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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 29, no. 728: February 25, 1882

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Re.<\l Estate ECORD AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. Vol. XXIX. NEW TOEK, SATURDAY, FEBRUAET 25, 1882. No. 728 Published Weekly by The Real EstateRecord Association TERMS: OSE YEAR, in advance - ... - $6.00 Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET, 137 Broadway J. T. LINDSEY'Business Manager. Everything is gloomy in the stock, grain, cotton, provisions and other markets. Real estate alone holds its own. There are rumors of heavy disasters yet to come and the bears in stocks, cotton and grain are having things all their own way. The liquidation is going on and there does not seem to be any im¬ mediate stop to it; yet the country is ex¬ ceptionally prosperous, immigration is large, manufacturing active, and real estate not only holds its own but is advancing in price. There is no danger of any panic or hard times such as we had after 1873; a good crop next summer, such as blessed the nation in 1879, 1880 and 1881 would not only set us right again, but would renew speculation in all the exchanges of the country. The bears may make money now and for a short time to come, but in the long run it is the bulls who wUl pocket the greatest profits, It is of course desirable that the elevated railway system should be extended from Second avenue to Spuyten Duyvil; but, surely, it is not necessary to destroy the Boulevard ] by running an elevated track over its centre. The opposition of Broad¬ way property owners to underground or elevated roads always seemed to us unwise; for a business thoroughfare of necessity requires that travel should be concentrated and brought to its very doors. When the elevated road is driven away to a side street, it only helps to build up its business at the expense of Broadway. But the same rea¬ soning does not apply to residence property. An elevated road on Fifth avenue would clearly reduce the value of the dwellings one half, and one built over the' Grand Boule¬ vard would ruin that noble avenue for resi¬ dence purposes. There ought to be an elevated road from One Hundred and Tenth street to the highest point on the island, somewhere between the Eighth avenue and the Hudson River, but it ought not to be located upon the Boulevard. ---------------«-•->'—---------— The attacks of the World and other city papers upon Mr. O. B. Potter have been car¬ ried too far. The old World building pro¬ perty was not in any worse condition than thousands of other structures erected before our present building laws were in force. The people who erected the Times building showed their wisdom in making it fire-proof; but there is neither reason nor justice in hounding Mr. Potter because he was the chance owner of a property so easily de¬ stroyed. It is criminal to feed the popular prejudice against landlords because they are such, and the press could be better employed than in adding to the distress of a man who has already suffered from grievous pecuniary losses and much anguish of mind. It is now proposed to build a Government structure^^on the site of the old Post Of&ce, for the accommodation of the navy office, pension office, army depot and other Gov¬ ernment offices for which now some $50,000 is annually paid in rent. This is a good idea, but perhaps it would be better still to sell the site at public auction and, with the large amount of money it would bring, erect a fine building facing the Battery or fronting on some square, that would be convenient of access. The Government business outside of the treasury and customs department need not be in the business quarter of the city. The building should be a fine one, whenever constructed. LOW PRICES AND BUSINESS. A correspondent calls attention to the fol¬ lowing paragraph in The Real Estate Record of last week. It occurred in the leading article, discussing the general situa¬ tion. We quote : " The shrinkage in values during the past two weeks has been enor¬ mous and it must affect the consumptive de¬ mand of the country. People will not pur¬ chase liberally when they are losing money." Our correspondent thinks that this is a mis¬ take ; that low prices increase business, and that the temporary embarrassment of the rich who are dealing in stocks, cotton, grain and other products will not check the con¬ sumptive demands of the laboring class, now fully employed at good wages. There is some justice in this criticism. It is true that the wealthy classes are a very small percentage of our whole population ; that when the people who consume food, wear clothing, and occupy houses are fuUy employed fit good'wages, they will consume more when prices are low than when they are high. But low prices alone do not create an active trade. During the hard times of '73 to '78, real estate commanded a very low figure on this island, and every one knew that it was a purchase, but it could not be sold. It is notorious that stocks command a more ready sale when high-priced than when offered at a sacrifice ; but still the fact re¬ mains that in articles like food and clothing the consumptive demand increasea^svith the lowering of prices, provided the wages or income of the consumers is not reduced at the same time. We have entered upon a period of con¬ traction. There will be no more g»ld im¬ portations, and we may at any time export gold. The banks, whicii increased their cir¬ culation over $40,000,000 during the years of speculation, have begun to withdraw their currency. Over $1,000,000 worth have been retired since the Ist of January, and every week the withdrawals increase in amount. There has been a check in prices in conse¬ quence, and everything bought with money will feel the effect of the shrinkage in due time. The rich, the owners of stocks, of J grain and cotton, are the first to be affected. They will stop consuming the costly articles which have had such' ready sale during the past three years; but as the capitalists and the employing class become pinched, the wages class below soon begins to feel that its in¬ come is not so sure as it was. The manu¬ facturers have had a very active year ; they had more orders than they could fill, but, unless we have very good crops this coming summer, by fall we will find that there is an overproduction, and goods of all kinds will b@ in excess of the demand. We should not only have lower prices, but much of the labor now employed will be idle and wages will be smaller. But how, it may be asked, will this affect real estate ? Time alone can tell. It is ar¬ gued that when capital becomes timid about stock and other investments, it will seek realty as being the most permanent and cer¬ tain of a rise in time. The business of the city and its population is steadily increasing, and as yet no one dreams that there wiU be any reduction in rents. On the contrary, everything goes to show that rents will ad¬ vance this spring. Still it can not be ex¬ pected that there can be any real speculation in real estate, when all the other markets are drooping. There can be no marked ad¬ vance in prices unless a buoyant feeling obtains in the community. Everything depends upon the next crop. Should we have a repetition of 1879 and 1880, next fall will see the most prosperous season the country has ever witnessed, for all the con¬ ditions exist for transacting an immense business. If there should be disappoint¬ ment in the yield of the crops, and there be a shortage or a failure, then we may look out for a dull business year, and a postpone¬ ment of speculative activity in realty as well as every other description of property. —.-------------<-♦>---------------- AMERICAN vs. FRENCH LANDLORDS. A daily paper expresses great delight over a heavy jury verdict against a property owner, whose area being open, caused seri¬ ous damage to a careless passer-by. This is one of the perils of householding which jiroperty owners in this countiy must face, and which tends to keep up rents. A care¬ less servant fails to properly cover the coal hole, and the man or woman who is injured thereby gets heavy damages from the in¬ nocent owner of the house. Juries in America look upon railroad companies and landlords as enemies of the human race, and always punish them severely when they get a chance, for owning houses and accommo¬ dating the public on transportation lines. People here, who rent furnished houses, must charge a high rent, for there is no recompense for furniture ill-used or de¬ stroyed. The petty courts afford no protec¬ tion to the property of the owners of the apartments or the furniture. In regard to such matters as these Paris is very different from New York. The traveler finds, to his astonishment, that in France the law favors the owner of property. They are not liable for damages when an accident occurs to a