Sunday, November 24, 2013

"The great advantage of a hotel

is that it is a refuge from home life. ~ George Bernard Shaw
As the holidays approach, hotels and motels are more in demand.  An auction lot took me on a mental trip to New of amazing the midst of silver plate was a neat water pitcher...and signed...

D.W. Haber & Son...from their web page..."D.W. Haber & Son started in 1902 as a silver repair company. With four generations of experience in repairing our competitor's hollowware, we have mastered the art of manufacturing hollowware that remains in service, not in the repair shop! Reconditioning silverware of other manufacturers has taught us the weak points of hollowware. Our hollowware is designed to withstand the rough abuse of burnishing machines, 5,000 seat banquets, and part-time employees. All of our equipment is backed by our 100 YEAR WARRANTY on structural integrity and on all plating against peeling and blistering."

And, in addition to the hotel silversmiths as they are penned, research on the Waldorf Astoria proved to be even more fascinating.  It seems that a family feud was responsible for the construction of the original Waldorf-Astoria on 5th Avenue.  It started as two hotels: one owned by William Waldorf Astor, whose 13-story Waldorf Hotel was opened in 1893 and the other owned by his cousin, John Jacob Astor IV, called the Astoria Hotel and opened four years later in 1897, four stories higher.
William Astor, motivated in part by a dispute with his aunt, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, built the original Waldorf Hotel next door to her house, on the site of his father's mansion and today's Empire State Building. The hotel was built to the specifications of founding proprietor George Boldt; he and his wife Louise had become known as the owners and operators of the Bellevue, an elite boutique hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Broad Street, subsequently expanded and renamed the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. Boldt continued to own the Bellevue (and, later, the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel) even after his relationship with the Astors blossomed.
William Astor's construction of a hotel next to his aunt's house worsened his feud with her, but, with Boldt's help, John Astor persuaded his mother to move uptown. John Astor then built the Astoria Hotel and leased it to Boldt who introduced many innovations:  “room service” that enabled guests to have breakfast in bed; relaxed the rule that prohibited men from smoking in the presence of women, installed an orchestra in the hotel lobby, hired Turkish waiters to serve coffee, placed plenty of ash trays at strategic locations among the potted palms.

The new 13-story Waldorf Hotel opened on March 14, 1893, with 450 guestrooms and 350 bathrooms, each of these with an outer window- a feature which apparently made a tremendous impression upon the high-grade traveling public of the nineties.

The hotels were initially built as two separate structures, but Boldt planned the Astoria so it could be connected to the Waldorf by Peacock Alley. The combined Waldorf-Astoria became the largest hotel in the world at the time, while maintaining the original Waldorf's high standards.
The hotel was influential in women's rights by allowing women to come without escorts.  It is so amazing how much we take for granted in our time.  The name even has a story...the hotel was originally known as The Waldorf-Astoria with a single hyphen, as recalled by a popular expression and song, "Meet Me at the Hyphen." The sign was changed to a double hyphen, looking similar to an equals sign, by Conrad Hilton when he purchased the hotel in 1949.  The double hyphen visually represents "Peacock Alley," the hallway between the two hotels that once stood where the Empire State building now stands today. The use of the double hyphen was discontinued by parent company Hilton in 2009, shortly after the introduction of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts chain.  The hotel has since been known as the Waldorf Astoria New York.

So, as you plan your Thanksgiving dinner,  give thanks for all that you have even if you are not at the Waldorf Astoria!  And, from the past - a 1939 menu!

 "Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were."
                                            ~Author Unknown

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is fascinating! Thank you X Annie