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During the counter-reformation period (1620) there were many protestant families that fled the Alpine town of Chiavenna, one such family was that of Giovan Pietro Astor. He fled to Zürich with his wife and two children.

There, he changed his name to Hans Peter Astor, and later Johann Jakob, his grandson, moved to Nussloch in Baden. He had a son Felix who moved to Walldorf, some 30 kilometers South of Heidelberg in 1713, and settled down at a vineyard.

He begot 20 children of whom Johann Jakob became the town butcher. Johann’s son George migrated to London and helped his paternal uncle in an instrument manufacturing business. Then, in 1777, he set up his own flute manufacturing firm and made his younger brother, John Jacob, a partner.

John Jacob migrated to New York in 1783 where he started a business in fur trade. He later invested in the New York real estate business and became America’s first self-made millionaire.

From then on, the Astor family was recognized as the ‘landlords of New York’. There are various estates in New York named after this family like the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, an Astor Row, Astor Court, Astor Place, and Astor Avenue in the Bronx, and the neighborhood of Astoria, Queens.

This family is involved in real estate, political, social, and business investments all across the United States of America and England. 

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