The stunning roof garden of the Hotel Astor

Times Square’s Hotel Astor, opened in 1904 on West 45th Street, was an opulent 500-room palace boasting luxurious banquet halls, terraces, tea parlors, and a Louis XV–decorated ballroom.

It also had a huge, elaborate roof garden where Gilded-Age New Yorkers dined, danced, and entertained themselves, catching cool river breezes in a pre–air conditioned era.

It’s been gone since 1967, replaced by an office tower. But back in the day, a New York Times article from 1920 had this to say:

“Down near Times Square the Hotel Astor Roof Garden and Belvedere Restaurant make it possible for the wayfarer to leave the torrid stretches of Seventh Avenue and in a few moments find himself in a real garden surrounded by flowers.

“There is the open-air dancing floor and the restaurant is conspicuous for dangling ferns and trailing vines. A unique feature of the restaurant is the gabled-glass roof over which flows a miniature Niagra.”

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21 Responses to “The stunning roof garden of the Hotel Astor”

  1. Walter Meyer Says:

    My grand father was Nick Lorang, the headwaiter of the Hunting Room in the Hotel Astor. He was know as “Nick of the Astor” and worked there over 40 years.
    He started work in September 1904, the day the Hotel Astor first opened.
    I am looking for information on the Astor and the Hunting Room and Nick Lorang.

    • Colleen Gotze Says:

      My mother has some photos (including one of Nick’s retirement dinner, I believe). My grandfather is John Lorang (Nick’s youngest brother). I’ll ask her to scan them!

      Colleen (Egan) Gotze

      • Says:

        Hi Colleen,
        I use facebook very rarely so I just found your comment from2 years ago.
        I think I met you at a family get together a few years ago.
        Your maiden name was Egan?
        Walter Meyer

    • Carolyn Halbur Says:

      In my mother’s “treasures” I just found a beautiful menu from the Hotel Astor, dated June 5, 1948. I’m trying to find out if there’s a market anywhere for it. I’d be happy to send you a copy of it (apparently they must have printed a new menu each day!). In addition to all of the regular menu items (prices are eye-popping!), it also lists 26 of the ‘stage plays’ and their curtain time.

  2. Justine B Says:

    My mother, Marie Schaefer, had cousins Nick and John Lorang. They attended some of our family wedding.

    • Says:

      Good Morning Justine,
      I am Walter Meyer and my Mother was Mary Lorang Meyer. Nick Lorang was her Father, so Nick was my Grandfather. I have 2 cousing – Wendell & George Lorang in the Schenectady area.
      I would love to know more about the Lorang family.
      We li=ve in Southern Vermont.
      I remember my Mother had cousin? in New Pauls NY, I think.
      I keep in touch with Suzanne Lorange Rash in Westerlo, NY.
      Who else is there?

      Walter Meyer

      • Justine B Says:

        Hi Walter,
        How are you? Still in VT?
        I was speaking to my brother John about our mother’s Lorang cousins. Maybe we are related through our great grandma Mary Maschino Fischer. She married John Fischer. Mary had a brother Wendel Maschino. They are all buried In Queens NY.
        Have you had your DNA tested?
        My brother did with interesting results
        Best Regards,

  3. A Times Square postcard from the late 1940s « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the left. A vertical sign on its facade seems to say “Roof Astor,” a reference to the glorious roof garden that was once the place for city high rollers to see and be […]

  4. When city businesses advertised on matchbooks « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] it was the house blend at the gorgeous and grandiose Astor Hotel, late of Times Square, a lovely place to drink and dine in the […]

  5. The elegant hotel that helped create Times Square « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] And the Beaux-Arts Astor Hotel—with its 11 floors and several ballrooms—quickly earned a rep as the most fashionable place to go for dinner, drinks, dancing, or to catch a rooftop breeze in the summer before air conditioning came along. […]

  6. alice longobardi Says:

    My dad was the head waiter in the grand ballroom of the Astor Hotel in the 50’s. I remember going to work with him a couple of times. He loved working there and reminised about it until the day he passed 3 years ago. I still have the original bars of soap wrapped in the the Astor Hotel packages that they used to leave in the restrooms.

  7. Louellen Hall Says:

    My relative was Kenneth Hirons, Banquet Manager of the Astor in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Are there names of other managers before or after this time. I have an original bar cocktail recipe chart from the Astor bar.

  8. Carolyn Halbur Says:

    My mother has an original menu (in perfect condition) from the Hotel Astor, dated “Saturday, June 5, 1948 – ROOF” I’d like to look into selling it — any ideas?

  9. Justine B. Says:

    Hi Walter,
    Sorry I just read your comments today. So let me fill you in with some of my family facts and recollections.
    My mother Marie Schaefer, born 1905 in Brooklyn, was the oldest of 5 siblings. She was followed by Geoge, Alice(Senger) Madeline(Fitzpatrick) and John. Do any of these names mean anything to you?
    I know my mother visited Red Hook with sisters Alice and Madeline to see her cousins. John and Edward attended our family functions and I have one old picture 1929 of Uncle Heckel and Uncle Nick.
    I do not know where the family connection is. My greatgrandmother Mary Machino married John Fisher. Somehow we must be related through them.
    Let me know if you have any further info. My brother Lawrence Donohue visited Bitche to see if he could locate family member.. Good luck and hope to hear from you
    I live on Long Island.

  10. Justine B Says:

    Hi Walter,
    Just read your comment today and we also have relatives in New Paltz, NY(Schaefers) and the Lorang family in Red Hook, NY.

  11. Richard B. Says:

    My grandfather, Isaac van Dyke, worked at the Astor from 1920 until he retirement in 1964. I believe his position at retirement was “Catering Manager,” but I’m not sure of that. I know he loved his job and the many people he met, both coworkers and guests. Sadly, I never saw the actual hotel…my first visit to New York as after it had been torn down.

  12. A trip to Times Square 1904: The Hotel Astor arrives - Bowery Boys: New York City History Says:

    […] would host the biggest soirees of Times Square’s inaugural year. A year later, its sumptuous roof garden would open, providing one of the most romantic views of the […]

  13. Karen P. Says:

    My father was Front office Manager and then Assistant Manager, until it’s closing. I have many mementos, including a master key, from the Astor. It was a grand place and I remember it very well.

  14. Jennifer Larson Says:

    Hello, I’m in the midst of researching the history of the Grand Ole Opry, in particular their rooftop engagements at the Hotel Astor in the early 1950s. From what I’ve come across, it seems as though they did a number of shows there, but I can’t find any images aside from one advertisement that I found online. If anyone has any stories and/or photographs, I would be really interested to be in touch.

  15. Nancy Torres Says:

    My father worked at the Astor hotel as a chef til his death in 1959. Wish i could get a photo of how it looked back then. My father was Reparado Torres. Even photos of him would be great. I was very young when he passed and this would be great to pass on to my children.

  16. A peek inside a 1946 Yankees program—and the New York brands that advertised inside | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] the actual scorecard, plus some fun ads on the sides—especially for the famous Hotel Astor rooftop. At one time, this was a glamorous place for dining, dancing, and catching a cool breeze in a city […]

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