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Real estate record and builders' guide: [v. 90, no. 2324]: September 28, 1912

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n^^ ^§1^ ^^ UM SEPTEMBER 28, 1912 RENTALS AND FREEHOLD VALUES IN 125th STREET High Prices Paid By Merchants for Antiquated Stores—Some Indications That Point to a Reconstruction Movement—Influence of New Transit. IF any New Yorker who knows his New York were asked what street, in pro¬ portion to Its local prominence and its transportation facilities, presents the most unattractive, even dilapidated, ap¬ pearance, he would name off hand Harlem's busiest thoroughfare, 125th street. This would not be very complimentary to property owners on the street, nor flat¬ tering to the civic pride of Harlemites. But It would, nevertheless, be quite true. Harlem's greatest business thoroughfare Ss more of a real estate paradox than Fourth avenue was in 1905 or Times Square in 1895. The evidences of a re¬ markable period of reconstruction, so plainly discernible all over New York, and naturally to be expected on so prominent a crosstown thoroughfare as 125th street, are here entirely lacking. What has contributed to this unusual condition, and how long will it continue? Of these, the latter question, of course. street as a wide through crosstown ar¬ tery, and the car service supplied by the Second avenue surface line and the Har¬ lem railroad were beginning as early as 1868 to have some influence in directing the drift of population. In 1879 the Third avenue elevated line was extended from 89th street to 129th street and the express service established later in the year. This same year also marked an extension of the Sixth avenue line from 104th street and Ninth avenue to 125th street and Eighth avenue, and a year later the Second avenue elevated cars were pushed northward from 67th street to 129th street. It is important to observe that as late as 1880 125th street was one of some thirty-odd streets, between 59th and 134th streets, that were, either in part or in whole, not legally opened. But the extension of the elevated lines to 125th and 129th streets, at both_Third and Eighth avenues, had a marked influ- The great future in store for this thor¬ oughfare was, as has been said, early impressed on the moving spirits of the real estate market twenty-flve years ago— to such an extent, indeed, that the ten¬ dency to establish and maintain a high ■ grade of values became a flxed habii;. Since the early '90s comparatively few sales have been made between Third jmd Eighth avenues. There are today be¬ tween Madison and Eighth avenues prob¬ ably not more than two dozen separate ownerships. This same dominating idea^ the future greatness of this thoroughfare —was responsible two deca^aes ago for the character of the improvements. Owners appear to have thought it the wisest plan lo improve with taxpayers or compara¬ tively inexpensive structures. Meantime the re-narkable growth ot local business has make possible a scale of rental values out of all proportion to the character of the improvements, and it becomes an interesting question how LOOKING WEST ON 123TH .STREET. FROM LENOX AVENUE, SHOWING TRANSITION CHARACTER OP HIGHEST CLASS BUSINESS BLOCK. LOOKING WEST FROM THIRD AVENUE. A LIVELY SHOPPING AND AMUSBME.NT CENTER FOR lADJACENT POPULOUS TENEMENT DISTP.ICT. is the more important. But it Is inter¬ esting, nevertheless, to trace the causes which have created out of this untown thoroughfare one of the city's best-known and highest-priced arteries of trade, and incidentally to account for constructional backwardness out of all keening with the prevailing high fee and rental values. Harlem at an early stage in the city's development had its own corporate ex¬ istence and maintained it for a consider¬ able period after farm lands on the out¬ skirts of the original settlement to the south had been absorbed by the parent municipality. New York. ' Long after its contemporary - settlements had lost their identity Harlem maintained its local tra¬ ditions and prestige. Only those of .a passing generation can to-day identify Manhattanville without reference to the , records. Yorkville means nothing to the ,' present generation. Harlem ts as much ' Harlem as it ever was. The East Side of the city had always" : had the advantage over the West Side. In the matter of transportation. Thus, in 1858, following the traditional lines of in¬ tercity communication, the Second avenue . horse cars were running as far north as . 1223 street. The "West Side was still an essentially rural district. The street lay¬ out which had been established in 1811 by the Municipal Commission of 1807, and surveyed in 1821, had indicated in a gen¬ eral way the future importance of 125th ence in distributing population from the lower portion of the city and in focussing attention on this wide transverse thor¬ oughfare. The lateral streets witnessed a period of marked constructional activ¬ ity. About 1880 tenements and brownstone dwellings were erected In great numbers. Not very long after this the necessary link for connecting the chain of communica¬ tion between Harlem and the West Side was provided in the crosstown surface cars on 125th street. The active building on the residential streets in the early eighties was reflected .quite markedly on 125th street. The block between Seventh and Eighth avenues may be taken as an Illustration, although then, as today, it registered the highest values. The block frora 125th to 124th street on- the east side of Eighth avenue, 200x11)0, was T>o"ught by Eugene Hl^srins in 1881 for $35,000, or less than .$200 a front foot. This was considered a stiff price. A year later it was sold with a building loan for $60,000. When the buildings were completed the block front was turned over to Goldsmith & Plaut for $260,000. In 1884 the Blumstein plot, 62.6x100, on the south side of 125th street, between Sev¬ enth and Eighth avenues, was bought for $50,000, or about $800 a front foot. In 1888 Lachman, Morgenthau & Goldsmith paid $70,000, or more than $1,100 a front foot, for a plot 62.6x111 Just east of tho one last mentioned. much longer owners can ignore the neces¬ sity for bringing this thoroughfare up to Ynodern standards of sanitary ani fire¬ proof construction, or how much longer tenants will be satisfled with antiouated and inadequate business housing for which rentals comparing favorably with some of t'le best downtown business streets are demanded. It is interesting now to consider pre¬ vailing fee values and rentals in this great highway of local trade and amuse¬ ment; for 125th street, beside^ catering to the more indispensable needs of a large community. Is pre-eminently the amuse¬ ment center of Harlem, pnd to so-re ex¬ tent also of The Bronx and Washington Heights. The usual method of quoting from recent sales must be dispensed with in this case, for sales are extremely in¬ frequent. Owners are as tenacious of their holdirgs as they are unwilling to make improvements. The prime block is that between Sev¬ enth and Eighth avenues. Here the valu¬ ations are approximately on a basis of between $5,000 and $6,000 a front foot. This applies to the south side of the street, which has the advantage, in com¬ mon with most east and wpst business thoroughfares. On the north side quo¬ tations are a little lower. Values de¬ crease toward Madison avenue. Between Fifth and Madison avenues $3,000 a front foot would be a fair quotation. At Thira