11.  Elephants Once Roamed the Waldorf Astoria

Gentlemen's Lobby-Waldorf Astoria-Untapped Cities-AFineLyneThe current main lobby of The Waldorf Astoria, with the historic clock to the left.

Publicity like this, you cannot buy. Elsa Maxwell was a theatrical figure, a newspaper gossip columnist and radio show host with a following of millions. She loved to play the piano with Cole Porter and play cards with Winston Churchill. But most of all, she loved to throw a really good party. She was such a popular figure in New York society, that when the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel opened in 1931, they gave her a suite rent-free, hoping she would attract business during the depression.

In 1935, Maxwell hosted the famous Circus Ball in the Grand Ballroom, arriving from the large service elevator atop an elephant. She never married, and died in New York in 1963.

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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.

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