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NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 27, 1913
I THE FRONTIER FOR MILLIONAIRES' HOMES
The Deadline at 96th Street Has Been Reached—Will It Be Passed ?—Reminis- |
cence of the Old Fifth Avenue—When the Millionaires First Began to Build There. j
FIFTH avenue in the Nineties is
hardly less sparsely settled than
it was in the Fifties forty years ago.
The two sections and the two periods
can very profitably be compared, the
one as the prototype of the other.
A photograph taken at S4th street in
the year 1877, thirty-six years ago,
shows tliree of the corners still va¬
cant. St. Luke's Hospital occupied the
lilock between S4th and SSth streets.
There were still many vacant lots there¬
abouts, although there had been con¬
siderable building in that memorable
era of real estate speculation which be¬
gan in 1868 and continued until the
panic of 1873.
In thc fashionable district between
of the next year numerous residences
were building for millionaires in the
district, and naturally there were some
merchant builders in a position to fol¬
low the lead of those whose investments
were giving tone to the neighborhood
and guaranteeing the success of the op¬
erations. It thus happened that there
was an appearance of something like
prosperity in that part of the city.
The So-Called Deadline.
From Col. Ruppert's house northward
there is a long succession of beautiful
sites for millionaires' mansions waiting
for the builders. Either we have no
more speculators of equal courage to
those who operated in the lower Fifth
92d to 96th street was very inactive, and,
although it was in strong hands, the
prices were steadily reduced, until about
a year ago, when a very distinct revival
of interest appeared in that neighbor¬
During the past year there have been
a number of very prominent purchases,
especially in the vicinity of 93th and 96th
streets. In 96th street the first impor¬
tant improvement took place when
Ogden Codman built his new 40-foot
residence. Shortly after this, Judge
Gerard bought a 40-foot lot on Fifth
avenue, between 94th and 9Sth streets,
and he was quickly followed by Miss
Brice, who purchased a 30-foot lot be¬
tween 9Sth and 96th streets.
The residence of Felix M.
LOOKING .NORTH ON FIFTH AVENUE FROM 92D STREET.
Warburg at the north corner ot 92d Street, the home ot Col. Jacob Ruppert at the south corner ot 03d
Street, and Mount Sinai Hospital in the distance.
Madison and Fifth avenues, 42d and S9th
streets, three hundred and fifty of the
choicest lots were still unimproved
when the panic arrived. Many of these
passed slowly into the hands of wealthy
families and a few strong, conservative
The Rockefeller Purchases.
Collis P. Huntington picked up choice
parcels during this period. When John
D. Rockefeller bought from Mr. Hunt¬
ington, in 1884, his dwelling and stable
in S4th street on a frontage of 162 feet,
he no doubt considered it i "hazardous
undertaking," like some of his other in¬
vestments. William Rockefeller now
has one of those corner lots at S4th
street. He paid Joseph Vanderpool
only $50,000 for it in 1876. At the pres¬
ent time he is assessed for $1,056,000
for 50x225- ft., e.xclusive of the house.
During the centennial year business
aflfairs began to brighten and by the first
avenue sections, or else conditions are
different up here, on the new frontier.
An Interesting Study.
The northward tendency of the fine
private house business has been a most
interesting study during the past fifteen
years. When Pease & Elliman sold Mr.
Carnegie the property at 91st street and
Fifth avenue many of the most promi¬
nent real estate men in the city assured
them that Mr. Carnegie had never pur¬
chased the property for his own use, al¬
though the firm knew to the contrary;
and it was also said that anyone who
bought on the strength of Mr. Carnegie
building a residence for his own use
would lose a lot of money in this dis¬
trict, which at that time was covered
with the poorest sort of irnprovements.
During the next two years property in¬
creased in value by leaps and bounds,
and, in fact, kept on increasing until
about 1905. For awhile the section from
The buying in the side streets then
showed very great strength, the first
important purchase being made by
Ernesto G Fabbri, who married a
daughter of the late Elliott F. Shepard.
He purchased 100 feet on the north side
of 95th street, 150 feet east of Fifth
avenue. On the westerly 50 feet of this
plot he will buijd a very handsome resi¬
dence, similar in character to those
erected on the north side of 92d street
by Mr. Hammond and Mr. Burden.
Immediately west of Mr. Fabbri Pease
& Elliman then sold SO feet to Mrs.
.A.mory S. Carhart, of Tuxedo, and Mrs.
Carhart now has under construction a
very handsome SO-foot residence, which
will be one of the finest residences of
its size in the city. Mrs. Carhart, Mr.
Michael Van Beuren, and some other
friends then purchased the 100 feet on
the south side of 95th street, which was
held in one plot and was unrestricted.