THE ASTOR FAMILY

The Astor family, a New York dynasty whose name and influence was imprinted across business, politics, and society throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, were known as “the landlords of New York.” In fact, in 1890, an expert calculated that they owned one-twentieth of New York City real estate. Among the marquee properties still standing today are the Waldorf-Astoria and The St. Regis hotels. Another remaining jewel is a striking blockfront trio of interconnected residential buildings running from the corner of 75th to 76th streets on Broadway, better known as The Astor.



DEVELOPMENT LEGACY



The Astor Family Portrait
JOHN JACOB ASTOR — 1763–1848
John Jacob Astor was the first multimillionaire in the history of the United States. Before he died, he created the first family trust in America, consisting of 125 parcels of land located on Manhattan’s West Side. New York City real estate was his life’s passion. When asked on his deathbed if he had any regrets, John Jacob Astor stated:

"Could I begin life again, knowing what I know now, I would buy every foot of land on the island of Manhattan."
Having made a fortune in the fur trade in 1779, Astor began buying land in New York. In 1803, he bought a seventy-acre farm that ran west of Broadway to the Hudson River, between what is now 42nd and 46th streets. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Astors were the biggest landlords in New York. They expanded their holdings to hundreds of acres throughout Manhattan, mostly concentrated around Broadway, extending all the way from Wall Street up to 150th Street.



LEGACY PROPERTIES

William Waldorf Astor hired the ubiquitous New York City architects Clinton and Russell to design the two southern towers of The Astor in 1901. In 1914, William Waldorf Astor hired another Gilded Age architecture firm, Peabody, Wilson & Brown, to design a third tower for The Astor. The third tower, completed within a year, is structurally and aesthetically similar to both original towers. This “newer tower” is four stories taller as it accommodated larger penthouse-style apartments for the wealthy businessmen who were becoming increasingly attracted to the Upper West Side. This attraction was based on its close proximity to Central Park, the first subway line, and bustling Broadway, which served as the primary corridor connecting uptown to Wall Street.


  1. THE ASTOR, 1901
  2. ASTOR HOUSE HOTEL, 1836
  3. ASTOR PLACE
  4. THE ASTOR OPERA HOUSE, 1847
  5. THE ASTOR LIBRARY, 1854
  6. THE WALDORF HOTEL, 1893
  7. THE ASTOR MANSION, 1893
  8. THE ASTORIA HOTEL, 1897
  9. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, 1897
  10. THE ST. REGIS HOTEL, 1904
  11. THE KNICKERBOCKER HOTEL, 1906
  12. THE APTHORP, 1908
  13. 120 EAST END AVENUE, 1931
THE ASTOR, 1901
The buildings that currently stand were built starting in 1901 for William Waldorf Astor, son of John Jacob Astor. Construction began in 1901 and, two south towers were completed in 1905 by Clinton & Russell. In 1914, William Waldorf Astor hired another Gilded Age architecture firm, Peabody, Wilson & Brown, to design a third tower for The Astor.




A STORIED PAST



Somerindyck Farm
1745 — SOMERINDYCK FARM FOUNDED

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the area of Manhattan above 57th Street was bought up by a handful of mainly Dutch farming families. These farms were connected to the rapidly developing city to the south by an old American Indian path known as Bloomingdale Road, until 1899, when it was rechristened as Broadway. One of those Dutch families, the Somerindycks, ran a prosperous dairy farm that spanned from present-day Columbus Circle to the high 70s and horizontally from the western border of present-day Central Park to the Hudson River. Their main house was located roughly around modern Broadway and West 75th Street, almost precisely where The Astor now stands.

1857 — WILLIAM KELLY BUILDS HOME AT 75th AND BROADWAY

With the creation of Central Park in 1850, the Upper West Side’s Dutch farms were quickly sold off parcel by parcel. In 1857, New York State Senator William Kelly purchased the land now occupied by The Astor and built a single-family home there. The Kelly family lived in the home until just before 1901, the dawn of the great New York building boom, when William Waldorf Astor acquired the property, demolished the Kelly house, and began construction on The Astor, originally dubbed The Astor Apartments.

William Kelly House

1797 — LOUIS PHILIPPE LODGES AT SOMERINDYCK ESTATE

While future king Louis Philippe of France was lodged in exile in New York City, he taught school at the Somerindyck Estate at Broadway and 75th Street. Following the abdication of Napoleon, Louis Philippe finally returned to France, where he eventually was crowned king in 1830.


Louis Philippe
King of the French
(1773-1850)

TIMELINE