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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 10, no. 248: December 14, 1872

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ECORD AND BUILDERS' GUIDE. VoL..X. NEW YORK, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14, 1872. No. 248. Published Weekly bv:. THE EEAL ESTATE RECORD ASSOCIATION. TERMS. One year, in advance......................S6 00 All communication's should be addressed to •7 AND 9 WARBEN STKEKT. No receipt for money due the REAL EST-WE RECORD will he acknowledged unless signed by, one of our regular coUector-s. HENRY D. SjiiTir or Thomas P. Cummings. All bills for collection will be sent from the office on a regu¬ larly printed form. THE INSURANCE ROW. The Life Insurance Companies are doing the public a real service in so washing their dirty- linen as to disgust the community -with the •ivhole business. So far the Mutual has the best of the fight. The documents it has put forth clearly prove that insurauce has heretofore been too costly. The insured as a class pay an enormous premium for -what in the long run proves a most costly and insecure investment. Parasites swarm because of the -waste of the systeni. But the allied companies also make a good point when they sa^^ that the"^ real test of the strength of the respective organizations -tfill come a decade ahead; that all is smooth sailing at first -when premiums on young lives are paid in, but that the real tug -will come when the lives expire. Any business is unsafe -where the profits are immediate and the losses pro¬ spective, and this is the notable characteristic of Life Insurance. Hence it is that 77 per cent, of the English companies have failed, and there is nothing surer in the future than that three-fourths of the present American com¬ panies -will also come to an untimely end -with¬ in the coming ten or at most fifteen years. The dispute between the Mutual and the al¬ lied companies -will result in some notable changes. It -will bankrupt a number of small, fraudulent concerns, and will so far be a public benefit. This will eventually add largely to the business of big insurance companies, and that -will be a public misfortune, for the bankruptcy of neariy all of them is a mere question of time, and the longer they last the more the commu¬ nity wiU lose in the end. As is well known, one great soiu'ce of profit in insurance companies is the forfeiture of poli¬ cies by the non-payment of yearly dues. A controversy like that going on at present alarms timid, people, and they decline to con¬ tinue the tax. Of course, the companies pocket every cent the insured have given them. It is safe to say that $75,000,000 of liabilities wiU have been swept away by the time the present newspaper war has ended. This temporary discredit does no permanent harm to the com¬ panies, for every year furnishes its new crop of fools. It is.computed that in this country in¬ surance on lives averages only four years. This includes deaths and forfeitures. It is not im¬ probable that the present row was kicked up to lessen the liabilities of the large companies as weU as to discredit the smaller ones; at any rate these effects -will follow. The siniple fact is that the whole life in¬ surance business is gambling in its meanest and most treacherous form. For a certain cash annual pa3mient these companies bet you one often thousand doUars, as the case may be, that you won't die within a certain number of years. After getting your money they lay traps to make you forfeit your policy, and if you die every irregularity is magnified so as, if pos¬ sible, to cheat your -widow and orphans. The faro table and sweat-boards give you twenty chances for your money, where life insurance gives you one. It is a rascally business, in whatever light it is regarded, and nothing so nauch shows the demoralization of the press as the countenance they give to it. HEALTH AND ARCHITECTURE. In a lecture recently delivered in London, and largely commented upon by the London Times, Mr. R. Rawlin^on gave his -views respect¬ ing the present condition of architecture as applied to health in England, and drew a most lamentable picture of the extent to which architecture—-with all the advantages of mod¬ em scientific discoveries—has failed, up to the present time, in making its influence generally felt in house-building and house management, not only in the dweUings of the poor but among those of the wealthy, and even in such, funda¬ mental conditions as those of having a good and healthy foundation and the means of secur¬ ing proper ventilation and warmth. Some of Mr. Rawlinson's observations are perfectly startling. He says that fine houses are spring¬ ing up every day in the most fashionable por¬ tions of the West End of London for which fabulous prices Jlre paid. The purchasers are doubtless duly assured that all the subsidiary arrangements are in accordance -with the best modern practice; the occupier pays his sewer rates in secure confidence that he is deriving aU the benefit desig-ned by the grand scheme of drainage, and yet aU the while his drains are not in connection with the sewer. How much danger may result from this one cause of malformation alone was prominently sho-wn not very long ago, on the occasion of a visit to the seat of some nobleman in the north of England, where, owing to an imperfect drain, a number • of distinguished personages came very near losing their lives, foremost among them the Prince of Wales. The same neglect observable in the case of drainage Mr. Rawlinson traces also into.matters affect¬ ing warmth and ventUation ; and if he is thus ' able to paint even the houses of the rich, in ten times gloomier colors does he depict the dwellings of the poor. There can be no doubt whatever that in the matter of dwelling-houses, of aU classes, whether affecting comfort or salubrity, we hold a great superiority over England, inferior though we are in aU the higher ranges of archi¬ tecture, as seen in the construction of public buildings. The luxuries condensed in the mansion of one of our miUionnaires in New York, the contrivances to which we have become universaUy accustomed for sa-\nng labor, are many of them to this day unkno-wn or unapplied in the residences of the wealthiest in London. A short time ago an American gen¬ tleman was passing by some enormous houses of very costly construction in course of erection on the Duke of Portland's estate, near the Apsley House entrance of Hyde Park, and, happening to notice the prodigious height of these dwellings, asked an intelligent and gayly- decorated footman who was passing if they were pro-vided wifch elevators to reach the top stories. He smiled incredidously, and asked who ever thought of going up and down the highest buUding by auy other means than a stair-case? Meeting an American gentleman of wealth, who had been examining some of these private palaces in course of construction, he laughingly told the -writer that the agent of one of them, in expatiating upon the manifold exceUencies of the buUding, drew his attention to a very ingenious novelty he had just intro¬ duced, by which people at the top could im¬ mediately communicate -with those in the bottom of the It was an ordinary speaking-tube inserted in the waUs. But whUe we know how to buUd, and while we do buUd houses of matchless convenience for the wealthier classes, we need no Mr. Raw¬ linson to point out to us the infamous and neglectful manner in which our tenement houses are constructed ; those infamous dens of discomfort and disease in which human beings are herded together like beasts, vrith no other purpose than to grasp the greatest num¬ ber of doUars out of the greatest number of people crowded under one roof, and where no attempt whatever is made to secure scientific or effective ventUation. Then again, in what does his frightful picture of the squalid "dwellings of. the East London Poor" differ from what can be drawn of those -wretched haunts in the lowest portions of our city, near the river sides especially, where thousands live literally the lives of rats: Houses buUt upon what is caUed made-ground, or ground com¬ posed of refuse and debris of aU descriptions, perpetuaUy fiUing the dweUings with poisonous gases ; other houses, perhaps a little better off,