A look at old Fifth Avenue and the first Waldorf-Astoria

The original Waldorf-Astoria and the site today

Before New York’s aristocracy migrated to the Upper East Side, Fifth Avenue was the preferred playground of the Gilded Age’s super rich – as evidenced by the first Waldorf-Astoria.

The 13-story Waldorf Hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, opened in 1893 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. The site had been the site William Waldorf Astor’s mansion home, according to Ephemeral New York.

Originally separated hotels, the buildings were combined in 1897 to for the largest hotel in the world – and the first to allow chaperoned women.

Eventually the hotel gave way to the Empire State Building, which forever changed the neighborhood from a posh enclave into a hurried commercial corridor. [Ephemeral NY] Christopher Cameron

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