New York and Harlem Rail-Road Co. Issued to John Jacob Astor - Railway Stock CertificateInv# AG2179 Stock
Stock Transfer issued to but not signed by John Jacob Astor. Early! Rare!
John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) John Jacob (originally Johann Jakob) Astor made a fortune in fur trading and real estate. He is the founder of what became known as the Astor family. Born in Walldorf, Baden, Germany, Astor arrived in the United States in March 1784 just after the end of the Revolutionary War. He started a fur goods shop in New York City in the late 1780s. Astor took advantage of the Jay Treaty between Great Britain and the United States in 1794 which opened new markets in Canada and the Great Lakes region at the expense of the Canadians. By 1800 he had amassed nearly a quarter of a million dollars, and had become one of the leading figures in the fur trade. In 1800, Astor followed the example of the Empress of China, the first American trading vessel to China, and started to trade furs, teas and sandalwood with Canton in China. He used the opportunity, that American merchants did not need a permission to trade in ports monopolized by the British East India Company after the Revolutionary War. He greatly benefited from the fur trade with China. But the Embargo Act from Thomas Jefferson in 1807 disrupted his import/export business. Therefore he established with the permission of President Jefferson the American Fur Company on April 6, 1808, and later formed subsidiaries, the Pacific Fur Company and the Southwest Fur Company (in which Canadians had a part) to control fur trading in the Columbia River and Great Lakes area respectively. His fur trading ventures were disrupted when the British captured his trading posts during the War of 1812. However, his operations rebounded in 1817 after the US Congress passed a protectionist law that barred foreign traders from U.S. Territories. The American Fur Company once again came to dominate trading in the area around the Great Lakes. In 1822, Astor established the Astor House on Mackinac Island as headquarters for the reformed American Fur Company, making the island a metropolis of the fur trade. Astor withdrew from the company in 1834. A lengthy description based on documents, diaries etc. was given by Washington Irving in his travelogue Astoria. As the cost of fur went up due to over trapping, and the demand went down due to changing fashions, Astor turned his sights on New York City real estate. He retired from business in 1834 and spent the rest of his life as a patron of culture. He supported the famous ornithologist John James Audubon, Edgar Allan Poe, and the presidential campaign of Henry Clay. Furthermore he was the founder of the first hotel which belonged to the Astor family, the Astor House. In his last will he gave orders to build the Astor Library for the New York public and to build a poorhouse in his German hometown Walldorf. At the time of his death, Astor was the wealthiest person in the United States, leaving an estate estimated to be worth 20 million dollars or more. He is interred in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery on the 155th Street in Manhattan, New York. The great bulk of his fortune was bequeathed to his second son, William Backhouse Astor Sr., instead of his eldest son John Jacob Astor II (1791-1869). A part of his money also went to found the Astor Library which was later consolidated with other libraries to form the New York Public Library.
The New York and Harlem Railroad (now the Metro-North Railroad's Harlem Line) was one of the first railroads in the United States, and was the world's first street railway. Designed by John Stephenson, it was opened in stages between 1832 and 1852 between Lower Manhattan to and beyond Harlem. Horses initially pulled railway carriages, followed by a conversion to steam engines, then one to battery-powered Julien electric traction cars. In 1907 the then leaseholders of the line, New York City Railway, a streetcar operator, went into receivership. Following a further receivership in 1932 the New York Railways Corporation converted the line to bus operation. The Murray Hill Tunnel now carries a lane of road traffic, but not the buses.
The line became part of the New York Central Railroad system with trackage rights granted to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad into Manhattan. It is now part of the Metro-North Railroad system, and the only Manhattan trackage of that system. As of 2017, Metro-North operates commuter passenger service from Grand Central Terminal, via Southeast (change from electric to diesel power), to Wassaic. The trackless right-of-way from Wassaic to Chatham is being converted to the Harlem Valley Rail Trail.
The company was incorporated on April 25, 1831 as the New York and Harlem Railroad, to link New York City with suburban Harlem. Among the company's founders was John Mason, a wealthy banker and president of Chemical Bank who was among the largest landowners in New York City. They decided to build their railroad on the eastern side of Manhattan Island, convinced that it would never be able to compete with steamboat traffic on the Hudson River.
- June 10, 1833 - north along Fourth Avenue to 32nd Street
- May 9, 1834 - north along Fourth Avenue to Yorkville, including the Murray Hill Tunnel
- October 26, 1837 - north along Fourth Avenue to Harlem, including the Yorkville Tunnel
- May 4, 1839 - south along Bowery, Broome Street and Centre Street to City Hall at Centre Street and Park Row
- September 3, 1842 - north to Williamsbridge
- December 1, 1844 - north to White Plains
- June 1, 1847 - north to Croton Falls
- December 31, 1848 - north to Dover Plains
- January 19, 1852 - north to Chatham Four Corners with a connection to the Albany and West Stockbridge Railroad, and trackage rights northwest to Albany
- November 26, 1852 - south along Park Row to Astor House at Park Row and Broadway
- A freight branch was built to Port Morris, from the 1853 purchase of the Spuyten Duyvil and Port Morris Railroad and abandoned late in the 20th century. Parts are still visible.
In 1864 or 1865, a branch was added for trains between downtown and the East 34th Street Ferry Landing, running along 32nd Street, Lexington Avenue and 34th Street. This was the start of separate horse car service, running between Astor House and the ferry.
Grand Central Depot opened just north of 42nd Street in October 1871, and intercity passenger trains from the north were ended there. Freight trains continued to operate along the tracks south of Grand Central, as did streetcars (still turning off at 42nd Street).
As in other early railroads, the dominant propulsion in the railroad's early years was horse power. In 1837, steam engines were introduced, but their use was limited to areas outside of the heavily settled parts of the city, which was then north of 23rd Street.
The New York City Common Council passed an ordinance on December 27, 1854, to take effect in 18 months, barring the NY&H from using steam power south of 42nd Street, due to complaints by persons whose property abutted the right-of-way. Before that, the steam locomotives had run to 32nd Street. When the ordinance took effect, the NY&H had not done anything. After much debate, including an injunction issued preventing the city from enforcing the ordinance, the courts struck down the injunction on July 30, 1858.
In 1864, the railroad was purchased by Cornelius Vanderbilt, who consolidated it five years later with the Hudson River Railroad to form the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, a precursor of the much larger New York Central Railroad.
On July 2, 1870, horsecars started to run not only to the 34th Street Ferry but to 73rd Street via Madison Avenue. These trains ran through the Murray Hill Tunnel and turned west on 42nd before going north on Madison (northbound cars used Vanderbilt Avenue to 44th Street). The line was soon extended to 86th Street and then to Harlem.
On April 1, 1873, the NY&H leased its freight lines to the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, but the horsecar line south of Grand Central remained separate. This eventually became the New York Central Railroad and then part of Penn Central and Conrail. Metro-North Railroad took over the line in 1983.
The first electric streetcar open to passengers in New York City, a Julien electric traction car, was run on September 17, 1888 on the line to 86th Street. The line went back to using horses for a time, but switched to a "below-grade third rail" (commonly called a "conduit") in 1897. On July 1, 1896, the Metropolitan Street Railway leased the streetcar lines.
The New York City Railway, which leased the Metropolitan, and hence also these lines, went into receivership on September 24, 1907. The receivers returned operation of the Fourth Avenue line back to the Metropolitan Street Railway on July 31, 1908. The lease was terminated on January 31, 1920 with operation was returned to the NY&H.
A stock certificate is issued by businesses, usually companies. A stock is part of the permanent finance of a business. Normally, they are never repaid, and the investor can recover his/her money only by selling to another investor. Most stocks, or also called shares, earn dividends, at the business's discretion, depending on how well it has traded. A stockholder or shareholder is a part-owner of the business that issued the stock certificates.