One of the most reknown luxury hotels in New York is the ‘Waldorf-Astoria‘ – the original one was built on the site now occupied by the Empire State Building on Fifth Avenue. Since 1931 a 47-story Art Deco building on Park Avenue in Manhattan is the home of the hotel. 1893 William Waldorf Astor built and opened the 13-story Waldorf Hotel on the site of his parents’ house. In 1897 his cousin John Jacob Astor IV opened the Astoria Hotel which was four floors higher than the Waldorf. The way connecting the two hotels became known as ‘Peacock Alley’ and is now symbolized by the double hyphen: “Waldorf = Astoria”. The Waldorf-Astoria which maintained the high standards of the original Waldorf Hotel became the largest hotel in the world at that time. The name goes back to the ancestor of the founders – John Jacob Astor, who was born in 1763 in Walldorf (Baden, Germany) and became in America the richest man of his time by trading fur and china trade and doing real estate business.
As most of the buildings on Park Avenue below the 54th Street the hotel is not built on natural ground but on a steel structure above the railways running to and from Grand Central Station. The Waldorf-Astoria is part of the Hilton hotel chain and the upscale hotel brand – The Waldorf = Astoria Collection – is as well named after the hotel.
Todays Waldorf-Astoria houses three American and classic European restaurants, a beauty spa salon and several luxury boutiques.
The upper part of the Waldorf-Astoria, known as ‘The Waldorf Towers” is even more luxurious. The two towers are housing 500 apartments from 28th to the 42nd floor of the Waldorf Astoria. Here you will find the widest range of apartments and suites in New York City. They can be connected or seperated as desired – to suit specific requirements. Elegant extras such as fine antiques and are creating a welcoming atmosphere. A discreet side entrance and seperate elevators that serve only the Towers enhance the intimate atmosphere.
Permanent guests of the hotel are and were for example the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the U.S. President Herbert Hoover, General MacArthur, Henry Kissinger and the Mafia boss Lucky Luciano. The Waldorf-Astoria has its own platform at Grand Central Terminal, which was among others used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adlai Ewing Stevenson, and Douglas MacArthur. A private underground passage leads exclusively for guests on this platform. Paris and Nicky Hilton grew up in the Waldorf-Astoria. The family has their own suites in the hotel. The U.S. government obtains a spacious suite on the 41st Floor of the Waldorf-Astoria as the seat of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“The green lung of New York”, as the Central Park is called as well, is a huge city park in the heart of Manhattan in New York City. Central Park extends over 843 acres or 3.41 km2. Before Central Park was created there was a less beautiful, unkempt and swampy forest the so called ‘Jones Wood’. It was inhabited by about 1500 immigrants. In 1851, the city of New York got the permission to buy the forest. In 1873 the Central Park project was completed and a recreational and leisure area for the New York population was finally available.
Between 1857 and 1858 the competition to decorate the 843 acres was announced a competition that the landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won.
Beginning of 1858, 3.000 Irish, German and English workers started the construction of the park. Ten hours a day – for one single dollar. To develop the rocky and marshy terrain between Fifth and Eighth Avenue and the 59th and 106 Street 1.600 people had to be relocated – often by using force. In 1863 the park was extended to 110th. Seneca Village, a settlement of about 270 African-Americans was destroyed during that process.
For several weeks all kinds of obstacles were demolished by using explosives, several workers died during this period. Around 500 miles / 700 kilometers of sewer pipes were put underground to work as a drainage, 65,000 cubic yards / 50,000 m³ gravel were used around the total park area. More than 18,500 cubic yards / 14,000 m³ of topsoil had been transported in from New Jersey, because the original soil was not fertile or substantial enough to sustain the total of 240,000 trees and shrubs that were planted. Several hills were raised, ponds were filled up, lakes were dug out. The goal was to erect a landscape that looked like it was naturally grown. Architect Calvert Vaux added bridges, terraces, stairs, fountains, gates, arches, fences, walls, and four main roads. A team of architects, engineers, gardeners supported him – some of them even came as far as from Europe.
Central Park is the most famous park in the United States and is well known around the world. Since its opening in 1873, you can watch especially on Sunday a reflection of the New York population: yuppies, ladies with expensive dresses and small dogs, rappers and public speaker, they all get along for one day a week. While the northern part of Central Park remains ‘wild’ and untouched, in the south, there are playgrounds, statues, theaters, ice-skating rinks, a zoo, a real stone castle and the famous Bethesda Fountain.
Several big and small, high and low priced hotels are located around Central Park. Especially around the south end you find the five star hotels. For example the Ritz-Carlton is on the corner of 5th Avenue and Central Park South. The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park is a business-friendly hotel within walking distance of Tiffany & Co. and Carnegie Hall. Another upscale address is the Trump International Hotel and Tower on 1 Central Park West. A lot of rooms have amazing views of the park and the skyline of New York.
In the southwest of Manhattan is the bohemian quarter of New York: SoHo and TriBeCa. The name SoHo orginates from South of Houston Street. While Houston Street is then obviously the northern boundary, the SoHo area ends at Canal Street in the South.
Since SoHo is relatively close to the historical center of New York, the district was already inhabited at the end of the 18th Century.Between 1800 and 1850, mostly rich people were attracted to SoHo. In the second half of the 19th Century most residents moved to the northern parts of Manhattan and many companies, especially in the textile industry, established warehouse and manufacturing facilities in the district. SoHo more or less degenerated into a slum in which workers for low wages under poor conditions manufactured goods. After the decline of the textile industry in New York in the mid-20th Century SoHo was more and more neglected. A lot of artists took advantage of this: the former warehouses offered plenty of space to establish affordable lofts, apartments and studios. In the 1970s and 1980s, the warehouses were renovated and modernized and transformed into expensive residential and commercial spaces. Not surprisingly most major designers now have stores in SoHo.
Several subway lines take you to the district from your hotel. The A,C,E lines with stops at Springs Street and Canal Street, the 1,2,3 lines which stop at Houston or Canal and last not least the N,Q, and R lines which stop at Prince Street.
An example hotel in this area is the Trump Soho New York which includes a full-service health spa and seasonal swimming pool. This 46 story luxury hotel is a block from the New York City Fire Museum and within three-quarters of a mile of the Children’s Museum of the Arts and Washington Square Park.
For travellers on a smaller budget the Holiday Inn SoHo might be the right choice. Located 1 block from New York’s SoHo and Canal Street bargains, this lower Manhattan-area hotel is 3 blocks from Little Italy and 4 blocks from Chinatown’s main shopping street.
From SoHo it is as well not too far to the Battery Park where you can embark on the boats which take you to Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty is located.
Another spectacular site in New York is the Brooklyn Bride. The Brooklyn Bridge is a small marvel of engineering. It was completed in 1883 and was at that time the longest suspension bridge in the world. It connects the city of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is impressive and an integral part of a stay in New York. You can take a walk across the entire Bridge or just walk half of it like most people do. From the bridge you have a fantastic view on lower and midtown Manhattan. Make sure you plan enough time for the walk. You will have a great view from the bridge at any time of the day, but sunsets and sunrises of course are the best.
From your hotel on the Manhattan side take the subway to the stop ‘City Hall’ – or use line 6 and exit at ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ and walk back onto Manhattan island. Of course you can do this trip vice versa if your hotel is located in Brooklyn.
Let’s continue with a little history about the bridge:
It was designed by German engineer John A. Roebling (Johann August Roebling). He had studied at the Royal Polytechnic University in Berlin and emigrated to the United States in 1831. In 1841 he founded the first cable production company in America. During this time he the idea to build the longest and highest suspension bridge in the world took shape. However, 16 years had to pass before his plans were became real.
Due to an accident that happenend during construction he died suddenly and did not see the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge. His son Washington took over the management of the construction and set up the so-called caisson technique, which he had studied with his wife Emily. Using this technic boxes were anchored as foundations under water. Compressed air prevented the ingress of water. The working conditions were horrible and many workers suffered from a strange disease. Today we know that this is the caisson disease – also known as the decompression sickness, which occurs when people leave hyperbaric chambers too fast. Roebling as well got sick from the caisson disease and he was suffering from severe pain and was paralyzed. However, he did not want to stop the construction and watched the progress of the wheelchair.
Emily Roebling took over the management of the gigantic construction site. She negotiated, pushed through the quality standards set by Washington Roebling and turned down numerous intrigues.
Even in today’s world, this performance would still be highly significant, in the late 19th Century it was unbelievable that a woman could achieve this.
On 24 May 1883, the gigantic bridge was opened with a huge celebration.
The Empire State Building is one of the most famous landmarks of the city, and everyone has heard of this skyscraper. Every year, about 3 million tourists visiting the Empire State Building in New York. If you want to enjoy the view from the Empire State Building please allow a minimum of at least one hour waiting time. The 86th Floor of the building is an observation deck where you can enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views of New York. It is worth the wait.
There are many hotels close to the Empire State Building so it won’t be hard to find your hotel in New York close to this magnificent building.
The Empire State Building is one of the tallest buildings in New York City and among the highest in the world. The height of the Empire State Building is 1.250 ft / 381 meters to the roof and 1.454 ft / 443 meters to the top. In total there are for example 102 floors, 73 elevators, and 6,500 windows. More than 120 million people have visited the Empire State Building so far. The construction took only nine months and on May 1st, 1931, the building was officially openend by President Hoover. The cost was $25 million and there have been many owners, including Donald Trump.
The Empire State Building is located on Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34 Street in Manhattan. The exact address is 350 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10118. The building is used by 850 different companies that are housed in more thane 6,000 offices. The building starred in many Hollywood movies like King Kong or Indepence Day.
As the building was opened during the Great Depression most of its office space was initially unrented. As at that time the building’s location on 34th Street was relatively far from public transportation – Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station were several blocks away – this poor location did not help either to rent the office space. New Yorkers started to call the building the “Empty State Building”. The building would not become profitable until 1950.