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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 17, no. 423: April 22, 1876

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XVII. NEW YOEK, SATURDAY, APRIL 22, 1876. No. 423. Published Weekly by THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION O. W. SWEET...............President and Tbeasubeb PRESTON I. SWEET...........Seceetaby. L. ISRAELS............,............Business Manager TERMS. ONE TEAR, in advance....$10 00. Oommunicationa should be addressed to Nos. 345 and 347 Broadway. RAPID TRANSIT AT LAST. "We have now good reason lo believe that the long promised "rapid transit" on the Fourth- avenue Improvement will soon be a fact. Several stations on this road are being fitted up, and ' ou the 15th of May next the local trains will be running. In these times we want every possible facility for "quick traveling," and the more such roads the more populous our city will become. Owners of lots above Fifty-ninth street and between Third and Fifth avenues will have more reasons now for improving their property; and we hope that builders, at no distant day, wUl be as busy as bees. CITY CHARTER COiVllVliSSJON. Mr. Wm. M, Evarts has notified the Legisla¬ ture that the Charter Commission appointed by Gov. Tilden will be unable to report this year, but will have their reformed charter in readiness at the opening of the next Legislature, in January of '77. We understand that the conference ot the Commissioners has been reasonably harmonious, and that, although there are several "Doctrin- naires," men with "bees in their bonnets," on the Commission, yet they have arrived at some valuable results. It seems their whole scheme cannot be made available un¬ less several amendments to the Constitution are enacted, and it is likely that the dis¬ cussion which will be provoked by the report of this commission will have a most important effect upon the solution of that most difficult problem, municipal government in ihe United States. The town-meeting theory of govern ment, which was admirable so long as our centres of population were small, and property evenly divided, is entirely inapplicable to large communities. Politics fall into the hands of pro¬ fessionals; for business men, who have their at¬ tention distracted to more pressing affairs, cannot supervise the primary meeting or the local caucus. Hence the story is repeated with painful monoto¬ ny in every large city, of waste, corruption, ex¬ travagance, crime indeed, in connection with our local governmentB. We shall endeavor in a future number to suggest two measures which, we think, will do something towards helping us to a better government in the future. Some very radical changes must be adopted, or else our whole republican form of government will break down in a very essential fea¬ ture of the scheme. It is "home rule" and local self-government which are now on trial throughou,t the whole of the United States. If we cannot have honest local govern¬ ment under the republican theory of our iuslltu- tions, so much the worse for the theory. Of one thing we are assured, the Americans are a practical people; ^they will not consent year after year Lo be robbed under the forms of law, and by and with republican institutions, or through and over them. They usill have honest government. ---------------------------♦—^-^►•►—♦--------------------------- THE ESTATE OF_A. T. STEWART. Last week we ventured to suggest that per¬ haps A. T. Stewart's fortune was not as large as was popularly supposed. The transit r last Saturday of Mr. A. T. Stewart's entire business to Messrs. Hilton & Libby for the sum of one million dollars confirms the estimate we made last week. This transfer of property seems to have been complete, for it included the entire business and aU the real estate outside of New York City. The ostentation of Mr, Stewart's life, for the last three or four years, was the shopkeeper's trick to keep up his reputation when he was un- doTiibtedly losing money in his business. His purchase of costly pictures, his dinner-parties, his large house, were simply to attract attention, and to convey the impression that he was as prosperous as ever. It is a matter of serious doubt whether any business can be permanently successful which involves such immense detail as that of A. T. Stewart, What with wholesal¬ ing and retailing an immense variety of arti¬ cles, the values cf which are constantly chang¬ ing, it would require an intelUgence that would be practically omniscient to manage, so as to avoid loss ; but Mr. Stewart's admirable system and method rendered an experiment like this on his part less risky than it would be for less careful men. But it will be found quite be¬ yond the task of any large firm to deal in such an immense variety of goods with the same economy that one fiim may handle three or four varieties. The country store rej)resents the most rudimentary phase of commercial transac¬ tions iu thi^ country. Here the endeavor is made to supply eveiy want of the little commu¬ nity in which it is located; but as the vUlage grows into the town, a change gradually takes place. . The country store becomes divided, and one man sells grocerieB,. another dry goods, a thkd boots and shoes, and so on, it being found by experience and practice that the minutiae of one department of trade are enough to tax the facul¬ ties of ordinary men. A great retail establish¬ ment like that of Stewart's on Broadsvay labors under the disadvantage of the country store a million times multiplied. For one man of or¬ dinary capabilities to grasp more than one busi¬ ness is simply. impossible; but that great retail store represents perhaps five hundred different industries. Tbis involves minute sub-division of reaponsibilily, with the pos¬ sibility that the employees who superintend the various departments should not have the same intense interest in, responsibility for, or authority over their departments, which a sin¬ gle merchant has who competes in one special¬ ty. We judge that, towards the close of his ca¬ reer, Mr. Stewart must have found out what an elephant he had on his hands; and we have strong reasons for believing that it had some¬ thing to do with his death, as undoubtedly the faU in real estate was not without its influence upon the mind of the late William B. Astor. A prosperous era, in which prices are going up, conceals the inherent defects of such a system as Mr, Stewart's; but hard times and a gene¬ ral depression in business exposes its short¬ comings. A. T. Stewart has done Httle to merit the gratitude of the people of New York, beyond introducing the one pricesystem and insisting upon cash sales. These two measures consti¬ tute his only claims to distinction. Of one fact the public may rest assured, that, with the ex¬ ception of the perfectly useless Fourth-avenue house for working women, none of the charities hinted at in Stewart's letter to his wife will ever be heard of again. The intimations that the house on Fifth avenue was to be given to the Union League Club, or to be transformed into an art gallery, were mere shopkeepers' adver¬ tisements to attract attention, aud the dexterous way in which Mr. Stewart gets out of it in his will is more creditable to his ingenuity than lo his ingenuousness. American art, by the way, has nothing to thank Mr. Stewart for, as he spent nearly all his money upon foreigners. ---------------------------> < 1^ > «--------------------------- REAL ESTATE liUHE LEGISLATURE. IMPORTANT PENDINa ME.iSURES AFFECTING NEW YOEK TAX PAYERS. [cobrespondence of the real estate becord.] Albany, April 19. The Legislature will probably adjourn about tho 10th of May. A large number of bills re¬ main to be acted upon, I send below au ab¬ stract of the more important as affecting real estate in New York, and the position which they occupy at present in committee. Doubtless others will be introduced and attempted to be rushed through with the closing hours of the session: EIVEESIDE AVENUE AND PABK. This bill was introduced by Mr. Engelhart,