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History of the Waldorf=Astoria
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 mother to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astoria Hotel and leased it to Boldt. The hotels were initially built as two separate structures, but Boldt planned the Astoria so it could be connected to the Waldorf by Peacock Alley. The combined Waldorf=Astoria became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.
In October of 1931, President Herbert Hoover took to the airwaves to announce the opening of the Park Avenue Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. This historic national radio broadcast set the tone for the new hotel and its role in international politics and culture. The preeminent reputation of the Waldorf=Astoria on the world stage is shaped by the illustrious and ordinary who have passed through it. Elite travelers, celebrities, artists, heads of state, royalty, diplomats and numerous others from diverse social strata have enjoyed the glamour and renowned service of the hotel. Some have stayed for short periods, while others have called the hotel their permanent home.
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 desirable 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. 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.
The Waldorf=Astoria has stood as a paragon of architectural beauty and revolutionary first-class service since its opening in October of 1931. In building the Park Avenue Waldorf=Astoria, the atmosphere, traditions, and prestige of the old Waldorf=Astoria were preserved and transferred to a structure that incorporated the innovative design and technology of the Twentieth Century. Architects Leonard Schultze and Fullerton Weaver made use of the Art Deco style to combine traditional elegance with modern functionalism. For connoisseurs of the Art Deco period, there is no more thrilling destination than The Waldorf=Astoria hotel.
The Waldorf=Astoria we know today occupies an entire city block bounded by Park and Lexington Avenues, and 49th and 50th Streets. The Waldorf=Astoria and The Waldorf Towers, the boutique hotel occupying 27th to 42nd floors of The Waldorf=Astoria, offer a total of 1,416 guest rooms, including 303 suites, all featuring original Art Deco motifs. Each room is decorated individually; no two are exactly alike. The Waldorf=Astoria is located at 301 Park Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets on the east side of midtown Manhattan — New York’s commercial and artistic hub. Conveniently situated minutes from Fifth Avenue shopping, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, , the Theater District, Times Square, St. Patrick's Cathedral New York’s many famous museums, and a host of diverse restaurants, the Waldorf=Astoria offers guests a variety of attractive options during their stay. Three major airports (JFK, LaGuardia and Newark) are located within 45-60 minutes travel time from the hotel. The motor entrance is between Park and Lexington avenues on 50th Street, which is one-way eastbound.
For more information about the Waldorf=Astoria, visit www.waldorf.com.
Accommodations for COA’s 2012 National Conference
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The Waldorf=Astoria is located approximately 9 miles from LaGuardia Airport, 18 miles from John F. Kennedy International Airport, and 20 miles from Newark International Airport. You can travel by taxicab from any of these airports. Super Shuttle service (800.258.3826) is also available to and from all three airports and the hotel.