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RECORD AND GUIDE
December 17, 1904
storekeepers will not move in the matter the Borough officials
should do so. The stoop-permits are an inheritance from the
time when Sth ave. was a street of residences. They are an
impediment to the growth of the avenue, and a serious incon¬
venience to thousands of people. It is time that some action
The New Fifth Avenue.
^^ HE explicit piibli:; announcement that Benjamin Altman is
1. to build a dry goods'store on Fifth ave. between 34th and
35th sts. is the most important piece of news respecting real
estate on Fifth ave. since Tiffany & Co. declared its intention of
moving. The fact that Mr. Altman proposed to take this step
has indeed been an open secret for some years; but there was
always the chance that he might not secure as much property as
he needed, and that his purpose would have to be abandoned.
The fact that Mr. Altman has at last proclaimed his intention
of building next spring shows that his plan is now irrevocable,
and that its effects upon the values of Fifth ave. property may
he accepted as reasonably certain.
These effects, both direct and indirect, will be very consider¬
able. The new Altman building will, in the first place, compel a
number of important firms, now occupying premises on the prop¬
erty, to find other habitations, and this in itself will provoke a
considerable demand for space on and near Fifth ave. It is
probable that, wherever possible, these business firms will find
their new location just off the avenue instead of on it, because
the present prices of Sth Ave. real estate give store-keepers a
strong inducement to obtain something of the benefit of a 5tli
ave. location without incurring the whole expense. One of the
displaced firms has ah'cady arranged for a building on 44th st.
just east of the avenue; and this example will be followed by
others. The avenue itself will gradually be mouopolized by the
more opulent firms, which wish particularly to make a display
as well as to have a "swell" location, while the side streets
hetween 23d and 42d sts., Madison ave., Broadway and Sixth
ave. will accommodate shcps which wish to be fashionable, but
are under no necessity to be particuiarlyconspiciious. We imagine
for instance, that the men's tailors wiil gradually be forced off
the avenue, in spite of the fact that they have so long occupied
a prominent position upon it. But, however that may be, the
important point is that the new Altman building will give an
immediate impulse to the purchase and the renting of Fifth
ave. properly, which will continue throughout the current real
■ estate year.
The indirect effects will, however, he still more considerable.
The peculiar importance of the Altman project consists in the
fact that it is the first big store of a general character which
has moved into middle 5th ave. The avenue as a business thor¬
oughfare was occupied first by tailors, milliners, picture dealers,
decorators and the like, whose customers consisted of a com¬
paratively few wealthy people.and who required a comparatively
small amount of space. This was succeeded by a period in
which, while most of the newcomers were of the old class, a
number of stores were established by firms, such as the Aeolian
Company and Tiffany, who appealed to a larger popular follow¬
ing and demanded a proportionately larger space. With the
Altman purchase a third period has begun. A store such as
this finds its customers among the whole mass of well-to-do
people. The range and the number of its frequenters is smaller,
of course, than that of a department store; but they include
almost everybody with whom cheap prices are not the first
desideratum. It is a popular store, and demands not merely
two or three lots, but an area of ar. much as 40,000 square feet.
This kind of a store introduces a new element into the group
of conditions, which makes for high values on 5th ave. It
means bigger buildings, covering more space, bigger crowds
^ ou the streets and greater concentration of all kinds. Hitherto
Ma>5th ave. has been crowded only with carriages; but with such
jjlj^tores as Altman's on the avenue, its sidewalks will become
•^^J^jverfiowing with foot-passengers as well as with footmen,
otto T^ ^^^ assuming, of course, that other large stores will follow
Soils, 'xample of Altman's. So far there is only one other block
&*Co.' "^""^ the avenue, which is owned by the large storekeeper;
°"a^d"av^'(^1^ is as yet no evidence that he proposes to build. But
O'Mara, j. 105"^ on it is inevitable that the dry goods stores, which
Palamonntain, A. gj^tman's will obtain a location in or near upper
Paimroos H 5817 1th ^^'"^^ depends to a considerable extent upon
Parker, -Mary E. •214 Cumbages can afford to remain below 23d st. It
Peterson, Anna. '23 Maple at. r r »., , ,
Quinlan, Sadie. 17,1 Bristol. .y<"^^ ^""^^ °^ them move and when they
Quin'i,^' Nettie F. 12S Halsey. .Bro^^"'^ become SO high that they will
nP°- . T, f. nn- , '""^t on the avenue. But they will
Richardson, R S. 337 17lh. .1 Mason .u i , ,
Richardson, H L. Eaet 52d st. .Cowper'L ^nc end; and the sooner they
accept this necessity the better it will be for them. It is the
business men who appreciated this situation years ago, who are
well off at the present time.
The business part of 5th ave. is assuredly destined to be¬
come the most typical thoroughfare of New York, and one of the
handsomest streets architecturally speaking in the country.
It v.'ill be typical because it will be gay and crowded and yet
at the same time distinguished. Broadway was and is crowded;
but it v,-as always too miscellaneous to be distinguished.
Fifth ave. is consistent and it is fashionable. It will contain
nothing but hotels and shops—the most expensive in the city;
and it will constitute the centre of the distinctively metropoli¬
tan life of the metropolis—the life which is different from that
which is to be found in any foreign capital or any other
American city. As to its architecture that is only beginning
to show what it is likely to become. For a long time Fifth ave.
was lined with nothing but reconstructed residences. This
reconstruction was sometimes very excellently done. Indeed, a
new type of store front has been worked out—one with a com¬
paratively solid stone base, and with the openings above
grouped in the centre of the facade and framed with stone piers
and a cornice. But we imagine that the day for reconstructed
house-fronts on oth ave. has gone by. Land has become so
expensive that taller buildings are now becoming the rule—
buildings like these about to be occupied by the Tiffany & Gor¬
ham companies. These buildings are designed by the best archi¬
tects in the city, and will, when they become sufficiently num¬
erous, give the avenue a very different atmosphere. Its archi¬
tecture will be showy and so far unbusinesslike; but it will be
adapted to fashionable stores, patronized by wealthy clients.
It will be "smart" and "swell," and will constitute an appro¬
priate scenery lor the panorama of the 5th ave. crowd.
Evils with the Speculation in the Bronx.
To the Editor of The Record and Guide:
Few of those who have been rushing to the Bronx to buy real
estate and gather in the unearned increment have stopped to
consider the cause of the "boom" and the effect it will have on
the future of the Bronx. Their concern Is simply to make money
while the "boom" lasts, and when it is over they will go else¬
where. Por this they cannot be blamed, as it is only human na¬
ture to acquire as much as possible for the proverbial "rainy
The cause of the boom is the cheapness of land in the Bronx
as compared with Manhattan, and the expectation that a great
number of people will want to use the land. Rapid transit be¬
ing a fact, the expectation is that thousands of people will come
up here to live and do business. The shrewd speculator, fore¬
seeing these conditions, simply forestalls the newcomer anfl
makes him pay an increased price for the land when he wants to
use it for legitimate purposes.
This increased price of land is capitalized rent; that is, the
realizing in advance, by the speculator, of the expectation of the
increased rent which naturaly follows the inflated price of land.
What will be the effect of all this on the future growth of the
Bronx? The result cannot be other than injurious. The price
of land will continue to increase by reason of competition for it
until it reaches a point where it will be unprofitable to buy.
Then land speculation as it is now will practically cease in this
section. Then those who bought last, at top notch prices, will
be obliged to keep their holdings.
This land, being abnormally high in price, will be left actually
out of use. Builders who seek vacant land for improvement will
find the price prohibitive, and rather than buy land at too high a
price M-ill prefer idleness rather than building without a profit.
The few who will have the hardihood to build will be obliged to
charge such high rents by reason of the high price of land (and
material), that their apartments will remain idle, and many ten¬
ants who would prefer to live in the Bronx, will be kept away.
The growth of the Bronx will be retarded, for when building
ceases all other industries are depressed. Manufacturers who
would come to the Bronx and attract multitudes of employees,
will be kept away, 'because, forsooth, factory sites are so expen¬
sive that they cannot afford to build. Rather than pay a dog-
in-the-manger price for the land they prefer to remain where
they are and pay rent, or go elsewhere, where factory sites are
In pointing out these evils of land speculation, I have en¬
deavored to show that, instead of a blessing, the boom will prove
a curse to the Bronx; that instead of increasing business in
every direction it will act as a blight; that instead of increasins
population it will retard development. Nor Is there any real or
lasting benefit to anyone by this land speculation, except to the
land speculator who produces nothing, adds not a cent's worth of
wealth to the community, but on the contrary, retards its growth
by absorbing for his own use the increasing rents of property for
business and dwelling purposes, which he takes in advance from
the community in the shape c* the unearned increment. E. P.