See NYC’s stunning historical Fifth Avenue mansions (1890s)

Home of Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt - Fifth Avenue New York City - 1894

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By the time Shirley Temple sang about Fifth Avenue in 1940, it had been “the grandest thoroughfare” for more than fifty years. Take a stroll back to the late 1800s and early 1900s to see some of the grand homes that helped their owners call this Manhattan street home.

Fifth Avenue

Hop a bus, take a car / Hail a cab and there you are
On Fifth Avenue (old Fifth Avenue)
Ev’ry Joe, ev’ry Jane / Walks along that dreamer’s lane
On Fifth Avenue (that’s Fifth Avenue)
Where they stop, window shop, and their hopes are so high
Pricing rings, pretty things that they can’t afford to buy
But they smile, they don’t care / Ev’ryone’s a millionaire
When you’re strolling on Fifth Avenue

(From “Fifth Avenue,” lyrics & music by Mack Gordon/Harry Warren)

J. J. Astor residence (1893)

This mansion, located at 840 Fifth Avenue, New York City, was the home of millionaire businessman John Jacob Astor IV, who died when the Titanic sank.

J. J. Astor residence, 840 Fifth Avenue, New York City

Home of Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt II (1894)

Home of Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt - Fifth Avenue New York City - 1894


A T Stewart residence at 34 5th Avenue

This mansion was built around 1869, by architect John Kellum (photo from 1899)

A.T. Stewart residence, 34 5th Ave., New York City, ca. 1869,


Home of William K Vanderbilt

These photos show a street view of the William Kissam Vanderbilt residence, which was located at 660 Fifth Avenue, New York City. (Photo 1 from 1897, photo 2 from 1903)

William Kissam Vanderbilt residence



ALSO SEE: Beautiful homes in old Detroit (early 1900s)

Residence of Mrs Paran Stevens

The 244 5th Avenue New York City home of the society leader Marietta Reed Stevens (photo from 1894)

New York City home of the society leader Marietta Reed Stevens (photo from 1894)


Senator William Clark’s home

This 5th Avenue mansion of former Senator William A Clark reportedly cost $7,000,000 (photo from 1910)

1910 Mansion of former Sen. William A. Clark 5th Ave. cost 7M

MORE: New York City views (1917)

W V Lawrence residence

Mansion home located at 969 Fifth Avenue in New York City (photo from 1891)

turn of century mansions of new york city 1


Mansion home of Mr Griswald, 5th Ave., New York City

Located at 857 Fifth Avenue — at the northeast corner of 5th and 67th Street. Home number 858, next door, was the residence of Thomas F Ryan.

Mansion home of Residence of Mr. Griswald, 5th Ave., New York City

MORE: The new mansion home of Claus Spreckels (1897)

Brokaw house

Isaac Brokaw mansion, designed by Rose & Stone, with an apartment house in the background. The New York City mansion was located at 5th Avenue and East 79th Street, and was demolished in 1965. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2010)

Brokaw House, 5th Ave c1910

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Comments on this story

4 Responses

  1. It’s a darn shame that there was so little regard for the history and stunning architecture that these beautiful homes represented. Sadly, during the 30’s thru the 70’s, we failed to appreciate the treasures contained within our nation’s major cities, so we allowed these magnificent buildings to be demolished and then replaced with some of the most mundane, nondescript, boring box buildings with little to absolutely no architecture value whatsoever. Henceforth, many of our cities’ older buildings are actually quite ugly and are seen as a blight to the skylines of those same cities. Thankfully, character is once again being introduced into many of our newest buildings, but in a completely different style that mixes the ultramodern with an often unique take on styling from the mid to late 1800’s.

    1. I definitely agree with everything you said I think it is a terrible loss in he name of progress. Now city are saving the exteriors of this architecture in cities like Dallas and New Orleans, it’s a shame they did not think to do this sooner!

    2. Well said, Jeffrey. A “New Urbanist” enthusiast watching from the Netherlands, I feel utter sorrow, disbelief, and horror that Americans eliminated so much of their cultural heritage and history by raising these architectural gems. American cities before WW II must have tantalised the senses with their eclectic collections of magnificent buildings. Nowadays, so little of architectural value remains. Albeit a Dutchman, I grew up in Palo Alto, and I recall with sadness that the city replaced countless Victorians in the downtown area in the ’70s with ugly construction. The only reminder remaining of those stunning creations is a rock with a plaque describing what once stood. (Who would travel to Palo Alto to look at plaques on rocks?)

  2. My family resided [long before I was afoot] at 890-5 5th Avenue. I would love to see a photo of the home. They lived at this address from about 1885-1915. Marta Sjo Shelton and her husband Alfred Shelton.

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