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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 20, no. 509: December 15, 1877

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Yol. XX. NEW YOEK, SATUEDAY, JDECEMBEE 15, 1877. No. 509. Published Weekly by TERMS. ONE YEAR, in advance....$10.00. Communications should be addressed to C. MV. SWEET, Nos. 345 AND 347 Broadway. FOURTH AVENUE. Fourth avenue enjoys the distinction, among our leading avenues, of being the one that be¬ gins nowhere and ends nowhere. It gains its first iniportance as a spur of the Bowery, whenee it derives no small share of the business element. But this favorable inception is quickly undone ■when the avenue becomes lost pr swallowed up in the great retail mart of Union square. Here its mergence with the square is complete, and Fourth avenue is quite obliterated amid the confiuence of different streets and avenues, until it re-appears again at the upper end of the square as Union place—a title bestowed upon it many years ago with a view of inducing fashionable residence occupation. In its new departure ifc is distin¬ guished as the locality of the only Ifcalian villas ever projected in continuous ro-tys in this city, one of which has already fallen victim to the dis¬ use and disfavor of this class of residence. At the • corner of Eighfceenfch sfcreefc one of fchese ancient landmarks has been recently thrown down pre- parafcory to fche erecfcion of a fine specimen of the aparfcmenfc system, fche fcvs^o fcypes beingtepresent- ati-ve of the eai'lier and lafcer thought of New- York. This section of the avenue also calls to miud fche favor with which it was once regarded as the site of elegant and wealthy churches, no less fchan four principal church buildings being discernible wifchin the range of a few blocks, to wit—the Unifcarian Church of the Messiah, the Methodist Church of Saint Paul, the Episcopal Calvary Church, and Dr. Crosby's Presbyterian Church; and, to complete its religious tone and character, we have the imposing building of fche Young Men's Christian Association, afc the corner of Twenty-third streefc, and, on fche opposite cor¬ ner, in lonely is dafcion of construction. Art, the accepted handmaid of relig-ion, has reared her pe¬ culiar temple. Above Twenfcy-third street the avenue loses its artistic and religious character nuder the malign influence of what was once the greatest railroad depot oj the city. The strange infafcuation which leads men to expect great re¬ sults, in a business way, from proximity to a large depofc should have received its quietus from the developments surrounding Twenfcy-sixth sfcreet. The smallest class of shops, inferior hotels, cheap restaurants and low drinking saloons are the principal characteristics of this location, and have stamped an iudolible stigma upon the neighborhood, although liere is cropping out; a generous and public-spn-ited movement to im¬ prove fche avenue in this quarfcer. The old build¬ ing at fche corner of Twenty-fifth street, caiceused as Turnure's livery stable, has been remodeled with excellent taste; the lower stqries^being used as an auction room, the upper stories as artists* stydios/ At tiie .corner of Twenty-,sixtb''str6et Mr. Ottendorfer is aboufc completing a fcrue model of the apartment system and one likely to become an architectural adornment fco the neighborhood. The ultimate destiny of the Hippodrome block will go far to define and sefctle the character of fchis porfcion of Fourth avenue. Afc Thirty-second street in fche face of the munificent liberality of Mr. Stew¬ art displayed in the erection of a massive and sumpfcuous hofcel, the true and lasting character of this avenue as the greafc railroad thoroughfare begins to define itself. At Thirty-third street the career of Fourth avenue is rudely and ab¬ ruptly broken up- by the high bluff over whose crown runs Thirty-fourth street, and under whose brow begins the famous piercing of the great Harlem tunnel, the wonder of New York in the childhood of men who are now of middle age. At Thirty-fourth street the ave¬ nue takes on an entirely new ahd distinct charac¬ ter. The ideal of a choice residence location is for the first time realized, and from that point until its continuity is hopelessly lost and broken by the Grand Central Depot there is presenfced as striking and unique a development of the fash¬ ionable residence quarter as the city of New York can boast of, in continuous rows of costly naan- sions, umnarred by any eyesore, nuisance or inva¬ sion. Until quifce a late period this portion of the avenue was destitute of atfcraofcions. The uncer¬ tainty as to whether the horse railroad would be run upon fche surface or buried in fche tunnel deter¬ red builders from erecting privafce houses in any great number. When this problem finally was solv¬ ed and the upper surface of the avenue was guar¬ anteed against such intrusion, the happy thought of constructing a series of uiclosed parks above the tunnel seemed to furnish the necessary mag¬ net for drawing fche wealfch and fashion of New York to this quarter, and, eventually, conferred upon this avenue of vicissitudes its new, distinct¬ ive, and exceedingly popular name of Park ave¬ nue. Park avenue rnight have remained through time the rnodeat peer of Lexington and perhaps the inferior of Madison avenue bufc forthe for¬ tunate circumstance thafc a few prominent mil¬ lionaires, like Jaines Brown and Jonathan Sturges, were so dilatory in vacating their down town residences that all the choice spots on Murray- Hill were taken up before they beiican to prospect aboufc for new residence sifces. As recently as seven years ago these greafc magnates of fashion aijd commprcei, beiujg di-iven from their former hoinfes onUiiiyersity place and Fourfceenth sfcreefc, by the' invasion of trade, kicated the sifces on Park avenue which are now adorned wifch their massive and elegant mansions. Such eminenfc examples could not fail to have a beneficial effect upon fche further improvement of fche avenue, and a fine field was here afforded for the indulgence of modern taste in dwellings on the parfc of belated and wealthy families. To-day, Park avenue, solidly built up, with the exception of the comer of Thirty-ninth sti-eefc, presenfcs a succession of imposing private dwellings and numbers among its residents exponents of tho greatest wealth and , the most'eliie respectability.' The representafcite ' mansions are those pt Jonathan Sturges and Conf- ' modoi'eGaJ-rlscoi at .Thirty-sixth street; of JaiaeS Brown and William Libby at Thirty-seventh; of A. H. Barney and C. P. Huntington at Thirty- eighth street; and Willis James at Thirty-ninth street. The residences of these gentlemen are of the most luxurious, elaborate and costly descrip¬ tion. Mr. Hunfcingfcon, fche President of the Pacific road, has recenfcly purchased two houses of full width and connected them together by openings in the partywaU some¬ whafc after fche fashion of Wm. Butler Duncan's house on Washington square. Mr. Libby en¬ larged and remodeled the Bininger Clark house, giving to it a massive^ and striking exterior. The fiill influences of the' Gfknd Central Depot on surrounding property have yet to be developed. The practical limit of Park avenue for residence purposes is found at Fortieth street, on which corner there is a model apartment building be¬ longing to Boston parties. At Forfcy-second street all trace of Fourth avenue is completely lost in the gridiron or network of railroad tracks which converge afc the Central Depot. The sidewalks of the avenue loom in sight again at Forty-ninth sfcreet, but no pracfcical use of the avenue is gained imtil we reach Fifty-third or Fifty-fom-th streets, and there the slightly depressed condition of the railroad track subjects the adjoining prop¬ erty to aUthe injury of an exposed steam raflroad track quite as much so as if, the tracks were laid upon the svu-face. Afc Fiffcy-sixfch sfcreefc fche avenue takes on the character of a grand boulevard, and, though occasional openings occur in the tunnel, the road-bed is buried so far below the surface fchat the cars are almost lost fco sighfc and hearing. From Fifty-sixth to Ninety-sixth street, a dis¬ tance of two miles, the avenue presents a pecu¬ liarly grand appearance from its extraordinary width of one hundred and forfcy feet and from the really artistic manner in which its surface ha been graded and regulated, fche sfcone pavement of the roadway being already l-aid as far as Siixfcy- sevenfcli sfcreefc. The problem of the flnal disposi¬ tion of this parfc of the avenue must be near its solution. Any hope of a continued projection of private residences with a perpetuation of the fanciful name of Park avenue might as well be abandoned, for the reason fchat the breaks in the tunnel are sufficiently numerous tc» discourage this cla-s of occupation. Wherever these breaks occur ifc is almosfc certain thafc the avenue lots will be —in fact,'have already been—turned into street lots; or, if the avenue lots ai-e improved as such, it willbe with .the steieotyped store and tene¬ ments of other ]ea