Definitions

Astor

Astor

[as-ter]
Astor, John Jacob, 1763-1848, American merchant, b. Walldorf, near Heidelberg, Germany. At the age of 16 he went to England, and five years later, in 1784, he arrived in Baltimore, penniless. He later went to New York City, where in a few years he entered into business with a small shop for trade in musical instruments and furs. Shrewdness, driving ambition, and stolid concentration brought him to a commanding position in the burgeoning economy of the United States. He became a leader of the China trade and was an astute investor in lands, principally in and around New York City, but he is perhaps best remembered as a fur trader. He chartered the American Fur Company (1808) and founded subsidiary companies—the Pacific Fur Company (see Astoria, Oreg.) and the South West Company (operating around the Great Lakes). His firm exercised a virtual monopoly of the trade in U.S. territories in the 1820s and still did when he retired from it in 1834. The wealthiest man in the United States at his death, he left a fortune that has continued to make the family name prominent. Part of his money went to found the Astor Library (see New York Public Library). His Astor House was a forerunner of family hotel properties that much later included the Astor Hotel and the Waldorf-Astoria.

See biographies by J. U. Terrell (1963) and K. W. Porter (1936, repr. 1966).

Astor, John Jacob, 1822-90, American financier, b. New York City, educated at Columbia and Göttingen universities and at Harvard law school; son of William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875). He served in the Peninsular campaign in the Civil War and later took a minor part in New York civic and political affairs. His son was William Waldorf Astor.
Astor, John Jacob, 1864-1912, American financier, b. Rhinebeck, N.Y.; son of William Backhouse Astor (1829-92). He served in the Spanish-American War. Drowned in the Titanic disaster, he left two sons, Vincent, the son of his first marriage, and John Jacob Astor, fifth of the name in America, the son of his second marriage.
Astor, Nancy Witcher (Langhorne) Astor, Viscountess, 1879-1964, British politician, b. Virginia. She was first married to Robert Gould Shaw, and after her divorce (1903) from him she went to England. There she was married (1906) to Waldorf Astor (see under Astor, William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount). When he succeeded his father as viscount and had to give up his seat in the House of Commons as member for Plymouth, she was elected in his place and became the first woman to sit in Parliament. In her years as a Conservative member (1919-45) her sharp tongue in debate, her passionate espousal of temperance and of reforms in woman and child welfare, and her cheerful lack of reverence for any and all won respect and attention. In the late 1930s their pleas for settlement and peace with the fascist powers in Europe were interpreted as treasonable by their enemies. At their country house, Cliveden (given to the government in 1942), the Astors brought together great literary figures and leaders of all political persuasions.

See biographies by M. Collis (1960) and C. Sykes (1972, repr. 1984); study by E. Langhorne (1974).

Astor, William Backhouse, 1792-1875, American financier, b. New York City; son of John Jacob Astor (1763-1848). Educated in Germany, he was associated with his father in business after 1818. Later called the landlord of New York, he also inherited money from his uncle Henry Astor and left an immense fortune.
Astor, William Backhouse, 1829-92, American financier and sportsman, b. New York City. The son of William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875), he was a retiring man, notable principally for his wealth and for his marriage to Caroline Schermerhorn. With the assistance of Ward McAlister, she became famous as the Mrs. Astor of modern folklore, queen of New York City society's legendary Four Hundred. Their son was John Jacob Astor (1864-1912).
Astor, William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount, 1848-1919, American-British financier, b. New York City, educated in Germany and in Italy and at the Columbia law school; son of John Jacob Astor (1822-90). He served as a state assemblyman and senator, but his political career was halted by his failure to win an election to the U.S. Congress. He was then appointed minister to Italy (1881-85). In 1890 he moved to England, where he acquired control of a newspaper and several magazines. He also founded—mainly to forward the literary ambition he had shown in two mediocre novels—Pall Mall Magazine. His estates, Cliveden and Hever Castle, were magnificent, his entertainments extravagant, his contributions to public causes—especially in World War I—munificent. He was made a baron in 1916 and a viscount in 1917.

His elder son, Waldorf Astor, 1879-1952, succeeded him as viscount and was a leader of "Tory democracy." His wife was Nancy, Lady Astor. The younger son, John Jacob Astor, 1886-1971, bought a major share of The Times of London and was made 1st Baron Astor of Hever.

orig. Johann Jakob Astor

John Jacob Astor, detail of an oil painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1794; in the Brook Club, New York.

(born July 17, 1763, Waldorf, Ger.—died March 29, 1848, New York, N.Y., U.S.) German-born U.S. fur magnate and financier. After emigrating from Germany at age17, he opened a fur-goods shop in New York circa 1786. By 1800 he was a leader in the fur trade, and he established the American Fur Co. He controlled the fur trade with China (1800–17) and in the Mississippi and Missouri valleys (in the 1820s) before selling his interests in 1834. His investment in New York City real estate became the foundation of the family fortune. At his death, Astor was the wealthiest person in the U.S.; he willed $400,000 to found what became the New York Public Library. His son, William B. Astor (1792–1875), greatly expanded the family real-estate holdings, building more than 700 stores and dwellings in the city.

Learn more about Astor, John Jacob with a free trial on Britannica.com.

orig. Johann Jakob Astor

John Jacob Astor, detail of an oil painting by Gilbert Stuart, 1794; in the Brook Club, New York.

(born July 17, 1763, Waldorf, Ger.—died March 29, 1848, New York, N.Y., U.S.) German-born U.S. fur magnate and financier. After emigrating from Germany at age17, he opened a fur-goods shop in New York circa 1786. By 1800 he was a leader in the fur trade, and he established the American Fur Co. He controlled the fur trade with China (1800–17) and in the Mississippi and Missouri valleys (in the 1820s) before selling his interests in 1834. His investment in New York City real estate became the foundation of the family fortune. At his death, Astor was the wealthiest person in the U.S.; he willed $400,000 to found what became the New York Public Library. His son, William B. Astor (1792–1875), greatly expanded the family real-estate holdings, building more than 700 stores and dwellings in the city.

Learn more about Astor, John Jacob with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Astor is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lake County, Florida, United States. It is located along the St. Johns River between Lake George and Lake Dexter, across from the town of Volusia. The population was 1,487 at the 2000 census.

Located on the St. Johns River, Astor was first settled in 1562 by Huguenot families who had fled religious persecution in France. The entire colony was wiped out by the Spanish in 1566 in pursuit of a Roman Catholic-only policy. In the late 1800s, William Backhouse Astor, Sr. from New York City's wealthy Astor family resurrected the town, naming it Manhattan. Later, it would be renamed Astor in his honor.

Geography

Astor is located at (29.163869, -81.534562).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 2.5 square miles (6.4 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,487 people, 641 households, and 444 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 603.3 people per square mile (233.4/km²). There were 1,027 housing units at an average density of 416.6/sq mi (161.2/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 96.97% White, 0.67% African American, 0.81% Native American, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.21% from other races, and 0.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.15% of the population.

There were 641 households out of which 20.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.7% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.68.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 19.9% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 20.4% from 25 to 44, 30.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 97.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $31,284, and the median income for a family was $31,786. Males had a median income of $22,074 versus $20,949 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $14,467. About 9.2% of families and 12.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.3% of those under age 18 and 6.7% of those age 65 or over.

References

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