The Astor House was a luxury hotel in Manhattan, located on Broadway, between Barclay Street and Vesey Street, north of St. Paul's Chapel. It occupied the entire block front. The hotel opened in 1836 and it was demolished in the early 20th century.
Some major hotels opened in Manhattan before Astor House, like the City Hotel (opened in 1794 and bought by J.J. Astor in 1828), Adelphi House (about 1829) and Holt's Hotel (about 1831). The new City Hall opened in the Park in 1812, then many institution moved to nearby buildings, including newspapers and hotels.
The five stories high Astor House was built by John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) and designed by architect Isaiah Rogers in Greek Revival style. The site was previously occupied by the Bull's Head Tavern and other buildings. J.J. Astor acquired the plot gradually. The cornerstone of the hotel was laid on the Fourth of July, 1834. It opened on June 1, 1836, as Park Hotel, under the management of Frederick Boyden who had been running the Tremont House in Boston, later replaced by Charles Augustus Stetson (1810-1888).
It had more than 300 rooms and a central courtyard with fountains and trees, among others facilities, like reading room, oyster cellar, barbers, drugstore, hairdressers and a printing press in the basement. In the 1840, the interior garden was supplanted by a rotunda with vaulted roof and richly carved bar.
Among the hotel guests were many celebrities and statesmen, including Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Charles Dickens, the Prince of Wales and Daniel Webster.
In 1859, the Fifth Avenue Hotel opened its doors. It was the first hotel in the United States to be equipped with passenger elevator. Astor House added the equipment in 1862.
In 1864, the Astor was one of many New York City hotels set on fire by Confederate conspirators.
Around the 1870s, Stetson's son succeeded his father in control of the hotel. In 1875, the place was sold by the sheriff. The hotel was closed for a few months and reopened by Flavius Allen.
In 1904, the 11-story Hotel Astor opened in Times Square.
Astor House closed on May 29, 1913, then the southern portion of the building was razed in the same year to make way for the subway constructions. Vincent Astor controlled that part of the property and, in 1916, he built the Astor House Building at 217 Broadway, which remains on the site of the original Astor House. In 1926 the northern portion was razed and the 44-story Transportation Building, completed in 1927, is on the site today.
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