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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 81, no. 2095: May 9, 1908

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May 9, 1908 RECORD AJVD GUIDE 855 Mil. tf PUT* mea. ESTABIJSHE)^tfJiPpHeiyNl868, Bt/sn/ESSAife Theses of'GEifcR^l liftE«.Esi,; PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communieations should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Pabtlsfied Everp Satardag By THB RECORD AND GTJTDE CO, President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, P. W. DODGE Vic»-Pres. £ Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 fo 15 Eaat 24tli Street, Neiv York Cily (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the P< ■jst Offiee at Neio yorJt ;. N. Y.. as second-class matter." Copyrighted, 1908, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXl. MAY 9, 190S. No. 2095 THE Mason Builders' Association of this city is op¬ posed to the idea of having a body of men to be called "registered constructors" in possession of the exclusive privi¬ lege of submitting plans and speciflcations and superintend¬ ing the construction of buildings and alterations in New York. A provision which would bring such a privileged class into existence was incorporated into the building code, which last year's commission recommended, and the architectural pro¬ fession is represented as being in favor of retaining this provision. It would be the exclusive right of a registered constructor to certify upon the completion of a building tbat the work had been carried on in accordance with the plana and speciflcations flled, and until such a certiflcate of proper performance was received the Building Bureau would not have the power to issue a permit for the occupancy of the building. In order to obtain registry as a competent con¬ structor an applicant would appear before a board of ex¬ aminers and give evidence of his capacity, and it is very probable that some of those who have been carrying on busi¬ ness as general contractors and bu'ilders would fail to pass the examination. This of itself might not be a matter ot much regret, but the power which the successful ones would hold in their hands is contemplated with apprehension. Should a registered architect decline to issue a construction certilicate upon the completion of a work, for any cause, the owner and builder would be placed in a serious position. Un¬ questionably the intention of the commission of last year was to ensure a proper enforcement of the building laws, but the builders are apprehensive that in actual practice, under a law of that sort, far greater evils would germinate. A recom¬ mendation which they regard more favorably is that the superintendent, in the exercise of his discretionary power, shall make a puhlic record of his decisions and that it shall be allowable to cite these as precedents in subsequent cases. Between this new safeguard and the right to appeal to the present Board of Examiners there would seem to be no pos¬ sible way for an injustice to be permitted or a mistake to happen. THE latest announcement is that the block between Sixth and Seventh avenues, Thirty-flrst and Thirty-second streets, will be improved by a department store rather than a hotel. If this announcement proves to be correct, the store will be of more beneflt to tlte neighborhood than a hotel would have heen. A huge department store attracts more people into its vicinity than does any other class of business enterprise. It makes other property in the same neighborhood more than ever available for general business purposes; and its effect will be to increase the value of good business sites both on Sixth and Seventh avenues. Moreover, we imagine that a department store on this block will be a more profltable enterprise than a hotel would have been. The Pennsylvania Railroad terminal will, of course, deposit thousands of passengers from all over the country at Seventh avenue and Thirty-second street, but for every one long-distance traveler who uses the terminal there will be ten or twenty suburban residents of Long Island aud New Jersey. A department store would be much more useful to the suburban passenger than would a hotel, and it is his need^ which are likely to be coQSU'Ited. The whole future of this neighborhood will be determined to a consid¬ erable extent by the wants of the prosperous inhabitants of New Jersey and Long Island, In this coQDection it is inter¬ esting to note that a recent prophecy of the Record and Guide is already by way of being fulfllled. The prediction was made that the first signs of a revived speculative interest in real estate would be exhibited in the so-called Pennsylvania district, and such has in a measure already proved to be the case, A certain buying movement on Sixth avenue, between Twenty-third and Thirty-flrst streets, has already put in an appearance, and tbe neighboring side streets are also being affected by a similar agitation. There can be little doubt that this district wilt offer the best opportunity for profitable purchases during the next few years. NOW that the Legislature has granted to the Pu'blic Ser¬ vice Commission the power of engaging the assistance of private capitalists in the important work of subway con¬ struction, it is to be hoped that no time will be lost in planning to take advantage of this power. The commission is under no necessity of proceeding with the same caution that it was obliged to use when its action was restricted by the possible borrowing power of the city. It can plan a fairly comprehensive system of Manhattan subways—to¬ gether with certain Bronx connections; and in making such a plan it will be restricted only by the consideration that the attempt to construct too many subways all at once will alienate rather than attract private capital. The number of subways which can be built is limited because only a lim¬ ited number possess a good chance of being immediately profltable. But this limit will leave room for the immediate building of several tunnels—provided the routes of these tunnels are laid out to supplement rather than to compete one with another. This last proviso is, however, extremely important. New subways which compete sharply either with ejcisting subways or witli each other have a much smaller chance of being profitable than subways which do not so compete; and in case the Public Service Commission wishes to arrange for the largest possible increase in the means of rapid transit, it should avoid in the routes selected the danger of competition. It should lay out a system of new subways, which supplement one another in creating new traffic rather than interfere with one another or with existing subways merely by redistributing traffic whieh already exists. The first condition, conseciuently, of laying out a tolerably complete system of new subways is thff abandonment of the Broadway-Lexington avenue route upon which the commis¬ sion is already working. The laying out of this route may have been justified when it was a question of building only one longitudinal subway, but it is wholly unjustifiable now that the opportunity is presented of planning a more com¬ prehensive system. The proposed Broadway-Lexington ave¬ uue route interferes absolutely with the construetion of an economical and comprehensive subway system. To build it as it is laid out would be to waste many million dollars in useless competition, and in this way to diminish by just so much the value to the public of the money.invested in addi¬ tional means of transit. THB Broadway-Lexington avenue route would in that portion north of Forty-second street, meet the most critical current need for the construction of a new subway. The upper East Side undoubtedly has a better title to a new subway than has any other portion of the city, and any arrangements that are made should provide for the construc¬ tion of such a tunnel with the least possible delay. But the obviously economical manner of laying out an Upper East Side subway is to connect it with the existing subway at Forty-second street. To provide an independent route to the Battery for an Upper East Side tunnel means that south of Forty-second street the city will have two subways within a block one of another, and none at all in the many blocks farther to the east and the west. Competition is provoked under conditions which make it useless, because the rates of fare and the train schedules are fixed in advance. It strains the resources of the two competing corporations without benefiting the public, and it diminishes by just so much the efficiency of the rapid transit system of Manhattan, It all comes to the following conclusion: that the Public Service Commission cannot do better than to return to the system of new subways laid out by the old Rapid Transit Commis¬ sion, That system provided admirably for every possible contingency. It provided for an upper East Side and a lower West Side subway; and it provided for them under condi¬ tions which secured every public interest and anticipated every reasonable capitalist demand. If the Interborough Company could afford to offer more advantageous terms for these two extensions, that company could secure the right