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History Lessons

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Apparently, the Vanderbilts were the NIMBYs of the early 20th century. The family had built opulent mansions along Fifth Avenue in the 50s, but as other property owners started to erect commercial buildings and apartment houses, they panicked that the neighborhood was going to the dogs. So the Vandys tried to buy up parcels of land to stop the development, serving "an absolute barrier to the incursions of business," but eventually even they caved, sold some of their turf, and gave in to the inevitable: commercial real estate. The more things change... [NYT]