The Greatest Hotels in the World – WALDORF ASTORIA NEW YORK
On March 24, 1893, millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the 13- story Waldorf Hotel, where his former mansion stood, at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. Built by renowned architect Henry Hardenbergh, The Waldorf was the embodiment of Astor’s vision of a grand hotel, complete with electricity throughout and private bathrooms in many guest chambers – two of a long list of Waldorf firsts.
Four years later, in 1897, The Waldorf was joined by the 17-story Astoria Hotel, erected on an adjacent site by Waldorf’s cousin, John Jacob Astor IV.
The Waldorf Hotel (1893-1929) was the first hotel to offer complete electricity and private bathrooms. Since then, a long list of firsts evolved. Notably, the hotel was first to create many classic culinary delights, including dishes Waldorf Salad, Veal Oscar, Lobster Newburg and Eggs Benedict. The Waldorf also popularized room service, Red Velvet Cake and Thousand Island dressing.
Lena Horne broke the color barrier in The Vanderbilt Room, a private event space at the hotel, as the first African-American to play in such an establishment as The Waldorf Astoria New York. In addition, the first Senate hearings to investigate the Titanic disaster in 1912 began at The Waldorf Astoria New York, just four days after the sinking, before being relocated to the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Waldorf Astoria New York Hospitality Firsts
- First Hotel with a Private Bath for Every Guestroom. • First Hotel with a Ballroom • First Hotel to Suggest People Live Permanently in Private Suites. • First Hotel to Give Prominence to the Art Deco Style in America. • First Hotel with Décor Featuring Indirect Lighting. • First Hotel with a Lobby PA System. • First Hotel to Introduce Room Service. • First Electric Kitchen – installed in 35A (the Presidential Suite) by GE. • First Hotel in America to Rent Rooms to Women Traveling Alone.
In 1929, after decades of hosting distinguished visitors from around the world, the original Waldorf Astoria New York closed to pave the way for a reincarnation 15 blocks north on Park Avenue. The current hotel opened on October 1, 1931 as the world’s largest and tallest hotel – 625 feet tall, with 47 floors, 42 of which are guest floors – a veritable city-within-a-city. Today it remains one of the world’s largest Art Deco buildings, and The Waldorf Astoria New York continues to be one of the city’s most beloved and utilized institutions.