BBO NYC's David Freeland Releases Book On Waldorf-Astoria

The hotel has hosted countless movie stars, business tycoons, and world leaders over the past ninety years.

By: Jun. 02, 2021

Broadway industry professional David Freeland rode out much of the pandemic by wrapping up edits on his new book, American Hotel: The Waldorf-Astoria and the Making of a Century, recently published by Rutgers.

Freeland, an agent who works as Senior Vice President of Booking & Engagement Management at Broadway Booking Office NYC, is known among Broadway colleagues for his work on national tours such as Jersey Boys, Beautiful: the Carole King Musical, Les Misérables, and many others. But he is also a writer and historian whose previous books have explored NYC history and its connections to music, architecture, nightlife and theater. In American Hotel, Freeland turns his attention to the legendary Waldorf-Astoria, site of multiple Broadway opening night parties (as well as the first-ever Tony Awards in 1947!).

Says Freeland, "like Broadway, the New York hotel industry has suffered enormously during the pandemic. Examining the history of what former owner Conrad Hilton called 'the Greatest of Them All' brought me new appreciation for the invaluable contributions the Waldorf-Astoria made to the life of the city and nation, through good times and bad."

Completed in 1931, New York's Waldorf-Astoria towers over Park Avenue as an international landmark and a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture. A symbol of elegance and luxury, the hotel has hosted countless movie stars, business tycoons, and world leaders over the past ninety years.

American Hotel takes us behind the glittering image to reveal the full extent of the Waldorf's contribution toward shaping twentieth-century life and culture. Freeland examines the Waldorf from the opening of its first location in 1893 through its rise to a place of influence on the local, national, and international stage. Along the way, he explores how the hotel's mission to provide hospitality to a diverse range of guests was put to the test by events such as Prohibition, the anticommunist Red Scare, and civil rights struggles.

Alongside famous guests like Frank Sinatra, Martin Luther King, Richard Nixon, and Eleanor Roosevelt, readers will meet the lesser-known men and women who made the Waldorf a leader in the hotel industry and a key setting for international events. American Hotel chronicles how institutions such as the Waldorf-Astoria played an essential role in New York's growth as a world capital.

DAVID FREELAND is a historian and journalist who has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York History, and Time Out New York. His books include Ladies of Soul and Automats, Taxi Dances, and Vaudeville: Excavating Manhattan's Lost Places of Leisure. In his free time, David leads walking tours of New York City, where he lives, and gives lectures on the city's culture and history.