Uptown Shopping Center, Harlem 1900 Part I


There have been some of the race of chronic faultfinders, "kickers" in the current vernacular, who have fluently questioned the wisdom of the Commissioners who drafted the map for the streets and avenues of the upper and modern part of New York. These wiseacres claim that the shape of Manhattan island being long and narrow in the north and south direction the avenues should have been more frequent and nearer together, while the cross streets should have been spaced further apart, that the bulk of the traffic being in the direction of the greatest length therefore the frequency of avenues would have removed any danger of congestion.

It is open to those holding opposite views to claim that a few wide avenues afford better accommodations to the traffic than would many narrow streets, and other good and cogent arguments which it would be useless to pursue. There are the streets and avenues, and such they will remain long after the present race of argumentative men shall have been gathered to their fathers.

For shopping purposes some of the wider cross streets have demonstrated that they can outdo the avenues. Fourteenth, Twenty-third, Thirty-fourth and Forty-second streets, are as much fancied by shop-keepers for the display of their wares as any of the avenues.

It is a long leap from Forty-second street to one-hundred and twenty fifth street more than four miles but yet that street is the next competitor for shopping supremacy. Hardly a competitor, either, for it has already won its way as a centre of metropolitan trade. From its position it commands all that territory that fails to be in convenient touch with the lower streets, and, in addition, it successfully bids for the suburban trade of a population of hundreds of thousands living within twenty-five or thirty miles of its railway station. In other words, it is the geographical centre of a section of the city and suburbs in which, large as is the present population, within a comparatively few years millions of well-to-do people will make their homes. Three lines of steam railroads have stations on One-hundred-and-twenty-fifth street namely, the Third avenue, elevated railroad, the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, with its fine station at Park-avenue., and the Sixth and Ninth avenue, elevated railroads. Besides these are the underground trolley surface cars of the Third Avenue and the Metropolitan Street Railway companies.

In a recent conversation on such subjects the writer was assured by a member of one of the most prominent and best known commercial houses of New York that he and several of his most substantial compeers looked upon One hundred and twenty fifth street as the coming street of the metropolis for trading purposes, and that they anticipated, at no very distant day, the removal of their business to this favored mart.

Old residents and housekeepers whose ideas of new York are confined to those parts of the town that were established favorites ten or fifteen years ago would be dumfounded were they set down in One-hundred_and_twenty_fifth street and told to fill their orders there. That prices are lower than downtown goes almost without saying. Rents are more moderate, while the volume of business done is but little inferior. The prevailing class of customers are ready money buyers, but fully alive to their own interests. They want 100 cents in value for each dollar they spend, but they are not the kind to be deceived by false and exaggerated statements. No state can be more wholesome for trade than this, and it results beneficially alike to buyer and seller.

The variety and high class of the trades here carried on run the whole gamut of enterprise. The markets are not surpassed, if equaled, by our old standby, Washington Market. At various points along the street there are six or seven flourishing banks, several very large storage warehouses, one of the largest toy manufactories in the country, restaurants and gardens worthy of our western Paris, hotels that compare favorably in service, cuisine, furniture and management with any in New York while yet more moderate in rates, salesrooms for the leading piano houses, carpet stores, furniture stores, stationers, high class wholesale and retail groceries, large dyeing establishment, plumbers' supplies, a very large and well ordered livery and sales stable, jewelers, millinery shops and dealers in various feminine belongings, servants' agency, dentist, a typewriting office, real estate in fact, every trade that goes to meet the needs of metropolitan customers, and in addition, an office building, which would be a source of pride if erected in Wall street.

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Uptown Shopping Center, Harlem 1900 Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The New York Tribune June 10, 1900 Page: 7
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