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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 81, no. 2094: May 2, 1908

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May 2, 1908 RECORD AND GUIDK 799 ^^i trail. ESTABUSHED^ iJi^RpH 21*^* 1868. CttV&TED P ftEA.L Estate, BulLDIlfe ^FpdTECTURE .HOUSEIIOU) DE(jaRAT10lf, Bifsiffess Alt) Themes ofGEiteR^l IrftERfsi.. naCB PER VEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Viihlished Every Saturdag By THE RECOKD AND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W, DODGE Vice-Pres. & Genl, Mgr,, H. W. DESMOND Secretary, P. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 13 East 24tli Street, New York City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433,) "Entered at tlie Post Office at New York, . N. Y.. as second -class matter." Copyrighted. IGOS, by Tbe Reeord Sc Guide Co. Vol, LXXXL MAY 2, 190S, No. 2094. THERE is one rule which always seems to apply to really important movements in the stock market. They usually take place when the majority of professional -speculators least expect them. This is conspicuously the case with the recent advance in prices. It was not pre¬ dicted in the newspapers; and its possible occurrence was not suggested in the brokers' letters to their customers. Its arrival found the professional brethren with very few stocks on hand, and in the beginning, consequently, they fought the movement. But they were soon obliged to yield; and their lively efforts to get on board had much to do wi-th the rapidity of the advance. Undoubtedly the move¬ ment was engineered by a strong party of speculators, who had been waiting their oppportunity for some time; but this party was as limited in numbers as it was shrewd in judgment and powerful in resources. It remains none the less true that the speculative public were, in general, taken by surprise; and such, as we have said, usually seems to be the case. The speculative public acts under the influence of general business conditions. It feels bullish when busi¬ ness is active, and bearish when business is dull. But the course of prices in the stock market leads rather than fol¬ lows the waves of industrial activity and depression. Over a year ago the stock market was first to feel the effects of an excessive business activity and an overstrained credit system, and stocks fell sharply in price, even though, osten¬ sibly prosperity still prevailed. They fell, of course, pre¬ cisely at the time when the majority of speculators were loaded up with stocks; and they fell largely because of that fact. Recently they have been rising for the opposite reason. Bad as business is, the effects have been fully dis¬ counted in the prices of securities. Their owners had no further reasons to sell them; and anybody who had money to invest had many good reasons for buying them. Money could be invested more advantageously in good securities than it could be in business. Consequently the time came when prices began to advance on a comparatively small amount of buying; and as they advanced the rise was not checked by any large amount of profit-taking. The advance cannot go beyond a certain point without more signs of a business revival; but, on tbe whole, it is just as plain an indication that the business revival is coming as the break in stocks over a year ago was a prophecy of business re¬ cession. A PUBLIC HEARING is scheduled on Wednesday next, May 6, at 2 P, M., in the Aldermanic Chamber, which is of vital importance to thousands of people interested in real estate and building. On that date the sub-committee of the Building Code Revision Commission, having in charge tbe matter of the discretionary power of the Superintendent of Buildings in each borough, invites every one to come and air their views. Few people realize the importance of this provision, for as long as the charter remains as it is the regulations governing this discretion can make or mar New York's new building code. Even if the technical fea¬ tures of the new code are all that could be desired, without changes in the manner of using discretionary power, the way is left open for easy evasion, and the abuses of the past are likely to be continued in the future. The dis¬ cretionary power is conferred by the charter, in Section 410, and gives the Superintendent of Buildings, with the ap¬ proval of the President of the Borough, authority to modify any existing law or ordinance relating to the construction, alteration or removal of buildings "where there are prac¬ tical difficulties in carrying out the strict letter of the law, so that the spirit of the law shall be observed, and public safety secured and strict justice done." We do not under¬ stand that architects and builders, aa represented by their chapters and associations, object to the discretionary power, but they consider that the method provided for using it is clumsy. The decisions given by the Superintendents are supposed to be matters of .public record, but it is not al¬ ways possible for an applicant to find them. Therefore, at the coming hearing, it will be strongly urged that all the decisions of the superintendents having the effect of modifying the code should be published in the City Record within a week after, and may be cited as precedents in future cases. This was recommended in Section 2 of the code reported by last year's commission, and the architec¬ tural profession desires to see this section retained. It would insure to every citizen the fullest amount of in¬ formation as to previous rulings and interpretations, and secure equal justice for all. THE announcement that a new theatre is to be built in Thirty-ninth street, just west of Sixth avenue, comes as something of a surprise. Por over ten years all the new theatres have been situated in Forty-second street or north thereof; and it has been generally considered that the dis¬ trict south of Forty-second street was no longer available for an enterprise of this kind. Even before the Subway was opened for trafRc the streets south of Forty-second street had been abandoned as sites for theatres; and the Subway, whieh carries so many of the passengers to and from the places of amusement, has inevitably worked in favor of Times Square and the streets north of it. Tbe fact that the route of the Subway turned at Forty-second street made the streets to the south of Forty-second street less accessible than the streets immediately to the north, Jtist why the prevailing tendency in the favor of Times Square as the centre of the theatre district has been ignored in the present instance, we do not know; but certainly some very good reasons can be urged in favor of a revival of the district south of Forty- second street as a possible location for new theatres. There can be no doubt that the completion of the terminal improve¬ ments south of Thirty-fourth street will be of the greatest benefit to all places of amusement in their immediate vicinity. The trolley, the Pennsylvania and the Long Island tunnels will enable thousands of people, who now find It very difflcult to reach theatres in Manhattan to attend afternoon or evening performances in that borough. There should consequently be a large increase of business from these sources as soon as tbe new tunnels are in full operation; but this business will naturally attach itself to the neighborhood of the tunnel ter¬ minals. People who come in from New Jersey or Long Island to the theatre will still be separated from their homes by tolerably long journeys, and they will wish to avoid much of an additional journey in Manhattan. It may be expected consequently that the northward drift of the amusement cen¬ tre will during the next few years be checked, and that new theatres, restaurants and hotels will be started south of Forty-second street. THE completion of the new tunnels will in this respect introduce a wholly novel condition in the development of Manhattan real estate. Hitherto the drift of business has been steadily northward along the central ridge of the island; and this drift was, of course, due to the fact that the bulk of the popiilation was aiso finding their habitations ever far¬ ther north. It was the one direction in which the geographi¬ cal condition of Manhattan permitted free expansion. The most important lines of transit ran north and south and the lack of diagonal thoroughfares impeded the business growth of those streets to the east and w'est which were off the main stream of trafQc. The consequence was that the ever- expanding wholesale trade was constantly pushing the big retail stores and the theatres farther north. After the war. Union Square became the center of the amusement and the shopping district. By 1880 Madison Square had taken its place, and during the last twenty-five years, theatres, res¬ taurants and stores have pushed up well above Forty-second street. If transit conditions had remained the same there seems to be no reason why this process should not have been indefinitely continued, with the result eventually of making Columbus Circle the location of Manhattan's most important places of amusement; but hereafter transit conditions will no longer be the same. While the bulk of tbe traffic will still travel in a northerly or southerly direction, a stream of traffic scarcely less considerable in volume will set in to the