Monday, June 23, 2008

A Little Taste Of History (19)

Topic: Wealthy Businessmen of NYC

William Backhouse Astor (1792-1875)

As a consequence of an inheritance of $500'000 from his uncle Henry Astor, a butcher on the Bowery, through generous gifts and business partnerships from his father as well as his own shrewd investments in real estate, William Backhouse Astor was worth $5'000'000 in his own right. Through his marriage to Margaret Livingston Armstrong, the only daughter of General John Armstrong and Alida Livingston of Clermont, William Backhouse Astor brought the Astor family into New York's High Society. at the time of his death, he owned more than 700 buildings.

Heber Reginald Bishop (1840-1902)

He had an interest in the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad and several other ironworks, including the Lackawanna Iron & steel Company. A much respected member of New York's financial community, Heber Bishop was a trustee of the Metropolitan Trust Company, the Metropolitan Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was a member of New York's most exclusive clubs and a renowned socialite.

Henry A. Coster (Died 1821)

Henry A. Coster and his brother John G. Coster had a solid reputation of sagacious merchants and pillars of New York's financial community. Henry A. Coster was a director of the Manhattan Bank from 1801 to 1806 and of the Merchants Bank thereafter. He was also in the directorship of the Globe Insurance Company. He lived next door to the store until 1817, when he moved to more residential number 85 Chambers Street. He also had a country seat at what later became First Avenue, between 30th and 35th streets.

Stuyvesant Fish (1851-1923)

The youngest son of Secretary of State Hamilton Fish graduated from Columbia in 1874 with a Master degree. He started his career as a clerk in the New York office of the Illinois Central Railroad, a favorite investment of the City's old established families. In 1872, he became secretary to the president of the railroad : 'Colonel' Henry S. McComb. Through his grand-mother, Stuyvesant Fish descended from one of New York's eldest families and was predestined to inherit a large fortune made through appreciation of city real estate. But Stuyvesant Fish would not content himself to be an idle rich and took a position at Morton, Bliss & Company to learn the banking business. He left New York to work at the bank's English correspondent firm, Morton, Rose & Company, but returned in 1877 to become a director of the Illinois Central Railroad. Stuyvesant Fish rose in the Illinois Central railroad hierarchy, became second vice president in 1883, first vice president in 1884 and president in 1887, a position he kept for two decades. In his later years, Stuyvesant Fish lived the life of an upper class gentleman and assured his family's social position at the side of his socially talented wife "Mamie".

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