It’s the whole package, from the majesty of its architecture, to the history that beckons.
I was making my way to an appointment when the Waldorf Astoria on 50th and Park Avenue, came into view. It’s a favorite of mine for many reasons.
There’s an underground railroad, Track 61, though no longer in use FDR rode in on, with a Pullman elevator to take him to his rooms…a testament to a certain way of life long gone.
Whenever I stroll through the immense lobby now filled with tourists in jeans and sneakers, I can still see what it was like when you never dared enter an establishment so grand unless you were dressed in your very best.
Porters pushing trunks lined the lobby, not squeaky suitcases on wheels.
Patrons were known as guests rather than tourists, many just embarking from ocean liners with names like Astor and Vanderbilt since they were the first builders of the finest hotels: The Astoria Hotel, The St. Regis, the original Waldorf on 33th Street and Fifth where the Empire State Building now stands.
Nothing slipshod, untidy or hit-or-miss in those days. A fine hotel was a haven for the well-heeled who happily paid to be catered to the hilt.
As I came bounding down Park I do what I always do whenever I pass by…I go in…climb the little staircase to poke my head into the ladies room met by a pretty woman in a crisp starched uniform. We smile, knowing she’s there to assist like in the old days, even though no one tips anymore oblivious to the forgotten custom.
The commodes are interred in little rosewood rooms, door secured, a pretty scent wafting with three-ply paper towels brandishing the Waldorf crest.
I emerge refreshed from my few private moments, putting some coins in the woman’s tiny basket receiving smiles in return.