crown CU Home > Libraries Home
[x] Close window

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections: The Real Estate Record

Use your browser's Print function to print these pages.

Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 67, no. 1734: June 8, 1901

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_027_00001229

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
June 8, 1901. RECORD AND GUIDE. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS, Published every Baiurday, TELEPHONE, CORTLANDT I37O. Gommunicatlone should he addressed to C. W. SWEET. 14-16 Vesey Street. J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manager. "Entered at tM Poat-Office of New Torlc, If. T,, aa second-class matter." Vol. LXVII. JUNE 8, 1901. No. 1734. THB comparatively small public who are in the stock market display a good deal of suspicion of the soundness of the bull position. It is for this reason that the upward movement that at the close of last week looked so promising, halted this week. If the situation were rid of its extravagance and senti¬ mentality there would he disclosed good reasons why this should "be the case. One is that, time, is bringing such commonplace re- suits where the most romantic were promised; another that, dividends foretold in the Street are not declared in the board¬ rooms, and in place of consolidations and mergers of gigantic proportions we have ordinary traffic agreements and the most natural changes in directories. However, the public have not a.wakened to the full signiflcance of offlcial action and still prefer journalistic dividends and guarantees, so that it is still possible to induce them to help make a market upon which professional operations can be realized and, apparently, im¬ possible to make them see that prices on the stock market have long ago discounted all the benefits of the situation, with, of course, the exceptions that always must be allowed from such a sweeping generalization. What sustains the market in the long run and makes advances easier to engineer than declines, is the continued scarcity of stocks, due to causes too often men¬ tioned here to need repetition now. Our people are prosperous and have no need to run to the stock market for assistance in the form of cash, hence the securities bought for long pulls and for investments remain in boxes. So long as this is the case, and it will most probably endure for some time to come, big breaks in prices should not be expected. Outside the areas of speculation, the country is undoubtedly very prosperous, the only complaints coming from the drygoods and some minor in¬ terests, testimony ou this head being almost unanimous. Those people who cannot see that security prices always march ahead of commercial and industrial results—and they are the vast majority—regard this fact not as a realization but as a pi-omise, and thereby justify themselves in making the additions to quotations that outdo merit. The reduction of the Bank of England's rate of discount is another sign of the contraction of European business which would stimulate speculation were it not for the doubts that continue to exist of satisfactory results having been reached in either South Africa or China. DOES the remark of Mr. Yerkes that the British do not un¬ derstand the value of a scrap heap disclose the difference between American and British made goods? Our own manu¬ facturers will doubtless resent this beiug taken literally. It is true that we as a nation have developed a fondness for the novel and it follows that, if we must be continually having the new, we perforce tend to the cheap. But where this is not carried to excess, it may be qualified by good sense. There is such a thing as making a thing too well and too enduring and there may be economic reasoning in the scrap heap. But when we remember that some British goods occasioned the invention of the word "Brummagem" to signify shams, cheapness and instability, it will take something more than what has occurred to make us believe that the whole difference 'between our own and British goods is found in the greater speed with which the former go ■to the junk dealer. One thing that stands in the way of develop¬ ment on the other side is the power and selfishness of the upper classes; and another, corporate pride and stupidity. The upper classes will not permit improvements that they imagine will dnconvenienee themselves, or the corporations those that invade their privileges. Where improvements are thus checked indus¬ try and inventiveness are stifled. Por instance, surface cars have heen rigorously kept out of the limits of the old city of London and the great arteries of travel that run through the fashionable sections of the city. It is a fact, absurd as it may seem, that the traveler on the southern lines of "trams" has to walk or take a stuffy omnibus over the bridges that land him within the walls. The northern and southern lines are sep¬ arated by miles and such is the power of custom that the poorer public, who are dependent upon the street cars, put up with such a state of things without a murmur. Persistent endeavors have been made to induce Parliament to grant franchises on streets where, for the benefit of the many, they are most needed, but in vain. Even Mr. Yerkes will find the merely physical part of his task comparatively easy to that of overcoming the civic and class prejudices that he must encounter before he haa completed it. When he is through he may talk of something besides the scrap heap. Recent Legislation and the Building Code. XTTHILE the last legislature did not set itself to revise the * ^ legal conditions surrounding construction in New York, that body incidentally did make some important changes ia them. That is to say, that the primary object of the new tenement-house law, although it modifies one form of construc¬ tion in the most extensive way, was to improve the conditions of the people living in the tenements. If a plan had been pro¬ posed which in their judgment would have achieved this with¬ out touching the building, it would doubtless have found as ■ ready approval as did the one that was adopted. In the same way the provisions of the Charter that abolish the Department of Buildings and substitute bureaus in the offices of the several borough presidents, were accepted more as improvements in the machinery of municipal government than as a beneflt conferred or an obligation placed upon the industry most affected thereby. But, whatever the motive underlying these changes they are so important and in so many cases create conflict with the huilding code established two years ago, that a revision of that document has become necessary to avoid confusion in the future. A new cede cannot undo anything done by the legislature, but it can conform itself to the acts of the latter, so that those who are not acquainted with the legal precedences involved may not he led astray by its language, which they are very likely to be if it is not revised before the new Charter takes effect on Jan, 1st, 1902, While the work of producing conformity betweea the code and the new legislation is being done, it would be well if the former was read at the same time for the purpose of changing its phraseology, to give effect to the original intent of the framers, which its language has not always succeeded in doing, as well as to remove some ambiguities that are now creating trouble ■between official interpreters and its dependents. An instance of the necessity of the first is found in the requirements for height and numher of stories of a mercantile building. Section 105 is so framed that such a building cannot be erected more than 150 feet in height, or more than 12 stories, unless it com¬ plies with conditions for flreproofing that ought only be required where the a^bsolute maximum of precaution against loss of life by fire should be insisted upon. Now the intention of the framers of the code was that the exception from these require¬ ments should 'be a 12-story iDuilding; in practice, however, it is found that a 12-story building cannot ibe obtained within a height of 150 feet on a lot of the width usually used for such structures now, and give the lower floors fair proportions; that is, a height proportioned to width. This has compelled the erection of 11-story buildings where the framers of the code in¬ tended that i2-story buildings should be allowed. For one in¬ stance of confiict in original intention and final interpreta¬ tion, we may take the area of lot that may be covered by a dwelling. The code for the flrst time placed a limit on this area, fixing it at 90 per cent,, but saying nothing aibout where the va¬ cancy should occur. The department has ruled that this shall be at the rear of the house, not an unreasonable ruling, because, at first sight it might easily appear that the intention of this clause was to keep an open air space through the blocks. But the framers of the Charter never expected this interpretation to be put upon their words. In not specifying where the opening was to occur, they followed the practice, justified by experience, of previous framers of building laws and ordinances, of leaving the problem of the treatment of the lot to the architect, so that he might occupy the 90 per cent, where, in his judgment, it was most advantageous. Another matter that requires attention is that of appeal. The Charter of 1897 created a Board of Buildings with appellate powers, and retained the Board of Examiners with its powers undiminished, except inferentially as they were reduced by those conferred upon the Board of Buildinga. The result has been that the inference has been exercised in favor of the latter until the Board of Examiners has come to have practically noth¬ ing to do. The new Charter confers on the borough presidents and superintendents of buildings the powers of the present Com-