Historic Structures

Hotel Astor, New York City, New York

Date added: April 19, 2017 Categories: New York Hotel

Shortly before the opening of the Hotel Astor in 1904, the owner, William Waldorf Astor, predicted in The New York Times that the new building would be "the finest hotel in the world." Lavishness and elegance were apparent throughout the building, from the richly ornamented exterior to the carefully decorated public rooms and guest accommodations. The hotel was acclaimed for its fire-proof construction and for its many technical innovations, including an incinerator, thermostats in every room, and cool air-conditioning.

The original part of the Hotel Astor was 9 stories and extended along Broadway for 200 feet and from Broadway along West 44th and West 45th Streets to a depth of 160 feet. It was built at a cost of approximately seven million dollars, including five million dollars for the structure itself and $700,000 for the movable furniture. In the sub-basement, basement, and on the ground floor were a great variety of dining and public rooms. The second through ninth floors contained bedrooms and suites; there were about six hundred bedrooms and four hundred baths. On the eleventh floor were private dining rooms and two banquet halls. The building was topped by a roof garden. Each of the dining and public rooms, as well as many of the suites, were decorated in a distinct style, ranging from the Romanesque wine cellars to the Louis XVI banquet hall.

After the hotel had been in operation for a few years, it became evident that more rooms for social purposes were needed. In 1909-10 an addition, one hundred feet deep, was erected at the rear of the hotel, making the total depth of the building from the Broadway facade 260 feet. This addition provided the ultimately distinctive characteristics of the Hotel Astor— the large and flexible ballroom facilities on the ground floor where so many of the great balls, dinners, and other events of that era were held, and the extensive roof garden with the 200 foot long Belvedere Restaurant overlooking the Hudson River and cooled by a continuous stream of water flowing over the glazed roof hung with ferns and greenery. The addition also increased the total number of bedrooms to one thousand and bathrooms to seven hundred. Clinton & Russell designed the addition, and the ballroom decor was executed by Unitt & Wickes. The south end of the ballroom contained a large movable stage operated by an Otis elevator. In addition to the stage, sections of the floor along the gallery to the west of the Grand Ballroom could be electrically raised disclosing a series of revolving trays which brought food up from the kitchen below and facilitated the serving of large banquets.

The Hotel was demolished in 1968.