Fifth Avenue eBook

Arthur Bartlett Maurice
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 270 pages of information about Fifth Avenue.

“The best thing in the picture, obviously, is Saint Gaudens’s great group, splendid in its golden elegance and doing more for the scene (by thus giving the beholder a point of such dignity for his orientation) than all its other elements together.  Strange and seductive for any lover of the reasons of things this inordinate value, on the spot, of dauntless refinement of the Sherman image; the comparative vulgarity of the environment drinking it up, on one side, like an insatiable sponge, and yet failing at the same time to impair its virtue.  The refinement prevails and, as it were, succeeds; holds its own in the medley of accidents, where nothing else is refined unless it be the amplitude of the ‘quiet’ note in the front of the Metropolitan Club; amuses itself, in short, with being as extravagantly ‘intellectual’ as it likes.  Why, therefore, given the surrounding medium, does it so triumphantly impose itself, and impose itself not insidiously and gradually, but immediately and with force?  Why does it not pay the penalty of expressing an idea and being founded on one?—­such scant impunity seeming usually to be enjoyed among us, at this hour, by any artistic intention of the finer strain?  But I put these questions only to give them up—­for what I feel beyond anything else is that Mr. Saint Gaudens somehow takes care of himself.”

Facing the Sherman group, in the centre of the square, with the Cornelius Vanderbilt house in the background, is the Fountain of Abundance, or the Pulitzer Memorial Fountain, designed by Karl Bitter (his last work), executed by Isidore Konti, and erected in 1915 to the memory of the late Joseph Pulitzer, for many years proprietor of the New York “World.”  The structure is surmounted by the bronze figure of a nymph, bearing a basket laden with the fruits of the earth.  The Vanderbilt residence which is the background when the Fountain is viewed from the north is of red brick with grey facings in the style of a French chateau of the sixteenth or seventeenth century.


Stretches of the Avenue

Stretches of the Avenue—­The Days of Squatter Kings—­Seneca Village—­“Millionaire’s Row”—­The Avenue Gates—­The Soul of Central Park—­Some Palaces of the Stretch—­The Obelisk and the Metropolitan Museum—­Northward Through Harlem.

Here and there in the Island, far to the north, may be found an unblasted rock on the top of which is perched an unpainted shanty with a crude chimney spout from which smoke issues voluminously.  A quarter of a century ago there were thousands of such shanties along the upper West Side.  From the lofty iron height of the El.  Road one could survey them stretching all the way from the Sixties to One Hundred and Sixteenth.  On the summits the Lords of the Manors smoked their clay pipes in bland disregard of the world and its rent-collectors, and the family goats gambolled; in the valleys the truck gardens

Project Gutenberg
Fifth Avenue from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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