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The Record and guide: v. 37, no. 936: February 20, 1886

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Febraary 90, 1886 The Record and Guide. 213 THE RECORD AND GUIDE, Published every Saturday. 191 Broad^wav, KT. Y. Our Telepbone Call is.....JOQIN 370. TERMS: OSfE FEAR, in advance, SII DOLLARS. Communicafcions should be addi-essed to C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadway. J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager. Vol. XXXVII. FEBRUARY 20, 1886. No. 936 The subject of laud transfer reform is at lengfch fairly before the Legislature. There is agreement on all points save as to whether the block or the lofc system should be used in indexing. We give to-day the argument in favor of the block sys¬ tem, which is to be presented to the Legislative Commifctee by Mr. Dwight H. Olmstead. Next week we expect to publish the argu¬ ments of those who favor the lot system. When bofch these docu¬ ments are published every one interested in land transfer reform will have had all the facts and arguments ifc is possible to present on both sides of this vital matter. The Record a^d Guide has refrained, so far, from taking sides ou this subject. There is no disputing the fact that to Mr. Olmstead belongs the credit of having first called the attention of fche New York bar and real estate owners to the neces¬ sity of reform in our laws relating to the conveyancing of real estate. He has algo spent more time, effort and money than any ofcher person in advocating and advancing the reform. All who have become interested in the matter agree with him in every¬ thing, except in this matter of indexing. In advocating the block system Mr. Olmstead stands alone among those who have become interested in the reform. The history of the controversy is. fur¬ nished by the documents we publish coming from the several com¬ mittees of the Real Estate Exchange. It is to be hoped that the Legislafcure will come to a wise decision in this matter, and take early action so as to relieve real estate from the impediments now thrown in the way of its transfer. Whichever plan is adopted will be a great improvement on the presenfc system. The real estate market has been buoyant during the past week. The sales have been very numerous and the prices satisfactory to sellers. There has been a halt in the stock speculation, due to transient causes, but tlie market is properly regarded as a bull one in view of the continued and heavy purchases of bonds at high figures. Any moderately good security which pays four per cent, is tolerably sure of selling near par, and while this state of things continue the market musfc in the long run be a purchase. The business outlook continues quite good. This is best shown in the strikes for high wages in all parts of the country and the willing¬ ness on the part of the employing corporations to make concessions in that direction. The onl)- cloud in the sky is the light export of our agricultural products and the large increase of importations. Should the balance of trade be as much against us for 'he next two months as it has been for the past six weeks we shall doubtless see some export of gold to settle international balances. Still, we have large reserves of grain and cofcton, and when these go forward it will make enough bills of exchange to limit the demand for gold. ■ _______ The newspapers have been calling attention to the enormous fees paid by Jake Sharp to the lawyers. The World says they amount to $349,000, which is more than the cost of constructing the two miles and one-half of road, the securing of the charter for which was the excuse for the large paypients. It is notable also that the lawyers of least repute seem to get the most money. There is a . very general suspicion that when a corporation or an individual wishes to bribe a Legislature or influence a judge the expense is charged to legal fees. Ifc is strange thafc the legal profession does not adopt some rule to save itself from the reproach of being the agency by which courts and legislatures are corrupted. Somehow it gives the impression that, aparfc from his legal fees, the lawyer is willing to give his countenance to the machinery by which the virtue of legislative bodies and courts are debauched. came of it. This subject should again be brought to the attention of the Legislature. In every ofcher business bufc real estate pur¬ chasers and sellers are guided by accurately reported sales, which are never misleading. That is to say, there is a market price for stocks, bonds, cotton, grain, etc., and yet the lists furnished the public have no official sanction or indorsement; but transfers of real estate, officially recorded, can be and often are intentionally fraudulent. Many of the excessive valuations in properfcy is due to this reprehensible practice of putting fictitious prices in the deeds of property purchased. Frequent complaints reach this office respecting the false con¬ sideration so often published in the official conveyances. There can be no objection to the practice, which is common, of concealing the actual amount of the purchase money by putting down nominal, but when the false figure is given the intent is to swindle somebody as to the value of adjoining property, and hence the record is tainted with fraud. The Legislative Committee of the Real Estata Exchange indorsed the draft of a law last year, making it a misde¬ meanor to falsify the official record in this manner, but nothing The proposition to spend $750,000 to supply a free public library should not be tolerated for a moment. We do nofc want a State or city free library at Reservoir square, or any other central part of New York. A public circulating library, to be of any value, should be distributed at twenty different points throughout the island. There is already a free circulating library in existence, but it is not properly supported by wealthy citizens. Our rich men and women should see to it that it is supplied with more funds, to be spent in good books, and kept in cheap and convenient quarters of the city ; but any proposition to spend a lot of money by the State or city for a new building means a job and nothing else. Apropos of free circulating libraries, why should not a fund be raised to throw open the Mercantile and Apprentice's libraries ? The former of these institutions has fallen from the high position it once occupied, but ifc has a greafc many books and good machinery for careing for them. The Apprentice is a kind of a close corpor¬ ation, and the books are not as widely distributed as they should be. Surely there is enough public spirit in our rich men to furnish free reading to every man, woman, boy or girl in New York who wants it; bufc let us hear ho more aboufc a State or city appropria¬ tion for a costly cifcy building which would be of no use to the great bulk of our scatfcered populafcion. Our Unreclaimed Domain. It seems hardly worth while to speak upon certain subjects, no matter how great their importance, because the .obstacles in the way of any definite resulfcs to follow upon discussion appear insuperable. Of this character is the theme raised by the existence of swamp lands in the vicinity of New York. Still, it sometimes seems like a restriction on the liberty of speech to be compelled to remain silent, even though silence might be more eloquent than words. There is a grim sorfc of satisfaction even in the use of expletives under certain circumstances; and here is a peculiarly aggravating case. Over in New Jersey, within the area that could be covered by a cannon ball, fired in this cifcy from one of fchose modern guns of long range of which we have trem¬ blingly heard, are more than fifty square miles of the mosfc worth¬ less swamp lands imaginable. They extend from Elizabeth to Newark along Newark Bay, and then sfcretch away on both sides of the Hackensack River, northward, until lost almost in the streets of Hackensack, or, rather, until they furnish a morass in which fche sfcreets of Hackensack are lost. To the wesfcward, here and there embellished wifch an oasis, they extend to an indefinite boundary. Richmond counfcy, again, in this State, admits the relationship to New Jersey which Jerseymen claim by displaying several more sqtiare mUes of kindred territory, and even portions of Long Island confess their recent birth trom the sea by exposing a large surface of aqueous soil where fishermen and huntsmen con¬ tend for the mastery, and rule alternately with fishing-rod or gun. It is a vast area of unreclaimed territory, and were we to estimate its value by the number of dollars per acre which the adjacent upland would bring, the total would equal the assessment of prop¬ erty in some entire States. Now, the " salt meadows," as these new world marshes of fche Tiber are civilly and officially called, are the birth-place of about all fche malaria and certainly of all the mosquitoes that afflict this neighborhood. No teeth would ever be known to rattle with ague in the vicinity of New York were these wasfce places reclaimed, and our midnight serenaders would all be content to spend the summer in the Adirondacks were they nofc provided wifch such an excellent breeding ground entirely within scent of fche blue blood of the metropolis. Bufc this is not all. The land ifcself is worfchless, or nearly so, although at gome points it is admirably suited for the location of factories, and in many places is susceptible of being fertilized into market gardens or farms. Yefc no successful effort, except upon a very limited scale, has ever been made to reclaim this vast surface and bring it into fche service of the overflowing population by which it is surrounded. The subjecfc, however, has not always been treated with apathy. Various schemes have been advocated for reclaiming these swamps; and in one insfcance at least it began to look, in New Jersey, as though something practical would be accomplished. A company was formed to build dykes along the wafcer courses, and after they were constructed tidal drains were to complete the work of recla-