The History of the Waldorf Astoria and Securing the President

Donald Trump reportedly said that, as president, he'll spend three days a week in New York City, away from the White House. The security measures alone would be enormous.

"The cost of securing the president in New York City is astounding," Glenn said Monday on his radio program.

However, expensive measures are nothing new when it comes to securing and shielding the president of the United States.

An underground train depot --- Track 61 --- was secretly built under the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for President Franklin Roosevelt and other VIPs to move in and out of the city as discreetly as possible. Primarily a mechanism to hide FDR's disability from the public, the secret station also provided a way to quickly remove him in the event of a crisis.

Read below or watch the clip for answers to these questions:

• What would be the impact on regular citizens if Trump stayed in the city three days a week?

• Why did Track 61 use a dual train system for President Roosevelt?

• Did Donald Trump once request a no-fly zone over his Mar-a-Lago property?

• Is Track 61 still in use today?

Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:

GLENN: Have you guys heard that Donald Trump has said that he's going to spend three days a week in New York away from the White House? That can't be. You can't secure the Trump Tower. How?

PAT: It's in the middle of Manhattan. I don't know how you --

GLENN: It's a big glass building in the middle of Manhattan.

PAT: Yeah. Yeah, I don't know how they do that.

GLENN: On Fifth Avenue.

PAT: First of all, it would shut down New York.

GLENN: It would shut down Fifth Avenue. At least that block of Fifth Avenue.

PAT: Look what happened every time Obama came to --

GLENN: It was a nightmare. It was a nightmare.

PAT: Oh, my gosh. It was horrific

STU: The expense -- I mean, seriously, in less than one day, he would spend all the money he's saving on his salary. And it would be like an hour of security.

GLENN: Yeah. No. It's -- to get the president in and out of New York -- first of all, underneath the Waldorf-Astoria, they still -- it's my understanding, they still have the dual train engines waiting for him.

So underneath the Waldorf-Astoria, which is where President Roosevelt selected, there is a train station. It's right -- it's right on the way to Grand Central Station. And you have two engines. Two full train engines, locomotives. And every 45 minutes one is powered down as the other one powers up.

So you have to -- so they don't overheat, you have to have two of them. Every 45 minutes, switching which one is -- which one is running. And it has to run all the time. And it is a special track just for the president. In case there's a problem, you get him to the Waldorf-Astoria. You get him down to the train tracks. And he's thrown on one of those trains, and it takes off.

And that's just one of the escape routes for the president.

JEFFY: Right.

GLENN: I mean, the cost of securing the president in New York City is astounding. And, you know, here's the other thing: Donald Trump has got to be loving this. When he bought Mar-a-Lago, he didn't like the fact that planes were flying over Mar-a-Lago, and so he told the airport he wanted the flight pattern changed. And they all said, "Who do you think you are?"

JEFFY: There's been an ongoing lawsuit.

GLENN: Yeah. They weren't ever go to go change it. And they were really angry at him, that he would have the balls to say that. Now, he can say, "I'm the president of the United States. You're changing the flight plan."

JEFFY: Yeah. Pretty much they have to.

PAT: Well, I think Secret Service --

GLENN: Yeah, I'm sure it's already done.

PAT: The Secret Service will do that. Yeah. So he got it done.

GLENN: Yeah, it's already done.

So now he's got his land value back.

JEFFY: This is the only reason he ran for president.

(laughter)

GLENN: Oh, man -- think of -- think of the rental property -- the rentals after he's president. Think of how much Trump Tower is worth now --

JEFFY: It doesn't matter. He said --

GLENN: It used to be the -- the New York White House during the Trump administration.

JEFFY: He said in the 60 Minute interview last night that occupancy rates doesn't matter to him. Any of that, it doesn't matter to him.

GLENN: Oh, I would move out of Trump Tower now, if he was going to live there. Because of just the hassle. Even if I was the biggest fan in the world, oh, my gosh, I'm not having my building shut down over and over and over again because of Secret Service. That's going to be a hassle for all of those people that paid a lot of money to live in Trump Tower.

PAT: Yeah.

[break]

GLENN: Just looking at the pictures of the train depot underneath Waldorf-Astoria. Apparently --

JEFFY: A lot of cobwebs?

GLENN: Apparently they don't do that anymore. Which is good news. I can't imagine what that cost.

PAT: They don't do that anymore.

GLENN: But it shows the empty train tracks and one of the cars that is still sitting there.

PAT: Well, since --

GLENN: That's a good thing. This was built for FDR for -- because he didn't want to show his disability.

PAT: And it was back in the day when the Waldorf-Astoria was somebody.

GLENN: The Waldorf-Astoria is the -- is the place that is still the place that the president goes to stay. Now, that will change with Trump Tower. But Barack Obama --

STU: Really?

GLENN: Yeah.

PAT: Obama stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria?

GLENN: Yeah.

PAT: Did he really?

GLENN: Yeah. Waldorf-Astoria. So did George Bush. So did Bill Clinton.

PAT: Wow. Somebody needs to introduce these guys to a nice hotel.

(laughter)

GLENN: It was the one built at the time -- oh, I'm sorry, the Waldorf is so horrible.

PAT: Come on, you know better than that. You know the Waldorf is not what it once was.

GLENN: It's a Hilton. No, it's a Hilton.

PAT: It's a Hilton hotel now.

GLENN: But the Waldorf has other sections of it. It's a very large hotel.

PAT: Yeah, that's true.

STU: I was surprised, one of our recent business trips, we went up there --

JEFFY: You didn't stay in the special section, Pat?

PAT: No.

STU: So we'll go up there and there will be like -- we usually will all like book maybe, you know, potentially in the same hotel. Or someone will book it for us. It was a last-minute trip that we had to take. So I went on Orbitz or something and just tried to book a hotel. And the Waldorf-Astoria popped up as one of the cheapest ones --

GLENN: It's huge. It's huge.

STU: Yeah. Yeah, I guess that's why.

GLENN: It's got tons of empty rooms. Because it's huge.

PAT: Did you wind up staying there, Stu? Did you wind up staying there?

STU: Yeah, I did.

PAT: Was the room extraordinary, like wow, the Waldorf-Astoria?

GLENN: Was it good?

PAT: No, it's not.

STU: It was nice.

GLENN: It's nice, but it's an old hotel --

PAT: It's okay. It's a Sheraton hotel. It's a Hilton hotel.

GLENN: It's a Hilton. Yeah.

STU: Yeah.

JEFFY: Oh, you can't stand it. Hilton.

GLENN: Like you can't have the president stay at a Hilton.

PAT: Well, you can't. I mean, they don't. Let's be real about it.

GLENN: Yes, you can -- we should.

JEFFY: Thank you.

PAT: We don't.

GLENN: We should.

Featured Image: The Waldorf Astoria, 1899, Library of of Congress (Photo: Wiki Commons)

It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.