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The renowned Waldorf Astoria hotel has hosted presidents, celebrities and royalty
The word "grand" matched few hotels in the world better than New York City's Waldorf Astoria, but this bastion of gilded splendour is now closing for two to three years for a transformative makeover.
The last guests were to check out by noon on Wednesday after enjoying the rich Art Deco style of the old Waldorf one last time.
When the building reopens it will still have a hotel, but hundreds of its 1400 guest rooms will have been converted into privately owned condominiums, according to a spokesman for the Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese company that bought the storied hotel for nearly $US2 billion ($2.8 billion) in 2015.
The exterior is protected by law as a New York City landmark, but some fans are still nervous about the future.
"I've been watching New York disappear in front of my eyes," lamented Shade Rupe, 48, an author and actor who visited the hotel's lobby this week for one last look around.
Wrapping his arms around an entrance pillar, he noted that the ever-changing city has a history of devouring its own landmarks.
"There's so little of what we've known as iconic New York left, and as soon as you say the Waldorf Astoria, that's like saying the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty. It's huge!"
The Waldorf Astoria's history dates to 1893, but its original home was torn down to make way for the Empire State Building. The "new" Waldorf Astoria's more than 40 storeys opened on Park Avenue in 1931, built at a cost topping $US40 million ($US639 million in today's dollars) making it one of the world's largest and most expensive hotels at the time.
It has welcomed well-heeled guests including every American president - in the Presidential Suite, of course, behind bulletproof glass windows.