Americas First Millionaire

It's a little-known fact that America's first millionaire was a real estate investor. A German immigrant and the son of a butcher, he was named John Jacob Astor. In the early 1800s Astor got rich trading in furs, tea, silk, and fine china, but that was not where his real fortune was made. Eventually he invested his trading profits in something that would prove to be even better: real estate. His most profitable investments were in New York City, and before long the man known as "Manhattan's Landlord" was widely acknowledged as the wealthiest person of his time. He had not only become America's first millionaire, he was now its first multimillionaire. Shortly before his death Astor reportedly said, "Could I begin life again, knowing what I now know, and had money to invest, I would buy every foot of land on the Island of Manhattan." Astor passed away in 1848, leaving over $20 million to his heirs.1 This immigrant butcher's son not only was America's first millionaire and multimillionaire, he also was America's first Millionaire Real Estate Investor.

1 $20 million may not seem like a great fortune now, but in 2005 dollars it would be the equivalent of about $458 billion.

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