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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 20, no. 500: October 13, 1877

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XX. NEW YORK, SATUEDAY, OCTOBEE 13, 1877. No. 500. Published Weekly by C^e Seal €state %Haxis %^Baduixmx, TERMS. OJVE YEAR., in advance....$10.00. Communications should be addressed to C. MSr. SWEET, Nos. 345 AND 347 Broadway. EAST SIDE AND WEST SIDE. Ifc is no longer a debafcable question which side of the Park wiU take the fashionable growth of the city. The solution of what was once a vexing riddle has been constantly foreshadowed in these columns, and the march of events has at length stamped it with confirmation strong as holy Avrit. In the early days of the discussion, before the ■growth of the city had advanced sufficiently to define its probable course, the conflict of opinion was strong and pronounced, and arguments ap¬ parently imauswerable were advanced in favor of either side. The buUders at lasfc have crossed the rubicon, and the developments of the past year must be considered as setting the question forever at rest, and as leaving no room for the smallest skepticism as to the final result. In nearly every street, from Fifty-ninth to Seventy-ninth, build¬ ings have been erected, or are in progress, and in character, style, and cost, they compare in every way favorably with structures in the older parts of the city. The belt of territory between the Second and Pifth avenues may be looked upon as the accepted field of j,immediate activity, and with¬ in these limits the various grades of city resid¬ ence wUl, ere long, be offered for the election and acceptance of our citizens. It is not imUkely that the sharp gradations of locaUty and choice of posi¬ tions wiU be adhered to in this field with thesame tenacity and predilection that have ever mai'ked four earUer residence gi'owth. The line between Madison and Fif th avenues will undoubtedly be reserved for the most elaborate and costly man¬ sions, whUe that between Fourth and Madison wiUtake a grade a trifle inferior. The better class of plain dweUings may be looked for between Lexington and Fourth avenues, whUe the blocks between Second and Lexington will f lUfiU theu' promise as already indicated below Sixty-fifth stiieet, and furnish the accommodation known as fche three-story dwelling. These four zones will faithfully present the va- a-ious scales of dwelUngs recognized and demand¬ ed by om- growing population, and it is no small .consideration in the future harmony of the citv's .growth that these several types of dweUing house jnay be constructed coUateraUy without intermix¬ ing or confusion, and without any general mon¬ opoly of aU the sections by any one type to fche exclusion of the rightful and appropriate ones. The natural tastes of citizens ayg thus Ukely to find their easy gratification md: ideals, with no impassable barrier dividing therji, and with the slightest possible Unes of ^efli^i^ibjon drawn be¬ tween them. The a^Y^ift^U mpye>d by all ^hese assorted lan^ gfrips pf prp^jmity to the f^h ^^ spacioii| apd'fjjaished avenues, of easy gi'ades and many lofty eminences, of partial, and prospectively, of complete rapid transit, aU lend a peculiar chariu to the new building district, and promise to make it readUy popular with the house buying pubUc. The Avhole territory of the East side within the past few years has been redeemed from the stigma of unhealthf uUness by a complete system of under¬ ground di'ainage, to which is added the culvert underneath the Fourth avenue tunnel, which fur¬ nishes the most complete guaranty of perfect drainage that could be desired. The West side, instead of entering as a factor into the problem of the city's growth, has become a separate problem of itself, if not a real anomaly, A visitor to that section cannot help being im¬ pressed with the contrast between the predictions once so recklessly uttered with regard to it, and the condition in which it now stands. Undoubt¬ edly the most pictm-esque portion of the whole island, with natural advantages such as are sought for in vain elsewhere, with every possible street improvemenfc that can be desired, and an unstint¬ ed measure of artificial adornment laid upon it, it stUl presents to-day as bleak, barren and unat¬ tractive an appearance as it did twenty years ago. We readUy caU to mind the herculean efforts put forth by municipal oflicers, who were also land speculators, to render this section attractive and desirable to citizens, the West side park drive be¬ ing made wider and more alluring in its approaches and circuit than the East side, adorned with more frequenfc and imposing gateways; the Eighth ave¬ nue circle being laid out on a far more magnificent scale than the Fifth avenue plaza; and finaUy, the grand Boulevard passing through the heart of this section in a style of equipment designed to sm-pass simUar models in Europe. When we take in view this retrospect and present results, we ai'e naturaUy forced to inquire into the causes of this serious miscalculation and miscai-riage. The buUd¬ ing improvements on the Wesfc side are too insig¬ nificant and few in number to be worth recount¬ ing. One palatial residence adorns the Eighth avenue side in lonely grandeur, waiting in vain for companionship and neighborhood. Besides the completion of the Grand Boulevard, there are many cross streets in a state of readiness for the buUders' hands, a few of which have been mac¬ adamized and made to correspond with the Boule¬ vard itself. And yet the value of this property has steadUy depreciated since 1873, and current values of lots are to-day f uUy as low as the prices that niled fifteen or twenty years ago. The West side lofc specvUation must be ranked in the history of our city as a peculiar and phenomenal develop- mrait, without basis or substance, save only the imaginations of the large numbers who partici¬ pated in it. Even at this short distance from the great excitement it puzzles the cool reviewer to estimate the inducements and influences which must have powerfuUy operated upon the minds of those who spent their money so recklessly in this ' ,:^eculation. No more magnificent, extensive or ^fijrsistent speculation was ever carried on in va- pEit land in this city; and it may be added, no spec- ujgifcion ever ended in a more complete and disas- t%a-5 collapse and finale. The gross exaggera¬ tion, of value?, which was f ogterecl by this specula¬ tion, seems to have determined the reaction that iias carried those values to their present low level. In this region, at least, the speculators held high carnival, and they may now contemplate the bit¬ ter results of their f oUy with sadness and wisdom. The day for realizing $30,000 and $35,000 for lots on the Boulevard, and $12,009 to $18,000 on the side streets, is not likely to retmn again in this generation, and the speculator of the future wiU doubtless seek a more, propitious field in which to exercise his skUl and ingenuity. What fate is reserved for the West side it now puzzles us to determine. Rapid Transit is already knocking at its doors and promises to extend far into the interior of this section before the winter is over. And yet there is no noticeable demand for these lots by investor, bmlder, or speculator. The present sti-iking antithesis that exists be¬ tween the East and West sides suggests two im¬ portant lessons : 1. The impossibUity of the forcible diversion of population from an accepted Une. 2. The principle of continuity is the law of our fashionable growth. AU that wealth, courage, confidence and mimi- cipal co-operation could do has been done to favor the West side, but without any beneficial result. Without any especial natui-al attractions, the East side has carried off the palm, and is now rapidly looming up in prominence and significance with a new growth. What might have been the case had Seventy-second street been taken as the southerly boundary of Central Park, it is useless now 1^0 consider. The lack of a connecting link between the West side and the present fashion¬ able quai'ter, and easy connection befcween thafc quarter and the East side has no doubt contributed to the present result. If this lack of contimuty and connection has been fatal in the past to the acceptabUity of the West side, we are afc a loss to see how that side can ever participate in the dis¬ tinction of fashionable patronage, uiUess a new southerly boundary to the Park is fixed and a clear point of contact thus established. Isolated and detached as the West side now is from the chosen residence portion of the city, we are led to beUeve that its improvement and development wUl natm'aUy continue to foUow the Unes and assimilate to the traditions of Eighth avenue and Broadway, and that the interior of this region as eligible as it may appear to some for a superior class of dwellings, wUl be fiUed up with the plain sort of dweUings that characterize the lower West side. In a word, the East side promises to be, par exceUence, the fashionable quarter, and the West side to be the cheap side of the city. We are aware thafc these views wiU come in direct conflict with those entertained by many experienced and far-seeing operators; but we shaU continue to hold them untU we can discover the means of establishing a direct connection be¬ tween Fifth avenue and the West side. The day may come, however, when owing to the scarcity of avaUable buUding lots on this island, it will become necessary to curtail the dimensions of Central Park, and however sacrilegious such a proposition may now seern, the possibility of such a result need not seem astounding in a city sub¬ ject to such sudden and almost volcanic changes.