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Arthur Bartlett Maurice
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 220 pages of information about Fifth Avenue.
conducted an orphan asylum there.  Eventually it passed into the hands of the trustees of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street, who, in 1842, conveyed about one hundred feet square on the north-east corner of Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street to the Church of St. John the Evangelist.  The ground now occupied by the Union Club was once part of the site of the Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum.

CHAPTER XVII

Approaching the Plaza

Stretches of the Avenue—­Approaching the Plaza—­The Great Hotels—­Old St. Luke’s Hospital—­“Marble Row”—­Some Reminiscences of Mr. John D. Crimmins—­Men and Manners of Sixty Years Ago—­Early Transportation—­The Saint Gaudens Sherman Group—­The Cryptic Henry James—­The Fountain of Abundance.

    One August day I sat beside
    A cafe window open wide,
    To let the shower-freshened air
    Blow in across the Plaza, where,
    In golden pomp against the dark
    Green, leafy background of the Park,
    St. Gaudens’s hero, gaunt and grim,
    Rides on with Victory leading him.

    —­Bliss Carman, On the Plaza.

Approaching the Plaza, besides the churches, clubs, and the various houses associated with the name of Vanderbilt, there is conspicuous the cluster of great hotels.  To sum up the nature of these hostelries briefly, imagine an Englishman.  “We now crossed their Thames over what would have been Westminster Bridge, I fancy, and were presently bowling through a sort of Battersea part of the city,” was the way in which the British butler in Mr. Harry Leon Wilson’s “Ruggles of Red Gap” described part of a hazy, riotous ride about Paris.  Later, the same worthy, come to our own New York, indicated the hotel of sojourn by the information that it overlooked “what I dare say in their simplicity they call their Hyde Park.”  Beneath the caricature there was a sound understanding of the workings of the British mind.  So if an Englishman contemplating a visit seeks advice in the matter of hotels there is the obvious short cut.  Certain of the less pretentious places in the side streets and overlooking the minor parks may be described as “the sort of thing you find about Russell Square.”  The Waldorf-Astoria, the Knickerbocker, the McAlpin, or the Astor as “like the Cecil, Savoy, or the Northumberland Avenue Hotels.”  The vast, expensive edifices of public welcome in the neighbourhood of the Plaza as “something rather on the order of Claridge’s and the Carlton.”

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