Joseph P. Day
Day entered the real estate world at the age of 21. His business grew rapidly. He auctioned land on Manhattan Beach as early as 1904. In 1907 he sold 2,000 lots in New York in six auctions, one of the most successful lot sales ever held in New York City. He sold $100 million of real estate between 1907 and 1909. A year later he sold $81 million worth of real estate.
On October 11, 1910, Day held the first real estate auction at night at the Terrace Garden at 58th Street near 3rd Avenue in New York. That night he sold 297 Bronx lots on Hunts Point Avenue and adjoining streets for the developers of Hunts Point Estate.
He announced plans in 1916 to build 114 homes and lots of amenities at Brooklyn’s Manhattan Beach. The project was completed in the 1920s and was featured on the cover of Life Magazine as “Life Goes to a Party at Joseph Day’s Manhattan Beach Baths”. It was billed as the “World’s Largest Privately Owned Playground.”
During his career, Day sold about one-third of the Bronx and one-third of Queens, plus was involved in many sales in Brooklyn, Westchester, and North New Jersey. He also developed a project in San Clemente, California, that included 500 buildings and 1,000 residences.
Day was a driving force in the real estate market of New York City. An article on William Hassler (1887–1921), who photographically mapped of the city of New York after the consolidation of the five Boroughs in 1898, mentions Day. Hassler utilized the Cirkut camera apparatus to do the laborious work. His primary client from 1911 to 1921 was Joseph P. Day Realtors and Auctioneers.
By 1933, Day was an early, vocal and substantial proponent of long-term mortgages.
Joseph P. Day was a family man. He and his wife Pauline had four sons: Joseph P Jr., Bernard, Charles, and Fairfield plus two daughters: Pauline and Laura. The family had two main homes, a city home in Gramercy Park, and the family estate called Pleasant Days in Short Hills, New Jersey. Pleasant Days was later renamed Greenwood Gardens by a subsequent owner and is open to the public.
Advertised on a considerably large billboard at the time at the intersection of Williamsbridge Road and Pelham Parkway (see photo), the auction was a well publicized event. The New York Times advertised the then mostly rural area as a “growing section of [the] borough.” Today the Morris Park neighborhood (mostly 10461 zip code) in which the Pearsall Estate was located has a population density just under 22,000 people per square mile. Within a hundred year period, the borough would transform immensely and so would the neighborhood, changing from Jewish to Italian and now slowly into Latino hands.
Today, much like the other families with large holdings in the borough (Astor, Spencer, Morris, Pell, etc.), the only link the residents of this Morris Park community have to the Pearsall family and its rural estate is a street sign, Pearsall Avenue, which runs north-northwest from the estate’s northern boundary.