Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel is a luxury hotel in New York. It has been housed in two historic landmark buildings in 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 and dating from 1931. The Waldorf Astoria New York is a member of Hilton's Luxury and Lifestyle Brands along with The Waldorf=Astoria Collection and Conrad Hotels & Resorts. The Waldorf Astoria brand consists of the Waldorf Astoria in New York and The Waldorf Astoria Orlando. The hotel is now branded as the Waldorf=Astoria, with a double hyphen, but originally a single hyphen was employed between "Waldorf" and "Astoria," 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 boutiques surround the lobby. A "hotel within a hotel" in its upper section is known as The Waldorf Towers operated by Conrad Hotels & Resorts. 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 for Franklin D. Roosevelt's automobile provides access to the platform. 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 aunt to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astoria Hotel and leased it to Boldt. Initially foreseen as two separate entities, Boldt had planned the new structure so 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 and a part of popular culture. 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 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 skyscraper Waldorf-Astoria was built over air-rights of The New York State Realty and Terminal Company on Park Avenue, under the guidance of Lucius M. 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. Lucius M. Boomer had retired to Florida after the old Waldorf Astoria was demolished, but he retained exclusive rights to use the name "Waldorf-Astoria", which he transferred to the new hotel. Boomer died in an airplane crash during 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.

Beverly Hills Waldorf Astoria
In November 2008, a referendum in Beverly Hills, California was voted on to determine whether developer Oasis West Realty LLC will be allowed to expand the nine-acre site of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, recently owned by the late Merv Griffin, at the intersection of Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards. Expansion plans include removing some buildings and adding an 8-story condo, a Waldorf=Astoria named 12-story hotel, and another 18-story condo tower. The Beverly Hills City Council had approved the $500 million project by a 3-2 vote. Local resident opponents led by a group called Citizens Right to Decide Committee gathered enough signatures to place the referendum on the November 4, 2008, ballot with the argument "It's Just Too Big." Los Angeles County election officials reported a week after the vote that 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. Yes: 7972. No: 7834.

Notable residents
  • Hossein-Gholi Noori, an influential Qajar politician was sent by Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar to the United States of America during the time of President Grover Cleveland to serve as Iran's first ambassador to the U.S. He resided in the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. During his stay at the hotel, he ordered a slaughter of a sheep from the balcony of his penthouse suite for the Eid al-Adha, a religious festival celebrated by Muslims. For his undiplomatic behaviour, he was summoned to the United States Department of State and then was recalled to Iran for poor representation of the Iranian people.
  • Postmaster General James Farley occupied two adjoining suites in the Waldorf-Astoria Towers during his tenure as the Chairman of the Board of Coca-Cola's International division from 1940 until his death in 1976, arguably one of the landmark's longest housed tenants.
  • 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.
  • The Duke of Windsor and Duchess of Windsor maintained an apartment at the Waldorf Towers for many years.
  • Gangsters Frank Costello, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel and Charles "Lucky" Luciano (room 39c) once lived in the Waldorf-Astoria.
  • Bertie Charles Forbes, Scottish immigrant and founder of Forbes Magazine, became a regular at the Waldorf-Astoria with his savings from writing for Hearst in order to form the close relationships with prominent businessmen needed to start his own business publication.
  • 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..."
  • In 1955, Marilyn Monroe stayed at the hotel for several months, but due to costs of trying to finance her production company "Marilyn Monroe Productions", only being paid $1,500 a week for her role in The Seven Year Itch and being suspended from 20th Century Fox for walking out on Fox after creative differences, living at the hotel became too costly and Monroe had to move into a different hotel in New York City.
  • The official residence of the United States' Permanent Representative to the United Nations is located in the Waldorf Towers. .
  • During her childhood, Paris Hilton lived with her family in the hotel.

Notable events
  • The investigation into the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 was held at the old Waldorf-Astoria. Coincidentally, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • New York University holds 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.
  • Bette Midler's 2nd Annual Hulaween Gala to benefit the New York Restoration Project was held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 31 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.

References in popular culture
  • Waldorf salad — a salad consisting of apple, walnuts, celery, and mayonnaise or a mayonnaise-based dressing — was first created in 1896 at the Waldorf in New York by Oscar Tschirky, who was the maître d'hôtel, and the same salad was parodied in the British comedy Fawlty Towers.
  • Ginger Rogers headlined an all star ensemble cast in the 1945 movie Week-End at the Waldorf .
  • Cole Porter's Steinway grand piano is in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria.
  • In the 1970 movie The Out-of-Towners , Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis make their way to the Waldorf-Astoria on foot past tons of garbage in a torrential downpour, to discover their reservation - guaranteed for a 10:00pm arrival - has been given away, and the hotel - like every other one in the city - is booked to capacity due to the strikes.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • In the 2002 movie Hart's War one of the characters sarcastically compares the POW camp to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
  • 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.
  • The 2002 film Maid in Manhattan takes place at the Waldorf-Astoria, but the hotel is renamed The Beresford Hotel in the movie.
  • Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova exits out of the hotel in the 2006 Nike commercial Pretty .
  • The exterior of the hotel appears in the video game True Crime: New York City .
  • In the 2006 movie The Pink Panther , Beyoncé Knowles' character Xania stays in the hotel during her trip to New York.
  • In Neal Shusterman's novel Everlost , the Waldorf=Astoria is a "Forever Place," which Allie stops by, only to leave quickly because the desertedness of it gives her the creeps.
  • In one episode of Johnny Bravo, Johnny decided to spend a night at the Waldorf-Histeria without paying because he thought time in world suddenly stood still and that no one would mind whatever he does.
  • Langston Hughes wrote a poem advertising the hotel in " Advertisement for the Waldorf-Astoria."
  • In the tenth book in the Princess Diaries series, " Ten Out of Ten", the senior prom takes place in the Waldorf Astoria ballroom which Mia attends with J.P. and where a number of plot-changing events take place that finally lead to a dramatic but happy ending.
  • In the Portuguese novel Codex 632 , the Professor Tomás Noronha stays in the Waldorf-Austoria Hotel during his sojourn in New York.
  • In the 2009 film remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, Garber (played by Denzel Washington) follows the train hijackers through the emergency exit underneath the Waldorf-Astoria in his attempt to pursue these men before they escape with the hostage money.
  • In the AMC network television series Mad Men, hotelier Conrad Hilton meets with advertising executive Don Draper at the Waldorf for a late-night drink in a season 3 episode.
  • In 1978 a French kid 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 sung 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
  • Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl
  • In 1988 Movie Coming to America The King And Queen Stayed Here as the royal entourage leaves the Waldorf-Astoria in the final New York–based scene in the movie.
  • In the 2001 movie South Pacific, the chief of the nurses mentions the base as the Waldorf-Astoria branch of the Navy.


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