3 min read

In 1893, the Waldorf Hotel was constructed at the corner of 33rd Street and Fifth Avenue by William Waldorf Astor. John Jacob Astor IV, his cousin and competitor, built a taller hotel next door four years later. The two feuding relatives eventually reached a truce and connected their buildings with a 300-foot marble corridor known as Peacock Alley, resulting in the birth of the Waldorf-Astoria.

The Waldorf Hotel stood 225 feet high, had fifteen public rooms, 450 guest rooms, and was heavily furnished with antiques. The Astoria Hotel opened in 1897 on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, next door to the Waldorf. It had sixteen stories, twenty-five public rooms, and 550 guest rooms.

In 1902, the two hotels were merged and became known as the Waldorf Astoria. The new hotel was located on the site of the original Waldorf Hotel, which was demolished to make way for the expansion. The new Waldorf Astoria was the largest hotel in the world at the time, with over 1,300 rooms.

The hotels were designed to cater to the needs of socially prominent and wealthy visitors to the city, and were the first to offer electricity and private bathrooms throughout. The Waldorf was known for its fundraising dinners and balls, and its celebrity maître d'hôtel, Oscar Tschirky, known as "Oscar of the Waldorf," authored The Cookbook by Oscar of The Waldorf (1896), which included popular recipes like Waldorf salad, Eggs Benedict, and Thousand Island dressing. The hotels were demolished in 1929 to make way for the Empire State Building, and the current Waldorf Astoria New York was built on Park Avenue in 1931.

Some of the many notable guests were:

    • President William McKinley stayed at the Waldorf Astoria during his visit to New York in 1899.
    • British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who created the character of Sherlock Holmes, stayed at the Waldorf Astoria during his American lecture tour in 1900.
    • John D. Rockefeller, the wealthy industrialist and philanthropist, stayed at the hotel in 1901.
    • In 1904, the Waldorf Astoria hosted King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of England during their visit to New York.
    • Helen Keller, the deaf-blind writer and activist, lived at the Waldorf Astoria for a time in the early 20th century.
    • The hotel was a popular location for high-society events, and many famous people attended parties and functions there, including the writer Mark Twain, the composer Irving Berlin, and the socialite and fashion icon Nan Kempner.
The Waldorf Astoria in New York City was also a magnet for celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. It was the site of many memorable events, such as the engagement party of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Grace Kelly, President John F. Kennedy's birthday gala, the April in Paris Ball, and a speech by Queen Elizabeth II. After abdicating the throne, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor made the Waldorf Astoria their residence. The hotel also hosted every U.S. president from Herbert Hoover to Barack Obama.



The decision to demolish the original Waldorf Astoria hotel to make way for the construction of the Empire State Building was made by the hotel's owner, George Boldt. Boldt was the general manager of the Waldorf Astoria at the time, having taken over the position in 1904. He was a well-known figure in the hospitality industry and had previously worked as the manager of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia.

Boldt's decision to demolish the Waldorf Astoria was motivated by several factors. One of the main reasons was the desire to build a more modern and luxurious hotel to compete with other high-end hotels that were opening in New York City. Boldt believed that the existing building was outdated and needed to be replaced.

Additionally, the new site of the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue was highly desirable due to its central location. Boldt recognized that the site had significant commercial value and saw an opportunity to capitalize on it by building a taller and more profitable structure.

Ultimately, Boldt's decision to demolish the Waldorf Astoria was controversial, and many people lamented the loss of the historic building. However, the construction of the Empire State Building was a major achievement of the 20th century, and it remains an iconic landmark in New York City to this day.

The Waldorf Astoria remained a landmark hotel for many years, but the original building was eventually demolished in 1929 to make way for the construction of the Empire State Building. 

The good news is, the Park Avenue Waldorf Astoria is being redeveloped and will re-open as a luxury hotel in 2023 with 400 high luxury rooms.

 You can find a link to the Hotel Waldorf Astoria here.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.