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February 8, 1880
Record and Guide.
De/oTED to f^U^L ESTME . BuiLDIf/c AFl.cKlTEtrrvJI^E,KoUSEHOLD DEGOR^notJ.
BusifJEss mId Themes or Ge^eraL \m^^n .
ESTfcBUSHED-^Z NVM^CH 21*^^ 1868.
PRICE, PER YEAR IN ADVANCE, SIX DOLLARS.
PublisJied every Saturday.
TELEPHONE, - ■ - JOHN 370.
Communications should be addressed to
C.W. SWEET, 191 Broadwcy
J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager.
FEBRUARY 8, 1890.
The bulls in Wall street this week have more than held their
own, and the coal stocks have even added a little to the rising
account. Reading eold yesterday for the highest price in some
weeks, and tlie general market looked more vigorous than at auy
time since the bank troubles. Exchange was a little weaker, and
tliere ia even prospect now of it rnnning in our favor, and it is not
improbable that we shall soon import a moderate quantity of gold.
London is expecting soon to receive considerable of the precious
metal from Australia, whose large wool shipments have kept the
rate of exchange in its favor so that but little gold has been sent,
and Australia, like all other countries I'or some time back, has made
strong efforts to keep its gold, but lat(;ly there is evidence of a more
Uberal policy. Trade iu England sliows greater prosperity in com
parieon with last year. On the Continent money is easier, and all
around it looks as though the borrower, aud not the lender, will
soon be in a position to dictate the rate. General trade is good
tlu'oughout this country, and the indications are all promising.
The woful afflictiou that has befallen Secretary Tracy's family
has drawn the attention of the public in a peculiarly pointed way
to a class of disasters that is not nearly so uncommon as ia gener¬
ally supposed; but happening to persons not so well known as the
Secretary of the Navy makes a less powerful impression on the feel¬
ings of people. It is one of the many strange inconsistencies in the
doings of men that the dwellings they erect are the most inflamma¬
ble of tbeir buildings. Great improvements have been made during
recent years in the construction of fire-proof buildings, and these
improvements are applied in a most painstaking manner and at
great cost, in the erection of office buildings, warehouses, theatres
and public edifices of various binds, but in dwellings they are prac¬
tically ignored as though they could be of no possible value there.
What with wooden beams and flooring, hardwood trim, wooden
staircases, wooden mantels and a general use of varnish and paint
wherever possible, the modern dwelling comes dangerously close to
being an almost perfect tinder-box.
There is very little doubt that the fire in Secretary Tracy's house
arose biKjause of imperfect construction in tbe arrangement of the
flues and floor beams. This defect exists to some degree in most
dwellings, and it is not uncommon to find the criminal practice of
running the floor beams unprotected in any way into the flue
itself. It is unnecessary to point out, even those who know noth¬
ing about tbe construction of buUdings, the danger of this. In
time, of coruse, the beam becomes like touchwood, and if a con¬
flagration is not the restilt, it is due principally to good luck—the
benign protector of half the world—and the fact that the flue is
never very highly heated. It is probable that if all the fires in all
the dwellings in this city were started to-morrow, so that the flues
would be used to the utmost, the services of the fire department
would be needed to maintain the integrity of perhaps 15 per cent,
of these buildings. The Consolidation Act, as amended by section
16, chapter 566, Laws of 1887, says : "All woodeu beams shall be
trimmed away from all flues, whether the same be a smoke, air or
■ auy other flue, the trimmer beam to be twelve inches from the
inside face of a flue in a straight way, and eight inches in a chim¬
ney breast, and the header four inches from the outside face of
the flue." There is, however, notliing new or astonishing in the
fact that a good law, enforced even with close inspection, should be
frequei.tly aud flagrantly evaded. In the revision which our
building laws are now undergoing, that part of the enactment
concerning furnace and boiler flues, which orders that they shall
be lined inside with cast iron, or fire brick pipe, should be made to
cover flues of all descriptions, and this inner lining should be
required no matter how thick the brickwork or stonework of the
fiue may be.
We print on another page a series of interviews with employers,
workmen and others of the building trade, dealing with the eight-
hour-day question, which merit attention. These interviews,
which may be taken as fairly representative of the views of all
concerned, disclose the fact that there is very little opposition in
any quarter to the movement. They also dispose, so far as the
building trade is concerned, of the idea that has been running
loose for some time, that the extra hour of leisure can be obtained
without entailing a diminished production. The workmen say
they wili not be able to do more iu eight hours with the shorter
day than they do in tbe same number of hours at present; an5
employers are unanimously of the opinion that no compensation
can be obtained from machinery, as was the case in the Massachu¬
setts textile mills when the hours of labor for women and children
were limited to ten hours. Add to this the fact that there is very
little doubt that the workingmen wiU demand, and will probablyget,
,the same pay for eight hours that they do to-day for nine, and it
is easy to see that some one will have to "foot the bill." It will
fall first of all upon the capitalist—that is, those who invest in
buildings. As Mr. Roberts said: the contractors cannot see that
they have anything to gain by standing between the laborer and
the capitalist for the benefit of the latter. The capitalist, however,
is not likely in the least to pay more for a buflding and then drop
the matter. He will disti-ibute the increased cost in the shape of
higher rents, etc., and this will again be redistributed thi-ough
other channels, practically throughout the entire community.
Thus, economically speaking, the community will lose by an eight-
hour day, as indeed the community must always economically lose
by any curtailment of production. The production of merchan¬
dise, however, is not an end in itself; it should subserve a higher
production, viz., the improvement of the human race. Where this
is not the result "production is of no benefit. Eight hours labor
daily is ample for any individual, even in the least tiring of occu¬
pations. The world is ceasing to "apotheosize work," as it did
formerly, and is increasing its liberties by breaking away as mach
as possible from toil.
Tbe property-owners and residents in the 19th Ward, who were
represented the other day by tbe Hou, Josepb Blumeuthal before th«
Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, would do well to continue to
enforce the attention of the city authorities to the factthat the law
makes it mandatory for the city to construct the exterior street
between 64th and 81st streets and East River. The Record and
Guide has continued from time to time to call attention to the
neglect by the city authorities of this important improvement, as
well as other public improvements which have been delayed, not-
withstandiog the laws in force. Comptroller Meyer's communica¬
tion to the Commissioners, giving a history of the proceedings to
create the exterior street, from the date of the passing of the flrst
law in regard to it (chap. 697, Laws 1887) is all vejy well, but
property-owners and residents who are interested in the improve¬
ment—in which the people of this city are also generally interested
^should see that no further delay occurs, or at least should reach
some understanding with the city officials as to whether they mean
to perform their duty and cany out the law or not. The matter,
we see, bas been postponed again for "future consideration,",tbough
the] improvement was under official consideration even prior
to the passage of the law in 1887. The same holds good as to other
public improvements—the transverse roads through the Central
Park, for instance, which are so necessary to give the people of this
city proper communication between the east and west sides ofthe
metropolis. THE RECORD AND GniDE has frequently called attention
to these delays in public improvements, and if the property-owners
and citizens affected wiU not organize to force the attention of the
city authorities to the laws in existence, they do not deserve to have
the improvements hastened.
It is a most singular fact tbat with all the discussion which the
arbitrary and partizan rulings of Speaker Reed have created, not
a voice, so far as we know, has been raised against the custom
which is at the bottom of the trouble—the custom, viz., of putting
an office, the functions of which are primarily judicial, into the
hands of a partizan, to be used witbin undefined limits for partizan
pm-poses. This custom is not in any way sanctioned by the Con¬
stitution, but is purely a matter of precedent. The title of the
Speaker and the general idea of his functions were originally taken
from the presiding officer of the Enghsh House of Commons.
Both have always practically been elected by the dominant party
in the House ; but while one is supposed to divest himself of party
ties and sympathies when he assumes the office, the other is not
only allowed, but expected, to use tbe power which the position
gives, for partizan purposes. The limits put on this partizan bias
have never been clearly defined. ' Pi-of. Bryce says on thig point:
"Although expected to serve bis party in all possible directions,
he must not resort to all possible means. Both in the conduct of
the debate and in tho formation of committees a certain measure
of fairness to opponents is requh-ed from him. He must not pal¬
pably wrest the rules of the House to their advantage, though he
may decide all doubtful points against them." Speaker Reed has
broken all the precedents which justified Mr. Bryce's statements.
He bas not only served his party in all directions, but in every