Chasing Waldorf's History as it Becomes History Itself

(The New York Times) The Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan is known for its grand public spaces, such as its two-tiered ballroom and vast lobby. But upstairs, in a windowless corner of the hotel’s administrative offices, Deidre Dinnigan toils in a cramped room not much larger than a closet. Ms. Dinnigan, the hotel’s archivist, is responsible for cataloging and researching more than 4,000 objects, from filigreed brass room numbers to yellowing advertisements from the 1950s.

“I love what I do,” Ms. Dinnigan said during a recent interview, her tall frame squeezed between a table obscured by books and a tower of filing cabinets. A mannequin dressed in an old bellhop uniform was stationed where her desk chair would normally go. “I believe I would throw myself into any field,” she said, “but there is something about the Waldorf, especially if you love New York and social history.”



Deidre Dinnigan has been working at the Waldorf Astoria as the hotel’s archivist for over a year. CreditAlex Wroblewski/The New York Times

Before the Trumps, There Were the Wendels

(The New York Times) The most well-known developer in New York today may be a man with national aspirations and a propensity to talk off the top of his extravagantly coifed head, but a century ago, the headlines were commanded by a real estate family with an aversion to publicity and the trappings of wealth.

In the early 20th century, the Wendels were perhaps the most powerful landlords in New York City, a dynasty with more than 150 properties in Manhattan worth over $1 billion in today’s dollars. The Wendels were the delight of the local papers, for, rich as they were, the family — six sisters and a brother, all unmarried — lived together in a shuttered mansion without electricity on the northwest corner of Fifth Avenue and 39th Street, and dressed in grim Victorian garb that had gone out of style half a century earlier. Tour buses regularly pulled up in front of “the House of Mystery.”

In their day, they were known as “the Weird Wendels.” John G. Wendel II, the brother, was alternately referred to as “the hermit” and “the recluse” of Fifth Avenue.

“Of all the families floated to affluence by rising waves of Manhattan real estate values, the Wendels were the quietest and the queerest,” wrote Arthur Pound in his 1935 book, “The Golden Earth: The Story of Manhattan’s Landed Wealth.” “They lived simply on the most expensive residential site in New York City,” he continued, and “drew less fun from their fortune than a bricklayer gets out of his weekly wage.”


As Busy As His Bees

(The New York Times) Chase Emmons, 45, is a managing partner and the apiary director at Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm with locations in Long Island City and the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He splits his time between his childhood home — a garden duplex apartment in the West Village — and a home in Sunderland, Mass. He commutes to the apiary in a 2005 Volkswagen Golf, which he adapted to run on 90 percent vegetable oil. His Sundays are spent inspecting the 35 beehives in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, helping Ben Flanner, head farmer and president of Brooklyn Grange, harvest vegetables to sell at a farmers’ market, and going on a nighttime run.       



Home and Hearth, Deluxe Edition

(The New York Times) Out on West 17th Street, a lanky model lounged on a white bench, angling her face toward the sun as a photographer snapped away.

Alison Cayne Schneider, the owner. Credit: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Inside, Stephanie Janis sat in her regular seat at the marble-topped communal table, sopping up her egg salad with a piece of crusty bread. “This place is like being home, only better,” said Ms. Janis, a toy designer who lives nearby, as she glanced at the scene outside the window.