A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 29, 2018
Waldorf Astoria (solitary confinement)

The Waldorf Astoria is a luxury New York City hotel. In John R. Armore and Joseph D. Wolfe’s Dictionary of Desperation (1976), about prison slang, the “Waldorf Astoria” term applies to a solitary confinement cell with no furnishings at all. The prison use is obviously ironic.


Wikipedia: Waldorf New York
The Waldorf Astoria New York is a luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The hotel has been housed in two historic landmark buildings in New York. The first, bearing the same name, was built in two stages, as the Waldorf Hotel and the Astoria Hotel, which accounts for its dual name. That original site was situated on Astor family properties along Fifth Avenue, opened in 1893, and designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh. It was demolished in 1929 to make way for the construction of the Empire State Building. The present building, at 301 Park Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets in Midtown Manhattan, is a 47-story 190.5 m (625 ft) Art Deco landmark designed by architects Schultze and Weaver, which was completed in 1931. The current hotel was the world’s tallest hotel from 1931 until 1963, when it was surpassed by Moscow’s Hotel Ukraina by 7 metres (23 ft). An icon of glamour and luxury, the current Waldorf Astoria is one of the world’s most prestigious and best known hotels.

13 August 1976, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN), “Volume tells meaning of prison slang” (AP), pg. A-9, cols. 1-2:
The slang terms commonly used in prisons “trace fear and frustration, cynicism and desperation,” wrote John R. Armore and Joseph D. Wolfe, editors of the “Dictionary of Desperation.”
(...)
The “Waldorf Astoria,” name of the luxury hotel in New York, is a term applied to a solitary confinement cell with no furnishings at all.

Google Books
The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English
Edited by Tom Dalzell and Terry Victor
New York, NY: Routledge
2013
Pg. 2379:
Waldorf-Astoria noun an especially spartan solitary confinement cell US
John R. Armore and Joseph D. Wolfe, Dictionary of Desperation, 1976

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityHotels • Monday, October 29, 2018 • Permalink