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■^mftSi^ m^^ MARCH 16, 1012 MUNICIPAL IMPROVEMENTS IN THE BRONX. A City ol the Rank of Galveston is Built Each Year in the Borough^ Varied Activities Induced by an Annual Growth of 35,000 in Population. THE pointiation" of the Bronx is grow¬ ing at the rate of about i!.j,000 a year. Each year a new city of the rank of Galveston, Texas, is buUt within the borough. The building of a city of this size involves many activities besides the construction of houses. Streets have to be extended into undeveloped areas; sewer, gas and water mains have to be laid; transit lines have to be constructed; schools and police sta-tions have to be erected, and a multitude of necessities and conveniences embraced under the general t-erni of real e£.tate improvements ' have ■to be supplied by public and private investments of capital. The annual aggregate of such invest¬ ments in the Bronx is t-Ruce as large as suits. If it is possible anywhere to pros¬ per by "gTOW-ing up ■\vith the .town," it is possible in the Bronx. In a boom town the merchant and the pliysieian, as well as the landowner, enjoy unearned incre¬ ments. The Bronx embraces some forty square miles. One ■^\-ho wishes to profit by its growth must make a study of its physical development. Let us assume that a third of the borough is already built up. The bulk of the increase of population next year or in the next ten years wiill be in the remaining two-thirds, but it will be concentrated in relatively small neighbor¬ hoods. To profit hy the growth of the borough, one must foresee what neighbor¬ hoods will be the boom neighborhoods of the near ftiture. The most reliable indexes of coming booms are the street improvements plan¬ ned by the borough administration. A deal of preliminary public work has to rent activity in public works in the Bronx. From a study of these it will be possible to form an intelligent opinion as to the directions which the expansion of population and housing within the bor¬ ough will take in the immediate future. Special attention will be given to local improvements, w-hich are carried out by the borough administration and which constiitute a principal factor in determin¬ ing the lines of expansion in ciuestion. In making local improvements the bor¬ ough administration is strongly influenced by prospective 'transit routes. Such routes will consequently also be discussed. Finally, a general survey will be given of the public improvements, including schools, fire houses, police stations, bridges, docks and otlier works provided fay the city administration. By way of explaining roughly the prac¬ tical difference between local improve¬ ments and public improvements, it may IIUIDOE OVER TUE BROXX RIVER AT 16UTH STREET. A good e.xample of simplicity and economy.The structure is built of concrete blocks. the assessed valuation of all the taxable property listed in Galveston. During the last two years it averaged $4S,OOU,000. Here is a table show'ing the amounts in¬ vested in real estate improvements in the borough in 1910 and 1011: Local improvements (assess¬ ments) ....................$5,525,100 Puhlic improvements (corpor¬ ate stock) ................. l,23-'>,S7g Private buildings ............ ftS,0i)5.');-!T Schools ...................... 3.187,000 Park department ............ 2,O.''i4,103 Police department ........... G06,SG1 Pire department .............. 5(il,000 Dock department ............ 59,824 Department of water supply, gas and electricity .........10,!)0.>,0&i* Railway construction......... .'),(;,^0,nOO Total ....................$97,841,304 The permanent improvements indicated h-y these figures help to explain the ad¬ vance in real estate values tliat is re¬ flected by the rising tax assessments. The Bronx is a boom town. Its marvelous gTow'th opens up the most varied oppor¬ tunities for business enterprises. An ad¬ dition of 35,000 to its population each year creates room for new stores, fac¬ tories, places of amusement, for the prac¬ tice of the learned profession, for multi¬ farious speculations and investments, for innumerable gainful occupations and pur- "Covei-s Manhattan and the Bronx. II i,"; es¬ timated that five-sixth of the sum was ex¬ pended in tbe latter borough. be clone before sites can be profitably built upon by private owners. Streets must be opened and must -he supplied \vith water, gas, pavements and other es¬ sentials. It is the business ot the bor¬ ough adminiatralion to undertake such preliminary work in a given neighborhood just at the time when tlie nelgliborhood is ready for a considerable building mo^-e- ment. If the work is carried out before it Is needed, property owners are involved in useless expense. Capital is sunk in the form of assessments for utilities wiv-.ch can not be employed for years, and the loss of interest on this idle capital may never be recovered in the final selling or renting value of the land. The borough administration conse¬ quently plans its assessment work in ac¬ cordance with what it believes to be the immediate reciuirements of the different undeveloped neighborhoods. The admin¬ istration is guided hy the petitions of property owners to the Local Improve¬ ment Boards, by its knowledge of pros¬ pective transit lines and by its observa- ■tioiL of the current huilding activity. The borough admhiistration is the most im¬ portant single agency in. providing accom¬ modations for the annual growth of pop¬ ulation, and there is no better informed attthority on the needs of the different lo¬ calities for the preliminary street im¬ provements indispensable to private building activity. The purpose of this article is to indi¬ cate the main seats of recent and cur¬ bs said that the former precede and make possible private huilding operations, while the latter generally attend or follow such operations. The period covered by the article is that during which the borough administration had been directed by Presi¬ dent Cyrus C. Milier, a period mai-hed by a notably well defined and efficient policy w-ith respect to local improvements. Local Iniprorenaeuts. Before any physical improvement can be accomplished, il is necessary that ex¬ tensions to the street system be planned and legalized. Such extensions are adopt¬ ed in the form of alterations in the City Map. Proceedings for acciuiring title to the proposed streets may thereupon be linitiated. After this physical improve¬ ments can be authorized and contracts ■for carrying them out can be executed. Prior to January 1, 1910, but a very small portion of the street system of the large area east of the Bronx River had been adopted, though considerable work liad been done toward the preparation of maps for t-he same. Since that time the Miller administration has devoted a great deal of energy to getting out the final sec¬ tions of the maps of this territory, with the result that Sections 32, .'54. ^5. 30, 37, 40, 41. 42, A.n, 45, 40, 50, 51, 52. .'>3_and i»4, each covering an area of about 375 acres, have been adopted by the Board of Esti¬ mate and Apportionment. In certain cases, where the laying out of single streets was of special necessity.