Fifth Avenue Beginnings
On August 2nd in 1824, Fifth Avenue in New York City was first opened as a thoroughfare. It would take only about 30 years for the street to develop into a stunning, exuberant residential area. Slowly, the area expanded and store fronts began to spring up along the avenue. By the turn of the century, the area was full of well-to-do folks, and many more store fronts were being built to appeal to their luxurious, fickle tastes. While the magnificence of Fifth Avenue is at its peak today, it was not always so vibrant and splendid.
The mansions built during the late 1800s were architectural masterpieces, but the commercial development of the turn of the century caused many of these beautiful homes to be knocked down and replaced with lavish, gaudy apartment buildings. As new industries like airlines, travel agencies and banks began move in, the area grew to be less a sophisticated avenue, and more like a shanty commercialized street full of scams and tourist traps. As the avenue grew in prestige with its fabulous architecture, unique atmosphere, and headquarters for many international companies, hotels also began to spring up to accommodate the growing traveling businessmen and tourist population.
Throughout the 20th century, high-end stores have been erected to create what is today, an avenue of worldwide recognition and prestige. Between 49th and 60th streets reside some of the most luxurious boutiques such as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Omega, Tommy Hilfiger, Cartier, Versace and massive department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, and Bergdorf Goodman. This stretch of road is home to such esteemed shops that it is often considered the most expensive place to shop in the world. What I would give to shop (for a mere day!) on Fifth Avenue, strutting down the street in some Louboutins, massive sunglasses, and a leather Gucci purse with a tiny dog inside it! Oh, to dream.
Although, I’ll admit that seeing the prices on anything and everything in the shops would make me quite indignant at their un-affordability (for me, at least) – that would be rather unpleasant. Maybe I’ll just stick to dreaming. Or, one day I’ll have the opportunity to walk down that fine Fifth Avenue and window shop to my heart’s content. Maybe I’ll even touch something expensive, shiver with desire, and walk away with barely satiated satisfaction. Oh, to dream.
Written By: Mary B.