Selling Today Like Hot Cakes!

Detail from a promotional postcard for Harmon captioned “View of Benedict Boulevard, where it crosses Broadway.” Circa 1907.

One hundred and nine years ago this month lots in Harmon were “selling . . . like hot cakes,” according to an article in the May 24, 1907 issue of the Katonah Times.1

“One mile north of Ossining on the Hudson River there has sprung up a new town. Its name is Harmon. It was laid out a short time ago into village lots and they are selling to­ day like hot cakes. Although the first public announcement of the new property at Harmon was made only two weeks [ago], large crowds have been visiting the property every day.

A special excursion train, leaving the Grand Central Station . . . on Sunday, May 5, carried over five hundred people, of whom almost one fourth purchased property. The total sales for that day were 140 lots. If you desire to get any of this property you should visit it some week day and avoid the rush from New York. On Sunday, May 12, many more came up and lots were sold like hot cakes.

Clifford B. Harmon, of Wood, Har­mon & Co., who is planning this new city, did not expect to put it on the market until June 1st as the exten­sive improvements are only under way. But the public seems deter­mined not to wait for improvements or a formal opening of the property. Since its opening sales have been made to people from New Jersey, Brooklyn and all the river towns as far north as Albany.

A noteworthy feature of the ad­vance sale of lots at Harmon is the popularity of the section reserved for bungalows. This is located around a small lake on the property, which is fed by springs . . . This idea is a decided novelty in suburban development and it is proving very popular. A large number if these sites have already been sold, which indicates that there will be a large and substantial bungalow colony at Harmon this summer.

So much interest has been taken in this new Hudson River property, which is the first to be put on the market at moderate prices and the easy payment plan, that Wood, Harmon &. Company expect to have it entirely disposed of within a very short space of time.”

We suspect everything in this article was fed to a credulous reporter by the master salesman himself, but that only adds to its charm. As we’ve recounted in previous posts Clifford Harmon was a master of real estate marketing, who ran newspaper ads telling everyone that “All New York is Amazed!” at the “Quickest and Most Successful Real Estate Development in the History of New York.” He urged New Yorkers to “Think of Your Children,” growing up in “the Highest, Healthiest, Most Beautiful, Most Accessible, and Most Aristocratic Part of Westchester County.”

Harmon Sales Office
Early promotional post card for Harmon captioned “View of Benedict Boulevard, where it crosses Broadway.” Circa 1907.

Although we can’t really appreciate what visitors to the undeveloped land at Harmon thought in 1907, the promotional post card shown above is a revelation to Crotonites today. If you stand in the parking area of the Dairy Mart, looking down Benedict Boulevard at Vogue Spa & Nails (the original Harmon sales office), you can approximate the view shown in the post card.

Detail from a promotional postcard for Harmon. Circa 1907.

Can you believe there was once a huge, flat, treeless field in front of you, going straight down Benedict Boulevard to the hilly area of Lexington, Sunset and Observatory Drives?

  1. “A New Village in Westchester County—Harmon,” The Katonah Times, May 24, 1907, page 2. ↩︎

9 thoughts on “Selling Today Like Hot Cakes!

  1. My Grandfather was part of the first rush to purchase lots in Harmon and build houses. Remember my Father talking about this.

  2. In the early 50’s I remember the sales office became a post office and doctors office. The porch was a meeting place for young teens on weekends. A playground just down the boulevard on Young Ave. To the left out of the range of the camera was of course the Carvel ice cream shop. 15 cents for a cone. If you had that much in your pocket

    1. @Charlie: I forgot there was a Carvel there. I was born in ’86 and remember going there as a kid. I also remember it closed down around ’91 or ’92 and was abandoned for years until Tony’s Trattoria opened up.
      When the lot was abandoned my friends and I would rollerblade through it and find all kinds of weird stuff in the weeds. I remember finding a plastic toy butcher knife, and the place was littered with empty glass bottles that we’d throw against the building and break. Ah, to be 9 again.

      1. My memories are from the mid fifties . Soft ice cream was new to us kids then. The Carvel was the destination of choice in the summer. Got there on bikes. short ride down Benedict Blvd then around the corner and there you were. Paradise. Slap 15 cents on the counter and you were in business. On a good nite if you had 35 cents you’d go for the Thick Shake. Lived on the southern section of Young Ave where 7 vacant lots were filled with new houses during the 50s. A contractor named Milano and Sons built many of them. If you were a Harmon kid on a summer nite you could walk down Route 9 to the Starlight Drivein. Where the supermarket is today. They let you in free if you were willing to sit in a sectioned off areas immediately under the screen. One of those car window speakers was your source of sound. If you are from this era you also remember the miniature golf with the 18th hole Windmill. The batting cage was also an attraction.. Trying to hit the guy in the golf ball collecting tractor was also fun at the driving range. Harmon… A great place to grow up in.

  3. I lived in croton 1963-1978 GO TIGERS!!
    I was visiting my Mother just this past Sunday (we now live in Cali) As I was helping her look up childhood apt. (Corsa ave. Bronx, ny) on Google earth on my I pad, We switched gears and brought up croton (Brook st. Until 1972 and then Hastings ave. until 1978) my Mom is 83y/o and I never heard her speak about “HARMON”! she insisted we start our google earth ground level “virtual walk” at Hastings ave.
    we “verbally walked” down Hastings ave. towards Benedict Blvd. we discussed the “little white church” landmarks etc.. but she was addimint there was a “Harmon” my sister and I didn’t know what she was talking about…and now I recieved this e-mail about HARMON!
    So I will send her this article/pics….

  4. Great and Interesting article the only thing that might make it a bit more interesting is since you talk about how it looks today is to put a photo of how i looks today for those of us not from there. Love old photo’s thanks so much for sharing this and the story. From people’s response it sounds like, be it true or false, when he started selling that he must of made it true. Power of positive thinking. 🙂

    1. Not that I’m aware of. There were tennis courts at the Harmon Field Club. The location of the courts is unknown but from a photo in a sales brochure it looks like they were located in the flats, off Benedict.

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