4.  Elephants Once Roamed the Waldorf Astoria

A rendering of the lobby clock in the renovated hotel

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.