5.  There Is An Abandoned Train Station Under the Waldorf Astoria

Photo by Wasabi Bob via Flickr

A private elevator used by Elsa Maxwell and her elephant during the Circus Ball is really a private elevator leading to a secret train platform deep beneath the hotel. When the hotel purchased the Park Avenue land, there were tracks used to supply a nearby powerhouse. The powerhouse was no longer in use, but the Waldorf kept track #61 to allow personal railroad cars for guests to pull in underneath the hotel and take the elevator directly to their rooms, by-passing the lobby.

Track 61 was reportedly used by celebrities like Andy Warhol and his famous underground party in 1965 to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used it as a way to downplay his disability. The elevator was so large that it could fit FDR’s armor-plated Pierce Arrow car inside. The track still exists today, just one abandoned rail car, that can be seen through the grates looking down, while walking by 49th Street at Park Avenue. The elevator door into the lobby also still exists (below).

Elevator from Train Tracks-Waldorf Astoria-Roosevelt-Untapped Cities-AFineLyneThe elevator door leading down to the Track #61, used by Elsa Maxwell who rode her elephant into the Grand Ballroom for the Circus Ball.

View all on one page

One Response
  1. Mark Bender Reply

    Many years ago, placards in subway cards had interesting facts regarding New York. One in particular related to The Waldorf Astoria and is never mentioned these days. According to the placard,The Waldorf Astoria masonry does not actually touch the sidewalk. The building has a space of about an inch all around the building where it “almost” meets the sidewalk and was built this way to reduce vibration from the trains running under it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *