One of the trademarks of progressive cities is the abundance of beautiful luxury hotels. And why not? Upwardly mobile travelers need a good place to call home away from home. The Waldorf-Astoria or officially Waldorf=Astoria is one prime example of these exclusive accommodations. It was officially recognized as a New York City Landmark in 1993 and has been one of the most well-known high-end hotels in NYC since it opened its doors in 1931.
The Waldorf=Astoria that we know today, which is located at the rich Park Avenue in the middle of 49th Street and 50th Street, was not the original Waldorf-Astoria. The first hotel that carried the same name, used to be found at 33rd and Fifth Avenue, was established through the merger of two individual hotels created by cousins John Jacob Astor IV and William Waldorf. The two gentlemen made two opulent hotels during the early years of 1890s beside each other. In 1897, a corridor was built to connect the two hotels. The ?=? symbol in the Waldorf=Astoria represents this adjoining hallway.
Despite the popularity of the original Waldorf=Astoria among tourists and New Yorkers alike, the hotel was torn down in 1929 to give space for one of New York?s most iconic skyscrapers and one of the most remarkable engineering feat of its time, the Empire State Building. However, William Waldorf and John Astor were not about to exit the hospitality industry. Instead, they merely relocated and built the new Waldorf=Astoria in its current Park Avenue location.
Seemingly ironic, the new Waldorf=Astoria opened its doors to guest in October of 1931, the height of the Great Depression. When it debuted, it was the tallest and biggest hotel in the planet spanning one whole New York City block. As a testament to its importance in NYC?s hospitality business, no less than former U.S. President Herbert Hoover congratulated the Waldorf and Astor cousins via a radio broadcast.
Aside from the luxury accommodations it offers, the Waldorf=Astoria is considered as one of the most beautifully-constructed Art Deco structure globally. The foundation of the hotel is cladded with magnificent granite while its upper exterior is covered in limestone and brick. The hotel?s primary building is composed of 20 levels while its two towers are made of 47 floors measuring 625 feet or 190 meters high. Bronze plated domes crown the two towers.
With construction cost totaling to $42 million, it is expected and a given that the 2,200 rooms of Waldorf=Astoria are nothing less than expensive and indulgent. The many hotel lobbies are embellished with ornately made mosaics and murals. The hotel was renovate in the last years of the 1990s to the tune of $200 million which unearthed several lost art deco masterpieces which are now scattered all over the hotel.
Another attraction within Waldorf=Astoria is the Starlight Room which was a popular venue where New York?s wealthiest and famous convene is well-known for its retractable roof. The hotel also boasts of a cavernous main ballroom with four floors and can be combined with smaller rooms to fit a maximum of 6,000 people.
The Waldorf=Astoria pioneered many practices in the hospitality industry. It started the room service and was the first hotel to eliminate the ?ladies entrance.? It also started the practice of assigning assistant managers who roam the lobbies and always prepared to extend a helping hand to guests. The Waldorf=Astoria also takes pride as being the first hotel to have permanent suite accommodations where many celebrities stayed.