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"This book preview contains selected pages from Great, Grand & Famous Hotels. If you wish to purchase the book or find out more, please go to
Hotels : Sample NY
NEW YORK: POWER & PROMINENCE GREAT, GRAND & FAMOUS HOTELS 149 REINVENTING AN INSTITUTION The 'biggest hotel in the world,' the 'unofficial palace of New York,' with its twin-peaked towers (dubbed 'the Waldorf towers') would dominate the skyline. The towers were to house permanent guests, in keeping with the new trend for providing apartment living as well as transient facilities. The Waldorf=Astoria was to cost some US$42 million and stand 47 stories high, spanning an entire block between 49th and 50th streets. Built above the Grand Central Terminal railway tracks, it had its own private siding so special guests could access the hotel from their private rail cars. The rooms were designed to evoke the interiors of grand English and French homes. Interior decorators from Europe were employed and fabrics and furnishings were imported accordingly. This was in keeping with Boomer's idea that the atmosphere of the rooms should suggest 'home' rather than a standardised hotel room. The Presidential Suite on the 35th floor however, was exclusively the domain of early American design befitting the 'home-away-from-home' that it would provide to a succession of Presidents from Edgar Hoover through to George Bush II. The function rooms were also a masterstroke of design -- the ballroom, for example, was four storeys high. The ballroom and function rooms were segregated from the restaurants and nightclub, thus lending them an aura of exclusivity. The premier society function rooms had their entrance in fashionable Park Avenue whilst Lexington Avenue served as the entrance for the remainder. The famous Starlight Room on the eighteenth floor boasted a retractable roof opening to the stars above Manhattan. The Starlight Room soon became the symbol of glamour and sophistication during the nightclub era of the thirties and forties. Cole Porter, who lived in a 10-room suite in the Towers, was a fixture for many years and shows were often broadcast 'live from the Starlight Room.' Some of the features from the old hotel, like Peacock Alley, were transposed to the new building. The three-metre-high clock from the 1893 Chicago World Fair that dominated the previous hotel's foyer was given pride of place in the impressive new central lobby. The floor of the Park Avenue lobby featured an extraordinary mural by Louis Rigal called The Wheel of Life (carpeted over during the 'homogenous' era of the sixties and seventies and restored in the early eighties and late nineties). Opposite: Frank Sinatra, who sang with Guy Lombardo's band at the Starlight Room. Right: A ball in the Starlight Room. Below: The lobby of the Waldorf=Astoria.