The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Astor, John Jacob (inventor)
ASTOR, John Jacob, American capitalist and inventor, fourth of the name, nephew of John Jacob the third, and son of William: b. Rhinebeck, N. Y., 13 July 1864; d. at sea (Titanic wreck) 15 April 1912. He was graduated from Harvard in 1888. He was the manager of the Astor properties in America; a director in many banking, insurance and railroad companies, and member of various clubs and social organizations. He built in 1897 a very costly hotel, the Astoria (named after the famous fur settlement of 1811), on Fifth avenue, New York, adjoining the Waldorf built by his cousin, William Waldorf, the two being now joined as the Waldorf-Astoria. Besides his business activities, he had strong individual faculties. He was an expert in marine mechanics, inventor of a bicycle brake, and a pneumatic road improver; and was a member of scientific and other intellectual societies. He wrote ‘A Journey in Other Worlds: a Romance of the Future’ (1894). He was on Governor Morton's staff 1894-96, and in the Spanish-American War of 1896 was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of United States Volunteers, and served in the Santiago campaign.