Record and Guide.
De/oteD p Ke\L Estme . BuiLDif/c At!.cHitectiJI^e .KouseKold DECOiVinoH.
Bl/siiJess aiJd Themes of GeHeiv^L IjJtei\es-[
^ PsTAHLlSHED W MARCHSl'-i^ IB68.
ESTABLISHED W WARfH Sl'-i^ IB68.
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JULY 13, 1SS9.
The regular semi-annual Index to the Conveyances and New
Buildings published in Vol. XLIII. of The Record and Guide will
be ready nexi Saturday, July ZOth. A copy will be sent to each
subscriber of tlie paper.
The market in Wall street during the past we«Ii has been a
waiting one ; but, unlike most waiting markets, the tendency of
prices has been upwards. The course of values for the present
hinges to a great extent upon the outcome of the presidents'
meeting in Chicago. The advance on Thursday was due to the
rumor that everything was proceeding smoothly, and it can hardly
be doubted that the meeting will not help the situation materially.
At worst, it is not likely that the conference can do any harm;
and it may do a great deal of good. In other resiiects the strength
of the past week has been justified. There is a revival of activity
in the u-on trade, crop prospects continue to be good, railroad
earnings are satisfactory, and there is a stoppage of tlie gold
shipments. The comparative inactivity of the trust stocks is also
a health] sign. Altogether the bulls have not very much to com¬
The statement that tlie tax rate in New York City this year will
be only 2 per cent, is in itself an undoubtedly pleasant piece of
information, and in this case taxpayers are to a certain extent
justified in congratulating themselves about it. But such informa¬
tion in itself can never be a sufficient basis for a rational judgment,
and unfortunately the public are coming more and more to regard
the tax rate alone as the final test of municipal management. This
is a misfortune. In the case of New York this year the low tax rate
expected is due principally to a large increase in the amount
of personal property as assessed, to unexpended appropriations
standing over from last year, and to a change in the disposition
of certain sums from the Sinking Fund to the appropriation account.
How fallacious a test of good management and economy in muni¬
cipal affairs the tax rate may be is apparent when we consider that
all that is necessary at any time to decrease the rate is to increase
the assessments. Doable the assessments and the tax rate is
reduced one-half, yet the amount taken from property-holders
remains as large as ever.
Wliat then should be the test? The total sum expended ? While not
sufficient, it certainly is a better one than the tax rate. It should
be observed that though the rate is lower this year than last in this
city the appropriations are larger. Indeed, in forming any
sound judgment, the total amount of a city's expenses for all
purposes needs to be carefully considered; but in itself the
expense test is not sufficient. Any inclination to make small
expenditure the final test of wise management establishes parsi¬
monious management, the results of which may be even more disas¬
trous than those of extravagance. What should be done is lo
supplement the expense test by a consideration of what the needs
of the city are and what is obtained for the money spent. By
going back to gas lamps to-morrow the city could, no doubt,
reduce its expenses ; but no oue will say the economy would be a
wise one. The evil in most cities in this country is not so much
that too much money is spent as that too little is obtained for it.
The last question which a city like New York should ask regarding
a proposed expenditure is, "Can we afford it?" and the first
should be, "Is it needed? Will it pay?" Every improvement
that is needed, that will pay, should be undertaken. For example,
an adequate system of rapid transit might cost the city $50,000,000,
but there Js no question that the expense would be a wise 0!ie,
though it should increase the debt and the tax rate for a time.
True improvements in a city of one and three-quarter million
people may be costly, but they do not impoverish. New Yorlt
to-day is not spending wisely all the money it does spend, but it is
not spending too much. The fact really is, there are niunerous
improvements that should be made, but are delayed, in some cases
from the want of appropriations and in others because of the
delays and circumlocution of commissions and red-tapeism. It is
simply absurd that it should require, as is the case at present, from -
two to six years to open new streets perhaps not a mile long—a
(leriod sufficient for the construction of a double-track raih-oad
across the continent. Is there any reason, that common sense
can acceiJt, why it should have taken four and a-half years
merely to file the damage and benefit maps in the matter of open¬
ing North 3d avfiiue from 170th street to Pelham avenue ?
In September, 1884, proceedings commenced to open Tremont
avenue from Aqueduct avenue to Boston road, but the report of
the commissioners has not yet been presented to the court. Five
years ago the law was ]>assetl for the construction of the exterior
street on the East River from 64th to 86th street, and these five
years have been consumed by the Dock Deimrtment, the Sinking
Fund Commissioners and the Public Works Department in circum¬
locution. Scarcely anything, even on paper, has been dono.
Impossible as it may seem, and ridiculous as it is, not even the
plaus have been adopted, and Engineer Webster says it may be
five, ten or fifteen years yet before the improvement is finished.
Considering what has been accomplished in five years there is a
reckless definiteness in this statement which to waiting property-
holders must seem altogether too good to be true. If a railroad
corporation managed its affairs in this way what would become
Frequent complaints have been made lately of the unhealthy
condition of cellars in houses on the east side of the city, where the
soil is damp and spile driving necessary to enable the foundations
to be laid. The wonder, however, is not that the houses there are
unhealthy, but that they are as healthy as they are. In many
instances they are built on what may reasonably be called a mareh;
and while the thickness of the walls, the amount of ventilation
and light are all minutely regulated and looked after, the plumbing
system examined and sewers constructed to carry off the house-
waste, the cellar is absolutely neglected as being a matter of no
importance, for the thin veneering of ashes and refuse mortar,
which the builder gi-andiloqueutly terms " concrete," is of little
account. A few days are sufficient for the water to ooze tlirough
it. It is plain that the inspection of dwellings should not be con¬
fined to the period of their construction, but should begin at the
soil before the foundations are laid. A healthy foundation is as
necessary to the proper sanitary condition of a house as a firm foun¬
dation is to its structural stability. While we are having mspection
let it be complete.
There has recently been passed by the German Reichstag the
third of a series of measures which, taken together, constitute a step
towards State Socialism more comprehensive and more radical than
any which has yet been taken by a great modern nation. Everyone
is familiar to a gi-eater or less degree with the extent to which
European nations have ventured in the direction of paternalism. It
ia known that they are common carriers, stationers and printers,
that they run theatres, public markets and slaughter-houses, edit
and print newspapers, transmit messages, keep lodging-houses,
own warehouses and race-tracks, are pawnbrokers, manage
express companies, and so on ; but perhaps it is not so well known
that in addition they teach scammerers,work coal mines, peat-bogs,
smel ting-houses and iron mines, hire out hearses and horses, have
lime quarries, run apothecary shops, vine-yards and wine-ceUars,
and manufacture china, tapestry, tobacco and matches. Many of
these industi^ies they are obliged to carry on as a direct conse¬
quence of the mere fact of administration ; aud others, the more
important class, are prompted in their conception evidently by the
belief that it wUl not do to intrust to interested private action the
management of an industry which entails important public
This new step strikes deeper than the old ones. The scheme was
first outlined in a message of Emperor WiJlia.m I., presented to the
Reichstag in 1881. In 1883 the initial measm'e, providing for insur¬
ance against sickness, became a law. In return for the payment of
one-half the normal local wage, as ascertained by tbe commimal
and civil authorities, medical attendance and medical appliances
are supplied the sutlerer in case of sickness, in addition to which he
receives one-half the iiormal local wage, for a space of not more
than thirteen weeks. Insurance is compulsory, but is not yet
extended to agriculture, forestry and commercial employes, or to
domestic servants. Contributions are paid through the employers,
who themselves pay one-third of the amount. The second install¬
ment of the legislation, passed in ISS4, provided for insurance
against accident. This measure was intended for the benefit of
trades in Avhich life was endangered; its beneficiaries latterly
including the building trade, farmers and sailors. The govei-nment
intend ultimately still further to extend its provisions. In this case
the whole burden of aontribution is imposed on the employers. For
complete disablement, caused by a casualty, the workman receives