An Immigrant’s Vision Created Garden City 150 Years Ago

How an immigrant grocery clerk became one of the wealthiest men in America, and planted the seeds and cornerstones of Garden City


It was a time when great fortunes could be amassed. It was also an Age of Idealism, when a perfect planned Eden also seemed achievable. Stewart bought what was left of the vast Hempstead Plains and created Garden City. He was one of the earliest developers to envision a model city on the open fields of Long Island. [1]

At the time of his death, Alexander Turney Stewart was reportedly one of the three richest men in America, and was in the process of turning the treeless plains of Hempstead into a carefully planned “Garden City.” Unfortunately, grave robbing was common in the late 1870s and mystery surrounds Stewart’s final resting place (we’ll return to that later).

Stewart was born in County Antrim, Ireland and was raised by his grandfather after his farmer father’s death. As a teenager he worked for a grocer in Belfast.

Stewart ultimately followed his mother to America and opened a small dry-goods store at 283 Broadway in New York City in 1823. Later that year he married Cornelia Clinch, whom would be critical to the development of Garden City.

A true innovator, Stewart grew his small store into a giant wholesale and retail business.


. . . Stewart introduced New Yorkers to the shocking concept of not hassling customers the moment they walked through the door, a novel policy he called “free entrance”.

AT Stewart and Co was among the first stores to practise the now-ubiquitous “clearance sale”, periodically moving on old stock at knockdown prices to make room for new.

Stewart also offered no-quibble refunds. He made customers pay in cash, or settle their bills quickly. Traditionally, shoppers had strung out their lines of credit for up to a year.

He also recognised that not everybody liked to haggle, with many welcoming the simplicity of being quoted a fair price, and being told to take it or leave it.

Stewart made this “one-price” approach work by accepting unusually low mark-ups. “[I] put my goods on the market at the lowest price I can afford,” he said, “although I realise only a small profit on each sale, the enlarged area of business makes possible a large accumulation of capital”.

This idea wasn’t totally unprecedented, but it was certainly considered radical.

The first salesman Stewart hired was appalled to discover he’d not be allowed to apply his finely tuned skill of sizing up the customer’s apparent wealth and extracting as extravagant a price as possible. He resigned on the spot, telling the youthful Irish shopkeeper he’d be bankrupt within a month. . .  [2]


Stewart was unusually successful and in 1846 opened the first section of a new kind of structure across Broadway, at the southeast corner of Reade Street. Instead of the plain, common brick of the typical retail building, Stewart’s new store was of bright, white Tuckahoe marble. This crisp, bright appearance alone was astonishing in a city otherwise dominated by earth tones, and gave the Stewart store a landmark identity that other establishments lacked.

The new Stewart store was four stories high. Stewart’s architects, Trench & Snook, designed a modular unit that could be (and soon was) expanded over most of a city block. The Anglo-Italianate design, fresh from use in men’s social clubs in London, was the height of educated swank.

James Gordon Bennett, writing in his New York Herald at the store’s opening in 1846, called it “exquisitely chaste, classic and tasteful” and “the most splendid dry goods store in the world.” [3]

read more: The Marble Palace Was Home to NYC’s (and the Nation’s) First Department Store

During the Irish potato famine, Stewart sent a shipload of provisions to his Lisburn hometown, and brought back and employed 139 young people.

In 1862 A. T. Stewart’s Great Iron Store opened, occupying an entire city block from Broadway to Fourth Avenue, between 9th and 10th Streets. It was the largest retail store in the world at the time and employed 2,000 employees.

Stewart also recognized the potential of conducting sales by mail and by 1876 had hired 20 mail order clerks and realized more than $500,000 in sales by mail.

In 1869 work was completed on the Stewart’s mansion at 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, the first of Fifth Avenue’s marble palazzos. The residence was designed by architect John Kellum and featured 18 foot high ceilings and a world class art collection.

Also in 1869 . . .

The Hempstead Plains was a flat, treeless 12-mile tract stretching from New Hyde Park to Farmingdale when Alexander Turney Stewart acquired the pasture from the Town of Hempstead in 1869 for $55 an acre. Aside from a small cemetery, it was a wasteland. For Stewart, an Irish immigrant who became a multimillionaire merchant and founded the modern department store, the barren land was a blank canvas upon which he could build a city.

During the next six years, roads crisscrossed the plain, trees were planted, houses were built and stores opened. A grand hotel surrounded by a large park was erected. Stewart’s ”city of the plains” included construction of a railroad, state-of-the-art water works and gas works. Garden City, one of the first planned cities in America, was a model suburban community designed and destined to be the best of Long Island. . . [4]

Continue reading “An Immigrant’s Vision Created Garden City 150 Years Ago”

Helping You Organize the Facts of Your Life

Recently we were contacted by a distraught family: a family member (with a relatively young family herself) had died suddenly and they were struggling to locate critical information.

They didn’t know if she had a will or if she had life insurance . . . they didn’t know who were the relevant people or companies to contact . . .

Please don’t let this happen to you or your family.

Be aware that when someone dies without a will, state law will dictate who gets what property and when – this obviously can complicate an already difficult situation for the family.

Be aware that it is critical that family members have available important documents (regarding marriages, divorces, adoptions, etc.). . .

To help you organize this essential information, we have an excellent booklet available at no charge – stop by our office or give a call and we’ll get a copy out to you!

Please be prepared.

Save a Life: Importance of CO Detectors!

from The Garden City News

On February 21, one man was killed and his wife hospitalized in an apparent carbon monoxide incident in Melville. Firefighters found the gas leak in a basement hot water heater, where authorities suspect a loose fitting PVC pipe on the heating exhaust system became disassembled filling the house with carbon monoxide. Here are some important safety tips from the Garden City Fire Department for you to keep your home and family safe:

• Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims caught off guard or in their sleep.

• This “silent killer” is produced by burning fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, portable generators or furnaces. When the gas builds up in enclosed spaces, people or animals who breathe it can be poisoned. Ventilation does not guarantee safety.

• CO Alarms must be installed in ALL NEW AND EXISTING one and two-family dwellings, multifamily dwellings and rentals having any fuel-burning appliance, system or attached garage.

• The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends CO Alarms be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.

• Never ignore a carbon monoxide alarm, and do not try to find the source of the gas. Instead, follow these steps:

** Immediately move outside to fresh air

** Call emergency services, fire department or 911

** Do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for

** Do not re-enter the premises until emergency responders have given you permission

The Nassau County Property Tax Reassessment Saga Continues …

… But some Nassau homeowners who have received their assessment statements say they are perplexed by the adjustment factors.

Under reassessment, Michael Chartan’s home in Great Neck is valued at $1,052,126. The neighborhood adjustment boosted the total by 19 percent, from $883,392.

“We have a reputation for good schools, good parks, a good library, proximity to New York City, and as far as the LIRR is concerned, the best of the lines. So when you take all of that into account, people are going to want to buy … houses in the Great Neck area for those reasons,” said Chartan, 62, a former Nassau deputy county attorney who defended Nassau against tax challenges.

“So it’s the interplay of the buyers and the sellers that are setting the prices for homes in Great Neck, and to then add on another adjustment factor for neighborhood, it just seemed to be ridiculous, because the neighborhood has already been accounted for in the sales price,” Chartan argued.

“If they’re using the comparables and they’re using comparables in Great Neck to begin with, there’s no reason to make that adjustment,” he said.

Elena Villafane said homes near hers in Sea Cliff on larger pieces of property have sold for more than $1 million, and her home should not have had the same adjustment factor. Her home, on 7,500 square feet of land, was valued at $921,753. The neighborhood adjustment had increased the total by 38.36 percent.

Million-dollar sales on much larger lots are “not going to influence [the value of] my house,” she said.

Nassau should have “dug a little bit deeper and not tried to effectuate this reassessment through computer modeling and big data,” said Villafane, an attorney who is also a candidate for village trustee…


Nassau County Reassessment – Town Hall Meetings

Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello will be hosting local Town Hall Meetings to discuss the County Executive’s Reassessment Plan, and answer residents’ questions about the changes.

Seating is limited, RSVP required: please call Presiding Officer Nicolello’s office at 516.571.6209 to reserve a seat.

  • Reassessment Town Hall Meeting – Tuesday, February 26th – 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM – Mineola Community Center – 155 Washington Ave., Mineola
  • Reassessment Town Hall Meeting – Thursday, February 28th – 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM – New Hyde Park Road School – 300 New Hyde Park Rd., NHP
  • Reassessment Town Hall Meeting – Wednesday, March 13th – 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM – Manhasset Public Library – 30 Onderdonk Ave., Manhasset


Buying or Selling a Used Car?

Here’s a tip: check out this Certified Car Program!

Don’t get stuck with a lemon. Make sure your vehicle is Certified.

Every SureSale Certified vehicle goes through a title check for over 75 conditions, including major accidents and structural damage. Next, we inspect the vehicle and give an honest assessment of its condition. We are so confident that our sales process produces happy cars and customers that we back it with a 5-month 5,000-mile limited warranty.

And if you are selling . . .  they can accelerate your sale . . .

Check out their site >>>

And get an insurance quote >>> The Roosevelt Field Agency

Open Houses in Garden City This Weekend!

Check out the new listings!


266 Stewart Avenue, Garden City NY 11530

Price Improvement! Successful 2019/2020 Tax Reduction Of 17.48% Assessed Value Iconic 5 Br, Manor Offers Breathtaking Porte Cochere (Carriage Port) And 7 Gabled Roofs. Situated On Over .50 Acre, Stunning Ent. Foyer W/Sweeping Bridal Staircase, Sunken Lr W/Fp, Banquet Sized Dr, Oversized Eik W/Butler’s Pantry And Breakfast Room, Enormous Mstr Br Suite & 4 Add. Br, 4 Bonus Rms On 3rd Floor, Lg Finished Basement W.Hi Ceilings W/Fp, Old World Moldings And Elaborate Detailed Trim, Lush Gardens And Private Yard.

  • beds
  • 4 full, 3 half baths
  • 6,681 sq ft
  • 0.52 acres lot
  • $1,599,000-

Open House Date:  1/27/2019  @  Time:  2:00pm-4:00pm


208 Meadbrook Road, Garden City NY 11530

  • beds
  • baths
  • 8,800 sqft lot
  • $1,300,000-

New Listing!

Open House Date:  1/26/2019  @  Time:  12:00pm-2:00pm


214 Kensington Road, Garden City NY 11530

First Showing/New Listing! Excellently Maintained Classic English Tudor 3 Blocks From LIRR, Turn Key Home With All The Charm And Classic Details Of A Tudor, Lr W Fp, Formal Dr, Large And Bright Eik, 3 Ss Appliances, Three Br, One Ba Upstairs, All Hw Flooring, New Driveway With Belgium Block Trim Work, Private Yard, Stratford Ave Elementary, Bus Stop On Corner, Slate Roof, Facing E, Cac Two Years Old With New Duct Work, W/D Five Years Old, Den/Family Room In Basement With Fp, Office, Laundry Room, Workshop, Must See!!!!!!!

  • beds
  • baths
  • 5,000 sqft lot
  • $878,000-

Open House Dates:  1/26/2019 & 1/27/2019  @  Time:  2:00pm-4:00pm


82 Pell Terrace, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing! Completely Renovated 3 Br, 2.5 Bath Split In The Ne Section Of Town. Open Concept Floor Plan, New Chef’s Kitchen W Quartz Counter Tops & Ss Appliances. Flows Into Dining Room & Living Room With Fireplace. Large Master Suite, 2 Add’l Family Br’s Serviced By New Full Bath. Both Baths Feature Radiant Heated Floors. Lower Level Features Large Family Room, Updated 1/2 Bath And Laundry. Finished Basement W Storage. New Roof, Siding, Cac, Heat, Eletric, Etc. Close To Schools, Park, Rr, Highways.

  • beds
  • 2 full, 1 half baths
  • 7,085 sqft lot
  • $789,000-

Open House Date:  1/26/2019  @  Time:  2:00pm-4:00pm


64 Maxwell Road, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing! Looks Are Deceiving, Deceptively Large 4/5 Bedroom Cape, Move-In Condition, Great Location, Close To Public Transportation (L.I.R.R Station & Buses), Shopping (Country Glen Shopping Center & Roosevelt Field), Hemlock Elementary School. Recent Upgrades Include Water Tank, Electrical Service (200 Amp), Windows; Lots Of Storage Space, Huge Basement With High Ceilings, Low Taxes, Total Includes Garden City Village Taxes.

  • beds
  • baths
  • 1,849 sq ft
  • 6,000 sqft lot
  • $789,000-

Open House Dates:  1/26/2019 & 1/27/2019  @  Time:12:00pm-3:00pm

Check our website for moving, staging, decorating tips (and more), and let us know if you have any insurance questions or would like any insurance quotes: call/text 516.222.4949

Property Tax Assessment Grievance Workshops

If you are a homeowner who disagrees with your home’s assessed value as indicated on your 2020-2021 Tentative Notice of Assessment, Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello invites you to attend one of his Property Tax Assessment Workshops. At the workshop, a representative from the Nassau County Assessment Review Commission (ARC) will answer questions and show residents how to use ARC’s online tools to file an “Application for Correction of Assessment” online or via mail. You may dispute the assessed value by April 30, 2019.


For information on your specific property, please visit:

For forms and applications, please visit:

Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 @ 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Clinton G. Martin Park

New Hyde Park Rd. & Marcus Ave.

New Hyde Park, NY 11040

Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 @ 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Clinton G. Martin Park

New Hyde Park Rd. & Marcus Ave.

New Hyde Park, NY 11040


Join Us For a Happy Hour Fundraiser for Pets4Luv Animal Shelter 1/25!!!

URGENT: their lease at The Source Mall in Westbury ends this month and they desperately need support to Relocate & Rebuild.

Pets4Luv Foundation is a registered 501 (c) 3 non-profit animal rescue. Their mission is “to save as many wonderful pets as we can and find them their deserving furever homes. Your donations are tax deductible and 100% of your donation goes to support the animals. We are a completely volunteer based organization. There are no paid staff or board members.”

Please help any way you can:

  • Adopt a wonderful pet!

  • Volunteer your time!

  • Make a donation: Campaign

  • Join us for a Happy Hour Fundraiser on January 25th (5-8pm) at Recovery Room in Mineola (opposite LIRR station)!


Check Out NBC4NY’s Report (1/10/2019)

any questions: 516 222 4949

Please help Pets4Luv to continue to offer these wonderful programs to our community:

  • The Medical Assistance Program, which helps those who can’t afford medical care for their sick or injured pets.

  • The Food Pantry Program, which provides food for pets whose families are struggling to feed their animals.

  • Volunteer programs for the special needs community, adults and children, from organizations such as AHRC and ISS.

  • The Fur Baby Reading Program, designed for children under the age of 15.

  • Programs for Girl Scouts, Brownies, and Eagle Scouts, where youngsters earn community service hours and special badges from projects they do to help the rescue efforts.

  • Community service programs for students and others who need to acquire community service hours.

Open Houses This Weekend in the Garden City Area

Local open houses, and some new listings to check out this weekend!

(click on a property address for further details @ REALTOR.COM)

131 Chestnut Street, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing! Mid-Block, Eastern Section Expanded Home On Oversized .25 Acre Lot. Enjoy Lovely Front Porch Thru French Doors In Frml Din Rm & Liv Rm With Wb Fireplace. Open Concept Kit/Family Rm Leading To Large Deck Overlooking Private Yard. First Floor Master Suite W/ Large Master Bth, Walk In Closet & Den. 3 Add’l Bedrooms And Full Bth On 2nd Flr. Extra Large Finished Basement

  • beds
  • 2 full, 1 half baths
  • 2,600 sq ft
  • 0.25 acres lot
  • $1,098,000-

Open House Date:  1/19/2019  @  Time:  1:00pm-3:00pm


208 Kensington Road, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing! Pristine Completely Redone 4/5Bdrms, 3.5 Bths In The Estates Section, Lg Custom Eik, Custom Moldings, Handpainted Venetian Walls, Double Entry, Fpl W/ Granite, Hdwd Flrs, Huge Mstr Ste W/ Bth & Wic, Jr Ste, Enormous Den, Bsmt W/ Plyrm, Lndry Rm, Bdrm W/ Legal Egrass Wndw, Gorgeous Pavers W/ Bbq Area- Refrig, Built In & Storage, A Rare Find, Close To All, Wont Last!

  • beds
  • 3 full, 1 half baths
  • 0.25 acres lot
  • $1,499,999-

Open House Date:  1/19/2019  @  Time: 1:00pm-3:00pm


25 Lindbergh Street, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing! Beautiful 5 Bedroom Colonial In Garden City. Gleaming Hardwood Floors, Updated Full Baths, Attached Garage With Private Driveway. School District: Garden City

  • beds
  • baths
  • 2,190 sq ft
  • 6,000 sqft lot
  • $739,000-

Open House Date:  1/19/2019  @  Time:  2:00pm-4:00pm


6 Princeton Street, Garden City NY 11530

New Listing: This Home Is Ready For You To Move In And Enjoy! Very Spacious, Immaculate, Lovingly Maintained W/Spacious Yard. All Updated With Many Features: Beautiful New Gas Fireplace, Ultra Eik, Big Formal Dr, Very Large Master Suite W/4 Large Closets And Spacious Bath, All Updated Windows, New Pavers Walkways , French Doors To Blue Slate Steps To Brick Patio W/Awning. 5 Zone Gas Heat, 2 Zone Cac, Central Alarm And Near LIRR.

  • beds
  • 3 full, 1 half baths
  • 2,696 sq ft
  • 6,825 sqft lot
  • $1,139,000-

Open House Date:

Continue reading “Open Houses This Weekend in the Garden City Area”