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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

Yerkes Mansion: 1908

Yerkes Mansion: 1908

New York circa 1908. "Charles T. Yerkes house, Fifth Avenue and East 68th." 8x10 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

Dreiser books

Theodore Dreiser wrote three books "suggested" by Yerkes' life ("The Financier," "The Titan" and "The Stoic"), and they are a great read for anyone interested in that time period.

Yerkes Observatory

I'm familiar with Yerkes in association with the observatory by that name. The U. of Chicago astronomer George Ellery Hale persuaded him to fund the observatory by pointing out that his name would be on the largest telescope in the world. Those tycoons love having their egos stroked, eh.

Gone and Forgotten

When I first saw this picture I thought "Who in the world was Charles T. Yerkes and what is he famous for?"

Well, after reading the remarks, I have decided that it is to mankind's benefit that the man has been, more or less, forgotten in just over 100 years. Too bad he didn't use some of his ill gotten gains to help people. Maybe his name would be remembered in the same spirit as Andrew Carnegie.

[He did get those rail lines built, and provided employment for thousands. As for the pejorative term "robber baron," the people who most objected to those sharp elbows were other industrialists. - Dave]

On The Avenue

In 1895 the Yerkes Mansion was replaced by Thomas Fortune Ryan, another robber baron, who built an even larger house and garden on 2 lots. That lasted until 1950 when the architecturally ordinary 860 Fifth Avenue was built for the rich and famous.

East 68th

Somewhere along the street is an apartment building owned by a couple named Mertz.

Creator of the Chicago Loop

Charles Tyson Yerkes, as the robber-baron-in-chief of Chicago traction, acquired a distinctly unsavory reputation in the Windy City and was eventually run out of town. But he created - by hook AND by by crook - one of Chicago's greatest assets: the elevated railroad loop that encircles the downtown business district, which was completed in 1897. The name "Loop" derives from the turn-around circuits of the cable car lines built in Chicago in the 1880s, but it is forever linked to the giant elevated train merry-go-round that remains a favorite with residents, tourists, and filmmakers alike.

Couldn't be more

... spooky!

"City Loses Yerkes Library"

Financier and public transportation developer Charles T. Yerkes was one of those 19th Century capitalists whose ruthless business practices defined the term "robber baron." When he died of kidney disease in 1905, he was residing in an apartment at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and not in the mansion seen here, which was occupied by his wife, as reported in his New York Times obituary on December 30, 1905.

The Yerkes mansion was in the news again in 1908, when the Times reported that its attached library and art gallery, willed by Yerkes to the city for public use, was instead being lost to foreclosure.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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