Last night for Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC before condo renovation

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It was last call Tuesday night for perhaps the most famous and iconic hotel in New York City history.

The Waldorf Astoria Hotel will for the next three years house construction workers.

A huge makeover will turn much of the hotel into condominiums.

To glide through the revolving doors is to step backwards in time into the bygone era preserved at the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

It is home to Cole Porter's piano. He lived there for 30 years.

"We leave here with big, big memories," said Kusi Ofori, a lobby porter.

Ofori has worked there for 20 years.

"I've seen the likes of Mohammed Ali, I saw President Clinton, President Bush, Obama," Ofori said. "It was a big privilege. It was a big privilege."

It surely was a privilege to experience the last night of business before the Chinese investment group that recently bought the building begins the process of converting it to condos.

"It's a sad night. It's a real melancholy night for me," said Lee Perlman, a hotel guest. "So many wonderful causes have been celebrated in that ballroom, so many great people have been celebrated in that ballroom. It has history. That ballroom talks."

Gala events must have raised billions through the years since the Waldorf opened its doors in 1931.

Its 1,400 rooms weathered the Great Depression and war, hosted presidents and kings.

On the final night, longtime employees reminisced and the luxury boutiques closed up shop.

And as the last guests arrived for the night, onlookers ogled the intricate art deco decor.

They wanted one last picture, one last chance to soak it all in.

"Being here now I realize I didn't pay attention to the details," said Dayle, a former customer.

Dayle used to stay there with her parents growing up. Tuesday night brought back a flood of memories and a well of tears.

"It's going to go away because it won't be protected," Dayle said. "We're going to lose this space."

The building's exterior is a protected landmark, but the inside isn't.

While the new owners insist they'll preserve it and reopen with some hotel rooms for rent, no one really thinks this place will ever be the same.

The doors close at noon Wednesday with no late checkouts allowed.

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