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When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age

When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age

3.4 12
by Justin Kaplan

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In this marvelous anecdotal history, Justin Kaplan––Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Mark Twain––vividly brings to life a glittering, bygone age.

Endowed with the largest private fortunes of their day, cousins John Jacob Astor IV and William Waldorf Astor vied for primacy in New York society, producing the grandest hotels ever seen

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When the Astors Owned New York: Blue Bloods and Grand Hotels in a Gilded Age 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of scurrilous Victorian and Edwardian gossip about the Astors. If you've read 1900-1940s books with thinly veiled real New Yorkers as characters, you can probably work out who some of them are with this book's help. There's also a good bit of useful social history detail to go along with the gossip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Schantz More than 1 year ago
This book basically exposes the pettiness that the rich have with everything. Their lack of patience combined with the desire to be better than everyone else. The love that this family shows for each other can be framed in one word "non-existent". The family competed over everything from the having the most expensive homes, hotels, yahts, furniture, etc. If a family member manage to build a bigger house...another family member went to work to build an even bigger house. Basically their entire empire was under construction for 100+ years. Their was absolutely no love for each other in this family which is very telling when the news of sinking of the Titanic took down John Jacob Astor and the reaction by the family is not commented on nor seen as tragedy. Rather it becomes an opportunity to grab some more money from an estate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting look into the life of the Astors and life in the 19th century. Ideal book for history buffs although I wish that the author had delved more into the animosity between William and John Jacob IV and other family members. Did make me go to the internet to look up the buildings that were mentioned so I learned alot about NYC history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Astors made their own unique contribution to this country. Like them or not they were an integral part of the history of New York. "When the Astors Owned New York" has an interesting perspective in that its main focus was on the way that two Astor cousins greatly influenced the evolution of the modern hotel. In writing about the Astors and the many hotels they competed with each other to build, Justin Kaplan also touches on the story of others who were building grand hotels in the same era. The author has an understanding of his story and writes it in an interesting and informative manner.
Very_Cherry_Couture More than 1 year ago
I have always been intrigued with the history of American families during the gilded age. I loved reading about the rise of the family, how they were connected with history of New York and all of their many contributions. A wonderful peek into a world I wish I could have experienced. =)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
More than a chronology of the Astors, this book is more of a history of the hotels which the Astor family built. But there is still enough of the family stories and rivalries to make the book interesting and take it out of the realm of architectural history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Justin Kaplan is a superb writer, plain and simple. As an historian he is the perfect host. He keeps the conversation moving and serves up the past with delectable detail, wit and finesse. He has that special gift of writing in the right key.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The majority of this short book has nothing to do with the Astor’s lives in New York or even the Astor’s hotels in New York. Whole chapters are devoted to William Waldorf Astor’s later life in England and other European countries. Sections from other chapters are devoted to grand hotels outside of New York City that were not owned by the Astors. The narrative lacks focus and has unnecessary information that adds nothing to the book.