crown CU Home > Libraries Home
[x] Close window

Columbia University Libraries Digital Collections: The Real Estate Record

Use your browser's Print function to print these pages.

Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 82, no. 2125: December 5, 1908

Real Estate Record page image for page ldpd_7031148_042_00001095

Text version:

Please note: this text may be incomplete. For more information about this OCR, view About OCR text.
December 5, 1908 KECORD AND GUIDE 1057 E5TABUSHED'^i^H21V>I868, Dented to REA.L Estate . BuiLoiflo i\Rj>fiTEini;iiE .^ousEiioLD De«S(OT»I»> BlTsii/ess AttoThemes of Ccitoi^l IKtee^est. PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE EIGHT DOLLARS Communications should be addressed to C. W- SWEET Publisfied EVery Saturday By THE RECORD AND GtJIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, P. W. DODGB Vice-Pres. & Genl.. Mgr.. H- W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER Nos. 11 to 15 Elast 24tb Street, New York: City (Telepbone. Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered al Ihc Post Office at New York, N. Y.. as sccoml-class matter." Copyrighted. 1908, by The Record Sc Guide Co. Vcl. LXXXII. DECEMBER 5, 1908. No. 2125 THE OBJECTIONS to carrying the roadway of Forty-, second street under the roadway of Fifth avenue, which were brought out at the recent public hearing in respect to that project, seem to be insuperable. A change of this kind would cause a serious damage to property own¬ ers in Forty-second street as far east as Madison avenue and almost as far west as Sixth avenue, and it would pre¬ vent the construction of anything but a very deep subway under Fifth avenue. The advantages to be gained by the improvement are not sufficient to balance the losses, which both public and private interests would suffer. But the rejection of this attempt to solve the problem of trafRc con¬ gestion at the intersection of Fifth avenue and Forty-second street must not be cousidered as eciuivalent to the renuncia¬ tion of any attempt. The widening of Fifth avenue througb¬ out the whole of its business length wiil do something to relieve the congestion, on condition that it is accompanied by a similar widening of Forty-second street. Now that tbe old stoops are disappearing from Forty-second street, as they are from Fifth avenue, the sidewalks are unnecessarily ex- fended, and at least flve feet could be transferred to the roadway. Such an increase in the breadth of the two inter¬ secting streets would not, of course, do very much to relieve the congestion, but it would do something- The intersecting streams of trafflc would be spread out at their intersection instead of being elongated, and they could consequently pass each other more quickly. In addition, an exhaustive study should be made of the nature of the traffic with a view to ascertaining whether any part of it could he ruled off during the congested hours. Measures of this kind should be sufRcient to relieve the congestion for some years; but they will not, of course, permanently remove the difficulty. , The congestion has been very acute of late years, largely because of the increase of motor-vehicles; and the use of motor-vehicles is even now only in its early stages. Twenty or even ten years from now the number of such vehicles will have become so numerous that the traffic congestion of the New York streets, instead of being merely distressing as it now is, will become absolutely intolerable. Its ulti¬ mate solution, however, will depend upon a comprehensive re-arrangement of the street system of Manhattan, and the specific problem of the existing congestion -at the intersec¬ tion of Forty-second street and Fifth avenue will have to be treated merely as one illustration of a general problem- Its solution will depend, that is, not on a local tunnel, which would interfere with the planning of a comprehensive sub¬ way system, but upon the construction of new thoroughfares, which will relieve the congestion by diverting the trafflc. THE Bureau of Municipal Research made recently a strong argument in favor of the immediate increase in the hours of labor in the municipal offices from 4 p. m. to 5 p. m., and the Record and Guide fully agrees that such an increase should eventually be made effective. We believe that tbe city ought to be extremely liberal with its em¬ ployees, and that it should iu this respect set an example to private employers. But liberality should not be permitted to become laxity. Every able-bodied individual, whether engaged in clerical or manual work, should be able to work at least from 9 to 5, omitting, of course, a suitable interval for lunch. Such a durafion of labor" is not excessively fa¬ tiguing, neither does it deprive an employee of sufficient leisure for other useful occupations and desirable amuse¬ ments. On the other hand, a working day which terminates at four o'clock unquestionably encourages an amount of out¬ side occupation, which diverts the mind of the employee during his working-day. There is no good reason, conse¬ quently, why the existing hour for closing the municipal offlces should be retained, but there are good reasons why the addition of an hour to the day should not be made in an -solated manner. Unless it were brought about as the part of a general reorganization of the conditions of municipal employment it might do more harm than good. There would be no use in compelling employees to remain in their offlce an hour longer unless some assurance were obtained that the hour would be well spent, and, in case the change were made suddenly and apart from a general reorganization, we doubt whether the extra hour would be worth to the city its increased expenditure for illumination. An employee nat¬ urally resents any change for the worse in tbe conditions of his work-—even though such a change is in itself perfectly reasonable; and the municipal employees, in case tbey were compelled to remain another hour, would take their revenge by making that hour, and in all probability certain other hours, as valueless as possible to their employers. Of course, in case any effective exercise of authority or any thorough system of discipline existed in the city offices, no such shirk¬ ing would be permitted, but as a matter of fact, effective discipline and authority does not now exist—subordinate offlcials, unless guilty of flagrant misconduct, are protected from their superiors by the Civil Service Law and frequently by political influence. The conditions of their employment encourages them to perform merely a dead level of routine w'ork—on which there is no incentive to improve and which could drop to a lower level more easily than it could rise to a higher. . An increase in tbe hours of labor, desirable as it is, should, consequently, be postponed until the time eomes for some efficient reorganization of the system of municipal employment. The existing system works contrary to the interest of the city without really benefltting its employees. It provides no motive for really energetic and competent work, because such work is not rewarded save in exceptional cases. On the other hand, it equally fails to provide any sufflcient penalties for the merely perfunctory fulflllment of routine duties. As soon as a system is substituted that can both regard good service and penalize poor service, a lengthening of the hours of labor to flve o'clock should assuredly constitute a part of the new system. IN a recent letter to the "New York Times," Mr. John Martin has contributed certain facts to the discussion over municipal expenditures that deserve to be considered. He points out, for instance, that from 1S99 to 1908 the total amount included in the municipal Budgetsas collected from taxation amounted to $793,729,249, while during the same period the increase in the ground value of New York amounted to ?1,,582,422,754. Thus the taxpayers contrib¬ uted to the city's expenditure only about half the sum which accrued to them because of the growth in population and business, aud the completion of public improvements. The Record and Guide has no doubt that the foregoing calcula¬ tions, although obviously open to certain objections in detail, is essentially correct. The period under consideration was one of almost constant and somewhat exceptional prosperity in New York real estate, during which the average taxpayer has found the value of his property increased much more rap¬ idly than the public burdens placed upon it. But in esti¬ mating the bearing of this fact, two supplementary consid¬ erations must be kept in mind. In the first place, at the time of consolidation the taxpayers of at least Manhattan submitted to an increase of taxation, which for the time be¬ ing meant a total loss to them, and which was accompanied by poor renting conditions and worse than stationary values- The increase in rents and values which began in 1901 was in part, at least, merely compensation for previous losses. In the second place, while taxpayers have paid out in taxes only a fraction of what they have received as increased rentals, the bill for the public improvements of the past few years is very far from being paid. Obligations have been contracted, which will necessarily result in a rapidly increas¬ ing burden of interest on the city debt; and the very increase of the city in population has created the need for a con¬ stant increase in the amount of expenditure, both for ordin¬ ary services and improvements. It is the future which is threatening and the reason why the increased tax-bills of the current year have created so much apprehension is the menace that they represeat not an isolated fact, but a gath¬ ering tendency,