Fifth Avenue eBook

Arthur Bartlett Maurice
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Fifth Avenue.
were as sanguine as the promoters of the Crystal Palace and the builder of “The House of Mansions” had been.  They took a ten-year lease of the ground and counted on reaping a fortune.  But like the other ventures the Tower was a failure.  It was sold under execution and destroyed by fire August 30, 1856, twenty-five months before the burning of the Palace.  In 1862 Union troops camped on the site of the latter building, and the ground became known in 1871 as Reservoir Park, which name was changed to Bryant Park in 1884.

Like other world-great cities, New York has many hearts.  The spot that means the very centre of things varies according to mood, occupation, and manner of life.  To high finance and those who play feverishly with it, the heart of the town is where Wall Street, running from Trinity Church down to the East River, is crossed by Nassau zigzagging into Broad.  At high noon the colossal figure of Washington on the steps of the Sub-Treasury looks down on the centre of the earth.  To the swarming thousands of the Ghetto, who seldom venture west of the Bowery, there is a point on the East Side that represents the pivot of things.  There are descendants of the Knickerbockers who cling arrogantly to the corner facing the Washington Arch.  Profound is the belief of the pleasure seeker in the lights, signs, theatres, and lobster palaces of Longacre Square.  To others nothing counts as the trees and fountains of Madison Square and graceful Diana and the great clock in the Metropolitan Tower count.  But in these stirring days of the spring and early summer of 1918, for the throb of the universe climb Murray Hill to a point on the Fifth Avenue sidewalk opposite the stone lions that guard the entrance to the Public Library.  There, as nowhere else, has the quiet of other days been changed to the clamour of the present.  To the passing thousands the uniforms of khaki or of navy blue and the blaring band are calling.  “In this the vital hour let us show that the Spirit of ’76 is not dead!  Americans, to arms!” And yesterday it was “Quality Hill,” of which Mr. Clinton Scollard sang: 

    “Quality Hill!  Lo!  It flourishes still,
    And who can deny that forever it will? 
    A blending of breeding with puff and with plume;
    A strange sort of mixture of rick and mushroom. 
    Some amble, some scramble, (some gamble), to fill
    The motley and medley of Quality Hill.”

CHAPTER XV

Giant Strides of Commerce

Giant Strides of Commerce—­The Reasoning of M. Honore de Balzac—­The Aristocracy of Trade—­The Story of a New York Shop—­When Fifth Avenue Began to Rival Bond Street and the Rue de la Paix—­Shopping in 1901—­Publishing Houses at the Beginning of the Century—­Prices of Real Estate—­Some Great Houses of the Present.

Copyrights
Project Gutenberg
Fifth Avenue from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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