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HISTORY OF THE INTERNATIONAL TOY CENTER
(200 Fifth Avenue & 1107 Broadway)

To view time line click here

200 Fifth Avenue was once described as the "Center of the Uptown Business District." Although now well below midtown Manhattan, it was at the very hub of New York's uptown business district when it opened as an office building in 1909. This location has long been an important business and world traveler destination - from stagecoaches bringing together travelers in the 1800s to the more than 30,000 buyers, manufacturers, and marketing and advertisers, financial analysts and media outlets come here each year from all over the world to shape the future of the $20 billion toy and children's entertainment industry in the 21st Century.

Early records show the site where "The International Toy Center" now stands was farmland and part of a land grant to a free black slave in the early 1800s. The farmhouse that stood at the corner of what is now 5th Avenue and 23rd Street became a roadhouse called the Madison Cottage in 1839. It was noteworthy for being the last stop for outward-bound New Yorkers on their way to the "wilds of upper Manhattan" and was the first stop in the city that visitors from the North would reach.

The Cottage was replaced by Franconi's Hippodrome in 1853, a circus structure two stories high with a brick wall and tent roof. The Hippodrome complied with the original Madison Square Garden, that was located across Madison Square Park on the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street. The land was then sold to Amos R. Eno in 1857, who planned to build a grand hotel on the site.

The Fifth Avenue Hotel opened its doors at 200 Fifth Avenue in 1859. Throughout its life, the hotel was the social center of New York. Celebrities,, including Mark Twain, famed Swedish singer Jenny Lind, U.S. Presidents Chester A. Arthur and Ulysses S. Grant, the Prince of Wales and dignitaries from as far as Siam and Brazil, assured the hotel's success. During the Civil War, the hotel was used as a headquarters of Union politicians and the Fifth Avenue Hotel was the site at which plans to make Grant president were conceived.

These wealthy and influential guests paid top dollar ($2.50) for their accommodations, which included a fireplace in every room and four, not three, meals a day. As those who stayed in the hotel were to consider it their home, visitors were welcomed to stay for meals at no extra charge. There was a grand dining room where guests were seated family-style at large tables.

By 1908 the prime of the hotel had passed and the area had become the center of commerce in New York. As a result The Fifth Avenue Hotel and the Albemarle Hotel located on Broadway and 23rd Street (1107 Broadway) would soon make way for office buildings. The Flatiron Building was completed in 1915 and the Madison Square area had become the place to do business. In 1911 the Albemar Hotel located on 23rd Street and Broadway was torn down and replaced with 1107 Broadway.

15 stories high, the sbuilding was one of the tallest in New York and was certainly one of the grandest. It was filled with the very best of tenants and became one of Manhattan's most prestigious addresses. The landmark clock standing in front of the building also stood in front of the hotel.

There were few toy companies in the United States at this time. The center of toy manufacturing had been in Germany and remained that way until the outbreak of World War I. During the war torment toy manufacturers took roots in the United States. Soon after the war's end, toy tenants began to move into the building. By the time World War II ended, the toy industry had really begun to flourish in this country. The focus of the toy industry was now the United States and Madison Square was were most toy companies settled into.

In 1950 the building was acquired by its current owners. The toy industry shared the building with the men's clothing industry until 1964 when it became clear that the toy industry was rapidly expanding. Management of the building made a commitment to the toy industry and renewed leases only with the toy or toy-related companies. The expansion to 1107 Broadway took place when ownership purchased this building in 1968. In keeping with its commitment to the industry, a bridge was constructed to join the two buildings and create one toy center.

Today The International Toy Center is home to the largest permanent display of Children's Entertainment and Seasonal Products in the world. With its marble lobby and brass trim throughout, the ITC is no mere convention center. Anyone walking into the building for the first time is bound to be struck by the elegance and the beauty of the building itself, and by the unique atmosphere that comes from doing business in a quality environment with dignity.

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