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. ↩︎

If You Follow the Road to Harmon, You Surely Can’t go Wrong

Nikko Inn Card front

Here’s a real treat—a double-fold promotional postcard for the Nikko Tea House, probably printed circa 1907 to 1910.1 An artist with the initials “W.K.” created the beautiful images and hand-lettered the map and poem on the centerfold.

The map has a wonderful depiction of the Nikko and helpfully provides the location of “police traps” on the roads in Westchester. The lines indicating the Hudson River along the left cleverly become strings for Japanese lanterns at the bottom.

Nikko Inn Card center

We can thank C.K. Nazu, who was manager of the Nikko at the time, for this wonderful ode to Harmon:

Nikko Card Detail
Of Harmon on the Hudson
You surely must have heard,
But if you’ll give attention
I should like a word,

About the Nikko Tea House,
One the wooded Croton’s brink,
The situation picturesque;
The food is fine we think;

So get a horse or motor car,
And bring your friends along;
If you follow the road to Harmon,
You surely can’t go wrong.

Here are a few previous posts about the Nikko Tea House:

  • C.K. Nazu is listed as the manager in this 1908 ad (though the last name is spelled “Nezu”).
  • Another clever bit of promotion from 1917, when the Nikko was called the “Nikko Inn.”
  • One of our favorite Nikko stories by a New York journalist who stopped for some “skiyaki” in 1931.

To see all the posts about the Nikko click the “Nikko Inn” tag in the right hand column.

If you have any vintage photographs or ephemera of the Nikko or the early days of Harmon please send an email.

  1. Local postcard expert Susan Hack-Lane, who helped date the card, pointed out the names written on the front, Nellie L. Beach and Billy Beach. Beach was a Peekskill family name (Beach Shopping Center) which may explain why this card was never mailed. ↩︎

New Croton Dam, circa 1907

Cornell Dam, Croton Lake, N.Y. Click the image to enlarge it.

Cornell Dam, Croton Lake, N.Y. Click the image to enlarge it.

Here’s a nice view of the nearly-completed New Croton Dam (also known as the Cornell Dam) circa 1907. We can roughly date the image from the state of construction and the card itself because it’s an “undivided back” postcard, issued during the period from 1901 to 1907. Until 1907 only the mailing address could be written on the back of the card.

This card was published by William Terhune in “Ossining on Hudson” and printed in Germany.

Here are some other Terhune postcards:

Quaker Bridge, circa 1914

Postcard of Quaker Bridge. Click the image to enlarge it.

Postcard of Quaker Bridge. Click the image to enlarge it.

Postcard of Quaker Bridge, circa 1914, published by Frank L. Simone, who issued postcards of many scenes of the Croton area. This card is postmarked Oscawana, July 28, 1914.

Here are two other Simone cards:

Ice Boating on the Hudson River

Ice Boating on the Hudson River, N.Y. Post card by the Hugh C. Leighton Co., circa 1910.

Ice Boating on the Hudson River, N.Y. Post card by the Hugh C. Leighton Co., circa 1910.

As a follow-up to our recent post, Winter on the Hudson River, here’s a postcard showing an ice boat in action on the river, circa 1910.

This image is part of the Waterways Post Card Collection at the Graduate School of Library and Information Studies, Queens College (CUNY), New York—a collection of “historically significant cultural heritage materials documenting the waterways of New York state.”

Here are links to this collection, which is part of a much larger treasure-trove of New York-related documents and images:

Croton Point and Ossining, circa 1905

Click the image to enlarge it.

Click the image to enlarge it.

Here’s a nice postcard of the view looking northwest over the rooftops of Ossining to Croton Point and Haverstraw. The card is postmarked from Ossining, January 18, 1905.

This is what’s called an “undivided back” postcard, printed during the period when postal regulations prohibited any writing on the back except the address—hence the note to “Dear Peter” on the front.

This card was published in Ossining by William Terhune—one of several local postcard publishers we can thank for preserving images of the area that might otherwise have been lost.

Here are some other Terhune postcards:

New Croton Dam, circa 1906

Postcard published by William Terhune, "Ossining on Hudson," N.Y., circa 1906.

Postcard published by William Terhune, “Ossining on Hudson,” N.Y., circa 1906.

Here’s a postcard of the nearly completed New Croton Dam, sent from Ossining on March 13, 1906.