home. Famous Chinese dignitaries including Li Hongzhang, Deng Xiaoping and Soong May-ling experienced authentic Waldorf moments when they came to stay at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

Today, this proud legacy defines who we are and paints a picture of our future. Every hotel that bears the name Waldorf Astoria brings the same refined spirit of excellence to contemporary travelers. Simply put, we challenge ourselves to be the standard by which others are measured.


Waldof Astor - History

Heat-oxidized yellow titanium case

High performance escapement with &ldquotriple pare-chute&rdquo protection

Patented spherical moonphase

Floating lugs maximize comfort on wrist

The Fantastic Clock In The Lobby Of New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Is Pure History

While passing through New York City recently, I decided to duck into the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel to have a look at its famous lobby before the hotel closes for construction at the end of February 2017. Every major luxury hotel goes through periods of renovation from time to time, but when this iconic location re-opens in two to three years, many of its hotel rooms will have become apartments or condos.

The art deco edifice at 310 Park Avenue opened its doors in Midtown Manhattan in 1931. Since then, its kitchen has brought forth such iconic staples of world gastronomy as the Waldorf salad, Eggs Benedict, Thousand Island dressing, and Red Velvet cake.

Presidents, celebrities, musicians, and royalty regularly stayed or lived at the Waldorf-Astoria.

The property was sold to Chinese investment group Anbang in 2014 for $1.95 billion, making it the most expensive price ever paid for a hotel. Though the group hasn’t confirmed how much of the hotel is to be converted into flats, sources estimate that only 20 percent of the original sprawling hotel will still be used as hotel space.

The clock in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City, is a focal point

This definitely marks the end of an era, which makes it is a great time to have a closer look at the extraordinary clock that graces its lobby.

An electric presence

When I walked into the Waldorf-Astoria’s impressive lobby, the first thing I saw was the nine-foot-tall bronze-and-mahogany clock tower topped off by a gilded depiction of Lady Liberty. A gift from Queen Victoria to America, this unique timekeeper made its debut at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893, the same six-month fair on the banks of Lake Michigan that brought us Wrigley’s gum and the Ferris wheel (described in detail in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City, a must-read).

Historical photo of the clock now in the Waldorf-Astoria lobby at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago (photo Wiki Commons)

Queen Victoria commissioned the Goldsmith Company of London to create this clock in the late nineteenth century. It is doubly remarkable in that the clock is powered by an electric movement, though to be fair progressive technology was an overwhelming theme at that edition of the World’s Fair.

Not long after the fair had ended in October 1893, American businessman John Jacob Astor IV bought it for an unknown sum. According to a 1903 brochure from the hotel’s archives, the clock tower was valued at £25,000 at the time – a sum that would be equivalent to more than $1 million now.

Iconic clock in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City

Astor built the original Astoria hotel in 1897 on Fifth Avenue, four years after his relative William Waldorf Astor built the Waldorf on an adjoining property. These two significant hotels, both built in German Renaissance style by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, were connected by the 300-meter Peacock Alley after a merger the same year.

The gargantuan hotel comprised 1,300 rooms, making it the largest in the world at that time. And it was the world’s first hotel to offer private bathrooms and full electricity.

The clock became a focal point within the original Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue, where it was located in front of the Rose Room restaurant.

Park Avenue entrance of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City (photo Wiki Commons)

The original Waldorf-Astoria was demolished in 1929 to make space for the Empire State Building. The Waldorf-Astoria as it stands today was designed by architects Schultze and Weaver and completed in 1931. At 47 stories, it was the world’s tallest hotel until 1963. And until 2014, it was part of the Waldorf division of Hilton Hotels.

Clock in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City

The only constant is change

The clock’s octagonal tower features bronze bas-relief busts of Queen Victoria, Benjamin Franklin, and six American presidents including George Washington, Andrew Jackson, William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Grover Cleveland.

Bronze bas-relief bust of George Washington on the clock in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City

The original clock did not have the gilded Statue of Liberty miniature crowning it this arrived in 1902 as a gift to Astor from French government officials soon after he purchased the clock. The gift was made in honor of the hospitality his hotel had shown the people of France since he opened his hotel.

Lady Liberty atop the clock in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City

Apparently Queen Victoria did not care for Astor’s alteration to the clock, and legend has it that she wanted to purchase it back. This did not occur.

Also, the clock originally was outfitted with gold-plated silver figurines that revolved around the platform between the bust and clock levels when chiming was on. It’s thought that the figures went missing or were misplaced when the clock went into storage in 1929 due to the original building’s demolition.

Clock in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, New York City (photo Wiki Commons)

And after those moments of nostalgia contemplating a history I had only just come to know, the time came for me to take my leave of the historic building’s lobby, so I sauntered past the Cellini watch boutique and other shops located at the lobby level on my to the Lexington Avenue exit. But not before I heard the sonorous Westminster chimes, which ring every quarter hour and which invited me to continue admiring the clock in wonder for a little while longer before taking my leave.

Quick Facts
Height: 9 feet / 3 meters
Weight: approximately two tons
Movement: electric
Case materials: bronze, mahogany

Some information in this post originates in a story by Rachel Young from Cellini’s annual Status magazine of 2014.


The Hidden History of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel

Arguably New York City’s most famous and celebrated hotel along with the Plaza Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel boasts a very intriguing history. The hotel was groundbreaking in several ways when it first opened back in 1931 and has been known for decades for its prestige and association with society’s elite and famous. Though now undergoing a partial transformation into a residential building, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel remains a key cultural and architectural landmark in New York City.

Most people, however, don’t realize just how much history the hotel has. Few know that a world-famous landmark now occupies the original location of the hotel or can name the important social events that have taken place there over the years. Here’s a quick look at the hidden history of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

The original location for the hotel was located several blocks downtown at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34 th Street. Opened in 1893 by the wealthy Astor family, the lavish hotel soon became known as the epicenter of the city’s social elite and often hosted prestigious parties and events. In the early 20 th century, however, the hotel faced new competition from other luxury hotels and fell out of favor with the upper crust of New York City society. It was sold in 1929 and soon demolished to make way for another New York City landmark: The Empire State Building.

The new location for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, designed in the glamorous Art Deco style, was opened further uptown along Park Avenue in 1931. The largest and tallest hotel in the entire world when it opened, it was unrivaled in its opulence and prestige. As with the original hotel, the new Waldorf Astoria soon became known as a hub for the city’s high society and world-famous celebrities.

A number of notable events have occurred in the hotel over the years, including a 1946 conference featuring representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union to discuss the fate of Eastern Europe after World War II, a 1948 news conference to introduce LP records to the world and several April in Paris Balls attended by famous figures like John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich. The hotel is also notable for being the birthplace of the Waldorf Salad and has hosted many celebrities and world leaders over the years, including Queen Elizabeth II, the Dalai Lama, Dwight Eisenhower, Vince Lombardi, John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn and almost every U.S. President since Herbert Hoover. It also holds the residency of the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.

With its rich history, striking architecture and reputation for glamour and prestige, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel is known as one of the world’s most celebrated hotels. Though undergoing major changes, nothing can take away from its impactful history and special place in New York City.


Chasing Waldorf’s History as It Becomes History Itself

The Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan is known for its grand public spaces, such as its two-tiered ballroom and vast lobby. But upstairs, in a windowless corner of the hotel’s administrative offices, Deidre Dinnigan toils in a cramped room not much larger than a closet. Ms. Dinnigan, the hotel’s archivist, is responsible for cataloging and researching more than 4,000 objects, from filigreed brass room numbers to yellowing advertisements from the 1950s.

“I love what I do,” Ms. Dinnigan said during a recent interview, her tall frame squeezed between a table obscured by books and a tower of filing cabinets. A mannequin dressed in an old bellhop uniform was stationed where her desk chair would normally go. “I believe I would throw myself into any field,” she said, “but there is something about the Waldorf, especially if you love New York and social history.”

The 123-year-old Waldorf Astoria is one of the few hotels with an extensive archive, and possibly the only one to have its own archivist. But the future of Ms. Dinnigan’s position, and the collection that she oversees, is uncertain. The hotel, which was bought by a Chinese insurance company two years ago for a record $1.95 billion, is to close in the spring to undergo a conversion. Most of the 1,413-room premises will be turned into luxury condominiums, with a much smaller hotel component.

After the conversion, the Waldorf’s archive will remain as part of the small hotel property, Chris Winans, a spokesman for Anbang Insurance Group, the new owner, said. As for Ms. Dinnigan, she has yet to be told what the future holds for her, and Mr. Winans declined to comment on her status. “Am I nervous? Sure I am,” Ms. Dinnigan, who has been in her job a little over a year, said.

For the Waldorf, the conversion to condominiums is the latest chapter in a long history. In 1893, William Waldorf Astor opened the Waldorf Hotel on Fifth Avenue, followed four years later by his cousin John Jacob Astor IV’s Astoria Hotel. The two combined operations and the Waldorf Astoria, the first to feature electricity and in-room telephones, became a favorite of the rich and famous. Its enormous four-sided brass bar turned out highballs for clamoring crowds, while its kitchens spawned such culinary inventions as the Waldorf salad and eggs Benedict.

The hotel was demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building, and the Waldorf Astoria reopened at its current location on Park Avenue. The tallest hotel in the world at the time, it hosted royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, and Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra, who maintained a suite there. Every United States president since Herbert Hoover has stayed at the Waldorf (Hoover moved there for three decades after his presidency). It has served as the backdrop for movies from “Week-end at the Waldorf” with Ginger Rogers to “Maid in Manhattan” starring Jennifer Lopez.

In recent years, though, the hotel has struggled. There have been allegations of bedbugs, an accidental shooting at a wedding that injured several guests and, last year, a break with tradition when President Obama chose to stay elsewhere on a trip to New York City. Amid all these difficulties, Ms. Dinnigan said, the Waldorf transformation is just the next step in a continuum. “There was the Fifth Avenue hotel, then the Park Avenue hotel, and now I see this as the third and latest iteration,” she said.

The condo conversion of the Waldorf follows a pattern similar to that of another Manhattan hotel, the Plaza, a decade ago. In 2005, the Plaza Hotel closed for a three-year renovation, eventually reopening as luxury condominiums, many of which eventually sold for tens of millions of dollars, and a much smaller hotel portion. While the Waldorf has said it will maintain its archive after its conversion, Christie’s auctioned most of the Plaza’s most valuable objects to the highest bidders.

“One of the trends I’ve seen over the past 20 years is the increasing monetization of collections, and viewing them for their monetary values,” said Peter J. Wosh, director of the archives and public history program at New York University. Once memorabilia is put up for sale, he added, it is often out of the reach of historical societies and libraries. “It is really sad because a collection gets sold off and broken up, and is no longer accessible to people,” he said. “The Waldorf had a lot of prominent people staying there, so I imagine that the autograph value alone is probably monetarily valuable.”

But while a collection may attract buyers, that does not necessarily mean it has the same value to scholars, said Thomas G. Lannon, the New York Public Library’s assistant director for manuscripts, archives and rare books. The library is the custodian of over 600 volumes of archival materials from the first Waldorf Astoria, much of it donated when it relocated to Park Avenue from Fifth Avenue. It is unclear, he said, whether the library would accept the current archive, should the owners decide to discard it. “You have companies trying to trade off these New York stories,” but much of it is just “smoke and mirrors,” Mr. Lannon said. “How much a hotel is actually part of the folklore of a city is up for debate.”

Even if an institution attains historical significance, it is rarely the objects in its archive that are the most noteworthy. “Sometimes objects that are exhibitable and tell a certain story don’t tell the real story of the hotel,” Mr. Lannon said. Materials like employee payrolls, lists of guests and even security logs — documents that most companies are loath to share — can be far more informative than ephemera such as antique doorknobs and silverware.

Ms. Dinnigan, who was born in Grenada and is the mother of four children, moved to New York as a teenager. She has a master’s degree in library and information science from the Pratt Institute, as well as a master’s degree from N.Y.U. Before working at the Waldorf, she worked at Scholastic and the Brooklyn Historical Society. She first noticed her interest in archives while visiting the National Archives of Grenada. “I walked in and asked to see what they had, and they allowed me to view materials from 1813,” she said. “It was just deteriorating in my hands and I realized then that I wanted to preserve such things, they have so much meaning.”

While her prospects at the Waldorf are uncertain, Ms. Dinnigan continues to spend her days cataloging and researching materials, as well as collecting the oral histories of longtime employees, whom she hopes to record before the hotel closes. She is also wading through the bric-a-brac she has received from guests and fans of the hotel.

On a recent day, she was examining two forks featuring the hotel’s name and an image of an apple engraved on the handle. They had come from a couple in Cleveland, who found them at a garage sale.

Ms. Dinnigan was also busy clarifying discrepancies in the hotel’s record book. One of the most intriguing is the location of Peacock Alley. The famous corridor, where wealthy guests once paraded in Victorian finery, was long thought to be the passageway that ran between the original Waldorf and Astoria hotels. “Most history books tend to regurgitate the same story over and over, almost like a game of telephone,” Ms. Dinnigan said. “But when I looked at the blueprints of the original hotel, I could find no such pathway between the buildings.”

Ms. Dinnigan believes there were once actually two peacock alleys: a smaller, all-female locale in the Waldorf, and later, a second, longer corridor that ran through the Astoria side of the building. She is racing against the clock to confirm her findings, hopeful she will be in her job long enough to confirm her theory.


Watch the video: Descomplicando a Waldorf. 06out 19h (January 2022).