crown CU Home > Libraries Home
[x] Close window

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections: The Real Estate Record

Use your browser's Print function to print these pages.

Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 21, no. 535: June 15, 1878

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031128_021_00000525

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XXI. NEW YORK, SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 1878. No. 535. Publislied Weekly by E>^t %rd (Instate %icaxti %%5acmimx, TERJIS. ONE YEAR, in advance....SIO.OO. Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET, Nos. :145 AND 347 Broadway. THE FIFTH AVENUE. The supremacy of Fifth avenue is natural and demonstrable, not accidental or artificial. A cursory examination may lead some to believe that uuder given circunistauces iu the settlement of the city, Fourth or Sixth avenues might have been chosen as the seat of fashionable residence. Aside from the preeminent claims of Fifth avenue as the natural centre of the island, occupying au elevated and command iug position, there are other considerations which maj- have precluded any other choice. Fourth avenue -was alreadj-- occupied bj' the and steam care, and Sixth avenue had been appropriated for busi¬ ness purposes. The claims of localities east and west of these last meiitioueil avenues had been investigated, tried and found wanting. It required but little prescience to determine that the shore line of this island would eventually and whollj' be taken up as the locale of manu¬ facturing business, although no one could have anticipated that, in this class of business w-ould be included fat rendering and bone boiling and the production of fertilizers. Suftlcieut experience had been gained in the once fashionable localities of the Seventh Ward, and in the colonization sought to be established by Dr. Clement Moore on the North River, to convince observant and far- seeing citizens] of an eai'ly period that the shore line, notwithstanding its coimnanding river views and salubrious breezes, was entirely unfitted for purposes of fashionable private residences. These considerations predetermined the choice of Fifth avenue as the seat of fashion, a choice wliich after generations have fully approved, and which 'reflects conspicuously the sagacity and forecast of our forefathers. It stands to-doy the via maxima of the metropolis and of the continent; destined in time perhaps to assert its superiority over any fashionable thoroughfare that the world can produce. At the present day we are little concerned about its past hLstory or the legends and traditions of its origin. We propose to take a brief glance at its present status and its future prospect-s and capabilities. We will consider it in sections. 1st. Washington squaue to Twenty-seco.nd STREET.—This lower extremity of the aveuue is iil an anomalous condition. It can hardly be iieeined to be in an obsolete or moribund condi¬ tion, because, it still retains the residences of many eminent and wealthy citizens, and there is a fair sprinkling of business along the line. It is bisected and invigorated by Fourteenth street; a street destined to renew tbe ti-aditious and glories of old Canal street as a retail shopping matt. And yefj, somewhat unaccountably, property valuatious are at a very low ebb in this section of Fifth avenue. The Springier leases are being i^e- newed at valuations of S12,000 to $10,000 for a full lot, and the of the old Delmonico cor¬ ner, with its commanding frontage of street and avenue and its extended superficial area, was re¬ centlj'made at the ground rental of $3,500, a higher sum it is believed, than the propertj- can now afford to pay. Business experiments on this line have uot been remarkably successful. The trouble seems to be that there are too manj' old wealthy citizens flriiilj- settled in their spa¬ cious and comfortable houses, who have stub¬ bornly and resolutelj-- determined uot to be re¬ moved except by the undertaker. Consequentlj' there is not sulllcient unanimity in the conversion of dwellings into stores. Here and there a single owner has defied the common sentiment and ven¬ tured to erect a handsome store, as the Cutting estate, the Gibbs estate and some others have done, and, in truth, thej' have been verj- poorly repaid for their enterprise. Then this part of Fifth avenue is obliged to conqieto verj' sbarplj- with those established marts with which it is ad¬ jacently and completely surrounded, to wit : Broadway, Fourteenth street. Sixth avenue and Twenty-third street. If one or two solid blocks of old dwellings on this line couhl be converted at oue time into appropriate stores so as to afford an opportunitj' for a variety of business occupa¬ tions, we believe the future of this^sectioii would define itself very quicklj-. It will be hani we know to move such old resi¬ dents OS the Lenox, Talbot, Minturn, Taj'lor, Belmont families and others, who have lifelong and priceless associaticns connected with their present abode.s, and who are there surrounded with creature comforts which more modern resi¬ dences might fail to afford. These large resi¬ dences are too wasteful of room and too expen¬ sive to be eligible for boarding house purposes, when at length thej' are surrendered bj' their present owners. The probabilities are that slowly but surely thej' will be converted into stores, aud, in time, lower Fifth avenue will be a formidable competitor of the surrounding busi¬ ness thoroughfares. Those who imagine that it is hopelessly cut off and isolated by the crossing of Broadway, at Twentj--third street, may live to see their mistake demonstrated. 2d. Twenty-second street to Thirty-sec¬ ond STREET.—^Within these teu blocks are com¬ prised the most interesting as it is the most active and bristling portion of the avenue. The great vortex of population that surges and pul¬ sates ai^ound the street foeii at Madison square sends a more or less disturbing influence up and down Fifth avenue. The two faces of the blocks lietween Twenty-second and Twenty-third streets are now wholly given up to trade with the exception of Dr. Peckhani's cor¬ ner. His residence continues to stand as a noble sentinel of the past, and is a type of the stubborn but unavailing resistance which old res¬ idents have invariably presented to the encroach¬ ments of trade. This short section between Ttvehty-seeond and Twenty-third streets exem- tilifles what we may expect in a short time to be the appearance of the whole tivenue as far as Thirty-second street. A dozen years ago A sincere and deterlnined efi'ort was made to turn thh whole or the greAter part of this section to commercial uses. This purpose was thwarted by the prohibitive tariff w-hich owners then saw fit to place upou the fee simple of their premises. There maj- be a few, but verj- few, of the ow-ners who refuse to recognize the rapid onward march of business on Fifth avenue. The conviction has been forced slowly and reluctantly upon the minds of all, that sooner or later these residences will be demanded for business purposes. With some it is a question of " how soon " and with others of "how much." Already many of the houses in this tiuarter have been given up for boarding house i;urposes for which they happen to be verj' well adapted. This is an evidence of the exodus of the fashionable owners, which haw already begun. Scarcely a j'ear passes but two or more of these buildings are converted into stores and nothing prevents their wholesale con¬ version to-daj' but the exorbitant prices which are demanded by owners. At one time as high as §200,000 or 82r>0,000 was asked for a single lot. Since then theso pretentions have fallen, but recent transactions indicate the verj' high appre¬ ciation in which this propertj- is heldbj- both buy¬ ers and .sellere. The most recent sales are tbe northwest corner of Tlibty-.second street at $120,000 ; the corner of Thirtj'-second street at $11.'},000 ; thesoutheastcomerof Twenty- ninth street at $120,000, while inside lots of the standard dimensions have brought from $55,000 to $75,000. These prices, though carrjring house¬ buildings with them, may really be taken to rep¬ resent the value of the land alone, as the build¬ ings in time will have to be toni dovm and can now be utilized for store puqioses only at the outlay of considerable money. 3d. Thirty-skcond street TO Fifty-ninth STREET.—However rapid the convereion and ab- soi^ption of property below Thirty-second street maybe for mercantile pm-poses, at or near Thirty- second street a bulwark is presented in the order of ownership which maj' resist the onward tide of trade for many years. It is quite unlikelj- that either of the Astor mansions or the Stewart man¬ sion -will be given up to trade puqioses in the life¬ time of the present occupants, and the extensive suiTomidings possessed by both of these estates afFord a substantial guarantee that the existing features of the neighborhood will be preserved intact for an indefinite period. This section em¬ bodies the best architectural display, the most sub¬ stantial wealth as well as the most aristocratic instinct of the metropolis. Our w^ealthy citizens have ever been peciUiarly gregarious, and this trait is nowhere more aptly illustrated than in the circumscribed limits of theitrictly fashiona¬ ble portion of the Fifth aVenue. It is to be re¬ gretted that oue section of the avenue at least could not be preserved for a time free from any intrusions of trade. Its ultimate fate may call for its complete surrender, though we may be¬ lieve thdt day is far distant, when we contemplate the massive and stately mansions that abound throughout this section. As omnipotent tmd fastidious as wealth is, it has been power¬ less to preserve the inviolability of this portion of the thoroughfai-e. Strange to say, residents themselves in some few cases, have procured tbe erection of building^ which are not at all credit¬ able to their taste and which certainly mar the ap¬ pearance of the avenue. The deed is done, how-