Fifth Avenue: From Start to Finish

Fifth Avenue, the street that would become the social spine of New York, first appeared on the Commissioners' Map of 1811. At that time it was merely a country road to Yorkville, but in the proposed grid plan it would be a grand boulevard. As the city grew and prospered, Fifth Avenue became synonymous with fashionable life, the site of mansions, cultural and social institutions, and restaurants and shops catering to the elite.

In 1907, alarmed at the approach of factories, the leading merchants and residents formed the Fifth Avenue Association. The "Save New York Committee" became a bulwark against the "wrong" kind of development. Perhaps inspired by this contemporary movement, Burton Welles used a wide-angled camera to document this most important street from Washington Square to East 93rd Street.


Fifth Avenue, New York: From Start to Finish. New York: Wells & Co., 1911.
The New York Public Library, Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy.


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