Friday, July 27, 2018

America's Lost Buildings

The Waldorf Astoria
Never cared for Gropius, though. From CNN:
Many New Yorkers are familiar with the iconic Waldorf Astoria, which sits on Park Avenue. But they might be surprised to learn that this is the second iteration of the luxury hotel. The original was located along Manhattan's fashionable Fifth Avenue, and the structure took up the entire block between 33rd and 34th streets.But in late November 1929 -- after the stock market had crashed and the slow slide into the Great Depression began -- workers began demolishing it. Designed by the noted architect Henry Hardenbergh, the imposing building had been built in two parts, campaigns that reflected the progress of modern construction technology and a "bigger and better" mantra of American architecture.
The first building, the Waldorf, was an 11-story structure that opened in 1893. It was built on the site of the mansion where Mrs. Caroline Astor had entertained New York's "Four Hundred," an exclusive group of New York's social elite. In addition to 530 rooms, the Waldorf offered stately apartments on the second floor and a majestic ballroom that could be closed off for lavish private events.
In 1897, the deluxe Astoria section of the hotel was completed. Facing 34th Street, its 16 stories employed a steel skeleton structure -- at the time, a cutting-edge technique -- that allowed for taller buildings. With 1,300 rooms, it was the largest hotel in the city, and like many high-class "palace hotels" of the period, the Waldorf Astoria housed permanent and transient patrons; as The New York Times noted in 1890, they were designed "to provide a series of magnificent homes for wealthy New Yorkers as an economical alternative to maintaining private mansions." By 1929, however, the owners of the Waldorf Astoria decided to decamp to Park Avenue, where they erected an equally lavish modern, Art Deco monument. The demolition of the old hotel, completed by the winter of 1930, made way for the construction of the ultimate expression of the city's architectural ambitions: the Empire State Building. (Read more.)

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