Portrait: The Astor family

Monday, 27 June 2016 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Portrait
Reading Time:  5 minutes

John Jacob Astor by Gilbert Stuart

John Jacob Astor by Gilbert Stuart

The Astor family is a family known for its prominence in business, society, and politics in the United States and the United Kingdom during the 19th and 20th centuries. The Astor family is of German origin, appearing in North America during the eighteenth century with John Jacob Astor.

John Jacob Astor (born Johann Jakob Astor) was the youngest of four sons born to butcher Johann Jacob Astor and Maria Magdalena Vorfelder. John and his eldest brother George (born Georg), known as ‘George & John Astor’, were flute makers, who came to England c. 1778 from Walldorf in Germany. While working in England, he learned to speak English and anglicized his name. In 1783, John Jacob left for Baltimore in Maryland, and was active first as a dealer in woodwind instruments, then in New York as a merchant in furs, pianos, and real estate. After moving to New York, John met and married Sarah Cox Todd. Sarah was the daughter of Scottish immigrants Adam Todd and Sarah Cox. They had eight children, including occasional poet John Jacob Astor, Jr. and real estate businessman William Backhouse Astor, Sr..

John Jacob Astor by Gilbert Stuart Johann Jakob Astor II statue in front of Astorhaus in Walldorf © Heeeey/cc-by-sa-3.0 John Jacob Astor by John Wesley Jarvis © Google Art Project Museum Astorhaus © Heeeey Astoria - Ditmars Residential Neighborhood © flickr.com - Atomox/cc-by-sa-3.0 Park Avenue © Hennem08/cc-by-sa-3.0 Astor Place Theatre © Americasroof/cc-by-3.0
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Johann Jakob Astor II statue in front of Astorhaus in Walldorf © Heeeey/cc-by-sa-3.0
John Jacob’s fur trading company (American Fur Company) established a Columbia River trading post at Fort Astoria in 1811, the first United States community on the Pacific coast. He financed the overland Astor Expedition in 1810–1812 to reach the outpost, which was in the then-disputed Oregon Country. Control of Fort Astoria played a key role in English and American territorial claims on the region. John and George’s brother Henry (born Heinrich) (1754–1833) also emigrated to America. He was a horse racing enthusiast, and purchased a thoroughbred named Messenger, who had been brought from England to America in 1788. The horse became the founding sire of all Standardbred horses in the United States today. During the 19th century, the Astors became one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Toward the end of that century, some of the family moved to England and achieved high prominence there. During the 20th century, the number of American Astors began to decline, but their legacy lives on in their many public works including the New York Public Library. English descendants of the Astors hold two hereditary peerages: Viscount and Baron.

For many years, the members of the Astor family were known as “the landlords of New York”. Their New York City namesakes are the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan, an Astor Row in Harlem, Astor Court in manhattan, Astor Place in Manhattan, and Astor Avenue in the Bronx, where the Astors used to stable horses. The neighborhood of Astoria in Queens is named after the family as well. Beyond New York City, the Astor family name is imprinted in a great deal of United States history and geography. There are towns of Astor in the states of Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Kansas and there are Astorias in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota and Oregon. There is a neighborhood called Astor Park just south of downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin. At the heart of this neighborhood is a park (also called “Astor Park”); the Astor family donated this land for the building of a trade school. The Astors were also prominent on Mackinac Island, Michigan, and Newport, Rhode Island, with their summer house, Beechwood. At Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, there are the Lord and Lady Astor Suites; the hotel salon is called Astor’s.

Read more on britannica.com – Astor family, biography.com – Astor family and Wikipedia Astor family (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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