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Janupy 10, 1885
The Record and Guide
r THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Sitnrdoi/.
191 Broadway, IST. "ST.
0\E YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Bioadway.
J, T. LINDSEY, Busmess Manaser.
JANUARY 10, 1885.
Our annual review of the Buildimj Material Markets mil be
found of uniisnal interest this year. Today u-e publish, an e.rtra
paper and issue a large edition of The Record and (Iuide to be
dii>tributed wherever it ipill do the most good to oiir advertisers.
Tlie immediate outlook of general busiues.s ha.s an improving
appearance. Tliere is a better feeling in the stock market, and
botli cotton and giain bring liigher ijrici'.s in the markets of the
world, Jlills are resuming work and some ot tlie closed foundries
are again in bla.st, Wliile iron and .steel liave not advanced in
price there is more demanil for tlieni, and, Tindeed, for all the
metals. It lannot be trutlifully said that all deijartments of trade
liave improved, but there is I'crtainly a Iwtter feeling than obtained
during the month of December. Thi' handling of a great corn crop
in the West is advantaging the railroads in that section, and were
the war between the West Shore and New York Central to come to
an end we could count upon a decided advance in stock values
But the exijerieiices of tlie past three years teacli us not to indulge
It is whispered in real estate circles that the Land Reform Trans¬
fer Commission appointed by (ioveriior Cleveland is so far a failui'e.
The lawyers com]>risiiig tlie btiard are at loggerlieads and cannot
agree upon any measure to be presented to tlie Legislature. Tliis is
so vital a matter with real estate owners and dealers that action
sliould be taken irrespective of this commission. Tlie matter should
be pressed upon tlie Legislature, and as early as possible. What
our real estate property holders call for is some way of cheapening
and simplifj'ing the transfers of real [property. Our present land
laws are a disgrace to our civilization. Tliey form an intolerable
tax to owners of reality. They make titles insecure, waste time
and money, and benefit no one but the lawyers and officials. It is
idle to say that clianges cannot be effected. It is possible to pur¬
chase tens of millions of stock and bonds, the title to wliicli is
unimix^achable, wliich costs but a trifle in tlie way of commission,
and all can be done in a few hours; but every imix^diment is
thrown in tlie way of the purcliase of real projierty and tlie title is
never secure, as witness tlie story we gave last week, entitled
" The Romance of a Title," It was a mistake originally to make all
the members of this Transfer Commission lawyers, most of whom
are interested in tlie continuance of the present preposterous
Governor Hill makes one important suggestion in his message.
He urges the appointment of a competent pei-son to draft, amend
and correct the laws passed by the Legislature. While lawyers
swarm in both the Senate and Assembly, about one-lialf tlie
enactments which are passed are defective in phraseology, or are
inconsistent with statutes already enacted. Hence tlie confusion
and litigation wliicli follows from much of our legislation. This
is an evil incident to all parliamentary bodies. John Stuart Mill
long ago proposed tliat a permanent commission of trained exjierts
should have charge of all acts of Parliament liefore the final vorte
was taken. But we do not see how any one lawyer could attend to
the multitudinous bills which are U]) for action at the close of the
legislative .ession in this State. Still the exjieriment suggested by
Governor Hill is worth trying.
The Legislature will be called ujion to act on .several matters of
interest to New York city. The building law vetoed by Governor
Cleveland on very trivial grounds last year should Ije amended and
promptly passed early in the session, so that there will l)e no danger
of non-action this year. Then the Arcade road should be taken up
early enough in the session to have the matter properly understood
by the Legislature and the tax-payers interested in this city. The
sinking fund absurdity should be overhauled and the fiction of
a difference between the net and gross debt of the city done
away with. New York actually owes $U2,O0r,00O, and it is prepos¬
terous to be charged with a larger sum wliicli now lias a legal but
no real existence. On this point Mayor Grace is all wrong.
Although Governor Hill and Slayor Grace agree in recommend¬
ing spring elections for city offices, we doubt if they would give us
any Ijetter results than do the present fall elections. The only
officers of importance to be chosen would be a Mayor, Comptroller
and President of the Board of Aldermen, and the nominations
would probably be manipulated a.s usual by the local bosses. Tens
of thousands of our citizens would not vote because it would often
be a choice tetween objectionable rival candidates. One election
day a year is quite enough and then the extra expense is to be con¬
There ought, however, be some additional reform legislation tliis
winter. The Mayor should liave the power of removal as well as
appointment, and something sliould be done to cut off the numer¬
ous sinecures and over-paid officers of our city government. Our
city salary list, it seems, comiiared with that of Brooklyn, costs
nearly twice as much per capita.
Tlien we ouglit to have a good, stiff license law. The Chicago
city treasury profited to the amount of |1,600,000 last year by tlie
licenses exacted from the liquor dealers. New York ought to te in
receipt of at least $3,000,000 from this source. If a high license law
can te enforced in Chicago it can iu this city. Mayor Grace is
riglit in asking that tlie many-headed commissions sliould be
abolished, and heads of departments appointed by him take their
This year our citizens will have a chance to be better informed
touching Albany affairs than they have ever tefore. The Real
Estate Exchange will make a special point of collecting all informa¬
tion at Albany wliich affects our local government and real estate.
Every measure relating to this municipality will be known at the
offices of the Exchange in this city at the earliest possible moment.
Heretofore we liave had to depend upon so-called reform organiza¬
tions for protecting the city"s interest. Every one of these tax¬
payer', citizens' and people's movements have tinally fallen into the
hands of the city plunderers. But the Exchange will represent real
property holders, actual dealers of real estate, and is not likely to
fall into the toils of the politicians, Tliere is for the first time an
organization in existence, wliich cannot be bullied or bribed, to look
after the interests of the tax-pavers.
Y'ear. Estimated cost.
Real Estate During 1884.
Tlie figures we give elsewhere in addition to those of last week
are of the utmost importance to every dealer in real estate. It will
be noticed that the number of conveyances show a steady increase
since 1874. In that year there were 6,191, and in 1884, not counting
the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Wards, there were 11,422.
This would seem to show that the actual transfer of property nearly
doubled in ten years' time. Whetlier times are good or bad the
growth of actual real estate business steadily increases in this city.
The money spent in real estate also increases in volume. In 1878
it amounted to $64,119,187 ; in 1884 the consideration, according to
tlie official records, was $182,044,304, These figures, although prac¬
tically official, are less than the amounts actuallj' paid, for the num¬
ber of deeds in wliich only a nominal consideration was given
amounted in 1884 to 3,061, and in the jirevious years to somewliat
less. The mortgage indebtedness incurred during 1884 was $118,-
The rapid growth of the city is shown by the numter of plana
filed, which were as follows for the pa.st eleven years :
Year. Estimated cost.
Total eleven jrears..................................................J3(M,619,87U
It should te terne in mind, liowever, that the.se are the figures
given in the estimates wlien the plans are first filed and are prob¬
ably somewhat less than the actual cost of the structures erected in
New York during the past eleven years. Still in some cases the
buildings get no further than tlie filing of the plans. The larger
aggregates of former years in the way of expenditure is due to tho
stoppage of apartment and office buildings. A check has teen
given to the construction of these costly edifices. For the coming
year, while there may be as many new structures, we judge there
will not te so large an outlay in money. The cost of putting up a
house will te less this year than formerly, as materials are very-
cheap and later is lowering its demands. The bricklayers have
notified their employers that they will accept fifty cents less a day,
and the brown stone men one dollar less. The bosses, liowever, are
in a position to demand ,a much greater reduction from all their
New York is doing more building than any two cities in the
Union. The Chicago journals claim that the past was the most
prosperous j-ear in the liistory of that city ; but the amount spent
was only $19,000,000. The total value of Chicago projierty trans¬
ferred during the year was $33,677,728. Tliis falls far short of the
$183,000,000 invested in real estate in New York during tlie past