New York City's historic Waldorf Astoria closes for major renovations

NEW YORK (WPIX) -- New York's historic Waldorf Astoria has hosted every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover, as well as celebrities, world leaders and business tycoons, but on Tuesday, guests will walk through the place for the last time before the hotel shuts its doors.

Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese holding company that bought Waldorf Astoria for $1.95 billion in 2014, will officially close the hotel on Wednesday. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931 on Park Avenue, will undergo a major renovation that is expected to convert many of the hotel rooms into apartments, with boutique shops on the ground floor.

A portion of the Waldorf Astoria will still be a hotel, but far fewer than the current 1,400 rooms will re-emerge.

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New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel

An exterior view of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Employees embrace on their last day of work in the main lobby of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A lobby shop displays a sign inside the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Guests occupy the main lobby of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Employees walk through a hallway on the ballroom level inside the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A sign for the Shoe Shine room is seen inside the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

People walk past an entrance to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Metal design work adorns the Park Avenue Entrance to the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A marble statue is seen in a stairwell inside the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The reception desk area is seen inside the main lobby of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Evening traffic passes by on Park Avenue near the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A view inside one of the lobbies at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A doorman looks on as people walk past an entrance to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A man takes a photograph inside the Vanderbilt Room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A visitor walks up the stairs as he enters the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

An exterior view of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A former dinner setting style is displayed inside the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in midtown Manhattan in New York City, February 28, 2017. The Waldorf Astoria, which opened in 1893, is scheduled to close on March 1, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Mementos, including a program for a 1954 luncheon in honor of Queen Elizabeth, sit in a display case at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A display case showcases photographs of famous guests who visited the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A view of the main lobby at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A display case showcases photographs of famous guests who visited the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, February 28, 2017 in New York City. The iconic hotel, which opened in 1931, will close on Wednesday for a two-year renovation that will transform it into a smaller hotel with condo units.

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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Former employee Jimmy Eldrissi, who worked as a bellman at the hotel for 51 years before retiring last month, looked back at the once-in-a-lifetime experience he had at the Waldorf Astoria.

"I met every president, from President Johnson until President Obama," Eldrissi told PIX11 News on Tuesday.

Eldrissi said his favorite run-in was with 40th U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who he insisted on calling "Mr. President" at the time even thought Reagan had not won the election when they met.

"He said Jimmy, not yet! So I tapped him on the shoulder and said no, yo will be the president," Eldrissi said thinking back to that moment.

Current tenants at the Waldorf Astoria bid their last goodbyes to their once homeon Tuesday.

"We had to get all out stuff out, how about that," Tom Barnett, who lived and ran his custom suit business out of The Waldorf for 16 years, said.

Barnett shook every employee's hand on Tuesday.

Amid concern about the fate of the historic public Art Deco areas, a hotel spokesman told The New York Times that those spaces will be restored.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is expected to determine if a list of items and rooms, including the grand ballroom, the "wheel of life" mosaic and the highly-recognized Park Avenue entrance, will be made interior landmarks, the Times reported.

The landmarked facade will remain mostly unchanged.

The hotel reassured people in a post on Facebook last Friday that the restoration would not strip the history or beauty of the place, but celebrate it.

The post also said the upcoming renovation was a "new chapter" into the hotel's history and included the hashtag #BuildingUnforgettable.

The final renovation plan, however, has not been released to the public. It's unclear how long The Waldorf will be closed, but some have said at least three years.

Though The Waldorf is known for its elegance, recent guests have been noting the decor and furniture in rooms need some freshening up.

The original Waldorf Hotel was open in 1893 at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street. It was torn down in 1929 to build the Empire State Building.

When the hotel reopened in 1931 on Park Avenue between 49th and 50th streets, it was the tallest and largest hotel in the world.

"The opening of the new Waldorf Astoria is an event in the advancement of hotels, even in New York City," Former President Herbert Hoover said at the time.

It became a New York City landmark in 1993.

It has hosted balls, events and meetings that drew presidents, politicians, world leaders and A-list stars year round. Among those events that will need to find a new home is the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, an white-tie annual gathering of the city's political elite that makes headlines ever October. This past year, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton attended the gathering — and their every move was scrutinized.

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