A Classification of American Wealth
History and genealogy of the wealthy families of America - Sponsors

 Part 1 : Colonial and Mercantile America  Part 2 : America in the Gilded Age
 Part 3 : America in the Twentieth Century  Encyclopedia of American Wealth

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  Part I-Chapter 4 : New YorkCity Landlords > Index and Introduction  :   « Previous   1 - 2   Next »

   The Landlords of New YorkCity  

The Astors
John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) : the richest man in America
William Backhouse Astor and his sons : worthy successors
The  English Astors of Cliveden and Hever
       The American branch of the Astor family

The Goelets 

From the Encyclopedia of American Wealth
       Family Profiles :  Astor - Goelet - Stuyvesant

One generation after the American Revolution, a new century dawned and a handful visionnaires, most of them successful merchants, set the stage for vast accumulations of wealth by shrewd real estate investments in New York City, which would soon become the main gate for countless waves of immigrants, seeking fortune in the New World.

In 1770, the population of the country which would soon become the United States of America was just over 2 million; Virginia, the largest colony, counted for one fifth of this while the state of New York was only the 7th largest colony with 163'000 people, less than Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and even Connecticut and North Carolina. The largest city in the colonies was Philadelphia, which would also become the new nation’s first capital. But immigration and the building of the Erie canal would soon accelerate the demographic development to bring New York (state) in first place by 1820, and New York City would even grow faster than the state and exceed 500'000 inhabitants by 1840.

For the men who foresaw this development, or just believed in it, this outstanding population growth created a unique opportunity to get rich, by quietly seating on once cheap real estate properties. The man who became by far the richest realtor in New York, John Jacob Astor, was himself an immigrant in 1784. He started as a fur trader and was so successful in this trade that he nearly monopolized it with his American Fur Company. Starting in the first decade of the 19th century, Astor accumulated vast tracts of land in Manhattan and later also in other parts of New York, reinvesting his rents to buy additional real estate, a practice his heirs would perpetrate. The Astors policies of holding to real estate involved long term leases under which the tenants could develop the properties but where all such improvements would revert to the owners of the land. Thus the scrambling waves of immigrants would contribute twice to the Astor coffers, once by paying high rents for the land, then another time by leaving them all the buildings and improvements they built during the tenure. John Jacob Astor died in 1848, by far the richest man in America, with a fortune estimated at 20'000'000 $.

New YorkCity Landlords > Index and Introduction  :   « Previous   1 - 2   Next »

Patroons and Manor Lords

Planter  Aristocrats

Shipping Merchants

The Landlords of New YorkCity

Bankers I

Early American Industrialists


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