With a net worth of $87 million ($2.26 billion in 2019), John Jacob Astor IV was the richest casualty on the Titanic. In the history of the country, no family has arguably been as significant as the Astor family. Starting with John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) making his fortune in fur trading and real estate investing, they became the first multi-millionaire family in America. As a testament to their influence, experts in 1890 calculated that owned one-twentieth of all the real estate in the city. But unlike later business moguls like Andrew Carnegie and Robert Murray, rather than using his land to build, he would lease his plots to others (His personal motto was “Buy and hold. Let others improve”) Over the next three generations, Astor’s descendants would ignore the latter half and build on the land they owned, and John Jacob Astor IV was no exception. His forte was primarily in hotels, starting with the Astoria section of the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. While subsequent hotels were built under his supervision, none of them compared to what many consider his magnum opus: the St. Regis Hotel. Today, it is considered one of the finest hotels in not just New York City, but one in the entire world.
About The Astor: A remaining jewel of the Astor family is a striking blockfront trio of interconnected residential buildings built in 1901 running from the corner of 75th to 76th streets on Broadway, better known as The Astor. The rental-to-condo conversion, which occupies the entire Broadway frontage between 75th and 76th Streets, was expanded upon in 1914. The elegant three-tower silhouette is finished in grey brick and is crowned by an elaborate decorative cornice. Now elegantly restored into stylish traditional condominium homes by Pembrooke & Ives, the property features a mosaic-detailed lobby, twenty-four-hour concierge and state-of-the-art interior enhancements.
When one in New York City hears the name “Guggenheim”, one immediately thinks about the art museum on Museum Mile. But few ever talk about the mining dynasty that led to the creation of the museum. Started by Meyer Guggenheim, it was carried on by five of his seven sons. The second youngest, Benjamin, was among those were died in the Titanic sinking. The fourth youngest, Solomon, retired from the family business in 1919 and became a supporter of modern art through his Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, which established his namesake museum in 1939. Ten years after his death, in 1959, the museum moved from its original rented space into a massive new building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, where it has been ever since.
One of the more noteworthy stories to come from the Titanic disaster came with Isidor and Ida Straus. When the evacuations started, women and children were only allowed on the lifeboats initially. But the thought of being separated from her longtime spouse was too much for Ida and she decided to stay with him to the ship’s final descent into the freezing ocean. This powerful story of unbreakable love and devotion has all but overshadowed the overall story of the Straus family. In 1865, Lazarus Straus and his sons Isidor and Nathan started a firm that imported and sold china, porcelain, and crockey. The company soon found success and after the Strauses moved to New York City, they convinced Rowland Hussey Macy to let them open a glass and china department in the basement of his store. The business flourished even more, and by 1888, Isidor and Nathan became partners of Macy’s, eventually gaining full ownership by 1896. Together, they would turn Macy’s from a simple dry goods store to a world renowned name in retail. And the ultimate symbol of their drive to achieve this goal is the iconic Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square, constructed in 1902.
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