If each of New York’s buildings could talk, imagine the tales that would be told. Our hair would stand on end.
Take the Astonia 2107-2109 Broadway at 73rd St, it has gone through incredible transformations and come up smiling and with many, many secrets that we would all like to know but will never find out.
Built in 1903 by William Dodge Stokes, right from the beginning it had an incredible number of mod cons.
It was New York’s first air conditioned hotel, had electric stoves, hot and cold water and freezers for food, all very pioneering for it’s time.
And it also had a network of pneumatic tubes to deliver messages to guests.
It was meant to appeal to the very wealthy but right from the beginning it attracted a very artsy crowd and heaps of musicians, perhaps drawn by it’s almost soundproof wall, lived ot stayed there.
Enrico Caruso, Igor Stravinsky, Arturo Toscannini, Ezio Pinza, Lily Pons, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Gustave Mahler and Yedhudi Menhuin all stayed there.
As well Tony Curtis, Florenz Zeigfeld, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and a number of noted writers also made their home there.
Babe Ruth apparently chased women up and down the corridors and had special staff to sort his fan mail.
As well as 1400 rooms, it also had the world’s largest swimming pool in the basement as well as a small farm on the roof.
The hotel fell on hard times during World War 11 and then became a gay bathouse in the basement and then later still a heterosexual swingers club, also in tha basement with it’s luxurious swimming pool.
Now it has been split into apartments, all of which sell for vast amounts of money and in every way it has finally lived up to the standards of excellence it’s original builder had hoped for.