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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 74, no. 1894: July 2, 1904

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July 2, 1904. RECORD AND GUIDE •-Qy •» ESTABLISHED ^ (.\RRPH £1^ ItairiED 10 REA.L EsTWE. BtnLDifJc AfWifrTECTURE .bloijsnloui DEQCStATIori, Busiifess jub Theses OF GeiJei^I 1Hter.e31. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE SIX DOLLARS Tublisfied etlery Saturdaa Communications should be nddreaaed to C, W. SWEET, 14=16 Vesey Street, New York J. T. LINDSEY, Business Manaser Telephone. Cortlandt 3157 "Eniered at the Post 03oe at New York. If. Y.. as second-class matter.' Vol. LXXIV. JULY 2, 1904. , i&Vi IT looks as if the summer, in spite of the dullness which has settled down upon the market, will be even more fertile than the winter in the annonncement of large and interesting im¬ provements. During the week two new buildings of the first magnitude have been foreshadowed by the news. One is an apartment house on Central Park West on the block front just north of the Daliota, while the other is a monster hippodrome fof the old car-barn site on Sixth Avenue, between Forty-third • and Forty-fourth Streets. Both ot" these projects are well con¬ ceived. The block front on Central Park West is one of the choicest sites in the whole city for an apartment house of the first class. Several of the largest buildings of this kind are situated in the vicinity, and have proved to be very successful; and the availability of the neighborhood for large apartment houses will be very much increased by the express station of the subway at Seventy-second Street. Indeed, it may be confidently predicted that eventually the area within five or six blocks in every direction from the subway station will be occupied to a very considerable extent by apartment houses; that it will be¬ come the best distrlct-for this kind of buildinig in the city. It is significant that the present improvement is to be a house¬ keeping building instead of a residence hotel. A couple of years ago the other type would probably have been preferred; but the hcyise-keeping apartments have now resumed the precedence, which normally they ought to possess. As to the Hippodrome, that is a venturesome interprise; but the success of the Coney Island resorts leads one to suppose that similarly novel and varied entertainments ought to be a popular success in New York during the winter months. In calculating the chances in favor of an enterprise that depends on the popular favor of hundreds of thousands of people, it must be remembered that the improved communications which are under construction with the Bronx, Long Island and New Jersey will not only enable more people to live outside of Manhattan, but they will enable everybody who does live out of Manhattan to come in to that borough for their amusements and supplies much more than they do at present. The proposed site on Sixth Avenue, between Forty-third and Forty-fourth Streets, is probably the most available one of the kind left in the city. A location a few blocks near Herald Square would have been a little more con¬ venient; but it would be extremely dilRcuit and expensive to secure another piece of property in that vicinity which would be large enough for the purpose. As it is, the old car-stable site is in the very heart of the amusement section. It will be as con¬ venient as possible to all the people who use the elevated roads and the subway, present and past, and to all those who are or will be served by the Grand Central terminal. Furthermore, it will not be actually inconvenient to suburban families who are obliged to use the Pennsylvania and Long Island trains. It is distinctly encouraging to see large enterprises of this kind again being seriously considered. It is such projects which make Manhattan the playground not merely of the metropolitan dis¬ trict, but of the whole country—thereby adding in more ways to its prosperity. T^ HE case of Thirty-fourth Street is very different. From ^ Sixth Avenue to Fourth Avenue it was occupied by wealthy people, and its business development was hindered by the high price at which property was held, a.nd by the tenacity With which the residents of the street clung to their locations. After the erection of the Waldorf-Astoria and the Astor Court building, however, it became inevitable that the residences should yield to business buildings. For a long time, however, they yielded very slowly; and it is only during the past few years that rapid progress has been made. The great distinction of Thirty-fourth Street is that it derives its character from Fifth Avenue rather than Sixth Avenue, and in the case of Fifth Avenue, its property values have been steadily increasing, even during the comparative dullness of the past year. A number ot important retail firms of the better class have bought situations on the block; and it is also becoming a local business and finan¬ cial center. The North River Savings Bank, which has just bought, is the fifth bank to secure quarters near the Waldorf- Astoria, and there w-ll soon be a half a dozen good sized office buildings ofi the street. All these business enterprices depend upon a few v/ell-to-do customers, but there are also signs that the street will eventually assume a more popular and populated aspect. The store of R. H. Macy & Co. draws, of course, enor¬ mous crowds, and an important dry goods shop will be situated . at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-fourth Street. The proposed sub¬ way under the street will also make it much more accessible than it now is; and eventually, of course, the Pennsylvania terminal will influence the character of the whole street, and particularly of those blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues. In the easterly direction business will eventually spread as far over as the Fourth Avenue subway. The progress during the next few years will be quite as rapid as it has been recently, for several of the bigger business and building projects which are awaiting a favorable opportunity to come to a head, are con¬ cerned with Thirty-fourth Street prospects. On,the whole it is likely to be the most important and architecturally the most interesting crosstown street in the city. "^ HE members of the Rapid Transit Commission who refused'! ■*■ to consent to the abandonment of the Sixth Avenue route for the proposed subway connecting with the New Jersey trolley tunnel, should persist in their refusal. The Herald Square terminal is incomparably the better one; and Sixth Avenue could not be devoted to a better purpose than the one proposed. Sixth Avenue runs only from Ninth to Fifty-ninth Streets, and consequently is not as available for a subway as some of the other longitudinal avenues. It is true that Sixth Avenue should be cut through toward the south until it connects with Varick Street; but even if the avenue were extended, a Sixth Avenue subway could only run north of Fifty-ninth Street by means of tunnelling under the park. Neither Fifth Avenue nor Madison Avenue could be used for the purpose. Central Park West should be reserved for an Eighth Avenue subway, and with a four-track undergi-ound road on Eighth Avenue and on Broad¬ way, the West Side would have all the transit service it needs. It would be very bad economy to cut the trolley tunnel off from that useful connection .on the ground that perhaps fifty years from now eVen Sixth Avenue might have its uses for a through line. While it is possible that a couple of generations hence this would be true, there can be no doubt that during the first half, of the twentieth century the proposed Sixth Avenue connection would be enormously useful to a million or more people. It is not that we object to a terminal near Mr, Wanamaker's store— a subway across the city would make a useful feeder to the river tunnel. Why not build both? If. however, a selection has to be made, the Sixth Avenue route should be the one selected. "~r~ HE bricklayers would make a grave mistake in striking * for an advance in wages at the present juncture. It is not merely that the increase could not possibly be granted, but that a cessation of building under existing circumstances would take bread out of the mouths of everybody connected with the build¬ ing trades in New York City. There can be no doubt that the strike of last spring diminished by a good many million dollars the amount of money which is being put into new Manhattan buildings this summer. It has not stopped the speculative build¬ ing of tenements; but it did discourage the erection of large buildings, requiring the investment of considerable sums of money. And if that strike were followed by another shut-down this summer, the effect would be both to stop the current rapidly expanding building of tenements, and seriously to affect the ex¬ cellent prospects for a good building year in 1905. While the Record and Guide has every sympathy with the efforts of the mechanics to obtain better wages and shorter hours whenever conditions are favorable, it must be admitted that just nowi conditions are absolutely unfavorable. The gi'eat necessity is a decrease in the cost of construction, which is already so high seriously to hamper building operations. Many of the shrewdest and best informed architects and builders in New York believe that building operations will not revive until the labor cost lowered. In this opinion they are probably wrong. It looks if building would adjust itself to the prevailing labor cost/'S'tld even if this adjustment took some time, it would belietter to wait until the adjustment is made rather than to disturb the existing peace in the building trades. But while wages may not have to come down, they cannot be increased for the present. The margin of profit on building oporalions is already too small. Furthermore, if the briclc!a!yers were granted an increase of five cents an hour, th^-efuployers would have many more such demands on tbeii'"'hands next winter and spring. If the issue is raised, it must be fought out at once, and that decisively.