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When the Astors Owned New York

Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in A Gilded Age

Kaplan, Justin

(Book - 2006)
Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
When the Astors Owned New York
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Penguin Putnam
This newest book by Pulitzer Prize winner Justin Kaplan is a sparkling combination of biography, social history, architectural appreciation, and pure pleasure

Endowed with the largest private fortunes of their day, two heirs of arch-capitalist John Jacob Astor battled with each other for social primacy. William Waldorf Astor (born 1848) and his cousin John Jacob Astor IV (born 1864) led incomparably privileged lives in the blaze of public attention. Novelist, sportsman, and inventor, John Jacob went down with the Titanic, after turbulent marital adventures and service in the Spanish-American War. Collector of art, antiquities, and stately homes, William Waldorf became a British subject and acquired the title of Viscount Astor.

In New York during the 1890s and after, the two feuding Astors built monumental grand hotels, chief among them the original Waldorf-Astoria on lower Fifth Avenue. The Astor hotels transformed social behavior. Home of the chafing dish and the velvet rope, the Waldorf-Astoria drew the rich, famous, and fashionable. It was the setting for the most notorious society event of the era?a costume extravaganza put on by its hosts during a time of widespread need and unemployment. The celebrity-packed lobbies, public rooms, lavish suites, and exclusive restaurants of the grand hotels became distinctive theaters of modern life.

Baker & Taylor
Traces the lives of cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV, rivals who pursued separate ambitions, built the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and influenced social behavior before John Jacob perished aboard the Titanic.

Baker
& Taylor

Traces the public and private lives of cousins William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor IV, nineteenth-century heirs and rivals who pursued separate ambitions, built the original Waldorf-Astoria hotel, and influenced social behavior before John Jacob perished aboard the Titanic. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Viking, c2006
ISBN: 9780670037698
0670037699
Branch Call Number: 647.9409 K
Characteristics: ix, 196 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.

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Feb 11, 2012
  • DeltaQueen50 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A fact filled book about a immigrant family that profited from the fur trade and invested in New York real estate to become the richest people in the world. With such an interesting subject, I just wish the author had put a little more spark into his writing. When the Astors Owned New York is a small look at the powerful people that reigned over America during the Gilded Age.

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