It took New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission a matter of minutes to designate the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel’s interiors a New York City landmark when they voted on the Art Deco gem Tuesday morning. The unanimous verdict on the part of the commissioners followed the temporary closure of the hotel last week for a three-year renovation and partial condo conversion courtesy of Anbang.
“The Waldorf Astoria Hotel has some of the most internationally renowned rooms in all of New York City,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of the Landmarks Commission, said in a statement. “Today’s action not only protects the rich and beautifully detailed art-deco features of the hotel’s interior public spaces, it also preserves the unique experience of moving through the hotel’s varied interiors, which countless New Yorkers and visitors have enjoyed for more than eight decades.”
In an unusual move, the developer had actually been on board with landmarking the hotel’s interiors—the exteriors were landmarked in 1993. In September last year, Anbang agreed to work with the Landmarks Commission during the conversion of the hotel, and that likely made it all the easier for the commission to move forward with its designation.
“The Waldorf Astoria New York is a landmark and an iconic hotel with unparalleled history and beautiful, irreplaceable features,” a statement issued by Anbang shortly after the designation read. “That is why we fully supported the Commission’s recommendations for designation of the Waldorf Astoria’s most important public spaces and applaud the Commission on achieving landmark status for them.”
Preservationists and local elected officials have been pushing for the interior designation for quite some time now, and the landmarking also had the backing of the local community board.
The spaces now designated interior landmarks include the West Lounge, formerly known as Peacock Alley, which is located on the first floor; the Grand Ballroom and balconies on the third floor; the Park Avenue lobby, with its 13 murals and a floor mosaic designed by French artist Louis Rigal; and the foyer that connects the Jade Gallery and the Astor Gallery, along with the interior components and fixtures of this area.
At the end of October last year, the Landmarks Commission agreed to consider the hotel’s interiors for landmarking. In January, the commission began hearing public testimony on the designation, and several preservationist groups, including the Historic Districts Council and the Art Deco Society of New York, spoke of the urgent need to landmark the historic building’s interiors.
The application moved pretty swiftly through the Landmarks Commission, and just a little over a month from that meeting, the interiors of the Waldorf Astoria hotel are now a NYC landmark.