On this date in 1912, one of the richest men in the world dined sumptuously aboard the White Star line’s newest and proudest ocean-going vessel on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic. Later that evening, he would guide his young wife Madeline to lifeboat No. 4 and be told he could not join her until all women were safely aboard. He would later be glimpsed on the ship’s starboard bridge wing, speaking with another passenger.
This was the last anyone saw of John Jacob Astor IV until his remains were plucked from the icy Atlantic waters a full week later, one of just 333 bodies recovered of the more than 1,500 lives lost in the April 15, 1912 sinking of the Titanic.
This 111th anniversary of the catastrophe is as apropos a moment as any to reflect on the rich New York City real estate legacy of the Astor family, a legacy that remains a civic treasure to this day. The Astor name lives on in a number of honored New York City settings, not least of which are Astor Place, the crossroad between the East and West Village, and Astoria, Queens, a bastion of international culture and public green space nestled between Long Island City and Sunnyside across the East River.
Also bearing the Astor name are myriad New York City buildings that harken to the city’s gilded age. Near the top of that list is no less a plum than the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, built by William Waldorf Astor, great grandson of John Jacob Astor I.
Another is The Apthorp, built by William between 1905 and 1908 to occupy an entire city block bordered by Broadway, 79th Street, West End Avenue and 78th Street.
The building was operated by the Astor family for decades until its 1950 sale. It now is a New York City-designated landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Yet another notable example is The Astor. Situated on Manhattan’s Upper West Side at 235 West 75th Street, The Astor was commissioned by William in 1901.
Designed by busy New York City architects Clinton and Russell, the original structure featured two southern towers. A third tower, designed in 1914 by Peabody, Wilson & Brown, completed within a year and similar in appearance to the original towers, was designed to be four stories taller to allow for spacious penthouses. These were targeted at well-heeled New Yorkers then descending on the Upper West Side, who were predicted to flock to the building for its location on Broadway between 75th and 76th, and its proximity to the city’s original subway line and Central Park.
The Astor introduced new listings this past autumn, the first new inventory in the iconic building in two years. Restored and upgraded for today’s most discerning purchasers, the residences feature the kind of luxuries first-class passengers aboard the Titanic would have savored, had they entered a time tunnel directly to 2023.
Included are formal entry foyers, herringbone-patterned wood floors, wood-burning fireplaces, up-to-date kitchens featuring top-of-the-line appliance packages and bathrooms offering soaking tubs and radiant heated floors.
“It’s rare to find a home in Manhattan that features both historic architecture and contemporary interiors with modern upgrades, especially one that caters to today’s active lifestyles.” says Douglas Elliman’s Kyle Egan, who along with Randall Dolland and Michael Kafka is overseeing building sales.
“The Astor provides this ideal combination in one of the city’s most sought-after neighborhoods. Discerning buyers in today’s market are looking for a unique product that can’t be found elsewhere. The Astor speaks to those looking for a beautiful, inviting, spacious home, and a special piece of New York history.”
It appears exactly 111 years after the Titanic’s sinking, the cache of the real estate associated with its most famous passenger continues ascending.