By Terry Trucco
Nothing promotes time travel like a grand hotel.
Step inside and you’re whisked to another era where you can imagine yourself trading stories with Winston Churchill or Grace Kelly, Cole Porter or the Duchess of Windsor, albeit with locally sourced menus and WiFi.
New York’s Waldorf Astoria is one of these full-throttle time machines. If walking into its soaring Art Deco lobby doesn’t deposit you in 1931 or 1945 or whatever 20th-century moment you crave, Waldorf Astoria, a new book by William Alan Morrison should do the trick (Arcadia Publishing; $21.99).
Through nearly 200 vintage pictures with meaty captions Morrison tells the story of the two Waldorf Astorias. The Waldorf and the Astoria – Gilded Age beauties built by rival branches of the Astor family – set new standards for luxury when they opened in the 1890s on the current site of the Empire State Building at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street. After fiery negotiations between the contentious cousins, the two hotels were linked by a lavish corridor, called Peacock Alley — and a hyphen — and the Waldorf-Astoria was born. (more…)