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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 65, no. 1674: April 14, 1900

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April 14, 1900. RECORD AND GUIDE. 625 1 __________, _, ,;a2ltC^1868. DcvM 10 Rp^LEsrATE.BuiLoiiJb ApOffrrzcTuivE.HcwsE3(ou)DE3(Hjiiat Bitentess AttoTriEHES of GejIer^ llftof*!.; PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS. PubUshed every Saturday. Telefhonb, Cortlandt 1370. Communicationa should be addressed to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Veaey Street. /. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager. "Entered at the Post-Office ai Neio Tork, N. Y., ua aecond-clasa matter." Vol. LXV. APRIL 14, 1900. No, 1674. FOR a time, sympathizing with the downward movement of the Industrials, the Railroad list at the close of the week brightened up, and even showed signs of aggressive buying at the close on Thursday, notwithstanding that that was the eve of a three-day break in transactions. Why Railroads are such favorites in the buying we have already explained, and nothing more need be said upon that point, except to repeat our con- elusion that there are among them still a good many issues whose quotations are not at al! representative of the business that is being done by their roads. It is not so easy to gauge the po¬ sition o£ the Industrials.. The selling that has weakened prices this week seems to come from inside sources, and there is a feeling prevalent that the present high prices of iron and steel and other basic products will go by the board before the close of spring, owing to a lack of demand. This is probably an ex¬ aggerated idea of the consequences of the position of buyers, especially when we see how hoth demand and prices hold in the European markets where the boom began two or three years before our own. At any rate, says the observer: "Our capitalists have been buying back our Railroad securities from Europe at high prices and yet they will not touch the apparently more profitable Industrial bonds and preferred stocks." If the ob¬ server will cast a glance back he wil! find that the attitude of capital to-day towards the Industrials was precisely its attitude towards Railroad securities not so very many years ago, before they had attained the investment quality they now possess. This indicates what is the matter with the Industrials; they are still speculative and liable to all the maladies that threaten infant enterprises. They are unsuited to the employment of the vast bulk of the money that goes into investments, whose integrity and recovery intact at any moment are somewhat more important features than the return that is actually made upon it. But, on the other hand, the adventurous huyer who looks more for ap¬ preciation of principal and high interest returns will operate in the Industrials rather than in Railroads, and if he acts with judgment will make much more money. The present break, judging by what the Industrials pay and the prospects for a continuation of good business, even at lower prices than have been maintained in the past year, ought to be an opportunity for profitable speculative buying. The only thing that would justify any other conclusion would be the helief in the speedy collapse of general business activity which there is no reason for enter¬ taining. IF the absorption of the Third Avenue Railroad by the Metro¬ politan Street Railway arouses a fear of the consequences of such a monopoly of transit business in this city, the terms under which the former property is leased suggest a confidence in the growth of population and business in this city that ought to be satisfactory to realty interests. The yearly interest oa the Third avenue bonds the Metropolitan Street Railway Co. have guaran¬ teed, with that on the bonds outstanding, will amount to more than the net earnings the property has yet made in any one year, so that an immediate increase in traffic is necessary to make this guarantee pay. Beyond this guarantee the Metro¬ politan people do not undertake anything for four years, but after that, for two years they agree to pay five per cent, on the $16,000,000 of stock outstanding, then for four years six per cent, and finally seven per cent, in practical perpetuity. It must be taken for granted that the lessees expect also to make some¬ thing handsome for their stock out of the transaction. The whole undertaking shows a superb confidence in the future ot the city. To illustrate, let us see what the promise to pay the flve per cent, dividend alone means. This rate of interest on $16,000,000 amounts to $800,000, all to come out of new business or the reduction of operating expenses. If out of the former alone, and the cost of working is fifty per cent, of the gross re¬ ceipts, a low rather than a high estimate, the road will have to be developed and travel grow to the extent of 32,000,000 addi¬ tional five-cent fares in the comparatively sliort space of four years. It follows that to produce this result the Metropolitan must increase the efficiency and develop the franchises owned by its new addition to their fullest extent. By the time the guar¬ antee on the stock becomes effective, the underground railroad should be taking the bulk of tbe through traffic, leaving the short distance travel to provide the results that are to make large returns on the increased capital of the surface lines. This can only he produced by a material development of the city that must react largely and favorably on real estate. As to the stock of Third avenue, while its prospects for any considerable return at an early date are doubtful, as a long investment it is good. The Tenement House Committee. WHY PRACTICAL MEN SHOULD BE APPOINTED. ■"P" HE Tenement House Committee bill as passed and signed * by the Governor came to hand this week. It is entitled: "An act appointing a committee to examine into the tenement house question in cities of the first-class, and to report to the next Legislature a code of tenement house laws," It was only in its final stage that the bill was amended to make it apply to cities of thefirst class.of which there is only one otber—Buffalo— in this state besides New York. The reason for this amendment has been mentioned before, and, in any case, is too obvious to require comment. Comparing this act with Chapter 448 of the Laws of 1884, and Chapter 479 of the Laws of 1S94, under which the two last Tenement House committees were appointed, we find that the powers delegated for obtaining evidence are very similar in all three cases, and exactly so in the last two. They were not abused by the old committees and we hope will not be by the new, however it may be constituted. Why this committee should be appointed when a Charter Re¬ vision committee is also to be appointed, seeing that the char¬ ter contains a code of tenement house laws, is not easily under¬ stood. But it will be appointed, however, and it is important that it should be so constituted that it will not offer an absurd or impracticable code, which a mere body of enthusiasts is sure to do. Those who remember tbe bill introduced by the Gilder committee will recall, among some that were good, the absurd provisions it contained, and which it was so difficult to avoid. In fact, it was not until the Charter Commission sat that some of the nonsense was finally knocked out of it by title 7 of chap¬ ter 19 of the charter. To-day, all that is important of that bill that remains in tbe law is the reduced area of lot to be occupied and the provision for compensating owners of buildings con¬ demned as unfit for habitation, both very good things it must be admitted. The absurdities arose through the committee's trying to legislate for one class of house and the law including other classes in the scope of any tenement house law. In con¬ sidering this question, the legal as opposed to tbe popular defi¬ nition of a tenement must always be borne in mind. In law a tenement is not merely a building in which the lowest of the laboring classes live, but every house that is occupied by three or more families living independently of each other and doing their cooking upon the premises, or by more than two families upon any floor. Having made it clear what a legal tenement house is, let ua look at some of the mistakes the Gilder committee made through want of practical advice. One of their suggestions was that the paper should be removed from all bedrooms within sixty days from the passage of their bill. Had this become law, the bed¬ rooms of the finest apartments in the city would have had to be laid bare to the plaster; but, and this was a suggestion ot the Gilder committee also, presumably to satisfy any aesthetit; longing the occupants might harbor in their minds, they were to whitewash walls and ceilings once every year. We can im¬ agine the joy of the tenant of a Fifth avenue apartment had thi:? passed, when the whitewashing season eame round. Tbe oppo¬ nents of the bill were, however, able to convince the Legislature of the absurdity of this provision and it was amended to the simple requirement that when the wall paper was removed tbe wall should be thoroughly cleansed. Another suggestion that threatened trouble and wide-spread injury was that bakeries in tenement houses—of which there then existed probably a thou¬ sand—should be prohibited; this was changed so that bakeries could be carried on in tenement houses with the approval of the Fire Department. Had that provision been enacted, besides its injury and injustice to established bakers, it would have com¬ pelled thousands of people living in purely tenement sections to go a long distance to buy their bread. The Gilder committee also asked^—this, it is necessary to say, is not burlesque, but 1