August Belmont, Jr.

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August Belmont, Jr. : biography

February 18, 1853 – December 10, 1924

Death

He spent his last years on his estate in North Babylon, New York. He died on December 10, 1924 at his apartment at 550 Park Avenue. and was buried in the Belmont family plot at Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island along with his parents and his brother Perry Belmont.

His widow, Eleanor, then sold most of the estate to a property developer. She outlived her husband by fifty-five years, dying just before her 100th birthday in 1979. The remaining , including the family mansion, lake, and main farm buildings, were taken over by New York State. Under the control of planner Robert Moses, the estate was later expanded to and turned into Belmont Lake State Park. The mansion served as headquarters for the Long Island State Park Commission until 1935, when it was demolished to make way for the current building.

Marriages

In 1881, August Belmont, Jr. married childhood sweetheart and next-door neighbor, Elizabeth Hamilton Morgan. She died at age thirty-six while visiting Paris, France in 1898. A widower for twelve years, on February 26, 1910 he married actress Eleanor Robson.

Early life

Born in New York City, he was the son of Caroline Slidell (née Perry) and the wealthy banker, August Belmont. His maternal grandfather was Commodore Matthew C. Perry. He graduated from St. Mark’s School (Massachusetts) and was an 1875 graduate of Harvard University, where, as a sprinter, he introduced spiked track shoes to the United States.

Upon his father’s death, he inherited a position as head of the Belmont banking house, August Belmont & Co., and served as a director of the National Park Bank. He was chairman of the board of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

August Belmont, Jr. founded the Interborough Rapid Transit Company in 1902 to help finance the construction of and operate New York City’s first underground rapid transit line. He served as president, and, in 1907, chairman of the company. Belmont holds the distinction of owning the world’s only purpose built private subway car. Named Mineola, it was used by Belmont to give tours of the IRT.

American Kennel Club

In 1888, August Belmont, Jr. became the fourth President.

Cape Cod Canal

August Belmont was instrumental in making the Cape Cod Canal a reality. The grand opening of the Cape Cod Canal took place on July 29, 1914, and it was soon plagued with troubles. Belmont’s canal was expensive for mariners, costing as much as $16.00 for a trip by schooner, a considerable sum in those days. The narrow width and shallow depth of the canal made navigation difficult, and tidal flows created dangerous currents, so many mariners continued to use the routes around the cape. As a result, tolls did not live up to expectations and the Cape Cod Canal became a losing proposition. As a result, the Canal was purchased by the U.S. Government on March 30, 1928.