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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 81, no. 2096: May 16, 1908

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May i6, 1908. RECORD AND GUIDE 907 large chance of profit iu purchasing the existing system at a fair appraisal, we may trust tiie city government oE that future period to take advantage of the opportunity. ESTABUSHED-^ HWPH 21^^ 186 8, DeV&TED 10 REA.L ESTAJE.BUlLDIlfc A^ITECTURE .KoUSOJOlll DEGCD^TlOrl. Bt/sii/ESS Aifo Themes bf'GEiteR^l Irrtof sj.; fRlCE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS I Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Pabtished Eoery Satardag By THE KECORD AND GUTDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGE Vlce-Pres. Sc Genl. Mgr., H, W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T- MILLER Nos. 11 to IB Eaat 24th Street, New York City (Telepbone, Madison Square, 4430 lo 44.33.) Tt-.----------1 ■ " —-----.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1 — I , — ., - _------- .1 -I ,--------,_________ ''Entered at the Post Office at li'cv> York, N. Y., as seconil-class malte)-.-- p^-----------------------------------------------------------•----------.----------,—^.^—,-----------------------------------------------------------__ Copyrigbted, 1908, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXI- MAT 16, 190S. No. 2096 T is improbable that the rise in prices in Wall Street can be carried much further under existing business con- ditious. To be sure the success of the movement has been due in the flrst place to the much easier condition of the money market, and iu tlie second place to the anticipation of better business to come- These reasons are probably sufflcient to justify as rauch of a rise as that which has already taken place, but they would hardly justify any pro¬ longed continuation of the movement. Before still further gains are made, they wil! have to be justified by some cer¬ tain evidence that business is really on the upward grade; and no such evidence is as yet forthcoming, Tbe railroads have been managing, by heroic measures, to cut down their expenditures; but their economies have been effected rather in the maintenance account than in that of operating ex¬ penses. They are still faced by a most difficult alternative. They cannot re-establish any proper equilibrium between income and outgo without either reducing wages or raising rates. Of the two alternates, the raising of rates is un¬ doubtedly the one to be preferred, because the railroads are entitled to rates adapted to the generally liigher level of prices, and because if wages are not lowered the revival of business will be a much easier and quicker process. On the other hand, it Is by no means certain that the rail¬ roads can put an increase of rates into effect without in¬ curring a revival of legislative and administrative inter¬ ference. This, of course, is only one of the problems which faces the big business enterprises of the country; but there are many others. The revival, in order to be wholesome, must be gradual, and must be justified by much preliminary work of reorganization. The country cannot be "boomed" into renewed prosperity. THERE is much to be said in favor of Mr. Wiliam M. Ivins' criticisms of the Robinson amendments to the Rapid Transit Act, but their whole weight disappears when confronted by one supreme consideration- It is only by such an amendment that New York can begin the construc¬ tion of new subways at any time within three years. The city has no money to appropriate for rapid transit con¬ struction until a constitutional amendment can be passed; and such relief is both remote and precarious- Under these circumstances, and considering the critical need for the early beginning of subway construction in Manhattan and the Bronx, there was nothing' to be done but to seek the help of private capital and offer to it a profit sufficient to tempt Its owners. The city has inore to lose by delaying indefinitely construction of new subways than It has to lose by paying capitalists the price of their assistance. The Robinson amendments will accomplish this object without prejudicing tho future in any respect. If the city wishes eventually to return to a policy of municipal ownership there will be nothing to hinder it from so doing, and the weakness of Mr. Ivins' argument consists in the fact that he gratuitously assumes the permanence of the present policy. There is no reason to suppose, that the city, as he claims, would be likely to hold its credit for new improvements rather than use it up in purchasing existing subways. Such would only be the tendency, in case the city's debt limit for transit improvements is restricted; but long before the decision has to be made the city will be free to borrow as nincU as it pleases for profitable subways, If i^ere is a THE elaborate experiment wbich will soon be made in ' Cleveland of a three-cent fare on the surface rail¬ roads will be watched with interest throughout the whole country- If, as is expected, the receipts on the basis of such a fare will be sufiicient to pay six per cent, on the stock of most important of tbe old companies, the cause of cheap railway fares will be furnished with the strongest a,rgument that has yet been found in its favor; and there seems to be good reason for believing that it will be suc¬ cessful. There can be no doubt, at any rate, tbat European street railways bave been able to make substantial profits on the basis of an average fare decidedly less than five cents. It is usual in Europe to graduate the charges to the length of distance traveled, so that the passenger who goes only a few miles will pay less than five cents, whereas the long-distance traveler may pay more. The American system of charging a universal rate of five cents has been defended on the ground that it encourages the expansion of a city by stimulating the habitation of the outlying dis¬ tricts. The company gets back frora the travelers for a short distance the money which is spent upon the long¬ distance travelers, and the real estate and business interests of the whole city are stimulated by the low fare to and from the outlying districts. There is much to be said for this system of street railway fares. A flat postage-stamp rate is much better for the growth of the whole city than is the graduated system which prevails abroad. On the other band, there is reason to believe that the flat rate of five cents charged by the American surface railroads is too high. It is much higher than the average charge on the street railways of Europe; and there seems to be good reason why it should be. The fact that wages are higher in this country has not prevented the steam railroads from carrying freight cheaper than do the steam railways of Europe. The recent bankruptcy of the New York City Railway Company has been used as a proof that an ex¬ cessive development of the transfer system and consequently a lower average fare is necessarily disastrous to a street railway company; but such an inference is wholly unneces¬ sary. The street railways of New York have failed chiefly because they were so congested witb'traffic that they could neither increase their business nor handle it economically. If a subway company can afford from a flve-cent fare to pay interest on a roadbed which costs several million dol¬ lars a mile, surely a surface railroad company, whose flxed charges are so much smaller, can afford to make a good proflt with a lower fare. It may be added that the subway in Paris earns good dividends on a flat rate of three cents for more than five-sixths of its passengers. THE chances that Governor Hughes will be a candidate for renomination are getting better and better. In¬ deed, it is being stated from apparently authoritative sources that iu case he fails to pass his anti-gambling bill at the special session of the Legislature, the Governor will appeal to his constituents for another term- Mr. Hugbes is needed at Albany far more than he is at Washington. He has really done nothing to deserve his immediate promotion to the Presidency—nothing, tbat is, compared to what his chief competitor, Mr. Taft, has done. On the other hand, he has done much not merely to deserve but to require his coutinued presence in the Executive Mansion at Albany. He has had placed on the statute books the most radical piece of legislation for the supervision of public service cor¬ porations enacted in any State in the Union; and he should remain at Albany until that legislation has passed well be¬ yond the experimental stage. It may be added that another term at Albany for Mr, Hughes will be very benefleial to the interests of New York City. He has shown a better understanding of the needs of New York and more of a dis¬ position to meet them than any Governor since Roosevelt. It is particularly important that lie should be in a position, of aulhority when the work of tbe Charter Revision Com¬ mission comes belore the Legislature at its next session. There is, we are afraid, small chance of the passage of tha proposed new charter, unless it is baclvcd by the approval and the authority of a very influential Governor. Th« more New York City has of Mr. Hughes at Albany the better.