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i^ebruary 5, 1887
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE,
Published every Saturday.
191 Broadway, IST. IT.
Our Telcpliouo Call is - - - - - JOHN 370.
ONE YEAR, in advance, SIX DOLLARS.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
FEBRUARY 5, 1887,
The stock market shows surprising strength in view of the really
alarming news from Europe. It is evident that if there was no
foreign selling our market would advance. There are apparently
a number of gigantic railroad combinations on foot, and this gives
strength to a number of specialties. Money is very easy. There
is plenty of unemployed funds, and the trade of the country is on
a very wholesome and profitable basis. It is noticeable, however,
that real estate transfers and plans for new buildings do not compare
very well with last year. There are fewer transactions and not so
many new houses contemplated as then. But real estate people
generally think we are going to have a very good spring season.
Readers of The Record and Guide will recall the fact that five
years ago we pointed out the danger to our seacoast cities if proper
defenses in the way of ships, fortifications and guns were not
provided. So much attention is being paid to this important matter
by the press that we do not care to say much about it now. What
we need is guns of large calibre, for it seems to be agreed that if
we are to have ordnance similar to those turned out by the
Armstrong and Krupp factories, there is no time to lose, as it will
take two years to supply the necessary plant. But it see.ms that
there are e.x:perts who think we need not wait for these steel guns.
They say it is possible to cast an iron gun having a 12-inch calibre
which could endure a reasonable number of rounds with charges
of 150 pounds of powder and projectiles weighing less than 700
pounds. This would be sufficient to pierce 12 inches of iron armor.
Such guns, though far inferior to the best Krupp or Armstrong
steel and wrought cannon, might do excellent service in defending
our harbor against iron-clad fleet?, and a supply of them could be
furnished within a few months time. Congress ought to authorize
the casting of a sufficient number of such guns to at least partially
guard the great cities on our seacoast.
But the cities on our Northern border are also becoming alarmed.
When the St. Lawrence River is navigable, Great Britain could
send her gun-boats, of which she has over a hundred, into our
northern lakes. Chicago, Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Buffalo and
a great many other minor cities would be in almost as much
danger as New York. On this point the Chicago Inter-Ocean says:
The people of the United States are jast as much interested in meeting
an attack made from the North as they are in meeting one made from the
Atlantic. They are just as much interested in the protection of Detroit
aud Toledo and Chicago as they are in New York and Boston and
Charleston. It is to be noticed in this connection that whenever the
question of coast-defense is discussed in the Western papers that an attitude
of fairness is taken. It is also to be noticed that when any proposition
looking to the possible contingencies in the West is brought forward that
it is immediately opposed by certain New York papers. But, putting aside
this smallness of spirit, that is so often manifested in the Easfc, the Western
papers would, if danger threatened, be ready to urge the prompt support
of any reasonable proposition looking to the defense of the Atlantic coast.
It is sincerely to be regretted that our newspapers take so provin¬
cial a view of every expenditure for the nation at large. New
York requires a great deal of federal money to improve its harbor
as well as to put it in a proper state of defense, but our journals,
as a general thing, charge corruption on any expenditure proposed
for the West, Northwest, or South. A real metropolitan journal
should think first of the nation and be equally fair to all sections.
Several of our city papers are small enough to object to a $7,000,000
appropriation for river and harbor improvements. We ought to
spend and could afford fifty or sixty millions annually for several
years to come. The outlay would be repaid twenty times over in
the material advancement of the country. There are plenty of
useful ways to spend our Treasury surplus.
AU signs indicate unparalleled activitynorth of the Harlem River
during the current year. Some large parcels of land in that section
are to be offered for sale in the spring, extensive building improve¬
ments are projected, and the Suburban road is being extended with
an ardor which not even the cold weather can altogether chill. It
is evident that the river cannot much longer remain a dam to the
flood of population which is now beginning to flow over into the
north end. Residents, however, make considerable complaint on
account of the neglect with which their interests are treated by
some of the city departments. To secure a good plan for street
improvements the Park Department was given control of the high¬
ways; but it is proving a better agent for locating streets than for
meeting the subsequent demands that must always follow after the
construction of maps. North-end residents would prefer now to be
under the more direct control of the Public Works Department,
and to see more of the projected streets opened and the building
sites by which they are lined made available for improvement.
They wish also to see their sewer system perfected. But their final
prosperity must, of course, depend on the perfection of the system
of rapid transit, by which they will be placed inconstant, unbroken
and cheap communication with the southern part of the city. Men
who are opposing any of the various plans for rapid transit which
have been projected between the Battery and fhe north end are
enemies of that section of New York. They are enemies of the
entire city, indeed, and the friends of Brooklyn and New Jersey.
But, at the worst, not more than eight or ten years can pass before
the demand for improved transit will become so irresistible that
these obstructionists will be swept out of the way.
The Astor Bui'ding.
Nobody who has seen the Western tJnioti building in Bi-oad
street, or the building for the same corporation at Fifth avenue and
Twenty-third street, would have any difficulty in referring the
Astor] building in Wall street to the same architect. Mr. Harden¬
bergb always sets out with as strong a sense as that entertained by
Dickens' character of " the vally of peace and quietness." and that
sense, indispensable as it is to any successful work of architecture,
is more evidently indispensable than ever where the case is of a
work of elevator architecture. The architectural necessities
require a base proportionate to the superstructure and a mass of
pier visibly adequate. The commercial necessities require the
greatest amount of opening mechanically attainable, and they
require in particular that the basement shall be as nearly as possible
all glass. To reconcile this conflict is the business of the architect,
unless, as often happens, he gives it up as irreconcilable, or, aa
perhaps still of tener happens, he does not perceive its existence,
With this latter kind of architect judicious criticism has as little to
do as possible.
All this, of course, is an old story and has been told of all modern
commercial buildings. The introduction of the elevator has made
things worse by increasing the height of the wall, and therefore by
calling for a greater area of support, which the improver of real
estate is greatly disinclined to allow. On the other hand, the dis¬
crediting of iron in the principal supports of a building has involved
an increase in the area of its supporting piers. They must be
mases of masonry large enough, practically, to carry what is above
them, and it is the architect's business to make them visibly large
enough for this purpose. This is so difficult oftentimes that when
an artistic architect gets an elevator building to do one is inclined
to condole with him on his problem as an artist, even while con¬
gratulating him on his job as a practitioner.
Mr. Hardenbergb has one rather unusual advantage in the
breadth of his front, which must be nearly 65 feet, while two city
lots are considered quite ample for an eight-story building, and it is
very common to see such a building on one, as is the case with the
L adjoining the Astor building on the west, though candor compels
us to say that the designer of that work betrays in it no conscious¬
ness of laboring under any special disadvantage. A drawback to
the effect of the Astor building, almost as common as the scantiness
of frontage, is the fact that it cannot be seen all at once. An eight-
story building, in so narrow a street as Wall, must be looked at
piecemeal, since the top of it is at an angle of something like 80
degrees. A vertical slice of it can be seen from down New street,
at a distance that permits the eye to take it in at once from top to
bottom, and a very agreeable impression the slice makes.
The front has a clear three-fold division, both vertically and
laterally, formed vertically by a basement of two stories, a prin,
cipal stage of four, and a story in the roof, with an intermediate
story above which runs the main cornice. The basement is of
Scotch stone with two heavy gray granite oillars at the entrance,,
the superstructure of red brick and red terra cotta. Laterally the
division is into a centre, and two wings, these latter recessed above
the main division, so as to account for the low gable that sur¬
mounts the centre, and themselves crowned with a steep Mansard,
of which only the dormers are visible from across the way.
When the Western Union building in Broad street was com¬
pleted it was suggested in these columns that the chief fault of its
composition was the inadequacy of the base, and that this might
have been amended by carrying it a story higher in stone and
retaining the importance of the central division by assigning to it
also an additional story, thus subordinating the upper third. The
arrangement thus indicated has been adopted here, surely with an