This mosaic in the Waldorf Astoria will be missed

waldorfpostcardWhen it opened on Park Avenue in 1931, the Waldorf Astoria was the most incredible hotel New York had ever seen: 2,200 rooms, several restaurants and ballrooms, even a private railway platform.

In a few days, this dowager hotel will close up shop for a long renovation designed to turn it into a residence of mostly condos, not by-the-night rooms.

There’s a lot that will be missed, like the Art Deco ambiance and the bronze lobby clock with a gilded Lady Liberty on top.

But perhaps the most impressive feature no one will see for a couple of years at least is the 18-foot mosaic that’s welcomed visitors since 1939.


Titled “Wheel of Life” and made with 148,000 hand-cut marble tiles from all around the world, the mosaic depicts life from birth until death. It’s the work of French artist Louis Rigal.


“Wheel of Life,” which is currently in the running for landmark status, isn’t your ordinary hotel lobby curiosity. It tells a story and has something to say about innocence, struggle, love and the rest of the human existence.


Imagine all the millions of visitors who walked over it and perhaps really looked at it over the decades. See it in full on video here.

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9 Responses to “This mosaic in the Waldorf Astoria will be missed”

  1. ksbeth Says:

    oh, how beautiful. it will certainly be missed –

  2. Ricky Says:

    The Waldorf is the perfect spot for me to use the men’s room when I’m walking home and can’t quite make it all the way home.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Well now you need a new one! Too bad the Plaza no longer lets the people use their wonderful facilities.

    • Tom B Says:

      We would do the same and also a shoe shine.

      • Tom B Says:

        In the movie ‘Scent of a Woman’ wasn’t this hotel referred to as the “center of civility” or words to that affect.

      • ephemeralnewyork Says:

        I never saw that movie, but it probably appears in many movies over the years, it’s such a NYC icon.

  3. kenny Says:

    Both the Waldorf and New York City deserve a better fate. The dismantling is tantamount to the disgusting destruction of the original Penn Station.
    The Bowery Boys Podcast did a wonderful episode on the hotel’s history including stories of the Astors, Cole Porter and Frank Sinatra.
    Thanks to the New York Landmarks Conservancy for trying to protect the Waldorf.

  4. Susan Liberantowski Says:

    you can see a duplicate of it on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook bridge in Amsterdam NY. It is a park in the form of a bridge over the Mohawk River. Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook on Facebook. The original mosaic was covered by a carpet with the same design for many years. This carpet was made by Mohawk Carpet in Amsterdam.

  5. [CLOSED] The Waldorf Astoria CLOSED for “Renovations” 2017 – Retro Roadmap Says:

    […] We strode purposefully into the lobby as if we belonged, but we needn’t have worried that we would stick out as the place was absolutely mobbed with what seemed to be mostly foreign tourists. The place was still aglow from the holidays (weren’t we all?) and we marveled at the beautiful mosaic floor under our feet. 2017 update = here’s a post about this fab mosaic, from Ephemeral New York: […]

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