Around 1,500 people perished in the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, including some of the world’s wealthiest and most renowned people. Nevertheless, John Jacob Astor IV had the most money of any victim on the ship.
He came from the illustrious Astor family, revered as American royalty, especially among organized society in New York. Let’s look back at John Jacob Astor’s lavish life before his demise on the Titanic, 35 years to the exact day after the ship’s debris was found.
New York’s Wealthiest Family Gave Birth to John Jacob Astor Iv on July 13, 1864
The Astor family has roots in the early 1700s when the first John Jacob Astor (seen in the picture) emigrated to the Americas from a small German village to establish himself. He began to prosper in the fur-trading companies, but his true prosperity didn’t start until he got involved in the real estate industry.
One of his first significant acquisitions was the area that is today known as Times Square in the heart of Manhattan. Astor built a dynasty and became one of the wealthiest men in the world by quickly purchasing land all around Manhattan.
The Astor name was already well-known in society at the time of John Jacob Astor IV’s birth, and the family’s fortune was one of the biggest in the globe. John Jacob Astor IV was the son of William Astor and Caroline Webster Schermerhorn.
John Jacob Astor IV Attended Top Us Schools as a Family Heir
Although there is no evidence that he graduated from Harvard University, he initially attended St. Paul’s School in Concord. After finishing his education, Astor spent some time overseas before returning to New York to start the family’s real estate business.
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Astor Invested His Wealth in the Construction of New York’s Astoria Hotel in 1897
William Waldorf Astor erected the Waldorf Hotel in 1893 at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street intersection. According to legend, he constructed the hotel to spite John Jacob Astor IV, his cousin. Astor erected a rival hotel on the nearby corner in 1897 under the name Astoria Hotel as a reprisal.
A 300-foot marble corridor was constructed to connect the rival hotels once the cousins had been persuaded that combining both would be a wise business move. The legendary Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was established.
The hotel rose to prominence as a representation of elegance, money, and class in New York over the following decades. One of the most excellent hotels in the nation, if not the entire globe, was thought to be this one.
When the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel closed in 1928, the Empire State Building was built. Long after Astor’s passing, the new Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was constructed further uptown in 1931.
Astor Also Constructed St. Regis, a Famous Hotel in New York
The New York Times referred to Astor’s St. Regis as “the best hotel in America” when it opened its doors in 1904. Astor made sure that every room had a phone as part of his effort to make the hotel technologically cutting-edge. According to Biography.com, some historians consider the hotel Astor’s “best achievement.” Even now, St. Regis is still open.
Astor Wrote While Building New York’s Greatest Hotels
In 1894, Astor published his first and only science fiction novel, “Journey in Other Worlds.”
“A ‘Journey in Other Worlds’ races far ahead of the nineteenth century to imagine what life would be like in the year 2000,” the Amazon synopsis reads. “At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Earth is effectively a corporate technocracy, with big businesses using incredible scientific advances to improve life on the planet. Seeking other planets habitable for the growing human population, the spaceship Callisto, powered by an antigravitational force known as apergy, embarks on a momentous solar system tour.”
Astor Was a Skilled Inventor as Well
He developed a vibratory disintegrator, a pneumatic road improver, and a bicycle brake in 1898. He also contributed to the development of the turbine engine.
Astor Married Ava Lowle Willing in 1891 but Divorced in 1909
Vincent and Alice Lowle Willing were the couple’s two children. Despite having the appearance of the ideal upper-class family, the couple was primarily miserable. As a result of the couple’s divorce in 1909, the Astor family was exposed to one of its worst scandals.
Astor, 47, Fell in Love With 18-year-old Madeleine Talmage Force
Astor and Madeleine Talmage Force’s marriage in 1911 caused controversy since, at the time, divorce and remarriage were highly uncommon. Astor and his new wife decided to spend the winter in Europe, hoping the discussion would stop while they were away.
Once Madeleine Became Pregnant in 1912, Astor Rented Them a Titanic Suite to Return to New York
Astor was one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time, and he was undoubtedly the richest person on the Titanic. It’s reported that he had a fortune worth between $90 and $150 million when he boarded the fateful ship. Inflation-adjusted, his value today is between $2 and $4 billion.
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Astor Quietly Carried His Wife, Madeleine, to the Second-to-last Lifeboat After the Titanic Hit an Iceberg on April 14, 1912
Astor was one of the first few persons to realize the ship was sinking, according to Biography.com. He roused his pregnant wife from sleep and instructed her to wear her warmest clothing. He dressed her in all the jewels, led her to the deck, and lowered her into a lifeboat.
She wanted to stay with her husband and clung to him, but he reportedly responded, “The ocean is serene. You’ll be just fine. You are in capable hands. In the morning, I’ll see you.”
Astor’s body was found in the sea after he was last seen enjoying a cigarette on the deck. He was wearing a unique pocket watch and a dinner suit.
Madeleine, Astor’s Wife, Gave Birth to John Jacob After the Shipwreck. Vincent, His Firstborn Son, Inherited Most of His Wealth
According to rumors, Astor would have designated his and Madeleine’s unborn child as the heir to his riches if he had managed to reach the US. Nonetheless, Vincent, his first child from his first marriage, received most of his wealth (see image).
Vincent Astor contributed a substantial quantity of his father’s wealth and developed as a philanthropist in New York City. At the same time, John Jacob Astor VI only received a small percentage of his father’s wealth.