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Real estate record and builders' guide: [v. 90, no. 2332]: November 23, 1912

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_050_00001223

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mm NOVEMBER 23, 1912 THE INTENSIVE USE OF CITY LAND Strikingly Emphasized in the Half-Mile Stretch of Fifth Avenue Between 34th and 42d Streets—Culmination of Rise in Values. THE development of Fifth avenue into a high-grade retail centre has been emphasized in many ways during the past ten years. Trade, in one form or another, has now claimed the avenue from Washington Square for its entire length, with the exception of the two mile stretch north of the Plaza, famil¬ iarly referred to as Millionaires' Row. As was pointed out in a recent issue of the Record and Guide, the area be¬ tween Forty-second and Fifty-ninth streets has, during the past five years, witnessed notable business expansion; one that not only threatens the security of such magnificent residences as those of Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt and Mrs. Collis P. Huntington, but has made it clear that the abandonment of these mansions to business use is now only a question of a comparatively short tirae. ago foreseen. But even to those who are familiar with the history of real es¬ tate price movements in this vicinity and the causes which have contributed to them, the remarkable changes which have taken place on middle Fifth ave¬ nue in less than a decade and the sen¬ sational price records established here are still matters of first-rate interest. The history of this section is more or less the history of that unique rectangu¬ lar territory bounded by Thirty-fourth street, Forty-second street, Madison and Sixth avenues, the southeasterly section of it being still familiarly referred to as Murray Hill. The tide of high values began to rise about ten years ago. But it is interesting to recall how low this tide was even as late as 1900 and how experts in values, and men who took serious thought of the future in mat- pended in a great measure on the fate of four important properties on Fifth avenue. These were the Stewart man¬ sion, at the northwest corner of Thirty- fourth street; the old Sherry Building, at the southwest corner of Thirty-sev¬ enth street; the Corbin house, at the northeast corner of Thirty-eighth street and the Lawrence Kip property, at the southwest corner of Fortieth street. In less than five years from the ex¬ pression of this opinion all but one of these dwellings had made way for busi¬ ness houses and the arrival of Altman's and Tiffany's on Fifth avenue very shortly after the pamphlet was written was a remarkable fulfillment of another opinion expressed in. the Johnson bro¬ chure: "Should some such business as that of Tiffany's, or some first class dry goods house occupy any of these ''-.^..-:1 ' ~~ __ — _ - _ ] m\ w • ^,•i ifi^^& b. k ^^^^BB'i K fll m__^< t samjsb! ^H Be^mH ^—i^lk ■■raLKiflL^j. m WE »^^'^' FIFTH AVENUE. XORTH FROM 34TH STREET. THE LORD & TAYLOR CORNER, ."i.STH TO SOTH STREET. However, the most remarkable em¬ phasis has recently been laid on what might be termed the intensive use of city land in the area immediately below this; that is, in the half mile stretch of Fifth avenue, included between Thirty- fourth and Forty-second streets. Lord & Taylor's selection of a site at Fifth avenue and Thirty-eighth street revealed no new tendency in the shift¬ ing of the trade centre. It was merely another step in the massing at this point of our great trade emporiums that sup¬ ply the needs of New York's wealthiest class of shoppers. It is this very inten¬ sive use of land, this concentration of houses dealing in the highest priced merchandise, and its effect on fee and rental values, that presents the most in¬ teresting phase of the situation on Fifth avenue, between Thirty-fourth and For¬ ty-second streets. The ultimate expulsion of the high- grade residence colony from Fifth ave¬ nue, north of Madison Square, was long ters of this kind, underestimated the force of the rising tide. Just a few in¬ stances will suffice to illustrate this and to emphasize, incidentally, how the higher values created on Fifth avenue are being reflected in the adjacent terri¬ tory—on Murray Hill on the east and in Herald Square and Times Square sec¬ tions on the west. A Prophecy of 1900. It seems almost incredible that even as late as a dozen years ago the future of Murray Hill was still a matter of speculation, and hardly less difficult of belief that its fate was considered to hang on the disposal of a few proper¬ ties at strategic points in the section' of Fifth avenue under discussion. Yet it was no longer than 1900 that this sub¬ ject called forth a pamphlet published by E. W. Johnson under the title of "The Future of Murray Hill." In it he pointed out that the district's future de- properties, it would at once and finally establish the character of this neighbor¬ hood." A Decade of Rising Prices. It was about 1901 that this section of Fifth avenue began to give lively indi¬ cations of the boom which subsequently developed. The Altman purchase at Fifth avenue and Thirty-fifth street was not announced until late in 1904. But a great deal of the Altman site had been quietly secured long before that. The average would probably show a very low square foot price. Here, however, are a few concrete in¬ stances that show the steady rise in val¬ ues during the first half of the 1900-1910 period: In 1901 the Corbin house at the north¬ east corner of Thirty-eighth street, on a plot 44.6x125, was bought by the late Charles T. Barney for $400,000. or at the rate of $72 a square foot. Mr. Bar¬ ney resold it the following year to the