Waldorf Astoria artifacts including JFK’s chair will be on display at UWS museum

Cole Poter's piano stayed in the Waldorf Astoria after he died in 1964.
Cole Poter’s piano stayed in the Waldorf Astoria after he died in 1964. Photo Credit: Michael Owens

While the Waldorf Astoria won’t reopen until 2021, some of its artifacts will be on display at the New-York Historical Society this spring.

Three historical items — a clock tower that was on display at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, composer Cole Porter’s 1907 piano and one of John F. Kennedy’s rocking chairs — will be on view at the Upper West Side museum on Central Park West, between West 76th and West 77th streets.

“Waldorf Astoria New York is filled with historical treasures that we are working very hard to carefully preserve during the renovation and restoration process,” said Dino Michael, the global brand head for Waldorf Astoria.

The hotel, which has hosted celebrities, presidents and dignitaries, closed in February 2017 for construction that will convert many of its rooms to high-end condos. It is expected to reopen in 2021 with about 375 residences, 350 hotel rooms and a restored space for events.

The artifacts will be returned to the hotel when the construction is complete.

Here’s some more information about the items:

World’s Fair clock tower: The 9-foot-tall and 2-ton clock tower was commissioned by Queen Victoria for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was later bought by John Jacob Astor IV, who put it in the original Waldorf Astoria, which was where the Empire State Building currently stands. In the current hotel, it stood prominently in the main lobby. The clock tower chimes every 15 minutes and has four clock faces that tell the time in New York, Madrid, Paris and Greenwich, England.

Cole Porter piano: Cole Porter, a composer known for songs like “Anything Goes” and “I Get a Kick Out of You,” kept a 1907 Steinway grand piano in his six-bedroom apartment in the Waldorf Astoria. When he died in 1964, the piano stayed in the hotel. The piano will be restored at the Steinway & Sons factory in Astoria, Queens, before it goes to the New-York Historical Society.

Once it is at the New-York Historical Society, there will be a special concert series featuring the piano.

John F. Kennedy’s rocking chair: One of the former president’s upholstered rocking chairs is among the gifts to the hotel from its famous guest. The chair was in the Waldorf Astoria’s Presidential Suite.