Learn about the traditions, legacy and iconic status of the
Waldorf Astoria New York.

Hotel History

Discover the unique history of the legendary Waldorf Astoria New York—the hotel which Conrad Hilton labeled ‘The Greatest of Them All’. Explore the traditions, legacy and iconic status of a hotel that has welcomed every US President since Herbert Hoover.


March 13, 1893

Millionaire William Waldorf Astor opened the 13-story Waldorf Hotel on the site of his mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street, designed by renowned architect Henry Hardenbergh.


November 1, 1897

Four years later, The Waldorf was joined by the 17-story Astoria Hotel, erected on an adjacent site by Waldorf's cousin, John Jacob Astor IV.


October 18, 1919

John Jacob Astor IV died tragically on the Titanic on April 15, 1912 and William Waldorf Astor died on 18 October 1919 in England, where he’d relocated to in 1893.


May 3, 1929

Closing of the first Waldorf-Astoria. While the original was the arguably the grandest hotel in the world, in the 1920's, with so many new technological advances, it was becoming dated. So the decision was made to sell the site to the developers of what would become the Empire State building and to tear down the hotel in 1929.


October 1, 1931

The second Waldorf-Astoria hotel opened in its current location on Park Avenue on October 1, 1931, as the tallest and largest hotel in the world. President Herbert Hoover, in a radio broadcast from The White House, saluted the new hotel, "The opening of the new Waldorf Astoria is an event in the advancement of hotels, even in New York City. It carries great tradition in national hospitality...marks the measure of nation's growth in power, in comfort and in artistry...an exhibition of courage and confidence to the whole nation...”


October 1945

Weekend at The Waldorf was the First major motion picture filmed entirely in a hotel and outside of Hollywood's studios, featuring Ginger Rogers. The film grossed $4,366,000 and ranked number seven at the box office in 1945.


October 12, 1949

Conrad Hilton contracted to acquire control of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 12, 1949. Conrad had once written on a photograph of the hotel ‘The Greatest Of Them All’ and one of his lifelong ambitions was realized by adding Waldorf Astoria New York to his collection.


April 11, 1957

Hollywood sex symbol and one-time Waldorf Astoria resident Marilyn Monroe photographed with then-husband, playwright Arthur Miller, at the "April in Paris Ball" in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom. Monroe had formerly resided in the Waldorf Astoria’s $1,000-per-week Suite in 1955, after fleeing her troubled life in Hollywood for the comparative calm of New York City. 


November 22, 1963

The Waldorf Astoria New York’s Park Avenue-side flags lowered to half-mast in mourning at the death of US President John F. Kennedy, tragically assassinated during a political trip to Dallas, Texas.   



Multi-award winning singer Ella Fitzgerald, widely known as “The Queen of Jazz”, performs her inimitable brand of improvisational jazz at the Waldorf Astoria New York’s Starlight Roof. Fitzgerald famously referenced the hotel’s eponymous Waldorf Salad in her rendition of Cole Porter’s “You're The Top”.  



President Richard Nixon and Bob Hope meet at the Silver Anniversary of the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner in 1983. President Nixon had been honored with the National Football Foundation’s Gold Medal in 1969, while Bob Hope received the Foundation's Distinguished American Award in 1974.



The Waldorf Astoria became an official New York City landmark, joining other major icons like The Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge.



The Luxury Brand of Hilton Worldwide, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts is launched with four iconic properties: La Quinta, Grand Wailea, the Arizona Biltmore and the New York Property. Today, the luxury Brand expands internationally with over 25 hotels open in major international city hubs.

For more historical information, visit www.hosttotheworld.com.