This vintage photo from 1899 shows the original Waldorf Astoria Hotel on 34th Street and 5th Avenue. It lasted for a few decades until sold off to be demolished, later becoming the site for the Empire State Building.
No one would have guessed back in the 1890s that two rich, feuding cousins would have created one of the most lasting names in the hotel business. In 1893, William Waldorf Astor opened a 13-story hotel at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street called the Waldorf Hotel. In 1897, his cousin John Jacob Astor IV (who later died on the Titanic) opened a new 17-story hotel named the Astoria Hotel in an adjacent property. The buildings were eventually connected by a corridor, becoming the Waldorf=Astoria (the = was to symbolize the bridge between the buildings, and has since been phased out). The hotels stood together in harmony until the late 1920s, when the decision was made to move uptown and the land was sold to the developers of the Empire State Building.
Check out the full article to learn more about the history of the Waldorf Astoria.