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Titanic Passenger Built NY St Regis

NY St Regis HotelThe American public was shocked 100 years ago, when one of the richest men in the US, John Jacob Astor IV, was among the victims of the Titanic sinking. On the April night of the Titanic sinking, he escorted his wife, who was eight months pregnant, to a lifeboat and safety. However, the influence and legacy of the wealthiest passenger on the ship has lived on for a century in the St Regis hotel, which he built in New York City in 1904.

Astor built the St Regis to be the city’s most prestigious hotel, and it still maintains the aristocratic sensibilities and tradition of elegance from the time period. The hallways are still walked by butlers in black tailcoats and white ties. The lobby has a marble staircase and frescoed ceiling, which has been unchanged since its creator died. The roof’s copper moldings have turned green over time, but the antique furniture and silk wall coverings inside the hotel have aged better. The bookshelves have preserved the thousands of books that Astor collected. Even the guests who roam the halls are still the most wealthy, as the hotel is a favourite among celebrities and royal families who want to avoid the paparazzi and keep a low-profile.

When the hotel was built, it overlooked the row of mansions on Fifth Avenue and was the tallest skyscraper in the city at just 18 stories. It was modelled after extravagant European hotels, which were hard to find in America at the time. It was common for the wealthy to live in luxurious hotels like this for long periods of time during those days.

St Regis general manager Paul Nash says the key to everything in the property is discretion. They have politicians, entertainers, heads of state and royal families stay there. Their guests may travel on private jets, but they are also probably wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans. The days of the wealthy living luxuriously haven’t changed, as the same guests routinely occupy the $21,000 per night presidential suite for three months at a time. Hotel butler Jennifer Giacche says the guests are able to walk around the hotel like it’s their home, without being disturbed.

Jackie Drexel, the granddaughter of Astor, told journalists that the St Regis ‘was his jewel’. Her grandfather used to frequently walk the stairs in the mornings to ensure everything was running right. He was very proud of the hotel. She thinks her grandfather would have been pleased with how his heritage has been preserved at the St Regis. She also thinks he would have gone on to build more hotels.

Astor is said to have been seen smoking a cigar on the deck of the Titanic, and Drexel thinks he stayed on the Titanic until the very end, helping people onto lifeboats. He didn’t try to escape himself, she speculates. Astor’s body was recovered on April 22, 1912 by freighter ship Mackay Bennet, which was charted by Titanic operator White Star Line. Weeks after the sinking, his wife gave birth to a son. Speaking of him makes Drexel proud, and she wishes she and her father had known him. That’s the saddest thing – that her dad never got to meet him, she added.

A small dinner was held in the St Regis’s library on April 4 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Guests, who included some descendants, dressed in feathers and fur, examined Astor’s books and ate food inspired by the final meal served on the ship.

 

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