By the mid-1800s Fifth Avenue had become the focus of American wealth and privilege. It remains the major beneficiary of Manhattan's grid plan and is central to an understanding of New York.
The fabulous Carnegie and Warburg homes are dazzling reminders of Gilded Age excess while a more discreet mansion blocks away stands out by comparison because it is so relatively plain. Then again, an ordinary backyard nearby represents a display of wealth extreme even by Fifth Avenue standards.
The leafy green of Central Park continues to draw the super-rich on this eastern edge of the Park, as well as the merely rich, who tend towards the opposite side along Central Park West. Today the population of Upper Fifth Avenue represents the greatest assemblage of wealth in world history.
Fifth Avenue makes clear the two major patterns of Manhattan's growth, and shows how all of New York grew and how that matters.