Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It stretches north from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to West 143rd Street in Harlem. It is considered one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world.
Fifth Avenue after a snow storm in 1905
5th Avenue was originally only a narrower thoroughfare but the section south of Central Park was widened in 1908, sacrificing its wide sidewalks to accommodate the increasing traffic. The midtown blocks, now famously commercial, were largely a residential area until the turn of the 20th century. The first commercial building on Fifth Avenue was erected by Benjamin Altman who bought the corner lot on the northeast corner of 34th Street in 1896. In 1906 the B. Altman and Company Building was erected, occupying the whole of its block front. The result was the creation of a high-end shopping district that attracted fashionable women and the upscale stores that wished to serve them. The Lord & Taylor Building, formerly Lord & Taylor's flagship store and now a WeWork office, is located on Fifth Avenue near the Empire State Building and the New York Public Library Main Branch.
In the 1920s, traffic towers controlled important intersections from 14th to 59th Streets.
Fifth Avenue originates at Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and runs northwards through the heart of Midtown, along the eastern side of Central Park, where it forms the boundary of the Upper East Side and through Harlem, where it terminates at the Harlem River at 142nd Street. Traffic crosses the river on the Madison Avenue Bridge. Fifth Avenue serves as the dividing line for house numbering and west-east streets in Manhattan, just as Jerome Avenue does in the Bronx. It separates, for example, East 59th Street from West 59th Street.
From this zero point for street addresses, numbers increase in both directions as one moves away from Fifth Avenue, The building lot numbering system worked similarly on the East Side as well, before Madison & Lexington Aves. were retrofitted into the street grid, confusing the building numbers.
Confusingly, an address on a cross street cannot be predicted at the intersection of Madison Ave. or Lexington Ave., as these were added decades after the building numbers. It's as if the two retrofitted avenues are not counted for purposes of cross street addresses.
The "most expensive street in the world" moniker changes depending on currency fluctuations and local economic conditions from year to year. For several years starting in the mid-1990s, the shopping district between 49th and 57th Streets was ranked as having the world's most expensive retail spaces on a cost per square foot basis. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Fifth Avenue as being the most expensive street in the world. Some of the most coveted real estate on Fifth Avenue are the penthouses perched atop the buildings.
The American Planning Association (APA) compiled a list of "2012 Great Places in America" and declared Fifth Avenue to be one of the greatest streets to visit in America. This historic street has many world-renowned museums, businesses and stores, parks, luxury apartments, and historical landmarks that are reminiscent of its history and vision for the future. By 2018 portions of Fifth Avenue had large numbers of vacant store fronts for long periods, part of a citywide trend of vacant store fronts attributed to high rental costs.
Members of Naval Reserve Center Bronx's color guard march up Fifth Avenue at the 244th Annual NYC St. Patrick's Day parade
Fifth Avenue from 142nd Street to 135th Street carries two-way traffic. Fifth Avenue carries one-way traffic southbound from 135th Street to Washington Square North. The changeover to one-way traffic south of 135th Street took place on January 14, 1966, at which time Madison Avenue was changed to one way uptown (northbound). From 124th Street to 120th Street, Fifth Avenue is cut off by Marcus Garvey Park, with southbound traffic diverted around the park via Mount Morris Park West.
Fifth Avenue is the traditional route for many celebratory parades in New York City; thus, it is closed to traffic on numerous Sundays in warm weather. The longest running parade is the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. Parades held are distinct from the ticker-tape parades held on the "Canyon of Heroes" on lower Broadway, and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade held on Broadway from the Upper West Side downtown to Herald Square. Fifth Avenue parades usually proceed from south to north, with the exception of the LGBT Pride March, which goes north to south to end in Greenwich Village. The Latino literary classic by New Yorker Giannina Braschi, entitled "Empire of Dreams", takes place on the Puerto Rican Day Parade on Fifth Avenue.
Bicycling on Fifth Avenue ranges from segregated with a bike lane south of 23rd Street, to scenic along Central Park, to dangerous through Midtown with very heavy traffic during rush hours. There is no dedicated bike lane along Fifth Avenue.
In July 1987, then New York City Mayor Edward Koch proposed banning bicycling on Fifth, Park, and Madison Avenues during weekdays, but many bicyclists protested and had the ban overturned. When the trial was started on Monday, August 24, 1987 for 90 days to ban bicyclists from these three avenues from 31st Street to 59th Street between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays, mopeds would not be banned. On Monday, August 31, 1987, a state appeals court judge halted the ban for at least a week pending a ruling after opponents against the ban brought a lawsuit.
Fifth Avenue is one of the few major streets in Manhattan along which streetcars did not operate. Instead, Fifth Avenue Coach offered a service more to the taste of fashionable gentlefolk, at twice the fare. Double-decker buses were operated by the Fifth Avenue Coach Company until 1953, and again by MTA Regional Bus Operations from 1976 to 1978. Today, local bus service along Fifth Avenue is provided by the MTA's M1, M2, M3, and M4 buses. The M5 and Q32 also run on Fifth Avenue in Midtown, while the M55 runs on Fifth Avenue south of 44th Street. Numerous express buses from Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island also run along Fifth Avenue.
1026–1028 Fifth Avenue, one of the few extant mansions on Millionaire's Row
CC BY-SA 3.0
Upper Fifth Avenue/Millionaire's Row
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
In the late 19th century, the very rich of New York began building mansions along the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 59th Street and 96th Street, looking onto Central Park. By the early 20th century, this portion of Fifth Avenue had been nicknamed "Millionaire's Row", with mansions such as the Mrs. William B. Astor House and William A. Clark House. Entries to Central Park along this stretch include Inventor's Gate at 72nd Street, which gave access to the park's carriage drives, and Engineers' Gate at 90th Street, used by equestrians.
A milestone change for Fifth Avenue came in 1916, when the grand corner mansion at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue that James A. Burden II had erected in 1893 became the first private mansion on Fifth Avenue above 59th Street to be demolished to make way for a grand apartment house. The building at 907 Fifth Avenue began a trend, with its 12 stories around a central court, with two apartments to a floor. Its strong cornice above the fourth floor, just at the eaves height of its neighbors, was intended to soften its presence.
In January 1922, the city reacted to complaints about the ongoing replacement of Fifth Avenue's mansions by apartment buildings by restricting the height of future structures to 75ft, about half the height of a ten-story apartment building. Architect J. E. R. Carpenter brought suit, and won a verdict overturning the height restriction in 1923. Carpenter argued that "the avenue would be greatly improved in appearance when deluxe apartments would replace the old-style mansions." Led by real estate investors Benjamin Winter, Sr. and Frederick Brown, the old mansions were quickly torn down and replaced with apartment buildings.
This area contains many notable apartment buildings, including 810 Fifth Avenue and the Park Cinq, many of them built in the 1920s by architects such as Rosario Candela and J. E. R. Carpenter. A very few post-World War II structures break the unified limestone frontage, notably the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum between 88th and 89th Streets.
Museum Mile is the name for a section of Fifth Avenue running from 82nd to 110th streets on the Upper East Side,Ng, Diana. "Museum Mile" in, p.867Street signs saying "Museum Mile" actually extend to 80th Street. "Street View: 80th Street and Fifth Avenue, New York" Google Maps in an area sometimes called Upper Carnegie Hill. The Mile, which contains one of the densest displays of culture in the world, is actually three blocks longer than one mile (1.6 km). Nine museums occupy the length of this section of Fifth Avenue. A ninth museum, the Museum for African Art, joined the ensemble in 2009; its museum at 110th Street, the first new museum constructed on the Mile since the Guggenheim in 1959, opened in late 2012.
In addition to other programming, the museums collaborate for the annual Museum Mile Festival to promote the museums and increase visitation. The Museum Mile Festival traditionally takes place here on the second Tuesday in June from 6 – 9 p.m. It was established in 1979 to increase public awareness of its member institutions and promote public support of the arts in New York City."Museum Mile Festival held in New York" UPI NewsTrack (June 8, 2004.) The first festival was held on .New drive promoting Fifth Avenue's 'Museum Mile', The New York Times, June 27, 1979. The nine museums are open free that evening to the public. Several of the participating museums offer outdoor art activities for children, live music and street performers.Fass, Allison and Murray, Liz (2000) "Talking to the Streets for Art" The New York Times June 11, 2000, p.17, col. 2. During the event, Fifth Avenue is closed to traffic.
Museums on the mile include:
Further south, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 70th Street, lies the Henry Clay Frick House
, which houses the Frick Collection
Buildings on Fifth Avenue can have one of several types of official landmark designations:
- The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency that is responsible for identifying and designating the City's landmarks and the buildings in the City's historic districts. New York City landmarks (NYCL) can be categorized into one of several groups: individual (exterior), interior, and scenic landmarks.
- The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance.
- The National Historic Landmark (NHL) focuses on places of significance in American history, architecture, engineering, or culture; all NHL sites are also on the NRHP.
- World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and are legally protected by international treaties.
Below is a list of historic sites on Fifth Avenue, from north to south. Historic districts are not included in this table, but are mentioned in . Buildings within historic districts, but no individual landmark designation, are not included in this table.
Image Address Cross-street NHL NRHP NYCL Notes
369th Regiment Armory 2366 Fifth Avenue 142nd–143rd Streets
St. Andrew's Church 2067 Fifth Avenue 127th Street
Harlem Fire Watchtower Marcus Garvey Park 122nd Street
Central Park 60th–110th Streets
Museum of the City of New York 1220–1227 Fifth Avenue 103rd-104th Streets
Willard D. Straight House 1130 Fifth Avenue 94th Street
Felix M. Warburg House 1109 Fifth Avenue 92nd Street
Otto H. Kahn House 1 East 91st Street 91st Street
Andrew Carnegie Mansion 2 East 91st Street 91st Street
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum 1009 Fifth Avenue 82nd Street Also designated as WHS
Duke Residence 1009 Fifth Avenue 82nd Street
Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue 80th–84th Streets
998 Fifth Avenue 998 Fifth Avenue 81st Street
Payne Whitney House 972 Fifth Avenue 78th–79th Streets, midblock
James B. Duke House 1 East 78th Street 78th Street
Edward S. Harkness House 1 East 75th Street 75th Street
Henry Clay Frick House 1 East 70th Street 70th Street
Robert Livingston Beeckman House 854 Fifth Avenue 66th–67th Streets, midblock
Knickerbocker Club 2 East 62nd Street 62nd Street
The Metropolitan Club 2 East 60th Street 60th Street
Grand Army Plaza 58th–60th Streets
The Sherry-Netherland Sidewalk Clock 783 Fifth Avenue 59th Street
Plaza Hotel 768 Fifth Avenue 58th–59th Streets
Bergdorf Goodman 754 Fifth Avenue 57th–58th Streets
Coty Building 714 Fifth Avenue 55th–56th Streets, midblock
712 Fifth Avenue 712 Fifth Avenue 55th–56th Streets, midblock
The Peninsula New York 696 Fifth Avenue 55th Street
St. Regis New York 693 Fifth Avenue 55th Street
Aeolian Building (689 Fifth Avenue) 689 Fifth Avenue 54th Street
University Club of New York 1 West 54th Street 54th Street
Saint Thomas Church Corner 1 West 53rd Street
Morton F. Plant & Edward Holbrook House 653 Fifth Avenue 52nd Street
Houses at 647, 651-53 Fifth Avenue and 4 East 52nd Street 647, 651 Fifth Avenue 52nd Street
Rockefeller Center (including British Empire Building, La Maison Francaise, International Building) 1–75 Rockefeller Plaza 49th–51st Streets
St. Patrick's Cathedral 460 Madison Avenue 50th–51st Streets
Saks Fifth Avenue Building 611 Fifth Avenue 49th–50th Streets
Goelet (Swiss Center) Building 611 Fifth Avenue 49th–50th Streets
Charles Scribner's Sons Building 597 Fifth Avenue 48th Street
Fred F. French Building 551 Fifth Avenue 45th Street
Sidewalk Clock, 522 Fifth Avenue 522 Fifth Avenue 44th Street
Manufacturers Trust Company Building 510 Fifth Avenue 43rd Street
500 Fifth Avenue 500 Fifth Avenue 42nd Street
New York Public Library Main Branch 476 Fifth Avenue 40th–42nd Streets
Knox Building 452 Fifth Avenue 40th Street
Lord & Taylor Building 424 Fifth Avenue 38th Street
Stewart & Company Building 402 Fifth Avenue 37th Street
Tiffany and Company Building 401 Fifth Avenue 37th Street
390 Fifth Avenue 390 Fifth Avenue 36th Street
B. Altman and Company Building 355–371 Fifth Avenue 34th–35th Streets
Empire State Building 350 Fifth Avenue 33rd–34th Streets
The Wilbraham 284 Fifth Avenue 30th Street
Marble Collegiate Church 272 Fifth Avenue 29th Street
Sidewalk Clock, 200 Fifth Avenue 200 Fifth Avenue 24th Street
Flatiron Building 173–185 Fifth Avenue 22nd–23rd Streets
Scribner Building 153–157 Fifth Avenue 21st–22nd Streets, midblock
Salmagundi Club 47 Fifth Avenue 11th–12th Streets, midblock
There are numerous historic districts through which Fifth Avenue passes. Buildings in these districts with individual landmark designations are described in . From north to south, the districts are:
- The Carnegie Hill Historic District, a city landmark district, which covers 400 buildings, primarily along Fifth Avenue from 86th to 98th Street, as well as on side streets extending east to Madison, Park, and Lexington Avenues.
- The Metropolitan Museum Historic District, a city landmark district, which consists of properties on Fifth Avenue between 79th and 86th Streets, outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as properties on several side streets.
- The Upper East Side Historic District, a city and NRHP district. The city district runs from 59th to 78th Streets along Fifth Avenue, and up to Third Avenue at some points.
- The Madison Square North Historic District, a city landmark district, which covers 96 buildings from 25th to 29th Streets around Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and side streets.
- The Ladies' Mile Historic District, a city landmark district, which covers 440 buildings from roughly 15th Street to 24th Street and from Park Avenue South to west of Sixth Avenue.
- The Greenwich Village Historic District, a city landmark district, which covers much of Greenwich Village and includes almost all buildings on Fifth Avenue south of 12th Street.
In addition, the cooperative apartment building at 2 Fifth Avenue was named a New York cultural landmark on December 12, 2013 by the Historic Landmark Preservation Center, as the last residence of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch.