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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 25, no. 623: February 21, 1880

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Real Estate Record AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XXV. NEW YOKK, SATUEDAY, FEBEUAEY 21, 18S0. No. 623 Published Weekly by C^c %ml §shk %ttaxb %%Bacmixan, TERMS. ONE YEAR, in advance....SIO.OO. Communications should be addressed to C. W. SM/^EET, Nos. 135 AND 137 Broadway MUST HISTORY ALWAYS REPEAT ITSELF? The columns of the Real Estate Record give am¬ ple evidence, one week after another that we spare no labor or expense to keep abreast of the active times which have gladdened the hearts of so many dealers in, and owners of, property. In doing so, however, the Record does not intend to be carried away from that sound principle which commands constant deliberation and investigation. If these columns should give vent to all that we hear from week to week, this journal would cease to be the safe guide to investors, which has been its pride and mainstay these many years past. We aay this the more pointedly thia week, as the market con¬ tains now many new adherents, who are not only talking recklessly about values, but are actually rushing things a little too fast. Thia ia not said for the purpose of " bearing the market," but to advise those who intend to inveat their hard earned dollars in the soil not to listen at all times to the ideas ot simple speculators. It is the latter class, and not the honest investorg, who have in the past dragged novices into utter ruin, and Pine street once more begins to fill up with men who think they can gamble in realty with the same effrontery that they showed eight and ten years ago. To hear these men talk, one would imagine that every vacant lot on Manhattan Island ia to-day—not in years to come—but to-day, worth all the gold that can possibly be piled upon it, and, what is more, they will quote the sayings of this man, or that owner, who haa declined fabulous offers for thia or that property. Now it muat be admitted that even all thia talk does no harm per se, but there are some men who have lately shown a disposition to act just as reckleaaly as others talk. Theae may come out all right, but others that follow their example at a later period may not. The advance in the prices of certain unimproved property has been almost too rapid during the past four months, too rapid indeed to inspire that confidence which is the safe basis of continued prosperity. It causes wise and thoughtful men to ehrug their shoulders and shake their heads and to ask, " where will thia end?" They remember that it was only a few short months ago when the business " boom'' made its appearance here in the wake of that eighty millions of European gold, which the bal¬ ance of trade threw into the American lap. And though they remember the leading cause of that revival, they as yet fail to see the plans of the architecta or the apades of the builders ready to improve the vacant lota that have gone up so won¬ derfully in a few abort months. They well know that one of these days, or rather years, the time will come when theae improvementa will begin, but until they do why should values be pushed to extremes ? New York, no more than Rome, haa been built in a day—in fact, if we are to believe General Viele, it ought to be built all over again— and if values along the exterior lines of the Weat Side are even now already to be kept at high flgures, it will only still further delay the construction of fine mansions in that section, which all so ardently desire. We may be told that during the past two months extraordinary pirices have been paid for Fifth avenue lots, and that, therefore, the avenues of the future which are to outrival the Fifth in splendor will also command.higher pricea. So they may in time to come. But we have to pass yet a great apace of time before we get there. It is only now that Fifth avenue is at its zenith, and the high pricea for lota on that avenue have only received an impetus since the Vanderbilts, followed by other rich men, settled upon that locality for their own mansions during the past few months.. It had to pass through many varying stages before it reached what appears now to be at last a per¬ manency. With the increased wealth of the,country, and the accession to our population of citizens who have made their millions in the West and South, there is good reason to hope that the growth of the ex¬ treme West Side will not be as tardy as Fifth avenue haa been. Nevertheless, as Mr. Martin said the other day, the only way to fix values for to-day is to calculate what the ultimate value aome years hence will be, and then to allow a discount for that ultimate value. It is this that we desire to impress upon those who now already talk of ex¬ traordinary Fifth avenue prices for extreme Weat Side lots. In calculating that ultimate value, it is well to remember that New York's growth depends exclusively upon the country's business prosperity. Already.we have commenced to import more than we export—this means that we buy more than we sell—while yet we are under the influence of that eighty millions in gold which a sound and econom¬ ical way of doing .business added to our wealth. We do not desire to detract one iota from the con- ' gratulations heard all around at the revival of prosperity, but knowing that New York's value of realty is so ultimately connected with the pros¬ perity that is real and not imaginary—would it not have been better if the balance of trade had re¬ mained in our favor, as it was during 1879 ? It is theae matters which investors must look in the face—for upon that acquisition of capital mainly depends our welfare. Now, why did it not remain so ? First, and above all, unlike England, our en¬ tire commercial system has not yet adjusted itself in a manner to secure for our manufactures—for all of our exports—that permanency in which alone there is safety and success. Our navigation laws are wrong ; our manufacturing laws in various States are oppressive; our manufacturers themselves have only just now begun to understand that to seek neutral markets and be enabled to compete, they must make what these markets want, not what they themselves care to produce; our consuls abroad have only just now begun to enlighten American manufacturers on these matters. But, above all, before our commercial system can pos¬ sibly adjust itself so as to permit ua to keep our banner aloft, our workingmen not only, but our merchants must practice that frugality which on the one side permits cheap labor, and on the other hand reduces expenses within the income. Manu¬ facturers also must learn how to save the waste. When all these matters are rightly understood and appreciated, then this country—now that "modern commerce," as a political economist aaid the other day, •' turns on one half one per cent."'— will indeed have many eighty millions in gold added to her coffers. Then, and then only, will New York, the fountain head of the Union; reap that vast benefit which will show itself in per¬ manency as to high values. But until that com¬ mercial system is properly adjusted, either by legislation or by the wisdoin of our producers, there will occur periodically those depressions, which it will be well to remember even in these times of high glee, when so many look at the future through the spectacles of speculators. THE TWENTY-THIRD AND TWENTY- FOURTH WARDS. It cannot be said that as yet there is any specu- tion in the two wards of this city north of the Harlena River. .Prices are much firmer than they were; holders are less willing to sell and there is more inquiry. The large purchase in the interest of the Astor estate has provoked inquiry and set operators thinking, but, as we have said, as yet there is nothing that can be called speculation. Those who wish for a quick turn for their money prefer to invest in v acant lots on this island, hav¬ ing in mind the old business motto that the best purchase of vacant lands is just in advance of the improvements. It is better, all things considered, that there should be no widespread speculation. The plans of the Rapid Transit Commissioners looked to the entire region below Yonkers and New Rochelle in laying out their lines of elevated aud surface roads, and the amouq|; of property is so large that it could not all rise in anticipation of the im¬ provements which would be brought about by the construction of the new avenues of travel. This is wholesome. It would be a real calamit to the future of the city if the lands, which are suitable.for the homes of the working classes and for manufactories, were quoted at figures so high as to make building costly and, therefore, una¬ vailable. There is plenty of land, cheap enough as yet, which can be bought and held in blocks for improvement. The future factories, as well as th" residences of our working population, are not yet made impossible by a quotation of real estate in excess of a reasonable figure. There is one other improvement which has been lost sight of, and which will have a powerful effect upon values within three miles of the north bank of the Harlem River. We allude to the Harlem River improvement. We understand that assur¬ ances have been received from Washington that the money will be forthcoming when needed to make the Harlem River navigable. There is no difficulty at Washington. Promises have also been received from Albany that any legislation needed to begin and continue this very desirable work wiU be cheerfully voted by the State Jjegislature. Governor Cornell is a sensible business man, and will interpose no frivolous legal objections when the interests ht the community is at stake. It is very obvious that the rendering of the Harlem River navigable means a large addition to the value of lands on the north bank and beyond. It is also among the certainties of the future that