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Real estate record and builders' guide: v. 85, no. 2206: June 25, 1910

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June 25, 1910 RECOUD AND GtJIDE KTABUSHa)-^ttARf.H2lii>1868. BlfSnfeSS AftoTHEHlES Of GEfiER^L iKioifsi.^ PRICE PER YEAR IN ADVANCE BIGHT DOLLARS CommuQlcations should be addressed to C. W. SWEET Pabtished Everg Saturdag By THE RECORD AND GTIIDE CO. President, CLINTON W. SWEET Treasurer, F. W. DODGBJ Vice-Pres, & Genl. Mgr., H. W. DESMOND Secretary, F. T. MILLER . KoH. IX to 15 East 24th Street, New York Citr (Telephone, Madison Square, 4430 to 4433.) "Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y., as srcoiid-closs matter." Copyrighted. 1010. by The Record Sc Guide Co. Vol. LXXXV. JUNE 25, 1910. No. 2201} SINCE March last there has been witnessed a remarkable reversal of form in the general business situation. At that time commodity prices exceeded on the average the previous highest level that had been reached in the Spring of 1907. The range of industrial and railroad securi¬ ties was also exceptionally high. Our imports were larger thae they had ever been before in the history of the country. The export trade was hampered by the high range of com¬ modity prices, and for the first time in about fourteen years the balance of trade was running heavily against the United States. The sale of securities to foreign bankers was doing something to counteract the resulting tendency to export gold, but that metal was nevertheless going out of the country in large quantities. The domestic demand tor capital was being much increased by the necessity of flnancing specula¬ tive increases in the price of western agricultural land. In every respect the situation looked dangerous and threaten¬ ing, because the business of the country was being con¬ ducted on the expectation of a prolonged period of great prosperity, whereas it was only too obvious that the condi¬ tions which had warranted such prosperous years as 1901 and 1906 were to a considerable extent lacking. It looked as if the only result could be a severe setback and possibly some years of acute depression. Since March, however, many of the unwholesome aspects of this general situation have been gradually mitigated. Commodity prices have steadily fallen, and have of late reached a level that has stimulated a better export demand. The einormous pressure of importation has been relieved and the United States is again beginning to enjoy that excess of exports over imports, which its flnancial responsibilities in the foreign markets require. The prices of securities have declined until they have reached a level which may again tempt investment buying. The 1"eal estate speculation io the West has been checked. All these results have been brought ahout without any panic or any severe business depression. There has simply been a general slowing-down all along the line. The business community came to realize quickly that its expectation of a continued expansion of business was false and dangerous, and that preparation must be made against a year or two of busi¬ ness contraction at least in certain lines. The average American business man is certainly to be congratulated on the good judgment and the self-control which he has shown in the face of what might have become a serious crisis. THE future of busiuess during the coming year depends upon the way, in which a certain number of contin¬ gent conditions develop. The most important of these is of course the amount of the crops and the price at wbich they are sold. Any marked failure of the wheat, corn or cotton crop, particularly if it were accompanied by good crops abroad, might convert a year of moderate into a year of bad business. On the other hand, great abundance both here and abroad and correspondingly low prices, while it would relieve consumers, in the East, would deal a severe blow to business throughout the West. What is needed is an average crop, sold at average rates, so that business will not be dislocated by either a renewal of high commodity prices, or by a material reduction of the income of the agricultural pro¬ ducing district. It looks as if somethiog of this kind might well happen. In any event, a conservative business policy is imposed upon tbe whole community during the coming year. Any considerable speculation, either in stocks or in real estate, would mean the diversion of capital from the uses to which the national economic interest demands that it shall be put. The fundamental problem of American business, not mainly during the next few years, but during the next few decades, will be to finance a period of eco¬ nomic readjustment; and-for this purpose a constant supply of additional money saved out of the earnings of all classes in the community, will be necessary. This economic readjust¬ ment is necessitated by the fact that the supply of best arable land, contained in the public domain, has been practically exhausted, and that the country will have to depend for the increase in its agricultural product not upon new land, but oiu the more efficient use of land already under cultivation. More capital and labor will have to be applied to the existing farms of the country, and this capital and labor, in case it is to be profltably employed, will have to be used with more knowledge and intelligence. A similar requirement will have to be faced in the industrial world. What the country will need will not be so much new railroads as double tracks, more equipment and larger terminals, for railroads already in existemce; and improvements of this kind will be hampered both by their comparatively heavy cost and by an increasing severity of public regulation. In the same way the need will not be for new factories so much as the increase of efficiency in the established manufacturing plants—a greater efficiency that will be imposed by higher raw materials, higher labor cost, aud, if not, by a lower protective tariff, at least a constant agitation for tariff revision. The peculiar conditions that startled and alarmed the business world last spring were merely a preliminary symptom of the impending period of economic readjustment—a period that will demand an increase of thrift, self control, efficiency and patriotism on the part of the whole business fabric. A CORRESPONDENT of the New York Sun suggests that the city has an excellent opportunity of relieving some of the congestion in Greeley Square. The owners of tbe block front on the east side of Broadway from 33rd to 34th street have announced their intention of improving it with a twenty-story hotel. Before this building is erected the city should run the curb and building lines parallel to Sixth avenue and so obtain some relief from the pressure of traffic at the smallest part of the funnel. After the hotel is erected the cost of such a change would be prohibitive. The suggestion is a good one, but there is not the slightest dan¬ ger of its being carried out. Our American machinery for condemning land for puhlic purposes works so slowly that it cannot possibly be used in am emergency. Then, no city official has ever shown the least conception of the intolerable congestion of traffic which is sure to occur within a few years in this locality. The opening of the Pennsylvania Terminal will easily double the numher of vehicles using the streets in the neighborhood, and their number will be further increased by the expansion of local business which will result from the opening of the Terminal. A flrst-class hotel, for instance, such as the one to be built on the McAlpin property, will bring hundreds of vehicles into the square in one day. Some years ago, when the building of the Pennsylvania Terminal was flrst announced, it would have been possible to have condemned enough real estate oai the square to have changed its plan and facilitated the movement of trafflc, and the Record and Guide pointed .out this fact at the time. Now, any such improvement has become totally impossible. Every block front stretching out from the corners of 34th street either has been or soon will be improved with a modern building. The same fate has overtaken the frontage on the west side of the Square between 32nd and 33rd street, west, A similar trans¬ formation. sooin awaits the west frontage on Broadway be¬ tween 35th and 3Gth streets. The former site of the Union Dime Savings Bank has increased in value so much that with or without a new building the city cannot afford to buy it. The authorities will be absolutely helpless to relieve the congestion, when it becomes intolerable, except . by means of subway or bridges, and undoubtedly the husiness avail¬ ability of the Square will be hurt by this fact, A manifest public need cannot be ignored without causing loss to asso¬ ciated private interests. Business will be driven away from the Square and the region immediately to the west will prob¬ ably reap the benefit.