The Street Committee, the powerful group that executed the Commissioners’ Plan, is now defunct; all that remains are its masses of paperwork, the detritus of an extinct bureaucracy. The most important documents that the Street Committee produced were assessment maps and record books that describe properties on new streets and note how much the owners owed the city for the street opening, their “assessment.”
City Surveyor Gardner A. Sage created this packet of papers, related to the regulating and grading of First Avenue from 67th to 75th Street, in 1858. The packet includes a breakdown of the cost of road construction, a list of assessments and an accompanying map, and a balance sheet. According to the documents, the city awarded Rutter Brothers & Moss a $12,000 contract to regulate—to straighten, level, and adjust the road to official street dimensions—this section of First Avenue in 1857. More than half of the cost was for rock excavation, while the remainder covered digging and earth moving, building stone culverts, and removing 81 tree stumps.
The total cost of the street opening was transferred to the owners of property along the avenue, as noted on the map. The assessment commission used the map to determine obligations based on a property’s frontage on the avenue. On each plot on the map, Sage included its dimensions, owner, and a key to an accompanying chart, which listed each owner’s assessment. For example, the estate of Peter Schermerhorn was assessed $510 for plot number 1, which takes up 200 feet on First Avenue. AR