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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 6, no. 143: December 10, 1870

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Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. VI. JSTEW YORK, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1870. No. 148. Published Weekly by THE REAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION. ...... TEEMS. Quo year, in advance......................$6 00 All communications should be addressed to 106 Broauway, cor. of Pike Street. The Record is regularly mailed to subscribers e-very Friday uigHt at eleven o'clock, and should be delivered by the Post Office, authorities.on Saturday morning earlj'. Any subscriber not receiving his paper in due season may rely upon it that the fault is entirely with the carrier, and a ' complaint lodged either ■\vith the Post Office authorities or at the. Record office wUl remedy the irregularity. Any carrier deU-vering the RECORD later than Saturday morning is remiss in his duty.. PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS. One thing must be apparent to all who taJce any interest in the gro-sving comeliness and beauty of New York, and that is that never be¬ fore in her whole history has any body of men, intrusted with the care of our parks and thoroughfares, given better proofs of activity and wen-directed taste in all their public im¬ provements than the present Commissioners of Public Works. Turn where we may, we see evidences of changes being effected which are all calculated to alter for the better the aspect of our city, and to add to the enjoyment of our citizens. The institution of music in our differ¬ ent squares, during the summer and fall months, was in itself a long-desired and most welcome recreation, very simple in itself, but the refining influences of which upon any large population it is impossible to over-estimate. Then we have the decoration of all our open spaces, by the planting of trees, the laying down of agreeable walks, etc., converting what were neglected eye¬ sores and blemishes into little, spots of interest that one comes upon like oases in this great desert of brick and stone. Taking, for instance, all the small una,vailable spaces formed by the junctions of Broadway, as it cuts diagonally across our different avenues, we find these spots—^mere un¬ sightly wastes before—aU being newly planted ■with rows of trees which will, in.due season, yield us their refreshing shade and delicious re¬ lief to the sight. The City Hall Square, which every one dreaded to see become—especially by the encroachment of the new Post Office—a pell-mell jumble of buildings, blodring up one of the few breathing spots we had in the city, is, by the tasteful arrangement of broad and handsome walks and terraces, reaUy becoming so far a point of interest and pleasing appear¬ ance as to reconcile us to the displacement of those old time-honored trees by public build¬ ings; and this -will be all the more so if the Post Office turns out^as in Mr. Mtjllett's hands we: believe it will—a structure that the ; ciiy will have cause to be proud of; From the Battery, at the extreme southern point,—^now undergoing improvements tha,t will convert that long-neglected spot into a delightful pleasure- ground,—to the Central Park, around -which will ultimately cluster all the grandest architectural beauties of our metropohs, we trace that same' well-directed energy towards its public embel¬ lishment which will one day place it on a level with any of the proudest capitals of Christen¬ dom. If the Commissioners only continue n this direction as well as they have begun, they certainly -will have succeeded in more closely identifying themselves -with the judicious and profitable improvement and permanent adorn¬ ment of New York than any of their predeces¬ sors. ARTIFICIAL STONE. In describing Mr. Peter Gilsey's new ho¬ tel in our last issue, a passing allusion was made to the material of which the grand staircase is being erected, but which merits more specific notice. This material, which goes by the name of "The New York Stone " is formed of Port¬ land cement and pure silex, mixed in certain proportions and in a certain maimer, which im¬ mediately combines chemically, forming a stone¬ like substance that hardens in a few days suffi¬ ciently for moving about in large masses, and after that, continues the process of hardening until it reaches very nearly the strength and durability of thestrongest known granite. Its crushing strength is fax superior to that of any sandstone, and only one-third less than that of best granite. When perfectly dry it is quite impervious to water, and frost has no effect whatever upon it. It is capable of being used in any shape whatever for which stone is availa¬ ble,—from flagging for our sidewalks to the finest productions of sculpture. Its natural color is very pleasing, that of a pale slaty gray, very closely riesembling the English Portland stone and our granite; but it can be made to assume any other color except pure white;— indeed it .can even be marbleized. It is a- remarkable fact,—giving additional proof hovv slowly valuable ideas will sometimes travel between civilized nations,—^that the ma¬ terial we are here describing as a novdty among us should have been in constant use in Europe for more than twenty years past, and with its valuable properties just as well acknowledged and recognized, in works of public consequence, as granite or iron. The great sea-walls of Brest and Cherbourg in France, those of Dover in England, and the embankment of the Thames in London, the sea-walls of Wflhebnshaven and Stettin in Germany, large portions of the em¬ bankment to the Suez Canal, and many other works of- h%hest importance, are constructed of precisely the same material, and are to be found to-day in perfect condition after years of exposure to the effects of water and atmosphere. Its hardness is such that in parts of Europe, where it is used for pavements in barracks and arsenals, it -withstands the constant wear of horses' hoofs and hea-vy artillery passing over it. And yet, vidth all these antecedents, it is only some two or three years since this ma¬ terial was first introduced among us, and al¬ though many specimens of it may be found which have been doing good service here for two years past, it is stUl quite unkno-wn to a large majority of our capitalists, builders, and architects. Among other specimens there is a sidewalk on Forty-eighth street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, that was laid do-wn over two years ago, and is now as perfect as ever. A dozen or more sugar-houses, breweries, and similar institutions have been paved with this material, on account of its durability and re¬ sistance to wet and damp; but they were, necessarily, not the kind of works to attract public attention to it. A more public exhibi¬ tion was afforded by the fine Tenrace Fountain in Central Park, which is also formed of this material. A good example of what can be ac¬ complished by it is to be found in the basement of Steinway Hall, once so damp as to be all but useless. The Artificial Stone was introduced here, and the basement has ever since been so dry that hundreds of pianos are now to be found stowed away there, and even showing dust upon them. But it seemed reserved for Mr. Peter GiLSBY to bring this material forward into the fuU publicity it merits, by largely introducing it into his fine hotel now being erected at the cor¬ ner of Twenty-ninth street and Broadway, and which we described in a recent issue. Here he has not only laid down the whole sidewalk with it—a work which attracts considerable attention —but is using it for the steps and landings of his grand central staircase. This staircase— strange as it may sound—is probably the first thing of the kind ever erected in America, while in many parts of Europe such staircases are in common use, and are to be found in per¬ fect condition after a constant use of twenty or thirty years, in hotels and other places of public resort. The success of this stone has been so manifest that Commodore Vandebbilt has decided to use it in the large TJnion Depot of the Harlem and New Haven Raikoads. Considering that this material can be pro¬ duced at a cost ranging considerably less than stone, it is unquestionably destined to work a great revolution in its use, not only in our dwell¬ ings, but for wharves, tanks, cisterns, railway embankments, and wherever stone, as a mate¬ rial, is desirable; stUl more, where stone is not easily obtainable, iiiasmuch as the substitute can be manufactured on the spot.