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AUGUST 3, 1912
REAL ESTATE PROSPECTS ON LEXINGTON AVENUE
Corner Lots Have Advanced $10,000 to $15,000 Each Under the Influence of the
Subway—Inside Lots Held at $1,200 to $2,000 a Front Foot—Types of Construction.
I EXINGTON AVENUE is about to oc-
'-' cupy an important place among the
city's north and south thoroughfares. Up
to the present it has been something of
an anomaly, quite as much so as Fourth
avenue before the boom struck It in 1906.
Though less conspicuous than many of
our thoroughfares, Lexington avenue re¬
flects in its own way the growth of New
Torlc City. A couple of generations ago
it was virtually a country road; or, to
put it more accurately, the area now tra¬
versed by Lexington avenue was rural
In 1850 Bull's Head Village was still in
existence—one of those queer, ragged set¬
tlements that grow up about the out¬
skirts of most large cities. It straggled
over the area now bounded by Second
and Fourth avenues. Twenty-third and
Twenty-seventh streets. This community
derived its name, and more or less of its
liquid refreshment, from Bull's Head
Tavern, about which were grouped the
cattle markets of the day.
Just beyond was real country, with
At about Forty-ninth street, near Third
avenue, a small settlement known as
Odellville, had sprung up about a suc¬
cessful road house kept by Odell. In
the neighborhood of Fiftieth street Pot¬
ter's Field had been established.
Yorkville was the next settlement. Be¬
tween it and the smaller hamlet of
Odellville was another stretch of coun¬
try, with the homes of the wealthy set
here and there among picturesque sur¬
Yorkville, which has practically merged
its identity with that of the upper East
Side and lower Harlem, was an import¬
ant community. Its boundaries would
correspond with Fifth avenue. East River,
Fifty-seventh and One Hundredth street.
Its principal thoroughfare was the East¬
ern, or Boston, Post road. Within this
area, which represented a territory con¬
siderably larger than the original hamlet
along the East River from which York¬
ville sprang, were the country homes of
some of New York's wealthiest citizens.
The roster of Yorkville's old families
tirely without its booms. Ten years ago,
notably in the Forties and Fifties, there
was a buying movement which grew to
fairly large proportions. This was based
entirely on the plans of the New York
Central for electrifying its suburban lines
and rebuilding the Grand Central Sta¬
tion. It received considerable impetus
also from the fact that the demand for
fine residences in the Fifth avenue sec¬
tion had caused a corresponding exten¬
sion of the better class residence area
along many of the side streets towards
Lexington avenue, from the Fifties north.
The speculative buying done in antici¬
pation of this was rather more extensive
than the demand warranted. To indicate
the speculative interest in this thorough¬
fare, one brokerage firm in the early part
of 1903 sold about fifty houses and an¬
other more than thirty.
Although Lexington avenue was at
that time included in the subway routes,
comparatively little of the speculative
interest of eight or nine years ago was
founded upon this fact.
LEXINGTON AVE, LOOKING NOR TH FROM GRAMERCY PARK.
New Co-operative Apartment House in right foreground.
LOOKING NORTH FROM FORTY-SECOND STREET.
On left are New Structuros—Part ot the New York Central'!
here and there the estate of some sub¬
stantial citizen. That of Peter Cooper
was at the southwest corner of Fourth
avenue and Twenty-eighth street. The
Eastern Post road passed in front of the
tavern to about the line that is now Lex¬
ington avenue, paralleling this line to
Forty-second street, where it merged into
Third avenue. The Anson G. Phelps
estate was at Twenty-seventh street,
running down to the East River.
About Kips Bay, in the vicinity of
Thirty-second street, clustered another
settlement. Where now stand the car
barns at Fourth and Lexington avenues
and Thirty-second and Thirty-third
streets was Sun Fish Pond, spreading over
to Madison avenue and finding an outlet
to the East River by way of a brook
which, insignificant enough in the sum¬
mer, was swelled by the winter rain and
snow into a stream that caused the resi¬
dents of Rose Hill and Murray Hill con¬
The Turtle Bay colony extended from
Forty-third to Fifty-first streets. Here
was Cato's road house, the dinners of
which drew fashionable patronage from
would include such names as Astor, Beek¬
man. Brevoort, Gracie, Jones. Lawrence.
Paulding, Prime, Provost, Rhinelander.
Riker and Schermerhom. Half a cen¬
tury ago their country houses occupied
the choicest sites of old Yorkville. many
of them being on or near the Boston Post
Gradually the stages that lumbered out
from the city up the Boston Post road
were superseded by a more rapid means
of conveyance—the horse car. Some
thirty years ago Yorkville, of which Third
avenue was then the busiest artery of
traffic, shares in the extension of the ele¬
vated lines. Cable cars displaced the
horse cars and were in turn cast aside
for electric cars.
Meantime the old estates had been cut
up into building lots. The city had over¬
spread Yorkville. Fine mansions had dis¬
appeared to be replaced by three-story
houses. In its lower and middle stretches
Lexington avenue attracted a substan¬
tial class of private house residents.
Tenements rose rapidly where the thor¬
oughfare leads from Yorkville into Har¬
Lexington avenue has not been en-
Since the boom of 1903 spasmodic pur¬
chasing campaigns have developed. There
was one in 1907. In 1909 another flurry of
activity passed over the avenue and since
then there have been intermittent signs
of interest, mostly of a speculative char¬
acter. The activity of these periods was
apparently the result of emphasis laid
on one phase or another of the plans
of the Xew York Central Railroad.
Singularly enough, the intense profess¬
ional interest usually manifested at actual
digging for subway construction has so
far found no marked expression in the
case of Lexington avenue. This fact gives
the thoroughfare one of its chief points
of interest. For undoubtedly the oper¬
ation of a subway almost its entire
length, or from approximately Thirty-
fourth street to the Harlem River, with
connections at the Grand Central Station,
into the Bronx and Queens; and at three
or four ot the city's most prominent cross-
town thoroughfares, will create a marked
change in the appearance of Lexington
avenue. In the light of experience, it
should also bring about a favorable re¬
adjustment of values.
The intermittent booms of the past