Newspaper Page Text
sible water supply has become merely a question of cost. If the canal is above [the water supply it is feasible to pump it to the level required. This is done in Holland by windmill. In both Europe and America mountains have been crossed by the canal, liut now that the era of small things has passed jaway and the era of ship canals is upon us, canal jing becomes in many cases simply a matter of en gineering. The pneumatic lock has solved many a ^problem of grade. The age of the small barge canal gave way to the later age of the heavy freight train, but this American invention has made the inland ship canal a commercial possibility. A return to old methods of water trans portation is not unlikely, with pneumatic locks to lift The iHE vainest city in the world is the city of New York. Yet absolutely the only thing in which she is truly modern and remarkable is her unique and unequaled collection of sky-scrapers. New York's system of urban and interurban trans portation is notoriously wretched. Her water supply is always on the verge of being inadequate for living purposes, and she actually has not enough water to fight a really big fire in the great business districts. She knows it and has known it for many years, but she shuts her eyes to it and pities other cities when they have a big fire. Miles of her busiest streets are still paved with cobble stones. Where they have Belgian blocks, the paving usually is laid so badly that the business men work all day in an incessant crazing hell of noise. Yet your real New Yorker loves to brag about his town in other places, and his favorite remark, made in his loudest voice, is that he would rather be a lamp post on the Bowery than anybody or anything, how ever glorious, in any other city, however beautiful. The stranger hurries to see this marvelous town that fills its citizens with such super-Roman pride. Great railroad lines carry him across a continent, hurrying him breathlessly, spending'thousands of dollars to pre vent a delay of even minutes. Everything is ha-,te, haste, haste. Thus they hurl him at last to the end of the road—and that end is on the west bank of a great river. Vain, "modern," wonderful New York is on the other side. The stranger gets out of his train, hustles through a throng of steaming horses and pounding trucks and wagons, and finds himself aboard a pot-bellied ferry boat. In a few minutes it is filled with people, who, like himself, have been snapped across country by giant locomotives. Of course, the railroad ferry darts across the river at: to] speed the instant the last railroad passenger is aboard. Oh, does it? Not in New York—the world' metro]xlis—as she loves to call herself. In the middle of each squat ferry is a space for wagons. The boat waits patiently while the vehicles lumber aboard, and if a horse balks or a mammoth truck gets stalled, the ferry waits as long as her captain dares. Although the real city sits on an island, and although she has not a single bridge over the Hudson River, and thus depends humbly on ferry-boats, she has not a single ferry in all her domain that is built anil run exclusively for passengers. Every boat carries vehicles in the center, and long after the people have pushed and jammed aboard the slow throng of wheeled vehicles crawls on. Each ferryboat smells to high heaven like a barn yard. Every day a wicked mule or a half-starved horse holds up one or more ship-loads of people for periods ranging from minutes to half an hour. But it never has struck New York the Great that it might be a good idea to carry wheeled traffic 011 separate ferries. When the ferryboat approaches New York, the stranger sees a marvelous and beautiful sight— over powering in its wild, fantastic might the skyscraper line seems to storm heaven like torn mountains. But what is at their bases, along the river front, that might be as beautiful as any in the world Not a single stone quay, not a single structure th.it could hold the eye for a minute. He who approaches Xew York's great scenic water front and looks for magnificent water gates or lordly granite piers and basins will look in vain. What he sees is a long, unspeakably ugly line of low, oblong sheds, made of wood or corrugated iron, stretching in a dreary row from the Battery to the north as far as the eye can reach. The boat bumps into her slip and spews her passengers and her trucks forth in one beautiful mass. They are driving tunnels under the rivers now, and they speak of them with bated breath as new instances of the incredible enterprise and gigantic daring of the city. They should have been driven twenty years ago. W E E A A I N E S E I O N ,2%*. v/ lit large vessels more than ioo feet "at"a single lockage, an improvement that will lessen the cost of canal con struction by half and make possible the extension of an inland system of ship waterways in every direction, for it is the time consumed in locking from one level to another that is the chief detriment to the general use of inland commercial ship canals. It costs 25 cents to move a ton of freight one mile along a country road, seven mills by railway, two and one half mills by small canal barge, and but a fraction of a mill pei*ton per mile in the hold of a deep water vessel. Yet Congress fools awav its time making arbitrary laws to govern railroad rates. The Eric Canal, as a mere ditch, paid for itself, after earning fixed charges and lowering the freight rates from the Julius Muller From the railroad ferries to Fifth Avenue and Twenty third Street, where the real uptown begins, there is not an ornament, not an object of art, not a structure built primarily for beauty and effect. That is the way New York the wonderful introduces the stranger to herself. Arrived at Fifth Avenue at last, the visitor draws a breath of relief. Here is the real city of glitter and wealth and elegance! As far as the eye can see up the broad avenue, it is literally hidden by gorgeous carriages and liveries and automobiles in all the thou sand weird shapes that the weird minds of automobile makers conceive. Here everything is modern, indeed, from the horses to the lap-robes. And then—suddenly a venerable thing rolls along, high and uncouth and slow and in effably shabby, speaking eloquently of some old English tavern stable of the time of Dickens. No, it isn't an advertisement of an enterprising dealer in antiques. It is the the great Fifth Avenue public vehicle—a stage. Those Fifth Avenue stages were old when New York made its first timid beginning at replacing horse-cars The Flnliron Building The Intersection of llioudway. Fifth Ave. and 23rd St. by cable traction. They are drawn by fabulous mon sters, which the stage line carries on its books as horses. These stages carry no conductors. The daring would-be passenger signals to one, the ark on wheels stops with a world-weary heave, the driver lets go of a strap, thus permitting the door to swing open, the passenger climbs up steep steps, totters through the stage to the front end and drops the fare into a little glass box. When any one wishes to alight, the signal is given by the simple and highly up-to-date method of pulling a strap which is attached to the driver's leg. The writer remembers that it used to be the particu lar proud privilege and joy of him and his companions a quarter of a century ago to tail on to that strap in a --mm m,. west to the east. The Suez canal, although built at an enormous expense, is paying fifteen per cent on its capital stock. Barges laden with coal are floated down the'Ohio, the Tennessee and the Cumberland rivers to the Mis sissippi and thence to New Orleans, and the coal is thence shipped to England and sold at a price less than it costs to mine coal at Newcastle. One little river steamer will not only carry its lading of freight but will drift down the river with a dozen barges carrying a tonnage that would tax twenty railway trains. And yet it is with difficulty that Congress can be induced to commit the government to a policy of inter nal waterway improvement. the World body and pull the driver's" leg "titt'lSe 'became frantic with mingled pain and rage. And yet any real New Yorker will tell the stranger with moving pride that things change so fast in this town that even an old resident cannot keep track of the changes. Another amusing thing about the great city is the everlasting attempt to "correct the bridge congestion." The bridge is, of course, the great Brooklyn suspension bridge. The congestion is caused by the simple fact that something like eighteen trolley lines all converge at the bridge and try to deliver all the cars carried over eighteen tracks to the one single track that leads across the big structure. Naturally there is congestion- Every few months a commission is appointed by the Mayor, or the Aldermen, or the bridge authorities,r or the Board of Health, or the police, or some other of: New York's countless bosses and managers, to sit at great expense and length, and solemnly debate over this deep and abstruse problem: "How can we make?' the water run out of the narrow end of a funnel as fast as we can put it in the wide end The bridge is a case in point in another way The simple and untutored stranger naturally expects to see an imposing entrance, possibly marble, with noble flights of steps and great columns leading to the splen did arches and the daring, giant swing of the mighty cables. Instead, he finds a huge square opening lead ing into a damp place of tracks and gloom. Every little while another bit of corrugated sheet iron is riveted on here or there. The whole looks like the abode of house wreckers or wholesale junk dealers, who have built the place up precariously bit by bit as they got handy bits of odd metal. The nearest that any of the great thinkers of New York ever came to a solution was when a recent bridge commissioner announced in a report, after much 'intricate thought, that "the bridge is so crowded in what are called the 'rush hours' because so many people go across at that particular time." The town is "just getting around to" everything, and never quite getting there on time. More than fifteen iyears of fuss and feathers elapsed before it finally "got iaround" to building its subway of which it is so inor dinately proud now, although that same subway was fully one half too small when it was planned, and it is not large enough now by three quarters. And the subway is run like everything else in the town. Apparently nobody took thought to do anything to make it noiseless, and the result is that it is totally impossible to converse in the cars. That does not strike New York as a fault, however. The ticket windows are arranged for two rows of jxiople to buy tickets simultaneously, but the company installs only one agent in each place. Nobody kicks. Ask a New Yorker to tell you specifically what it is that makes him so proud of his town, and he will be unable to produce anything except a few platitudes backed up by statistics about area, wealth and pop ulation. Three out of ten of the "citizens" can't even find a place to sleep in "their" town, but have to go to bed by way of railroads. Many of them have to sleep in another State. Only about one in a hundred can even ho]x to see the inside of the famous hotels and restaurants. Not one in a thousand has ever been to the grand o])era. The strangers who visit the city get the best of it. It is made for them. The average citizen gets barely enough out of it to pay for a bare living. The vain city, of which he is so inordinately vain in turn, gives him the privilege of walking the streets (when tliey are not torn up) and looking at things strictly from the outside. New Yorkers are as vain of their town as the town is collectively of itself. Somehow they have acquired the strange idea that it is game and cosmopolitan not to kick at any kind of abuse. They would rather be lamp-posts on the Bowery than big toads in a small puddle. That's not the least amusing thing about New York.