Alexander Turney Stewart Biography & Net Worth


Alexander Turney Stewart Biography & Net Worth

Popular Name: A.T. Stewart
Real Name: Alexander Turney Stewart
Birth Date: October 12, 1803
Birth Place:
Lisburn, Ulster, Ireland
Age: Died on April 10, 1876 (aged 72)
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: Irish, American
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Married
Cornelia Mitchell Clinch ​(m. 1823)
Children: N/A
Profession: Businessman, Investor, Entrepreneur
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $90 Billion
Last Updated: 2021

Alexander Turney Stewart is remembered as a highly successful Irish-American enterpriser who reigned during the 19th century. Born in Ireland, he moved to the United States as an adventurous young man and ended becoming a top retail dry-goods businessman. Considered to be a business mastermind, he started his own business with department stores. He later started his own manufacturing facilities and then started a mail order business. He owned multiple hotels in New York City and built the community of Garden City, Long Island. Stewart was engaged with several kinds of charitable works as well. For instance, he sent foodstuff to Ireland during the country’s mid-century famine. His pioneering moves towards merchandise business had a progressive effect on retail businesses in the United States. He introduced several brilliant ideas by becoming his own manufacturer and wholesaler and maintained his European manufacturing units. He constructed a large marble-fronted shop on Broadway between Reade Street and Chambers Street in New York City; it was the world’s largest retail store at that time. Stewart’s residential building in the United States was identified as one of the best private homes. He also had the biggest collection of valuable art. His business grew beyond beliefs and he left the world as one of the richest people in America. Before his passing, Stewart owned two large shops whose combined sales was worth more than $200 million, and to this day, he is still remembered as one of the greatest business geniuses to walk the face of the earth.

Early Life: Childhood, Education

He was born in Lisburn, Ulster, Ireland, to Scottish parents on October 12, 1803. His father died when he was a little baby and his mother remarried soon afterward. She left Stewart in the care of his grandfather and moved to America with her new husband.

For his education, Stewart went to a village school before gaining an admission to Mr. Neely’s English Academy in 1814. He completed his formal education at Belfast Academical Institution, after which he left Scotland for the United States.

Professional Life: Business Career

Once he had landed in New York, in the United States of America, Alexander Turney Stewart started working as a tutor at Isaac N. Bagg’s Academy, Roosevelt Street. Between 1818 and 1822, he visited his homeland to claim his grandfather’s inheritance. When he had succeeded in claiming all that his grandfather left behind on his passing, Stewart returned to New York and started his business, opening 283 Broadway store on September 1, 1823 as the first of many. He did not advertise his business until 1831. Instead, he placed cases full of goods in front of the store to get the attention of prospective customers. He focused on establishing good relationships with the customers to encourage their return to his store.

By 1848, his business venture which he named AT Stewart & Company erected the Marble Palace at 280 Broadway. This building, now regarded as “the cradle of the department store” made Stewart’s business one of the most successful retailers in America. It was the first commercial building in the United States that exhibited an extravagant exterior. His business flourished during the American Civil War. He won government contracts to supply the Union Navy and Army with uniforms which extensively boosted his status as a businessman.

Alexander Turney Stewart Net Worth
A.T. Stewart & Company Founder, Alexander Turney Stewart

In 1862, he built his “real” department store, mostly known as the “Iron Palace”, which provided jobs for more than 2,000 people. Initially, it had nineteen departments selling dress goods, silks, carpets, and toys, among other commodities. By 1877, it had expanded to thirty individual departments, carrying an even wider assortment of products.

From 1862 to 1871 Stewart served in many Chamber of Commerce Committees in New York State. Owing to his growing influence, then U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant offered him the seat of the Secretary of the Treasury in the year 1869, but law disqualified Stewart from taking position owing to his business connection. He was a very successful businessman by this time and was estimated to earn an annual income of $1,000,000 in 1869.

From 1869 to 1870, he constructed the famed Fifth Avenue palaces in 34th Street, New York. After incorporating the Long Island Central Railroad in 1871, he completed it two years later. This railroad became a part of the Long Island Rail Road system three years after completion.

He also started a mail order business in 1876 after recognizing the potential of such a business. He employed 20 clerks to help in expanding this business. In 1876 alone, he recorded a profit of over $500,000 from the mailing business. His business model became popular for its efficiency and convenience, and other companies soon began following his business methods.

He also made significant investments in New York real estate, and it helped him grow his fortune. Before his demise he was also able to establish his own manufacturing facilities and also produced his own woolen fabrics.

Achievements: Awards & Honors

Stewart’s growing standing as one of the most prosperous businessmen in the United States got him recognition as one of the richest people in the country.

He had the famed 280 Broadway (also known as the A.T. Stewart Dry Goods Store & Marble Palace) constructed for opening New York’s first department store. It was the first commercial structure in the Italianate style in New York. This particular building was declared a National Historic Landmark in the years 1965, and was designated a New York City landmark twenty-one years later.


Stewart was greatly concerned with charity during his time alive. He is probably most remembered for his donations to the people of Ireland in their time of need. He sent a shipload of food items to Belfast, Ireland, when the city was suffering from a famine in 1847. Not only that, but he also arranged for numerous immigrants from Ireland to join him in America where he helped them find jobs.

Personal Life: Wife, Children, Private Interests

In 1823, Stewart got married to Cornelia. She was the daughter of a wealthy ship chandler James Clinch, and his wife Susannah Banker.


Stewart died on April 10, 1876. At the time of his passing, he was considered one of the richest people in New York. He was buried at St. Mark’s Church in Bowery.

After three weeks of his burial, his body went missing. It was recovered after clearing the ransom payment.

Alexander Turney Stewart Net Worth: Salary, Income Sources, Assets, Real Estate

The Irish entrepreneur Alexander Turney Stewart had a net worth of $90 billion at the height of his success. He made his multi-billion dollar wealth in the dry good business. He wanted to become a minister and relocated to New York City, New York, where he positioned most of his business ventures.

Stewart he had an annual income of almost $2 million in 1863. His business was known as A.T. Stewart & Co. and his stores sold Irish fabrics and domestic calicos when he started his business with his earnings as a tutor plus what he had inherited from his grandfather. His business later expanded to mail orders, and numerous other merchandise which greatly provided him with profit. He was one of the richest men in New York during his final years.

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