Financier John Jacob Astor III, 67, grandson of Astoria’s founder, died Feb. 22, 1890, in New York, of heart failure. It’s estimated he was worth around $200 million at the time of his death (about $5 billion now).
A glimpse of the man’s character shows in a story in the Feb. 23, 1890, edition of The Daily Morning Astoria: “The death of the hundred-millionaire, John Jacob Astor, in New York yesterday, recalls to the writer’s mind the fact that several years ago a distinguished Astoria clergyman, on a visit to New York, called upon the millionaire, told him of the city by the sea founded by his grandfather of precisely the same name as himself, and suggested (he) fund or endow an institution of learning in the city that will perpetuate the name and fame of the Astors when their scattered millions will have been forgotten.
“The millionaire looked coldly contemptuous at the reverend gentleman when he had concluded his kindly plea, and told him he would give him an order on his cashier for one hundred dollars. The Astorian disclaimed any desire to pecuniarily embarrass the munificent patron by the acceptance of so princely a sum, and bowed himself out.
“The millionaire lies dead in his marble palace this morning, and his millions lie idly in the massive vaults as cold as the clay that so lately clung to them.”