Tag Archives: Empire State Building

Travel: The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel

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You’ve stayed in those hotels where if you’ve seen one room, you’ve seen them all? That’s not how they do it at the Waldorf=Astoria. (And yes, that’s how it spells its name.) On Park Avenue in Manhattan you’ll find 1,413 spacious guest rooms and suites all individually designed and decorated. So if you don’t like the room you’re assigned, don’t despair. Chances are you’ll find the right one if you persevere.

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A little history is in order. (Don’t fall asleep, this is interesting.) Originally these were two hotels, the Waldorf (1893) and the Astoria (1897). Both were built by members of the Astor family. The original Waldorf stood on the site now occupied by the Empire State Building. (Interesting, right?) But when the action of the city moved north, so did the Waldorf=Astoria, and the new hotel – the world’s largest and tallest at the time – opened in 1931.

The hotel has not only entertained the world’s rich and famous, it’s also been home for some of them. Among the famous folks who’ve called the W=A home are former president Herbert Hoover, retired general Douglas MacArthur, inventor Nicolas Tesla, gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano, and composer Cole Porter (Great American Things, June 22, 2009).

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Architecture: The Chrysler Building

When completed in 1930, the Chrysler Building was the tallest in the world - for eleven months. Then the Empire State Building passed it. Uploaded by jpegwallpapers.com.

For 40 years, the Empire State Building (Great American Things, May 13, 2009) symbolized New York City until the World Trade Center towers dominated the skyline. But then and now, the building that most says “New York” to me is the Chrysler Building.

The Chrysler Building has to be the most graceful skyscraper ever built. Constructed for the automobile company in 1930, it was the world’s tallest building for all of eleven months, until the ESB eclipsed it. Though it served as Chrysler’s headquarters for about 25 years, the company never owned it. Walter Chrysler paid for it himself.

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The building, designed by William Van Alen, is considered a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture. Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser wrote this in their book Architecture in the Twentieth Century: “In a deliberate strategy of myth generation, Van Alen planned a dramatic moment of revelation: the entire seven-storey pinnacle, complete with special-steel facing, was first assembled inside the building, and then hoisted into position through the roof opening and anchored on top in just one and a half hours. All of a sudden it was there—a sensational fait accompli.”

In 2005, a hundred architects, critics, builders, and others were asked to choose their favorite NYC tower. The Chrysler Building was the clear favorite, appearing on 90% of the ballots. And the American Institute of Architects commissioned a Harris Poll to determine America’s 150 favorite buildings – and the Chrysler Building came in at number nine.