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July S"?, 1889
Record and Guide.
ESTABLISHED-^ MARfHSlti^ 1869.^
De/otzO 10 I^E\L Estate . Buildij/g Ab,ci(!TECTU(\e .KouseWolo DEOORAriort.
BUsirJKs AfJo Themes of GEfJERAL 1.;JT£Hest
PRICE, PER YEAR IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
Published every Saturday.
TELEPHONE, . - - JOHN 370.
Communications should be addressed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway.
/. T. LINDSEY, Bu^ness Manager.
JULY 37, 1839.
Thei'e is very little changp to be noticed in the business situation.
In the stock market and the principal departments of trade the
usual midsummer inactivity prevails. The indications, however,
are tliat we shall have an early fall season. The exports of gold
are likely to be less than tbey have been, owing to the large
increase in the supply of bills. The crop outlook, upon which, after
all, the future principally depends, must be pronotmced on the
whole satisfactory, if not excellent. A large corn crop seems
again not improbable; and this will mean heavy traffic for the rail¬
roads and a big increase in our live-stock supply. We are still
feeling the benefits of the abundant corn harvest of last year iu
the large cattle shipments now being made—all the steamship
accommodation to Europe for many weeks ahead being engaged.
Another year of large crops could not fail to stimulate business and
have a generally beneficial influence on the prosperity of the
More than once attention has been called to the demand by
builders for lots south of 33d streetas sitesforflats and tenements.
This demand has led to an increase in the price of available lots,
and as high as $30,000 was paid for lots on some of the side streets.
This will be acknowledged to be a high figure, but now we have to
record that it has been exceeded. Two lots on West 13th street,
near Gth avenue, have changed hands at $33,500 each, and the btiyer
covenants not to interfere with the light of adjoining buildings and
to set the flats back some distance from the building line. Although
it looks somewhat extravagant to pay such prices for lots for tene¬
ments and flat purposes, such builders as have confined then- opera¬
tions to the district in question have foimd a ready sale for the
houses produced and have invariably commenced new work wben
able to secure the lots. After jjaying for the lots and putting up
the buildings the figures wbich must be obtained from purchasers
necessarily allow the latter a comparatively low interest on invest¬
The State Board of Equalization have requested Commissioner
Coleman to send to them the assessments made by the City
Assessors on 3,000 pieces of property in New York. The assump¬
tion , of course, is tbat the selection was made haphazard, and that the
proportion wbich the assessments hold to the true value of these
pieces of x>roperty is good for the entire city. The selection, how¬
ever, is made with considerable care for the interests of the State
outside of the city. The scales which the Board of. Equalization
use have always had only one side to them. The two thousand
■pieces of property are as carefully selected as the top layer of straw¬
berries in a huckster's basket. Any one with only a moderate
knowledge of New York realty would find little difficulty in
choosing a number of parcels that would show apparently very low
assessments. Week after week property is transferred at fictitious
figures, and, for the sake of deception, deeds are recorded contain¬
ing the bogus consideration. All tbat would be necessary to make
out a xyi"ima facie case of under-assessment would be to select
property that had been treated in this way and the property
adjacent to it, aud then compare the assessment with the assumed
value of the property as established by the sale. It might be asked,
"Wliat better proof of value couJd be given than the actual cash
paid?" A has transferred his tenement at a bogus consideration to
a "dummy." It is worth, say $50,000, but the price put in the
deed is $75,000. It is easy enough to show, then, to any one who
does uot understand tbe tricks of the trade, not only that A's
house has been assessed at too low a figure, but B's, adjoining, has
been so treated. These bogus transfers are to-day one of the
greatest evils in the real estate business. They create distrust and
confusion. The official records are made the basis of "shyster"
transactions. Real estate men, jealous of theu- reputation and
interests, should bestir themselves to get a law passed making it
illegal and punishable to state a fictitious consideration in a deed.
If a i^u-chaser wishes to keep bis affairs private let him state the
price paid as " nominal;" but he has no right to prostitute the city
records for his own gain. Some time ago The Record and GuroB
had a bill introduced at Albany to this end, but though it came near
passing it was ultimately defeated in a way that seemed to indicate
that the measure was touching detrimentally somebody's interests.
There is,'however, more need for such a bill to-day than ever, aud
an effort to pass one might be successful.
Now that the salt combination, or " trust " as it is loosely called,
known as tbe North America Salt Company, is definitely established,
we shall no doubt, as the price of salt advances, hear from certain
quarters that it is all due to the " tariff;" and we shall be told once
more that if it were not for the tariff we should need no ti-ust legis¬
lation; but should be as free from monopolistic trade combinations
as Great Britain is. More than once we have shown the folly of
these assertions. There is no occasion to go into the controversy as
to the merits of free trade and protection. Free trade may be
sound, or protection may be sound; but this statement about ti-usts
and the tariff is palpably absm-d. There are trusts and trade com¬
binations in England just as there are over here. In tbe first half
of this year the capital of new trust companies registered in London
amounted tonearlylS124,000,000, which certainly mdicatestbat ti-uata
are not doing so badly as one might supijose in'a country where
" they don't exist because of free trade." There is a salt combination
in England known as the " Salt Union." Its capital is $20,000,000,
though at the time of subscription the British public, that knows
nothing of trusts except as a distant American institution, applied
for tbe securities to the extent of $200,000,000—a sum nearly equal
to the capitalization of the lead, sugar, cotton oil, distillers and
cattle feeders, and American cattle trust in this country. What
nonsense it is tlien to continue to ascribe the existence of ti'usts
wholly or principally to the tai'iff.
Reviewing tbe building figures published in The Record and
Guide at the fii-st of this month the Financial Chronicle says: " The
new (railroad) mileage built in 1887 was distinctly the largest for any
single year in the history of the coimiry, The new building pro¬
jects in New York in the eame period were also exceptionally large.
The reaction in 1888 in both cases followed from a like cause—that
is, the work had been overdone, and a halt became necessary. But
here the parallel ceases. In tbe sections where railroad building
has been most active in recent years, inducements for further new
ventures seem to have heen entirely withdrawn, and numerous and
potent influences are working against an early resumption of activ¬
ity. Fi-om these special difficulties attending investments in rail¬
road undertakings, real estate operations of course have been free.
These latter have not been hampered in that way, and though the
experience of many builders and real estate investors during 1887
and 1888 was far from encouraging, yet the effect upon the iJublic
mind was less disastrous and damaging than the similar unfavora¬
ble outcome of railroad transactions. Special parties have suffered
losses, but confidence in the growth of New York City has remained
unimpaired. It is perhaps questionable whether this sudden upward
start again in new building projects is desii-able or wise."
In the last week of March The Record and Guide analyzed tbe
remarkable activity which commenced early this year, and warned
those concerned that it was not wai-ranted by the condition of the
market. Nothing has occun-ed to call for a modification of this
opinion. The activity in building has continued, but the condition
of tbe market has not materially improved. The immense amount
of work done in 1886, and especially in 1887, overstocked the
market, and the quieter times in 1888, while they bettered the situa¬
tion somewhat, did not by any means justify a resumption of the
phenomenal activity of 1887. Yet that is what has happened.
Eliminating the fictitious plans filed in 1887, due to the contem¬
plated change in the building law, the amount of new consti-uction
this year may be regarded as the largest in the history of the city,
the filings for every month, with the exception of March and April,
having been more than a million dollars in excess of those of 1887.
The figures for March and April, 1887, however, form no good basis
for a compai'ison, and there is little doubt that if we could eliminate
all the plans filed, not for tbe purpose of building, but to bold on to
the more favorable conditions of the old laws, we should find that
even in these two months 1889 has been as active as 1888. It is
impossible for conservative operators to be satisfied with the situa¬
tion. A lively market iu the fall is needed to remove many dangers
ahead. Our article published on Marcli SOth is worth reperusal by
The Indianapolis Sentinel echoes the general feehng of hostility
to ^railroads, which exists out West, when it says : " The existing
system of over-capitalization imposes a ti'emendous and intolerable
burden upon the people, and is at tbe root of what is popularly
known as the ' railroad problem.' Mr. Henry V. Poor, the highest
authority on railroad statistics, computes that of the capital stock,
bonds and other evidences of indebtedness issued by tbe railroads
of the country, amounting, at the close of 1883, to $7,495,471,311, at
least $3,000,000,000 represents what is known as ' watered stock.'