Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Pelham Real Estate Puff Piece Published in 1919 With Local Photographs

Real estate "puff pieces" touting the advantages of buying or leasing property and living in the lovely suburban Town of Pelham have been published in New York City (and other) newspapers since the 1870s and continue to be published today.  See, e.g., Hodara, Susan, Living In Pelham, NY:  Close to the City, But With a Friendly Vibe, N.Y. Times, Sep. 20, 2017.  Such puff pieces provide a fascinating snapshot of the little Town of Pelham at a particular moment.  Such moments typically, of course, occur when the region's economy is humming along nicely and real estate values are climbing.

I have written about such puff pieces on numerous occasions.  For a few examples, see:

Thu., Apr. 21, 2016:  St. Louis Newspaper Described the "Exclusivity" of Pelham Manor in 1892.

Fri., Nov. 27, 2015:  Detailed and Fascinating Description of the Village of Pelham Manor in 1892.

Tue., Apr. 28, 2015:  A 1910 Real Estate Puff Piece About "The Pelhams" -- Description of the Attractions of the Three Villages of the Pelhams Published in 1910.

Tue., Apr. 28, 2015:  A 1910 Real Estate Puff Piece About "The Pelhams" -- Description of the Attractions of the Three Villages of the Pelhams Published in 1910.

Today's Historic Pelham article includes a real estate puff piece published in the New York Herald in 1919, shortly after the end of World War I.  At the time, Pelham already had begun construction of Pelham Memorial High School to honor those who fought during the Great War.  At the time the town consisted of three villages with a total population of about 4,600 souls.

The article provides a fascinating glimpse of Pelham at a time when three railroad stations offered commuters two hundred trains a day to and from New York City.  The article makes much of the Town's five churches, many schools, multiple trolley lines and, of course, references to its multiple successful real estate brokers.

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the puff piece consists of the various photographs showing various parts of the town in 1919 including the intersection of Fifth Avenue and today's Lincoln Avenue, the Pelham Reservoir, the Church of the Redeemer, St. Catharine's Church, and more.  Those photographs, and the text of the entire article, are included below and are recommended reading for students of Pelham history.

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NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Image to Enlarge.

NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

Township Includes Three Villages Which Form a Thriving Residential Centre.

Pelham, which adjoins the city line on the north, and is distant fifteen miles from the Grand Central Terminal on the New Haven line, combines all the advantages of a suburban community, while at the same time being a city in itself and enjoys all the privileges of its next door neighbor, New York city.

The township of Pelham includes the village of North Pelham, of which Pelhamwood is a part, Peter Cedar, president, the village of Pelham, commonly called Pelham Heights, A. G. C. Fletcher, president, and the village of Pelham Manor, Joseph C. Wilmerding, president.  It is triangular in shape and bounded on the west by Mount Vernon, on the east by New Rochelle and on the south by New York city and the Long Island Sound.

Transit facilities are exceptional to Pelham.  There are four distinct means of getting to and from New York city.  There is a station on the main line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad at Pelham, a station on a branch line of the same railroad at Pelham Manor, one on the New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad at Fifth avenue, North Pelham, and another just across the line in New Rochelle, adjacent to Pelhamwood.  A trolley operates from New Rochelle through Pelham Manor and Mount Vernon to 242d street and White Plains road, connecting with the New York city subway.  Two other trolley lines operate north and south and east and west through the township.

Pelhamwood and North Pelham are north of the station on the main line of the New Haven system and have a population of about twenty-three hundred.  There are three churches, a grammar school, Fire and Police departments in this village.  The business section is along Fifth avenue, near the Town Hall.

The village of Pelham, or Pelham Heights, is south of the railroad, between Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, and extends as far as Colonial avenue.  It has about a thousand inhabitants and one grammar school and an annex.  It is a highly restricted section, hilly and rocky, but thickly wooded.  It is known as the smallest village in the State.

Pelham Manor has a population of about thirteen hundred, and takes in the area from Colonial road to the Long Island Sound, with New Rochelle on the east and Mount Vernon and the city of New York on the west.  It has two churches and a business section in Wolf's lane.  The land here slopes gradually toward the Sound.

While the three villages are in the same township, they have but little in common except the schools.  These are located in Fourth street, North Pelham, in Highbrook avenue, and an annex in Cliff avenue, Pelham, and a grammar and high school in Siwanoy place, Pelham Manor.  A few months ago a bond issue of $165,000 was approved, of which $50,000 was spent to acquire seven acres at Colonial avenue and Wolf's lane, the geographical centre of the school district, upon which a high school to cost at least $115,000 will be built.  Plans have already been drawn and the ground has been graded.  There is also a parochial school in North Pelham.

Charles D. Fiske, resident manager for Fish & Marvin, who specialize in Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor, said: --

'Real estate conditions are mighty encouraging here.  We sold about fifty houses since last March, ranging in price from $8,000 to $65,000.  There are no dwellings now to rent and with land values at the lowest ebb and persistent demand to force them up, there are prospects of a brisk market.  Rentals range from $1,000 to $4,000 a year, according to the size of the house and its location.  

'Pelham Heights is the first residential park out on the main line of the New Haven and it is only forty-two minutes by motor from Forty-second street.  An advantage is that the station is right in the park.  No trucks are allowed over the roads, which are all well paved, except in Colonial avenue and the Boston turnpike.  Pelham Heights is only ten to twenty minutes by automobile to fine bathing beaches at New Rochelle, Hudson Park and Rye.  More than two hundred trains, on the two railroads, stop daily, and during rush hours there are intervals of only about ten minutes between trains.  

'While there is no business section in Pelham Heights, it is easy to obtain supplies, as stores at New Rochelle deliver two and three times daily.'

Peter Cedar, who is also a real estate broker, said yesterday: -- 'There is nothing to rent in North Pelham, although we have many inquiries every day.  Sales have been brisk during the last two months.  The demand is, in the main, for houses costing $6,000 to $12,000.  All lease renewals are being made at an increase of about ten per cent.

'Taxes are low, the rates averaging about $28 a $1,000.  This includes State, county, town, village and school levies.  The assessed valuation of the real estate in 1918 was $9,664,919 and in 1919 increased $1,196,199 to $10,861,118, which is based on a valuation not in excess of sixty-five per cent and distributed among a population of 4,600.'

In the township of Pelham, in which the subdivisions share, there are five churches, the Manor Club, Pelham Country Club and New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.  The streets are well paved.  Boston turnpike and Pelhamdale avenue and the Esplanade, a one hundred foot thoroughfare extending from Pelham Manor station to Wolf's lane, intersect, while Colonial avenue (old Boston Post road), the dividing line between Pelham Heights and Pelham Manor, is laid out in an easterly and westerly direction.  Pelham Parkway extends along the shore of Long Island Sound from New York city to New Rochelle and connects with the Boston Post road.

Most of the territory in the three villages is restricted, and houses cannot be built on plots less than fifty to seventy-five feet wide.  Construction must cost from $4,000 to $8,000, according to location.

The residents of Pelham are particularly proud of its street cleaning system, which provides that snow must be removed before the rush to the early morning trains.  The department starts to work after a snowstorm at three o'clock in the morning, and most of the work is accomplished in the following four hours.  This system, which has worked admirably in the past has not had to be called into play this year on account of the open winter."

Source:  PELHAM HAS ADVANTAGES OF CITY AND SUBURBAN COMMUNITIES -- Township Includes Three Villages Which Form a Thriving Residential Centre, New York Herald, Mar. 23, 1919, p. 4, cols. 1-6.

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