The legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel won’t be open to the public again for at least a few years, but in the meantime, artifacts from the storied hotel—which previously played host to presidents, dignitaries, celebrities, and regular old tourists—will be visible to the public while it’s being converted into a hotel/condo hybrid.
Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese firm that picked the property up for nearly $2 billion in 2014, announced that it has partnered with the New-York Historical Society to showcase three of the Waldorf Astoria’s most famous vintage items. Those are:
- Cole Porter’s 1907 Steinway grand piano, which will be restored at the Steinway & Sons factory in Queens before it’s situated at N-YHS. Porter lived in a huge suite on the Waldorf’s 33rd floor—where the piano was also situated—for many years, and wrote some of his best-known songs (“You’re the Top,” “Anything Goes”) there.
- A rocking chair, a gift from President John F. Kennedy, that sat in the Presidential Suite.
- The iconic World’s Fair clock, which once sat in the hotel’s lobby, and was originally designed for the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. It will eventually return to the lobby.
The items will be on view at the Upper West Side museum while the Waldorf is under construction, as Anbang revamps the circa-1931 building into a hybrid of condos and hotel rooms. There’ll be more than 300 of each, along with transformed public and event spaces, with a design helmed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
Some of the hotel’s interiors—including the West Lounge, formerly known as Peacock Alley, which is located on the first floor; the Grand Ballroom and balconies on the third floor; and the Park Avenue lobby, with its 13 murals and a floor mosaic designed by French artist Louis Rigal—were designated landmarks in 2017, so will look much the same once the hotel reopens in 2021.