|The New York Optimist
July 2008, Vol. 01: Issue 01
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 and four stories higher.
William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt, built the original
Waldorf Hotel next door to her home, 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 home worsened his
feud with her, but, with Boldt's help, John Astor persuaded his aunt to
move uptown. John Astor then built the Astor Hotel and leased it to Boldt.
Initially foreseen as two separate entities, Boldt had planned the new
structure so that 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. 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 American'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 skyscraping Waldorf-Astoria was built on Park Avenue,
under the guidance of Lucius 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. Boomer retired to Florida after
the old Waldorf Astoria was demolished, but he had retained exclusive
rights to use the name "Waldorf-Astoria", which he transferred to the new
hotel. He died in an airplane crash in 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
Overs the years, countless people of fame or infamy have stayed at the
hotel. Not many people know that former president Herbert Hoover and
retired general Douglas MacArthur live in different suites in the hotel at
the same time during the 50's and 60's. Marylin Monroe was known to stay
there for a few months at a time. Gangsters, Bugsy Siegel, and Lucky
Luchiano were also residents.
|However, one of the most famous things to come out
of the Waldorf-Astoria, was the Waldorf salad.
Invented in 1896 by Oscar Tschirky the hotels maître
d'hôtel, the dish became an immediate success.
The original version of this salad contained only
apples, celery and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts later
became an integral part of the dish. Waldorf salad is
usually served on top of a bed of lettuce.
|CLASSIC WALDORF SALAD
1 cup apples chopped, (Granny smith or a Sweet
tart apple or a combination of different tart apples)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
Sprinkle apples with lemon juice after they are cut
Add all other ingredients.
Toss to coat all pieces with mayonnaise.
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