Posts Tagged ‘Hotel Astor’

The Hotel Astor’s Valentine’s Day menu in 1906

February 13, 2012

I don’t know why the Woman’s Press Club held a breakfast in honor of Valentine’s Day. Newspaper accounts seem to indicate it was an annual event around the turn of the century.

But here’s the menu, from the new, posh Hotel Astor in Times Square, and it’s quite extensive. Roast squab on toast, beef mignon, ice cream, and something called a Valentine’s salad—which I believe involves beets.

This menu comes from the New York Public Library’s fantastic Buttolph Menu Collection, a treasure trove of menus from 1851 to 1930.

The elegant hotel that helped make Times Square

October 31, 2011

Before 1904, the year the Hotel Astor opened its doors on Broadway and 44th Street, Times Square hasn’t been invented yet; this was still Longacre Square, the center of the carriage trade.

The theater district was concentrated many blocks south. And electric lights had yet to give the area its signature glow.

Change was in the air. Within the decade, the newly renamed Times Square was on its way to becoming New York’s premier entertainment district.

And the Beaux-Arts Hotel Astor—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.

But tastes change. The Astor was sold to Sheraton in the 1950s; a fire ripped through its grand ballroom (right, in 1910) in 1964.

On the site now is a 54-story office tower called One Astor Plaza—the Astor name is its only link to the glitz and glamour of pre-World War II Times Square.

A Times Square postcard from the late 1940s

November 3, 2010

An Ephemeral reader sent in this supercool postcard.

The once-glam Hotel Astor is on 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 seen.

Great naked statues flanking the Bond store sign, right? And look closely; that’s a Woolworth’s on the ground floor.

The stunning roof garden of the Hotel Astor

March 31, 2010

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.”