3. The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel
Its very name evokes a sense of wealth and luxury, and the Waldorf-Astoria has been a symbol of grandeur since its inception. It was the world’s tallest hotel when it opened, rising 625 feet into the air.
From the exterior, it is a relatively underwhelming mass of gray brick and stone, but you can see the Art Deco elements upon a closer look. The hotel’s entrance is covered with drapes emblazoned with sculpted women, and its foyer is embellished with mythological imagery.
The Waldorf-Astoria as it is today is the result of a collision of many different forces. In 1859, members of the Astor family built houses on Fifth Avenue that would eventually become the Victorian-style Hotel Waldorf, which was later joined to the neighboring seventeen-story Astoria. In 1929, the hotel moved to the more stylish Park Avenue, the original hotel site was turned into the Empire State Building, and plans for the new Waldorf-Astoria were set into motion. The new architects, Shultze & Weaver, were faced with the imperative to design a building that both appealed to modern sensibilities and maintained the extravagant Victorian beauty of its prior location. Thus, the Waldorf-Astoria came to embody both Greek classicism and Art Deco modernism. Its iconic Art Deco interiors were recently dedicated as a New York City interior landmark, a relief to preservationists while the building undergoes partial conversion into condos and the hotel is renovated by new owners.