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Chronicles: Secrets of The Waldorf-Astoria

Not all things are created for the pursuit of beauty or glory. Sometimes, they are created purely from spite. Such is the case of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
In the midst of a family feud with his aunt, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, William Waldorf Astor decided to take his revenge by building a hotel directly next store to her 34th St. mansion which he called, The Waldorf opened in 1893. This prompted her other nephew, John Jacob Astor IV, to convince his mother to move uptown so that he could turn the family home into a hotel as well, called The Astoria Hotel. Both homes were run by hotelier George Boldt and were conceived as separate entities but soon joined to become the largest hotel in the world, The Waldorf-Astoria or as those in the know used to call it, The Hyphen.

In 1931, The Waldorf-Astoria moved to its current home on Park Avenue, giving-up it’s paired mansions to the new Empire State Building. The new location became the site of many historical and monumental moments in New York City history, soon finding itself folded into New York City lore and legend.
It is at the Waldorf-Astoria that Franklin D. Roosevelt had a secret elevator, big enough to fit his car, which would arrive at the railway station that stopped underneath the hotel especially for dignitaries. The elevator was built to accommodate his car because at the time, few people knew about his crippling illness and this way he could sneak into the hotel undetected. But Roosevelt wasn’t the only president to stay the night at the Waldorf-Astoria, Herbert Hoover called the hotel his home for over a decade, consequently living only a few floors away from retired U.S. General Douglas MacArthur, gangsters Frank Costello, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and Charles “Lucky” Luciano resided at the hotel and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor maintained an apartment. Through the years Marilyn Monroe, Nikola Tesla and Bertie Forbes all at one time called the Waldorf-Astoria home.
The Waldorf-Astoria
301 Park Avenue, New York – (212) 355-3000

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