Known internationally as a symbol of elegance and luxury, Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria is one of the world’s most famous hotels.

Its reputation as a host to political leaders and movie stars is matched only by the renown of its cuisine and soaring Deco architecture. In this lecture based on his book, American Hotel: The Waldorf-Astoria and The Making of a Century, historian David Freeland will take us behind the glittering image, using rare photos and documents to reveal the full extent of the Waldorf’s contribution as a shaper of twentieth century life and culture.

In the process, he’ll share little-known stories and secrets:

  • The history of Peacock Alley and how it got its name
  • The truth about the “feuding” Astor cousins whose money built the original Waldorf-Astoria on Fifth Avenue, where the Empire State Building now stands
  • Secrets of the Waldorf’s “black book” – the detectives’ log of immoral and illegal activity, kept hidden from all but the most senior hotel staff
  • The remarkable technological maneuvers that enabled the “new” Waldorf-Astoria — a skyscraper that opened on Park Avenue in 1931 — to be constructed on top of railroad tracks as passenger trains continued to run below

Afternoon Tea: This author talk is paired with an afternoon tea complete with traditional tea sandwiches, assorted pastries & teas. Cash bar is available for alcohol.