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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 82, no. 2116: October 3, 1908

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October 3, 1908 KECORD AND GUIDE ^>35 ^^^: ESTABUSHED-^ (WBPH 21!^ 186 8. DEvd-iED p FtE*.L Estate,BuiLDif/o A,R!:rirrEcnjRE,Kca;sEtfoiDDEeQfift.Tiffl*, BUsn^ESS AifoThemes or GEifeRAllr/TEE^EST, PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Pubtished Every Saturday By THE RECORD ^VND GUIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F, W. DODGE Vice-Pres. fi Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary. F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to IS East 24lh Street, New York City (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) •■Entered al tlic Post Office at New Tork, N. Y., as scoml-class matter." Copyrighted, 1908, by The Record & Guide Co. Vol. LXXXII. OCTOBER 3. lOOS. No. 211G UP to date the influence of the political campaign on husiness has not been to any considerable e.xtent harmful. Throughout the whole of the summer there has been taking place a slow hut steady process of improve¬ ment; and it cannot be said that this process has been either aided or injured by the coming election. The improvement is precisely what might have heen anticipated in advance, aud it is precisely what an intelligent friend of the indus¬ trial welfare of the country would have advised. If it had been any slower it would have meant an underlying condition of business disease, similar to that whicii made the recovery from the panic of 1893 such a long and dis¬ couraging process. If it had been any quicker it would have been artificial, and would have been succeeded by another re¬ action. But as a matter of fact American business has been recovering from the panic of last fall, just as a strong man ought to recover from an acute illness—an illness which was, to be sure, partly caused by a period of very high living, and the recovery means a restoration of real strength, affected by a period of painful but necessary economy of expenditure. The course of events hitherto would, we believe, have been very much the same even if there had been no Presidential election impending. Such, however, will not be the case during the month of October. At the present time a dis¬ position undouhtedly exists to go slow until after the elec¬ tion is over. On every side one liears reports which indi¬ cate a tendency of this kind; and on every side, also, an expectation seems to exist that after the election the re¬ covery will he much more rapid. It is probable that this expectation will prove to be well founded, hut if it is well founded it is equally apparent that a prudent business man will take advantage of the lull during the coming month, and make his own contracts before the recovery actually takes place. "When once the process of business expansion becomes rapid instead of slow, prices of material and nec¬ essary services will increase ciuickly aud a man who wishes to purchase supplies of any kind wil! have to face a much livelier competition than that which exists at present. This is particularly true of the building trades. Just now any man whose credit is good can have a building erected on extraordinarily good terms: but as soon as the business prospects brightens—contractors will naturally insist upon a remuneration for their work, which will bring them more proflt. The business men who will make money during the coming year are those wbo are not afraid to anticipate the recovery, not those who wait for it. INDICATIONS of a renewal of interest in business prop¬ erty on Fifth avenue are putting in an appearance; and they constitute one of the most encouraging symptoms of a recovery at once in general business and of real estate ac¬ tivity. A few weeks ago one more prominent retail firm, now situated on 2 3d street, secured an expensive site in the best part of Fifth avenue; and it was reported during the past week that a valuable corner further south was under negotiation for a similar purpose. It looks, consequently, as if the interrupted process of the retail development of Fifth avenue would soon he resumed. There are many wealthy firms still situated south of 2 3d street who will be forced to secure locations further north; and if they are postponing the day, in the hope that they may eventually obtain good sites cheaper, they are cherishing a very costly illusion. Prices on Fifth avenue may go higher, but they will not go any lower. Any business man, to whom a good situation on the aveuue is a matter of the flrst importance, would do well to take his medicine without any further delay. It may be possible that a retailer, appealing to a well-to-do class of customers, will be able to do a good husi¬ ness south of 23d street for many years to come; but in the end he will, frora a number of different causes, be placed at a decided disadvantage. Every year a large proportion of his customers will be housed further north, and will not like the idea of such a long journey, even to a favorite shop. Then the district south of 23d street will become more and more a neigliborhood devoted to tbe wholesale trade. It will cease to have the air of attractive animation charac¬ teristic of a retail section, and its streets will be more and more obstructed by trucks. The whole tendency of busi¬ ness change in New York City is to confine the shopping and amusement section to an area between 30th-and, per¬ haps, 59th streets. Of course the big retail shops on lower Sixth avenue are not in this district, and there is no ex¬ isting reason for their removal; but they appeal to a cheaper class of trade. The only chance for the retailer whose customers are well-to-do people, and who does not now own a site on or near Fifth avenue, north of 26th street—his only chance of obtaining a satisfactory location at a cheaper price will be in the possible availability of another avenue for a similar class of trade. The demand for good locations north of 2 3d street may become so great, and prices on Fifth avenue may go so high, that Madisou and Fourth avenues, south of 34th street, will be occupied for similar purposes. So far, however, a location on Fifth avenue or on 34th street appears to be indispensable for a business of a certain class. A PROMINENT real'estate broker has recently made the prediction that the business part of Fifth avenue, would extend as far north of 59th street, but no further; and this prediction is certainly sustained by the develop¬ ment of the past few years. Business is pushing north from 4 6th street, and has actually reached the most sacred part of the avenue. A tall fireproof business structure is being erected opposite the old Vanderbilt mansion. Business is also pushing south from ;)9th street, and there will soon remain only a very few blocks between .5 0 th and -5 Tth streets without some evidence of the business invasion. This fact is all the more singular, because only a few years ago expensive private houses were being erected between 57th and 49th streets, obviously in the expectation that this part of the aveuue was- safe from the business contamination. Both the Delancey Kane house at 49th street, and the house of W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., a few blocks further north, have been completed only a couple of years; and yet already it is |)robable that their owners would, if they still had any choice, build on different locations. The Imperative needs of business extension will demand the appropriation for busiuess purposes of the whole district south of the Park, But while this process of biisiness appropriation is inevit¬ able, it will probably proceed at a very slow pace ou this part of the avenue. The rich men whose houses are situ¬ ated thereabouts will not give up their residences without a long and stubborn resistance. It may well be fifteen or twenty years before any of them are dislodged. Business has not as yet crept into the side streets north of 4 6th street, and it will not make rapid progress iu this surround¬ ing territory, because the neighboring avenues, such as Madison and Sixth, are not in this vicinity of much business importance. Eventually the huge sites occupied by the Vanderbilt mansions will be of great value to big retailers; ■ but at present they are worth more to their owners than they would be worth to any business man; and they may continue to be worth more to their present owners for an¬ other twenty-five years. ONLY a few weeks ago one of the Public Service Com¬ missioners returned from Europe .and declared, as the result of his investigations, that New York needed a freight subway quite as much as more passenger subways. The need was no sooner emphatically proclaimed than some¬ body appears who seeks to satisfy it. Mr. W. J. Wilgus, formerly vice-president of the New York Central, has pro¬ posed a plan for a four-track suhway. which appears to be well designed for the purpose. The object of this subway is to arrange for a more economical and quicker way of shipping freight out of Manhattan and-rush-it than the one