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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 77, no. 1979: February 17, 1906

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February 17, 1906 KECORD AND GUIDE 279 ESTABUSHED "^W^WpHfU-l^ 1868, DiVoteD p REA.L Estate ,BulLDI^'o ■AR.GKiTEeroi^E .HooseHoid DEeaEiATior(, Busif/Ess Af/oThemes ofGEffeRAl Wterest. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Published eilery ■Saturday Communications should ho addroBS'^d to C. W. SWEET, 14-16 Vesey Street. New York Tclophono, Cortluudl 3157 "Entered at the Post CW-ce al IN'ew YorJr., H. Y, as second-class mailer." Vol. LXXVIL FEBRUARY 17, 1906. No. 1979 INDEX TO DEPARTMENTS. Advertising Section. Page. Page, Cement......................xxiii Law.........................xi Clay Products.................xxii Lumber ...................xxviii Consulting Engineers.........vii Machinery .....................iv Contractors and Metal Work ..................xix Electrical Interests...........viii Quick Job Directory.........xxvii Fireproofing ..................iii Real Estate ..................xiii Granite .....................xxiv Roofers & Roofing Materials___x Heating .......................xx Stone ......................xxiv Iron and steel...............xviii Wood Products...............xxix HOW much interest are the architects, the builders, and the real estate men of this city taking in the proposed revision of the Building Code? Are we to have another case of post¬ mortem dissatisfaction? That is the usual course of affairs with us in all public matters. Measures are proposed, amendments are introduced, bills are passed and sanctioned, aud people will not give to their consideration one-twentieth part of the time they devote to the reading of yellow journal stories. Legisla¬ tion, however, affects their interests, and later on, when laws are in operation, the kickers begin to vociferate. Everybody is aroused to a belated opposition. Wisdom comes in after everyone has "quit and gone home." In the past, the building laws have received about as much cussing as any other law, but the grumbling has always been futile. It has always arisen after the event. If architects, builders and real estate men have anything to say about the Building Code, now is the time to get ready to say it. An adequate Building Code cannot be turned out in a day. The mau on the street corner is not com¬ petent to give voice to the proper demands of the community, and of the many industries that are involved. The matter shoulcf receive very careful consideration. Organization is needed, and a competent steering committee, or something of the kind. Silence and indifference wil! not produce results. Lamentations by and by will be equally inefflcient. THOSE who form their opinions frora the daily papers might fear that serious labor troubles again threaten the build¬ ing trades of this city. As a matter of fact, these fears are groundless. There may be troubles, of course. There is hardly ever a time in the huilding trades when some "little war" is not in progress, and these little wars undoubtedly are always beset with the danger that they may provoke a bigger conflict. No doubt, moreover, there is more pugnacity per individual in the building trades than irt almost any other industry, and in New York City there are, as we know, some unwholesome ele¬ ments in the relationship that exists between employers and the employees. On the other hand, in the building trades, Em¬ ployers and Unions are very well organized, and this develop¬ ment of organization, while it makes conflicts serious when they do arise, is at the same time an impediment to disturb¬ ances in regard to difficulties that are not fundamentally essen¬ tial. The strikes of recent years certainly closed for a time, it they did not actually settle, a great many differences that exist- as to essentials. The former belligerents may join issue on these same points by and by, but to-day the status quo pos¬ sesses too many elements of stability to leave room for any dis¬ sension that is really explosive. In other words, the situation is sufficiently well adjusted to be workable; there is nothing in sight likely to throw things out of gear. There is certainly enough in the situation to make peace very much more profit¬ able for both sides than war, and neither the Unions nor the Employers are likely to buy trouble unless it somehow promises a profit. The employers occupy a strong position, and the labor situation is sufficiently attractive for the Unions to leave it alone for a while, A serious strike undertaken hy the men to-day would justify the libelous story told"of a man who went to Washington Market to buy a.calf's head, which he desired to take home with him. When the butcher produced the head the purchaser inquired, "Is that a 'Union' head?" "No," re¬ plied the butcher, "but 1 can get one." He returned in a moment with the same calf's head, a fact which the customer detected immediately. "Certainly that's the same bead," said the butcher; "but I have taken the brains out." THE Elsberg Rapid Transit bill, after all, is not to get through without opposition. There are good reasons for this. At the time the Subway enterprise was undertaken, the prospect ahead was thickly sowed with problems, financial and otherwise. The experimental stage, however, is now completely left behind, and tiie construction of new lines or extensions of the present lines should properly be conducted much more rigidly in the interests of the community. There has arisen a difference of opinion as to the direction these interests now take. Hence the controversy over the Elsberg bill. The Elsberg bill is a measure of some antiquity. It was proposed when present conditions did not exist. It permitted the Rapid Transit Com¬ mission to separate construction-contracts from operation-con¬ tracts. In this way, it was thought power would be conferred upon the Rapid Transit Commission to compel satisfactory bids. Those who advocated the measure declared it was essentially a permissive bill, one urgently demanded by conditions then existing. This was well enough, but curiously to-day the Els¬ berg bill is advocated on the ground that it is "mandatory," and as a result, if passed, the Rapid Transit Commission would be compelled to completely separate contracts for construction - from contracts for operation. The purpose of the bill is even avowed to be to force the city to build and equip a new subway at its own expense. The purpose of this, undoubtedly, Is to bring about the municipal operation of new Rapid Transit routes. At any rate, that is likely to be the effect of the measure. Now, this may be a very desirable result. The operation of the present subway by private interests is in many respects unsatisfactory. One can easily imagine how a "ser¬ vice for profits." such as we have to-day, might, under munic¬ ipal ownership, be developed to the point that it would be a "service for public convenience." A great many people believe the latter is the kind of service the Subway should render the community. Situated as New York City is. Rapid Transit is essentially a public utility. Transportation, indeed, is even more of a public necessity than the supply of electric light, or of auy of those other services that it is at present proposed siiaJI be brought within the scope of municipal enterprise. From the very beginning, New York City bas sweated and fretted more under the private control of Rapid Transit than any other general service it receives at the hands of individual enterprise. The Subway to-day, while it affords great accom¬ modation to our people, is not much, if at all, more liberally managed than the Elevated roads. Dividends have been paid at the sacrifice of the "utmost public convenience," and it is just this utmost public convenience that is the main matter in¬ volved in transportation in this city. Of course, it is entirely questionable whether municipal ownership will do any more for us than private enterprise. No doubt it could, because the conditions under which it would work would be freer, but would it? A great many facts indicate that any hope in this direction might prove to be delusive. But, at any rate, the question of the future municipalization of our subways should be put be¬ fore the public with the utmost candor. The Elsberg bill is not candid. It does not assert its object—municipal ownership— with entire frankness. On the contrary, it introduces the prin-. ciple surreptitiously, and the matter is too important to be sneaked in by indirection. Salaries—Big and Little. THE question of the salaries paid to government and cor¬ porate of&cials has of late been exciting a great deal of public discussion. It began, of course, with the revelations as to the rate of payment which had been made to the chief officials of the insurance companies, and it was continued by the discussions iu Congress relative to the remuneration which the national government has been paying to a number of the most important employees engaged in the work of building the Panama Canal. But it cannot be said that the discussion has as yet had any very edifying result. Much of the condemnation bestowed upon the people who received and paid tbe high sal- ai'ies was unjust, and on the other hand many of the argu¬ ments by which the high salaries have been justified can only be described as disingenuous. It is, consequently, worth while considering what the real justification is for the payment of high salaries to important public and corporate officials, and how far the practice can be legitimately carried.