United States Realty and Improvement Company

United States Realty and Improvement Company
Item# 4706

Harry S. Black, son in law of the Fuller Company’s founder, George Fuller (who was considered the inventor of the skyscraper), took over his father-in-law’s company, upon Fuller’s death in 1900. He aggressively expanded its capitalization and operations, merging it with smaller companies, and bringing on to the company's board of directors such men as Henry Morgenthau, Sr., former New York City mayor – and Tammany Hall man – Hugh J. Grant, and banker James Stillman and creating what became known as the "skyscraper trust". In 1902, he took the company public, listing it on the New York Stock Exchange, and then put together a merger with Alliance and New York Realty to create a new $66 million dollar company, the United States Realty and Improvement Company.

U.S. Realty's stock never performed as expected, although the members of the board did receive substantial salaries and large dividends on the stock they owned, even as the company was underperforming. When the Fuller Company was implicated in the corruption of the building trades union leader, Samuel Parks, its stock fell. Board members dumped their stock and left the company, but Fuller was buying up stock at the same time. He took control of the company, naming a new board which made Black president. Among the many buildings constructed by the new Fuller Company under Black were the Pennsylvania Station, the Flatiron Building, R.H. Macy's flagship store on Broadway and 34th Street, lauded at the time as the biggest store in the world, the New York Times Building in Times Square, the Plaza Hotel on Grand Army Plaza and Central Park South and the Savoy-Plaza Hotel across Fifth Avenue, the biggest hotel in the world at the time, designed by McKim, Mead & White, and demolished in 1964.

Black would eventually commit suicide at his Long Island estate.

Certificate: Certificate of Beneficial Interest, issued in the 1940’s

Printer: Hamilton Bank Note Company

Dimensions: 8” (h) x 12” (w)

State: NY-New York

Subject Matter: Real Estate and Related

Vignette Topic(s): None

Condition: Vertical fold lines, no cancels, and some toning and edge faults from age.

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