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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 48, no. 1221: August 8, 1891

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August 8,1801 Record and Guide. 171 e^ - £STABLISHED''^«AI«:H21*-^I868. DivbTED TO I^l Estate BuiLoif/o Ap.ti the more encouraging aspects of the situation in mind. The operators on the short side of the market rehed almost exclusively on the quickening of apprehensions sflready excited and in the cir¬ culation of rumors. Meanwhile, the general conditions, apart from the money raarket, have distinctly been gri)wing more encourag¬ ing. Large crops do not always p educe large railway earnings, but in the present year there will be practically no increase of mileage to create competition, break rates and destroy tbe oppor¬ tunity of a big income. .------^------- "^"OT only the London Stock Exchange, but the different branches -i-^ of English trade is in a stagnant state just at present. A condition of apprehension prevails the business of the whole king¬ dom and takes the life out of the market. Similar statements are in the main true of France, Germany and Austro-Hungary, the flrst of these still continuing apparently the most prosperous. "With the exception of the Northern, all the great French railway com¬ panies show an increase in iheir receipts in the first six months of the present year, compared with 1890, both in the gross amount and in the mileage. The Lyons company gains 3,733,535 francs; the Westem. 1,005,329 francs; the Orleans, 1,792,709 francs; the Eastern, 1,488,103 francs; the Southern, 635,188 francs; and the State lines, 506,490 francs. Spanish and Italian railways are also doing better than any one would expect from* the recently depressed condition of their country's flnancrs. The enormous increase in the traffic of the Suez Canal still continues. The total receipts from January 1st have been 47,980,000 francs, an advance of 10,150,000 fi'ancs from the flgures of last j ear. It is not surprising uuder the circum¬ stances tbat the price of the company's securities is steadily aug¬ menting in value. In Berlin the depression has been deepened hy the insecurity created by the swindling of the Deutsche Bank. The public look with distrust on the course of events; and even if this were not bo, declining trade and advancing money rates would suffice to stifle any attempt to animate business. The harvest pre s- pects are most unsatisfactoi-y. and it is now feared that the home production of rye. a most important article in Germany, may this year come to only about 30 per cent, of what is considered a good medium harvest. Then the position of the banks is anything but sati^actory. For about a year or .w they have done their best to increase their stock of liquid reserves; yet, though they were suc¬ cessful in a measure, it is doubted whether they were so to the full extent of their requirements. They are supposed still to hold large amounts of stock resulting from loan and syndicate opera¬ tions, and in any case they could not afford to go into the market as buyers, except with the object of maintaining prices. WHEN Mayor Grant, a year ago last spring, appointed the Bel¬ mont Rapid Transit Commission The Record and Guide indicated tbe uo wi,sdom of putting into the hands of business men the solution of a question that turned mainly on engineering difficul¬ ties. The advice of a good engineer isnot sufficient; it would have been wiser to have selected the Commission from among the best members of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Neverthe¬ less, when under the terms of the new rapid transit act, the Mayor appointed another Commissior of the same kind, we did not ca,re to press the criticism, and in the ensuing months the Commission¬ ers have proved themselves to be so trustworthy that any objection to their personnel would be the merestcavilling. The only stricture that could reasonably be made is that if the Commissioners had been Civil Engineers employed by the city to devote their whole time to rapid transit, the work might have been expedited. As it is, the manifold private interests of every one of the Commissioners, and the time these interests demands, must of course delay the com¬ pletion of the task. As yet, however, the engineering problems have not been fairly tackled—that is, not in the reports which the Commissioners have m?de to the public. We are informed, more¬ over, that before they are given to the public, all the details of construction will be submitted to competent experts in the several departments. This is certainly a very wise measure. It shows that the Commissioners are not foolish enough to think that they know everv thing; they are willing to supplement their own knowl¬ edge by calling in expert opinion. Furthermore, it is wise for another reason. No matter what the plan of construction upon which the Commission decides, it is very sure to provoke some opposition. A large number of pushing men are peculiarly interested in particular systems and ideas. It will not be difficult for them either to convince or to persuade the news¬ papers that there is only one proper and adequate system of con¬ struction, and hence any plan, as we have said, will meet with crit¬ icism. Under such circumstances it is well that the Commis¬ sioners should be backed by a consensus of competent opinion, for the public authorities are undeniably sensitive to newspaper clam¬ oring, w hen such clamoring does not deny sacred political obliga¬ tions. What the effect of such a howl may be we all know from the experience of the Manhattan Railway Company. If the modest request of that corporation to improve its terminal facilities had been acceded to by the press we do not think that Mayor Grant and the Legislature would have proved to be stubborn. LATE in June the commercial world was somewhat startled on reading in the daily press that an inland-built steamer of a peculiar construction called " whalebacks " had left Duluth, Minn., en route for Liverpool with a cargo of 95.000 bushels of grain. On the 21st of July, a cablegram from London announced the safe arrival of the vessel. Accompanying this announcpmentT:ame the further piece of news that her cargo was "the first grain cargo shipped from a lake port direct to Liverpool without being re- handled." The wires flashed, and inside of twenty-four hours every live daily paper in the land had repeated the news, and stick full upon stick full of editorials had appeared on " the ' whaleback ' as a new agent in commerce." It was gravely maintained by many writers that the new steel vessel would revolutionize ocean traffic, for at last direct waterway communication had been opened be¬ tween the great Northwest and Europe. IN the light of the frigid facts all thecommotion over the "whale- backs" becomes exceedingly ludicrous. In the first place the carj:,o of the stpamer in question—by name the Charies W. Wet- mure—was not carried "direct to Liverpool without being rehandled." To believe for a moment that such a feat could be accomplished I'y a loaded vessel built on the lines of the Charles W. Weimore betrays ignorance of the nature of the route to be traversed. No large vessel drawing over seven feet of water can possibly descend the rapids of the St. Lawrence in safety. The Charles W. Wetmore with her cargo draws not less than fifteen. The facts are that in entering the rapids she was lightened to flve feet and her cargo conveyed by smaller boats to Montreal and there reloaded. The success of this voyage is not as it has been circulated through the daily press, " evidence that the proposition to establish direct communication between European and other ports and the port of Chicago is feasible." It demonstrates merely that vessels suitable for ocean service may be so constmcted as to pass unloaded down the rapids of the St. Lawrence River. That such empty vessels may make the voyage without risk is not even shown, as yet. One of the "whalebacks." which accompanied the Charles W. Wetmore down the rapids, was so badly damaged