Its famed rooms have hosted kings of industry, queens of the silver screen — and real royals too.
Its grand ballrooms echo with the sounds of Guy Lombardo’s orchestra playing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve.
It even has a salad named for it.
And after Tuesday night, following nearly 86 years of serving as a social and political seat of power in New York City, the Waldorf Astoria will close its doors for a makeover that will alter the iconic hotel forever.
New Yorkers said that the plan to turn the 47-floor Park Avenue landmark into mostly high-end condos — and what it could mean for the future other historic sites — is bittersweet.
“This is the best we can do,” Jackie Finkle, 86, of the East Village said with a sigh while she walked outside the building.
The current Waldorf Astoria opened in 1931 and, then 625 feet high, was the tallest hotel in the world.
Tara Kelly, the vice president of policy and programs at the Municipal Arts Society, said the hotel, which had its exterior landmarked in 1993, generated outsized buzz due to the midtown skyscraper boom of the late ’20s.
“It was a super-tall of its era. At the time, it had prominence in the skyline,” she said.
Kelly added that the popularity of the Astor family brought a touch of New York class and elegance to the hotel. Every sitting U.S. president up to Donald Trump since 1931 has stayed at the hotel, and it’s been a popular venue for celebrities and gala events.
Maribel Rosario, 54, of the Bronx, who worked at the hotel for 30 years as a sales representative, said those traditions have continued to this day as the staff has worked to make sure everyone, whether Brad Pitt or a foreign couple on honeymoon, feel at home.
“A lot of times they are coming straight from the airport and they’re tired and new to the place, so we tried to give them a smile right when they walked through the door,” she said.
Rosario, who hopes to get another hotel job, said she isn’t sure if the new Waldorf Astoria, after its planned two- to three-year renovation that will also shut down the hotel’s restaurants and bars, will have the same vibe.
A representative for Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese-based owners who purchased the hotel for nearly $2 billion in 2014, said the exact number of hotel rooms that will be available after the construction hasn’t been finalized; however, the public spaces, like the Grand Ballroom, will reopen to visitors.
Last year, the group said 1,000 of the 1,413 rooms would be converted into condos.
Kelly noted that this redevelopment tactic has become common among landmarked buildings, such as the Plaza Hotel, to meet the high real estate costs and maintain the city-mandated preservation requirements.
Abbe Tanenbaum, 29, an actress from Harlem, said she wished the city and owners found a better way to preserve the hotel and other historic places.
“I’m not just excited about more condos in New York. I don’t think anyone is,” she said.
City Councilman Dan Garodnick, who represents midtown, agreed and has pushed the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to approve a plan to landmark the Waldorf Astoria’s interiors. The agency had a public hearing about the proposal last month.
“The Waldorf Astoria is a Manhattan gem, and its impact has been felt all across the world,” the councilman said in a statement.