7. Original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel

In 1893, William Waldorf Astor hired renowned architect Henry Hardenbergh, who would later design The Dakota apartments, to build a 13-story grand hotel on the site of what was his family mansion. At the time, the Waldorf Hotel was the largest and most luxurious hotel in the world, with 450 rooms. Meanwhile, John Jacob Astor IV owned the other end of the block. Four years after the construction of the Waldorf, John Jacob built a 17-story hotel within feet of the Waldorf, using the same architect. In time–and having good business sense–it was decided that the hotels should be physically joined together by a long hallway. The combined hotels, opening in 1897, became the largest hotel in the world.

The sinking of The Titanic took the life of John Jacob Astor IV in 1912, and William died of a heart attack in 1919. The land where the grand hotel sat was sold in 1928 to a developer, who demolished the building and erected the Empire State Building. Learn more about the early history of the Waldorf Astoria in our upcoming talk with historian David Freeland, author of American Hotel: The Waldorf-Astoria and The Making of a Century.