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June 8. 1889
Record and Guide.
De/oteD 10 f^EJ^L EsTWE, BuiLDif/o AR.cifiTECTai\E .Household DEQORAriotJ.
BJsii^ess aiIdThemes of GeNeraL 1;jtÂ£i\esj
PRICE, PER TEAU IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
Published every Saturday,
TELEPHONE, - - . JOHN 370.
j^oidmiiiilcatioDS should be addi'essed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
/. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
JUNE 8, 1889.
The sliort-lioraed bull market in "Wall street does not like the
continued heavy gold shipments, and it is no wonder, for sooner or
later it must give way if these contiuue. The events of the week liave
all been of au extremely discouraging nature. General business
shows no improvement; disasters without parallel have come upon
parts of the country, railroad rates are again a distm-bing influeuce,
and agaiust this serious combination of circumstances the bulls
only poiut to tlie indications, and they are good ones, of a big crop.
Conservative investors are disposed to wait a little until thiugs are
running more smoothly, aud tliey have some evidence that foreign
capital is more disposed to flow in this direction. It is probable
that next week will give more f3,vorable accounts, or at least that
what news does come will not have the uncertainty which has
giveu rise to so much fear and doubt, as everything we have heard
this week has done. Nothing will be lost by waiting. Already
the estimates of loss, both of life aod luouey, iu Pennsylvania are
beiug largely reduced. The Cambria Company, which at oue time
was put down as losing ^6,000,000, has reduced the amount to
something like 1^300,000, and it is probable that the Pennsylvania
Company will also find that matters are not so bad as the early
accounts made them appear.
The necessity of more rapid transit is so imperative that every
attempt to find a new mode deserves candid consideration. As
scon as rapid transit lines are established the city grows along
and conforms to them. The difficulty is m making routes
when this growth has ah-eady crystallized along other hnes.
We have the prospectus of a uew line called the People's Rapid
Transit Company. This company proposes to build an elevated
viaduct road, taking a line of private property through the blocks,
and crossing streets on arches of inasom-y. The flrst and immeÂ¬
diate question they have to meet is the cost of this right of way. It
would be very large, and would be just so much added to the cost
of coustructing a road on an existing avenue. To meet the interest
upon it the company proposes to erect business structures on their
strip of property to support their elevated roadbed, and below it to
furnish stores, warehouses and rooms for renting. This is a rejjro-
diiction of a plan much considered years ago, when the great conÂ¬
test was pending about the use of pubUc streets for a road. It was
the subject of coutroversy in Governor Hoffman's time. The arguÂ¬
ment then agaiast it was the high cost, the interference with priÂ¬
vate property, which provokes great opposition, and this logical
point: the private property bordering on the new route would
have great value, because it would front on a new thoroughfare.
This was a speculative point at that time, now it is demonstrated.
Now everyone sees that the avenue which has the gi'eitest travel,
surface or elevated, has the greatest value. This bordering propÂ¬
erty ought to be brought into use. As Governor Hoffman said,
why not make the uew avenue broad enough to accommodate
travel and give tiiisgreat benefit to property owners? Make of theii-
route a new business avenue. The answer was fitting. Instead of
making a new avenue save that expense and take an existing
avenue and benefit that; and so they did. West Broadway, Bth,
3d and 9th avenues show the wisdom of it. This plan of taking
an existing avenue and benefiting it has been adopted and may
well he extended. It can be di.ne by giving the roads now there a
more substantial structure and four tracks. It would double their
capacity. This is the immediate improvement in rapid transit.
Broadway and the Boulevard is the great route which tlie people
want, and where property would be doubled in value. To-day it is
the underground that is proposed aud fought and resisted most
blindly. The time will come when Broadway will be a three-story
street, with an underground, a surface and an elevated storyâ€”altoÂ¬
gether insufficient for its gi-eat travel, the travel which belongs to
it and concentrates upon it, and which, if it is not di-iven away,
will make of Broadway the greatest street in the world iu obeÂ¬
dience to the law of the growth of cities, that where the greatest
travel ia brought is fouud the highest value.
The ?a[e of the Bonner lots, on Sth avenue and 57th street, to Mr,
Huntington recalls the time, over twenty years ago, when they were
worth $13,000 each. They are now worth ?8S,000 each. It illustrates
the fact that some investments in land in this city have been profitÂ¬
able, and the truth stands out that eveu to the present purchaser
the investment will be a profitable one, if Mr. Huntington builds
a residence, at ifcs estimated cost of a million and a quarter, on his
lots, and adapts it to the use it will come to twenty years hence.
When that tirne comes round, it will be a gi-eat property for a hotel
or a club house, or a great warehouse. Fifth avenue does not last
more than twenty years as a residence site. It is less than fifty
years since the first house was erected on it, aud now the lower
two miles of. its length are occupied by stores. Tbey exclude any
new private residences, and as the old ones depart, busmess absorbs
them, because it pays the'most reut. Twenty more years will carry
this business occupatior- up to Central Park corner. It behooves
the owuer now to build such a structure that it can be converted
to the new use, and need not be demoUshed, The art of building
has now readied the stage of the Roman i-epublic, wheu buildÂ¬
ings were erected for all tune. It has not, beeu so heretofore;
but an iirchitect can now make them substantial forever and conÂ¬
vertible to all future uses. The Stewart house on the 34th street
corner has become nearly valueless, for want of this convertibility.
It provokes tbe question, wbat will be done when the Sth avenue up
to Central Park is occupied for business ? It is the fatal element in
the plan of this city that the growth of private residences and of
business is along one and the same liue; the latter push out the
former in half a generation. There should have been a recess of
small parks and stretches of avenue where private residences might
have found a holdiug ground. But this was not foreseen. When
private residences are driven from Sth avenue, where will they go?
There will then be more palaces than now. This island presents
finer sites than anything in the whole area of its suburbs. The
high lauds bordering on Central Park aud on Riverside Heights will
reach the point where they will diminish in supply, and as rapidly
increase in price as the Sth avenue has doue.
The daily papers, to all appearances, have just learned that there
was such a tiling as the " Elock bill" passed recently by the LegisÂ¬
lature. But two newspapers throughout tho winter had auy referÂ¬
ence to it editorially, one of which used it merely as a nail on
which to hang an attack on Register Slevin. Yet few of the bills
acted upon by the Legislature, hoth needed and deserved such careÂ¬
ful attention from the press. Some sharp words spoken at the
right time might have prevented sorae of the mutilations which the
original measure had to suffer.
The importance of an event is not to be measured by the amount
of atteution it attracts, for the mcst important events are rarely
striking. They culminate slowly, are a series of phases of a conÂ¬
stant growth rather than rfvolntioua. and are often completed
before they receive geueral recognition. The casting of certatu
memorable chests of tea into the waters of Boston Harbor was the
outcome of ideas that were part of the impalpable cargo of the
iilayflower, and slowly expanded in New England for more than
a century before they created a gi-eat historical event. One of the
most important events going on tu this country now is the rapid
conversion of the pubhc lands into private property. Since 1880
134,000,000 acres have heen settled under the homestead, pre-empÂ¬
tion and timber culture lawsâ€”an area greater than that of Indiana,
Ohio, Michigan and lUinois combined. Sixty million acres or nearly
one-iialf of this were in tbe Northwestern States aud Territories,
thirty millions in Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico ; nineÂ¬
teen millions on the Pacific coast, and thirteen millious in the South.
Along the Pacific roads alone 18,000,000 acres have been settled
since the last census. This means the settlement of a territory
nearly equal to the area of Germany, only a little smaller than
Prance, and nearly twice as large as Italy and fom- times
the size of England. The United States undoubtedly cover
a great deal of space, but it is plain that at this rate
jt cannot be long before all the good laud is settled.
The exhaustion of the public domain musthave far-reaching effects,
in many directions. In the first place, it wiU bring about a more
rapid iucrease in the value of real estate everywhere. To some
extent, periiaps to a great exttut, it will change the character of
immigration. Its influeuce on the agricultural interests of the
country cannot be estimated. The existence of a vast area of
unoccupied land must have been an immensely powerful factor in
shaping the growth and development of this couutry. There are
many students of our institutions in Europe, and some ou this side
of the water, who believe that tbe real test of the strength and value
of these iustitutious will not be made imtil the land is al! occupied.
The immense area of the public domain has undoubtedly caused
tbe coimti-y to grow much quicker than it has developed, and
there is reason to expect that by-and-by the process will be reversed.
Expansion will not he so easy. Thirty years ago Macauiay looked
forward to this event when he wrote: "As long as you have a
boundless extent of fertile aud unoccupied laud your laboring popuÂ¬
lation will be far more at ease than the laboring population of the