“Have you seen that place of Charlie’s? It makes mine look like a shack.” Andrew Carnegie

Charles Schwab's NYC Estate
Charles Schwab’s NYC Estate

Shall we hate another rich man today? Maybe not today. Charlie Schwab doesn’t seem the type to hate. I’ve just met him so I’ll let you know if I change my mind. Here’s what I like:

He’s one of those people my socialist theory professor told me didn’t exist–a self-made man. Can’t we all admit self-made people are pretty great? “Born in 1862, Schwab at age 18 was a stake driver for one of the Carnegie steel mills, and at 21 chief engineer. In 1897, and only 35, he became the president of the Carnegie Steel Company, a part of Andrew Carnegie’s steel empire in which Henry Frick was a partner.” NYTimes

He considered himself lucky and quite ordinary. Sadly for the massive mansion he built called Riverside, he bought what he liked and built how he felt. No grand plans to turn his home into one of the finest art museums in the country (like Henry Clay Frick did) or anything like that.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

All of the Richie Riches refused buying land on the “wrong side” of Manhattan, but when the land with river views that used to house the orphan’s asylum came on the market Charles and his wife jumped on it–no matter what others said! They bought a CITY BLOCK and used a less than famous architect to design a home that included “a gym, a bowling alley, a pool, three elevators and interiors in the styles of Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XV and Louis XVI.” Okay, that was a bit much, but still kind of fun.

.What drives a person to build such a big house? Celebrities do it all the time and I wonder about them, too. It’s kind of embarrassing, isn’t it? But then I come from puritan stock and don’t go in for bowling (shoot me first).

He lost it all in the Crash of 1929. This makes things interesting. What to do with the house? Pawn it off to the city as a new mayor’s residence? Nope. The city was having none of it. Seems even they understood the neighborhood wasn’t that impressive.

He stayed married to the same woman for 50 years and died only a year after she did. After her death he left the mansion and moved into a hotel. I’m imagining him sitting at his bedside with a drink in his hand while holding a sweet picture of wifey before going to sleep. I love when men die quickly after their women.

NY Times StreetScapes

Charles Schwab House Wiki

10 responses to ““Have you seen that place of Charlie’s? It makes mine look like a shack.” Andrew Carnegie”

  1. Wonderful!

    I too had a big whopping of Puritanism in my background. I grew up in New England and despite the fact that my ancestry was Jewish/Ukrainian you couldn’t help but take on some of the Yankee stoicism. Rich people are suppose to hide their wealth, not flaunt it. That’s something “self-made men” do.

    And yes, I love them. They populated my imagination to an incredible degree when I was younger.


    • My father was Irish/German immigrant stock–responsible and melancholy. He was never brash enough to be a self-made man in the business sense (that was his brother– he became quite rich and the envy of the family).

      My father was an old school cop (including mustache). This was before the militarization 🙂 Since both my parents were raised in poverty you would think they’d flaunt the money they eventually made, but they didn’t. They behaved more like old money for some reason. I admired them greatly growing up.


      • Perhaps as an old school, mustached, pre-militarization cop he saw a side of life that kept one from attaching too much value to wealth. Did he work in a big city?

        I used to admire the police. I hate that so many of them seem out of control these days. I’m hoping recent incidents are isolated things but it’s hard not to see trends. I try to keep an open mind, but I have to admit, if I get pulled over any time soon, my heart will probably be racing.


      • My father was a small town cop–mostly dealt with drug addicts and domestic violence. Once he went on a call to an old lady’s apartment. She was convinced there was a little green man on top of the TV set so my father went to the set and carried the imaginary green man out and put him in the squad car. The woman was much relieved.

        Good cops do that sort of stuff. I want to believe that most are like my father, but like you, I have to wonder about trends (and the reason behind the trends).


      • They are men and women just like us. They are caught up in a system that is spinning out of control. The system dehumanizes suspected criminals and at the same time robs the police of their humanity – or, at least threatens to.

        Your dad sounds like a sweet man. You come from a very special family.


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