“Location, Location, Location!” The Price Gradient for Vacant Urban Land: New York, 1835 to 1900

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Abstract

We preview new archival evidence on the price of vacant land in New York City between 1835 and 1900. Before the Civil War, the price of land per square foot fell steeply with distance from New York's City Hall located in the central business district (CBD). After the Civil War, the distance gradient flattened and the fit of a simple regression of the log of land price per square foot on distance from the CBD declined markedly. Our most remarkable finding is that average nominal land prices at the CBD increased at an average annual rate of over 3% per year between 1835 and 1895, growing particularly rapidly around the time of the Civil War before declining as the century came to an end.

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