Note: an early version of this essay appeared on my weblog.
In 1883 Tyson’s Market was located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 44th Street. The story of how Mr. Tyson fought the rich and powerful to hold onto his butcher shop/tavern/corner store (found here at the Daytonian in Manhattan) gives you a good sense of how quickly things changed on Fifth Avenue.
Note the tree in the image, which was taken in winter. It was a landmark of its own, the Old Willow. You can spot it in the image below (also from the Daytonian in Manhattan). Nothing bucolic about Manhattan in 1884.