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July 7. 1883
The Record and Guide.
Published Weekly hy
THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION.
OXE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS. . r
Communications should be addressed to ^^
C. ff. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSET, Business Manager.
JULY 7, 188S.
Kext week our siibscribers will receive the semi-annual index of
volume 31 of the Conveyances and Projected Buildings in New York
City and Kings County as published during the six months ending
June 30, 1883. A neat and suitable binder can be obtained at the
office, 191 Broadway, price one dollar.
The. adjournment of the various exchanges over the national
holiday has seriously interfeied with the business of the past week,
but there is every indication that we will have our usual summer
activity in stocks and grain. Capitalists who visit Europe or go to
the country for the summer do not care to leave their money on
call at a low rate of interest, and hence they purchase bonds and
good securities that bring in more chan 5 per cent interest. This
is usually a safe thing to do from the first of July to the end of
August. Hence the active and often buoyant market which
usually prevails in July and August. Then, railroad earnings are
apt to be good in summer time, due in part to the pleasure travel
but principally to the movement of the crops. True, the new
grain ia not ready to move, but if the crops promise well, the left¬
over surplus of last year is sent to market. The brokers who stay
in town will consequently fiud more to do during the present sum¬
mer than they did during the past spring. The stock market
promises not only to be more active but higher.
city. It will be many years before down town property will be
assessed according to its relative value with other sections of New
York. The region showing the greatest absolute iocrease of
/^^ourse, is that just east of the Central Park. This is where the
11 moat new houses have been erected, and where in all probability,
the as.jessors are more nearly accurate in their figures. They com¬
menced their work de novo so far as the newly built houses are
concerned, and the variations in value in the older sections of this
district were easily estimated.
The Twelfth ward, comprising the upper portions of the island,
naturally shows the next largest increase in valuation. This
region has the advantage of rapid steam transit, and within a few
years the increasement of values will show larger percentages than
the district just east of the Central Park. The latter will soon be
covered with buildings, while the former is as yet notable for its
many vacant spaces.
Very significant are the figures of the Seventh, Tenth, Thirteenth
and Seventeenth wards, in the extreme eastern part of the island,
compared with the Twentieth and Twenty-second wards on the
west side. The former shows a stationary or diminishing valua¬
tion, while the west side shows a relatively large increase. Once
the island is built over, this tendency will be intensified. East of
the Bowery and Third avenue valuations will show little or no
change, while west of Fifth avenue, below the Park, and of Eighth
avenue, above Fifty-ninth street, will steadily increase in assessible
value. In other words. New York will become like all other large
cities; its eastern wards will be occupied by the working popula¬
tion, while the rich and those who effect costly and ostentatious
dwellings will live in the west side proper. This is a fact which
purchasers of realty would do well to bear in mind.
The total increase of valuation of over $44,000,000 is gratifying
as testifying to the rapid growth of the city. It is a comfort to
know that the increase in the tax rate will be trifling, 2.27 this
year as compared with 2.25 m 188^.
The law's delay in the Western Union case, as well ss that of the
elevated roads, is very exasperating to investors. Thousands of
families are kept out of their incomes by the entirely unnecessary
procrastination of the courts. Gases quite as complicated are set¬
tled satisfactory by the arbitration committees of the Stock
Exchange and the Chamber of Commerce after a few hearings and
in a few days time, but the courts proceed under the theory that
the disputes of the business world are for the benefit of the legal
fraternity, while business people naturally think that arbitration
committees and courts exist to see that justice is done and the
work of the world is expedited. The latter theory is clearly the
correct one, and some time or other there will be a popular upris¬
ing against our procrastinating and justice-denying courts of law.
The business exigencies of this age demand expedition and econ¬
omy, but our judges and the bar fail to understand the age in
which they live. There was nothing in the Western Union or the
elevated road controversies which could not have been settled in
three months time. Yet two years have been consumed and hun¬
dreds of thousands of dollars wasted, and the final decisions are
apparently as far off as ever. Our great corporations must in some
way follow the example of the Exchanges and ignore the courts
and the lawyers in settling their disputes. They have indeed
taken the first step in adjusting the percentages of the railroad
pools and in submitting the disagreements between the several
roads to Commissioner Fink. Long ago they realized that it was
better to compromise all claims for damages rather than permit
the aggrieved parties to take their cases into court. But in other
matters, unfortunately, the transportation lines are forced to
employ the leading members of the bar to carry out their plans and
protect themselves against hostile legislation.
The assessed valuations of real estate for this year compcjed
with 1881and 1883 as given elsewhere, are an interesting study
for dealers in and owners of city realty. It is to be regretted that
the metropolis is not divided into sections, having some relation
to the geography of the island. If this were done, it would he
Been at a glance what portion of New York had most advanced in
taxable value. But the arbitrary division into wurds, scattered
promiscuously over all sections within the city limits is con-
■fusing to all. save those, who are thoroughly posted as to the
street boundaries of the several ahlermauic districts.
I Arranged in groups, the sections really showing the largest
advance in value are down town property, comprising the first
five wards and the region, east of the Central Park. The increase
in valuation in the lo\yer district over last year amounts to nearly
.^8,000,000. This is probably less than the actual increase, for
More Fifth Avenue Houses.
We remarked last week upon some new houses opposite the
Park, which seemed to show that the improvement in domestic
architecture, which we like to felicitate each other upon, if not
superficial, is, at any rate, the work of a minority of educated
architects. The bulk of house-building continues to ha under the
direction of men who either do not profess to be architects, or
have no artistic claim to that title.
Even among large and costly mansions, built for the persons who
are to live in them, the houses we quoted last week are by no means
alone in showing no trace of progress beyond the architectural
state of middle Fifth avenue. In fact the latter state of the incom¬
pletely trained architect is worse than the first, inasmuch as he has
been emancipated and encouraged to embody his own conceptions
in building material. The middle Fifth avenue house was done
apparently by a person who never once paused in his work to con¬
sider what he was doing, but simply drew what he had been accus¬
tomed to draw. The result was a commonplace " pattern," which
was varied by different but all stereotyped methods of treating the
openings. It was gradually degraded also by the exaggeration of
the details in scale, and by the increasing protrusion of the sham
cornice. This was scarcely so bad as if the unreflective designer
had been encouraged to launch out upon his own account, as has
lately happened to him. The inevitable result is that he would
make more " things," not better, and that the multiplication of
features would add confusion to the other demerits of the old
brown stone fronts.
This is what happened to the two houses noticed last week. This
is what has happened also to the large and costly house at the
corner of Fifth avenue and Sixty-eighth street. This is a double
house, only the door is not in the middle, and would be the familiar
old brown stone box, but for the following variations : A three-
sided kind of tower perched upon the porch and running one story
above the roof, on the front, and on the side two bay windows
running through two stories, and a hanging oriel between them at
the second story. There is also on the side a monumental dormer
and a monumental chimney. It is a very " thingy " edifice.
The trouble with it is that none of the things is good in itself, and
none has any particular relation to any other. It is not by refining
upon features, and by adjusting them carefully with reference to
each other, but by adding more and yet more unrefined features,
that the designer has endeavored to make the house a work of
architecture. The result is not to be achieved by that method.
The most pretentious feature of the house, and about the most
ungainly is the sort of tower. The placing of a tower upon a
classic porch is an original idea, we believe. At any rate it is not
likely to be repeated. The porch consists of two pairs of polished
granite columns with a very exaggerated entasis, one pair on each
side of the doorway. These carry a triglyph frieze, over which is
a cui-ved broken pediment with an urn in the opening. This being
assessors are apt to be guided more by former valuations than the
|_pptuEkl increaee rent^ of reaJt^ m ^hp most settled portion^ of the [ t-bus apparently' a amshed porch, t-lie tOweysi^tideiilyeetBift without