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Febraary 90, 1886
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broad^wav, KT. Y.
Our Telepbone Call is.....JOQIN 370.
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J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
Vol. XXXVII. FEBRUARY 20, 1886.
The subject of laud transfer reform is at lengfch fairly before
the Legislature. There is agreement on all points save as to
whether the block or the lofc system should be used in
indexing. We give to-day the argument in favor of the block sys¬
tem, which is to be presented to the Legislative Commifctee by Mr.
Dwight H. Olmstead. Next week we expect to publish the argu¬
ments of those who favor the lot system. When bofch these docu¬
ments are published every one interested in land transfer reform will
have had all the facts and arguments ifc is possible to present on both
sides of this vital matter. The Record a^d Guide has refrained,
so far, from taking sides ou this subject. There is no disputing the
fact that to Mr. Olmstead belongs the credit of having first called the
attention of fche New York bar and real estate owners to the neces¬
sity of reform in our laws relating to the conveyancing of real
estate. He has algo spent more time, effort and money than any
ofcher person in advocating and advancing the reform. All who
have become interested in the matter agree with him in every¬
thing, except in this matter of indexing. In advocating the block
system Mr. Olmstead stands alone among those who have become
interested in the reform. The history of the controversy is. fur¬
nished by the documents we publish coming from the several com¬
mittees of the Real Estate Exchange. It is to be hoped that the
Legislafcure will come to a wise decision in this matter, and take
early action so as to relieve real estate from the impediments now
thrown in the way of its transfer. Whichever plan is adopted
will be a great improvement on the presenfc system.
The real estate market has been buoyant during the past week.
The sales have been very numerous and the prices satisfactory to
sellers. There has been a halt in the stock speculation, due to
transient causes, but tlie market is properly regarded as a bull one
in view of the continued and heavy purchases of bonds at high
figures. Any moderately good security which pays four per cent,
is tolerably sure of selling near par, and while this state of things
continue the market musfc in the long run be a purchase. The
business outlook continues quite good. This is best shown in the
strikes for high wages in all parts of the country and the willing¬
ness on the part of the employing corporations to make concessions
in that direction. The onl)- cloud in the sky is the light export of
our agricultural products and the large increase of importations.
Should the balance of trade be as much against us for 'he next two
months as it has been for the past six weeks we shall doubtless
see some export of gold to settle international balances. Still, we
have large reserves of grain and cofcton, and when these go forward
it will make enough bills of exchange to limit the demand for
gold. ■ _______
The newspapers have been calling attention to the enormous fees
paid by Jake Sharp to the lawyers. The World says they amount
to $349,000, which is more than the cost of constructing the two
miles and one-half of road, the securing of the charter for which
was the excuse for the large paypients. It is notable also that the
lawyers of least repute seem to get the most money. There is a
. very general suspicion that when a corporation or an individual
wishes to bribe a Legislature or influence a judge the expense is
charged to legal fees. Ifc is strange thafc the legal profession does
not adopt some rule to save itself from the reproach of being the
agency by which courts and legislatures are corrupted. Somehow
it gives the impression that, aparfc from his legal fees, the lawyer is
willing to give his countenance to the machinery by which the
virtue of legislative bodies and courts are debauched.
came of it. This subject should again be brought to the attention
of the Legislature. In every ofcher business bufc real estate pur¬
chasers and sellers are guided by accurately reported sales, which
are never misleading. That is to say, there is a market price for
stocks, bonds, cotton, grain, etc., and yet the lists furnished the
public have no official sanction or indorsement; but transfers of
real estate, officially recorded, can be and often are intentionally
fraudulent. Many of the excessive valuations in properfcy is due
to this reprehensible practice of putting fictitious prices in the
deeds of property purchased.
Frequent complaints reach this office respecting the false con¬
sideration so often published in the official conveyances. There
can be no objection to the practice, which is common, of concealing
the actual amount of the purchase money by putting down nominal,
but when the false figure is given the intent is to swindle somebody
as to the value of adjoining property, and hence the record is
tainted with fraud. The Legislative Committee of the Real Estata
Exchange indorsed the draft of a law last year, making it a misde¬
meanor to falsify the official record in this manner, but nothing
The proposition to spend $750,000 to supply a free public library
should not be tolerated for a moment. We do nofc want a State or
city free library at Reservoir square, or any other central part of
New York. A public circulating library, to be of any value, should
be distributed at twenty different points throughout the island.
There is already a free circulating library in existence, but it is not
properly supported by wealthy citizens. Our rich men and women
should see to it that it is supplied with more funds, to be spent in
good books, and kept in cheap and convenient quarters of the city ;
but any proposition to spend a lot of money by the State or city for
a new building means a job and nothing else.
Apropos of free circulating libraries, why should not a fund be
raised to throw open the Mercantile and Apprentice's libraries ?
The former of these institutions has fallen from the high position it
once occupied, but ifc has a greafc many books and good machinery
for careing for them. The Apprentice is a kind of a close corpor¬
ation, and the books are not as widely distributed as they should
be. Surely there is enough public spirit in our rich men to furnish
free reading to every man, woman, boy or girl in New York who
wants it; bufc let us hear ho more aboufc a State or city appropria¬
tion for a costly cifcy building which would be of no use to the
great bulk of our scatfcered populafcion.
Our Unreclaimed Domain.
It seems hardly worth while to speak upon certain subjects, no
matter how great their importance, because the .obstacles in the
way of any definite resulfcs to follow upon discussion appear
insuperable. Of this character is the theme raised by the existence
of swamp lands in the vicinity of New York.
Still, it sometimes seems like a restriction on the liberty of
speech to be compelled to remain silent, even though silence might
be more eloquent than words. There is a grim sorfc of satisfaction
even in the use of expletives under certain circumstances; and here
is a peculiarly aggravating case. Over in New Jersey, within the
area that could be covered by a cannon ball, fired in this cifcy from
one of fchose modern guns of long range of which we have trem¬
blingly heard, are more than fifty square miles of the mosfc worth¬
less swamp lands imaginable. They extend from Elizabeth to
Newark along Newark Bay, and then sfcretch away on both sides
of the Hackensack River, northward, until lost almost in the
streets of Hackensack, or, rather, until they furnish a morass in
which fche sfcreets of Hackensack are lost. To the wesfcward, here
and there embellished wifch an oasis, they extend to an indefinite
boundary. Richmond counfcy, again, in this State, admits the
relationship to New Jersey which Jerseymen claim by displaying
several more sqtiare mUes of kindred territory, and even portions
of Long Island confess their recent birth trom the sea by exposing
a large surface of aqueous soil where fishermen and huntsmen con¬
tend for the mastery, and rule alternately with fishing-rod or gun.
It is a vast area of unreclaimed territory, and were we to estimate
its value by the number of dollars per acre which the adjacent
upland would bring, the total would equal the assessment of prop¬
erty in some entire States.
Now, the " salt meadows," as these new world marshes of fche
Tiber are civilly and officially called, are the birth-place of about
all fche malaria and certainly of all the mosquitoes that afflict this
neighborhood. No teeth would ever be known to rattle with ague
in the vicinity of New York were these wasfce places reclaimed,
and our midnight serenaders would all be content to spend the
summer in the Adirondacks were they nofc provided wifch such an
excellent breeding ground entirely within scent of fche blue blood
of the metropolis. Bufc this is not all. The land ifcself is worfchless,
or nearly so, although at gome points it is admirably suited for the
location of factories, and in many places is susceptible of being
fertilized into market gardens or farms. Yefc no successful effort,
except upon a very limited scale, has ever been made to reclaim
this vast surface and bring it into fche service of the overflowing
population by which it is surrounded.
The subjecfc, however, has not always been treated with apathy.
Various schemes have been advocated for reclaiming these swamps;
and in one insfcance at least it began to look, in New Jersey, as
though something practical would be accomplished. A company
was formed to build dykes along the wafcer courses, and after they
were constructed tidal drains were to complete the work of recla-