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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 18, no. 445: September 23, 1876

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS^ GUIDE. Vol. XVIII. NEW YOEK, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1876. No. 445 Published Weekly by C. W. SWEET............President Am> Tbeasurer. PRESTON L SWEET..............Secretary. TERMS. ONE YEAR, in advance...'.SIO.OO. Communications should be addressed to C. W. STITEET, Nos. 345 AND 347 Broadway. RENEWAL OF BUILDING ACTIVITY. In the teeth of the hard times, and in the midst of an almost hopeless prostration of real estate interests, the year 1876 has wit¬ nessed another demonstration of the indom¬ itable energy and irrepressible enterprise of our master builders. The climatic condi¬ tions of last -winter and spring were exceed¬ ingly favorable for building purposes. When this was fully realized by our master builders, and the prospect of an eai-ly spring dawned upon them, they inaugurated, as if by com¬ mon consent, a -widespread and general movement in building, distinguished less by any unusually large undertakings in single cases, than for its universality and variety. It may be truthfully said that in every ward of our city, buildings of greater or less mag¬ nitude, have been commenced during the present year, embracing all the varieties common to a great metropolis, from the two- story cottage in Harlem up through the vari¬ ous grades and degrees, past the mammoth flat houses, hotels, churches, until we reach the Grand Elevator on the Hudson Eiver. For weal or for woe, this movement has been initiated, and the close of the year -will -wit¬ ness the completion of a majority of these buildings, when the touchstone of " money result" wiE be applied to their several cases, and their success or failure determined. Our reflections upon this movement sug¬ gest the foUowing commentary: 1st. The almost total cessation of building improve¬ ment within the sharp limits of the fashion¬ able quarter, that is, from Forty-second street to Fifty-ninth street, and from Madison to Sixth Avenues. With the ex¬ ception of one or two structures, under¬ taken on private account in the heart of this district, there are no buildings in progress to be found until we reach the extreme outer edge. JMacmanus, McKenna, and even Dug¬ gin and Crossman, all builders of repute, this latter firm being the acknowledged leaders in the building of fashionable resi¬ dences, have been literally crowded out on the periphery of this arbitrary but bharmed ch-cle, notwithstanding there are by actual count over 300 vacant lots embraced within its circumference. ^T^hQ solution ot this situation is plain, The vast majority of these lots are held by owners of such strength, and held, no doubt, at so high a cost, that they are loath to offer them for sale at present market prices, hop¬ ing by stubborn resistance and patient wait¬ ing to realize aU they esteem them to be worth. It is to be feared, however, as in the case of the dying Commodore, superior strength only aggravates the death sti-uggle. The strongest holders of the best vacant pro¬ perty, after years of waiting, with accumu¬ lated expenses of taxes and interest, "will be obliged to yield to the stern logic of events, or submit to have their lots passed by and forgotten, in the general march of improve¬ ment. It were well for such parties to bear in mind, that the time to seU is when people want to buy; and oftentimes the price so realized results in abetter gain than a higher price realized after long delay in waiting for a second purchaser. Our buUders naturaUy covet the distinction of exercising their in¬ dustry in the fashionable quarter, but they have learned to a nicety what price they can afford to pay for vacant lots, however weU located. MeanwhUe o"wners of high priced lots must not wonder when our active and pushing builders, seek green fields and pas¬ tures new, whUe the old ones are waUed in by prohibitive values. 2d. This recent development of buUding demonstrates with unerring clearness the direction which the immediate gro-wth of our city is likely to take. This tendency is northeastwardly, particularly between Fourth and Fifth avenues north of 59th street. In this district, reaching as far as 86th street, it is estimated, that about 150 private dwellings, none of an inferior character, are now in course of erection, and wUl be ready for market during the coming spring. Certainly, our ci-vdc growth could take no more-natural or inviting direction than the one it has chosen. The short blocks between Fourth and Madison, and Madison and Fifth avenues, together -with high grades and proximity to the Central Park, afford an opportunity for aeration that cannot be surpassed ; and the completion of the Fourth avenue improve¬ ment removes every objection that could ever be urged against a residence in this por¬ tion of the city. The great depth to which the tunnel excavation was carried, along -with the efl3.cient sewerage at the bottom of the tunnel, serves as an effectual drain to this whole region and removes a serious obstacle to its improvement, as it wUl ultimately ren¬ der it the healthiest quarter of the city. We therefore expect-to seethe blocks between 59th and 86th streets, and between Third and Fifth avenues, built up solidly within the course of five or ten years, and probably before any great development of buUding is commenced on the westerly side of the Park^ 3d. We would particularly note the activity that marks the vicinity of the Grand Circle on Eighth Avenue. In part, this is due to the development of Rapid Transit on this side of the city, although it maybe regarded as the natural outgrowth of the meritorious and attractive character of this particvdar locality. The completed Voorhees buUding here looms up as a magnificent landmark, flanked on the one side by the Rockingham, and on the other by two imposing flat houses now being erected on Eighth avenne. Other buUdings on Eighth avenue are of a marked degree of exceUence, and far superior to anything that has for years been attempted on that avenue. The side streets are bristling with activity in the erection of private d-wel- lings of genteel and attractive exteriors. Other indications are present of a marked and vigorous bxiilding interest in this neighborhood. We shaU watch with curi¬ osity its further development, to discern whether this wUl constitute a base of opera¬ tions that may ultimately extend along the Boulevard and eventuaUy result in a general improvement of the west side, that now neglected and heavUy oppressed part of our real estate. Any such demonstration, as we have indicated, would certainly be hailed -with pleasure by the overburdened and badly used land owners. 4th. We note further, as a prominent char¬ acteristic of these new buUdings, the strict regard paid to economy of construction, strength of materials and convenience of plan—ornament and embellishment are treat¬ ed as secondary objects. In the interior fin¬ ishing, particxUarly of dwelling houses, we observe that buUders have abandoned entirely the use of those fanciful veneers of rare and delicate woods that were in such common use before the panic, and which added so greatly to the expense of a building without offering any corresponding increase of real value. The use of clear pine has been quite generaUy resumed, whUe walnut is employed for the principal story. In aU the details of the finish of dwelling houses, we can readUy notice the exercise of a wise and judicious economy. 5th. We may naturaUy inquire, to what class or to what individuals we are indebted for this wide-spread buUding activity. A careful research into the records develops the fact that there are fewer blocks of buUdings projected than were wont to be in active seasons before the panic. Most of the con¬ structions are single buUdings, erected by pri¬ vate owners, and are principaUy of an invest¬ ment character. These cases we classify, as