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cieties, who are with us this evening, light upon the proper methods for that we fully appreciate these prac- insuring the building and maintetical evidences of their good fellow
of satisfactory tenementship with us in the field of charity houses. He wished, in that connecand that we look upon them as har- tion, to express his satisfaction at bingers of a larger and better co the courtesy shown to the commisoperation of all our city charities. sion by the heads and other officials
of various departments, including THE TRIBUNE'S ACCOUNT OF THE TENEMENT
the police, fire, and building departHOUSE INQUIRY.
ments. [From New York Tribune.)
After this announcement Mr. To describe graphically, yet brief Thomas J. Brady, building commisly, what the Tenement-House Com- sioner for Manhattan and the Bronx, missioners did to the Department of was called to the witness chair. Buildings, at the public hearing, After him came Mr. John A. Dooner, December 10, it is almost neces superintendent. They were followed sary to
popular slang by Mr. John Guilfoyle, commissionphrase and say that they “made a er for Brooklyn, and Mr. Daniel monkey of it.” If they had set out Campbell, commissioner for Queens with the avowed intention of making and Richmond. Mr. Paul D. Cravath, the building commissioners look as a member of the Tenement-House ridiculous as possible, it is doubtful Commission, conducted the examif they could have done it so well, ination of the witnesses, assisted for a large part of the success of the from time to time with questions exposure lay in the fact that the put by other members as the evidence Tenement - House Commissioners
Commissioners suggested them. Mr. Cravath began were not out gunning for inefficient by asking each witness if the buildofficials at all. Their sole purpose ing laws were being faithfully and was clearly stated by Mr. Robert W. vigorously enforced in his bailiwick. de Forest, chairman, at the opening Mr. Cravath well knew that they of the hearing yesterday afternoon. were not, and his object presumably He said it was not the duty nor the was to give the witnesses a chance object of the commission to institute to point out where the machinery for any investigation into the affairs of enforcing the law was defective and any city department, and he hoped needed improvement. None of the that city officials would clearly un witnesses, however, seemed bright derstand it. That is to say, they enough to catch the cue. Each prowere not investigating any depart- tested that the law in his district ment to find out the efficiency of any was being enforced almost to the particular officials, but merely to se letter with commendable alacrity and cure information bearing upon the with highly satisfactory results. tenement-house problem. So far as Mr. Cravath looked grieved. He they may have appeared to investi also looked surprised. "But,” he gate any city department, it was would say in a tone of gentle repurely with this end in view, and monstrance, "our investigators, who the witnesses who had been sub have been at work in your borough pænaed would be asked only about all summer, report an entirely differsuch matters as might throw some ent state of affairs," and then he
would unfold a long and carefully ing their houses, filling them with tabulated statement from the com tenants, and even selling them bemission's own experts.
fore they had obtained a permit from port was backed by documentary evi the department to build. Mr. Cradence, some of it from the building vath asked if there was much diffidepartment's own files, giving hun culty in obtaining injunctions, and dreds of instances where the build Mr. Brady had to acknowledge that ing laws have been, and are being, the courts always granted them as a flagrantly violated ever since the matter of course when he asked for present building commissioners took them, but as he had not a sufficiently office. The faces of the witnesses large clerical force to prepare inwhen confronted with these reports junction papers in all the cases where were a study. Suspicions that a the law was violated, he thought it trap had been set for them, disgust better not to do so except on rare at having fallen so completely into it, occasions, but continued to pass the mingled with a swift search for any cases along to the district attorney. means of getting out of it, showed Mr. Cravath asked if a policy of plainly on their flushed countenances. getting out all the injunctions that They finally, with one accord, put the present clerical force could hanthe blame upon their inspectors for dle, even if the number was comnot reporting many violations of the paratively small, would not deter law, and also upon the district attor other builders from violating the ney's office for not prosecuting vig law so freely. To this the only reorously such violations as were re ply Mr. Brady could give was that ported.
he did not think it would. Even their reluctant admissions Summing it up briefly, the day's that the law was continually violated, testimony clearly showed that cerand the excuses therefor, were not tain builders are allowed to violate clear and satisfactory. Commis the law with impunity and to an exsioner Brady, in order to show the tent that is intensely discouraging vigilance of his department, swore to advocates of tenement-house rethat eleven thousand violations of form. the law had been reported by him in the last year alone to the district At the session of the Tenementattorney's office for prosecution, but House Commission, December II, he would or could give no real reason
there was developed a most positive why he had not exercised his power
and convincing refutation of testiof stopping by injunction the prog
mony given by Buildings Commisress on the buildings where the law
sioner Brady on the day before; and was being violated, instead of wait
one or two surprises were dealt out
to the Health Board which will reing for the district attorney's office
quire considerable industry to exto get around to them. He said that
plain away. For instance, Sanitary probably not more than five hundred
Superintendent Roberts, having of these eleven thousand violation testified that there were no rear cases had got into court yet, and it tenement-houses left in the city was his opinion that this delay was which were unfit for human occupaall wrong, because the builders went tion, was confronted with a list of right ahead in the interval, complet- 277 such tenement-houses discovered
in a systematic search by the Com tions of the law by builders last mission's experts, and of these 173 year, but that comparatively few of were classed as too hopelessly bad them had reached the courts because to be made habitable by any process the city's law officers were of reconstruction. Dr. Roberts at numerous enough to attend to so first somewhat hotly asserted that
When Mr. Otterthe list could not be trustworthy. bourg took the stand he testified He then modified his original state that he was one of six .attorneys ment a little by saying that he did assigned to attend wholly to violanot positively know of a single tene tions of the building laws. He had ment-house of that kind, and did not received exactly 10,454 complaints think there were more than forty of of violations from Commissioner them in the city. He promised per. Brady last year, and of these 8,042 sonally to investigate each house on had been disposed of" or withthe Commission's list forthwith. drawn by Mr. Brady before they When Dr. Roberts had testified could come to trial.
He recomthat the law compelling landlords to mended that the law should be light the halls of tenement-houses changed so that cases should not by night was generally complied be sent to him until Mr. Brady with, and that cellars were not being had thoroughly determined to proseunlawfully occupied as stores with cute them so that his time might out permits from the Health Board, not be consumed with useless details. the Commissioners quoted to him Mr. Otterbourg further testified the report of their inspectors, show that only 362 of the remaining 2,412 ing that the law as to cellars is being cases had reached the stage of a largely evaded, and that the tene- hearing in municipal courts, and ment-house in which the halls are only 102 had been sent to courts lighted at night is a brilliant ex. of record. Penalties had been colception to the general rule which lected from offenders against the now prevails. Dr. Roberts said it building laws in only four cases, alwould require a force of three hun though the city had expended many dred or four hundred inspectors to thousands of dollars in getting judgexamine all the tenement-houses ments. The witness said it was the once a month, and the Department avowed policy of the department not had
now only sixty-one, besides to collect these penalties. Brady had ninety-three sanitary policemen. suggested to the commission on the
It was Mr. Eugene Otterbourg, day before that these penalties Assistant Corporation Counsel, who should be made larger—he thought showed the fimsiness of Buildings $250 each would be about right. A Commissioner Brady's testimony, builder who was listening to the given on Monday, when he tried to
testimony said with a wink to a throw upon the city's law officers Tribune reporter, “You can guess, the blame for that peculiar condi can't you, why Brady wants the tion of affairs now existing, under penalties increased, although the which builders go ahead erecting policy of his department is not to completing, renting and even selling collect them for the city treasury? ” tenement-houses, the plans for which “Ask the reporter something diffihave never been formally approved cult,” said another. by the Buildings Commissioner. Mr. Paul D.Cravath, whoconducted Brady said his inspectors had re the examination of witnesses for the ported about eleven thousand viola Commission, next brought to Mr.
Otterbourg's attention the testi under advice from Mr. Otterbourg, mony of Mr. Brady that the reason who so construed the law. Mr. Otwhy he did not exercise his power terbourg declined to tell the commitof procuring injunctions against tee whether he had done so or not, builders who persisted in putting up pleading the “confidential privilege structures before the department had between counsel and client, but he approved the plans was because the added, with a sarcastic smile, that if law force was entirely too small to Mr. Brady could produce any letter deal with even an insignificant propor- containing that advice Mr. Ottertion of such cases. Mr. Otterbourg bourg would be perfectly willing to smiled and said : "The shifting of have it shown to the commission. official responsibility is quite a sci Mr. Otterbourg was then asked if ence, but I can only say that I am he could make any suggestions for powerless to bring injunction pro- legislation which would aid in the ceedings unless Mr. Brady requests enforcement of the building laws. me so to do, and also supplies the He responded with several, among evidence."
which the more important were: The testimony developed the
That architects, builders and engineers further fact that only two applica- should be licensed, and their licenses should tions for injunction proceedings were
be revokable if they violated the building
laws. made by Mr. Brady, and that no
That policemen should be empowered to difficulty whatever was experienced arrest violators of the building laws caught in obtaining them.
in the act.
That an owner should not be allowed to Of the 333 newly erected tenement-houses examined by the com
put occupants in his building or have the
water turned on until the Building Commismittee's experts recently, 318 were sioner had certified that he had complied found to contain violations of the
with the law in all particulars. law. If Brady had tried to procure President Murphy of the Health as many injunctions as the limited Board was the first witness to be force of which he complains could called. Being asked to what extent have handled, at least 200, if not the Health Department had caused 240, could have been halted until the demolition of unsanitary houses, the builders complied with the law. he replied that very little had been Frank Moss said yesterday : “ That done in this way since the decision Tammany gang in the Building of the Court of Appeals in 1896, Department is not only allowing which was to the effect that buildmuch scandalously bad building to
not be ordered debe done, but they are doing it under molished, although unfit for human the shelter of a villanous building habitation, if they could be utilized code largely of their own compila for any other purpose whatsoever. tion. That code contains no less He said, however, that the Depart. than eighty-one instances where the ment had ordered a number of Commissioner can modify the provi- buildings vacated, though he could sions of the law where he sees fit. not say exactly how many, unless You can readily understand what a he had the records before him. Dr. club that is hanging over builders Roberts said that 344 tenementand architects."
houses had been ordered vacated in Mr. Brady asserted on Monday the last year. that when he allowed a tenement President Murphy was also asked house to be built covering an entire why he had not enforced the law corner lot on the first floor, he did so which requires all owners of tene
ment-houses to register their names
NON-ENFORCEMENT OF THE TENEMENT-HOUSE and the number of their tenants in
LAWS BY THE BUILDING DEPARTMENT IN his department. He replied that
NEW TENEMENT-HOUSES. he thought the law was wrong. He asserted without the shadow of a
In order to ascertain how far the smile that he had too much con evils of tenement-houses were due sideration for the feelings of old to the defects of the law or to its Knickerbocker families, whose de- non-enforcement, the Tenementscendants owned property in the House Commission during the past “Red Light” district, which was
summer has inspected all the rented by agents or janitors for im.
new tenement-houses in course of proper purposes without their knowl
construction in the Borough of Manedge, to allow their names to become public property.
hattan, and most of those in course
of construction in the other Roberts was asked why the Health Board made no attempt to en
boroughs,--the Bronx, Brooklyn, force this law he said it would be Queens, and Richmond. too expensive, and would in no About six hundred and fifty buildway help the department in its work. ings were inspected in Manhattan; The department's inspectors fur. 317 of these were found to be betternished all the information about ten class apartment houses, and 333 ement houses that was needed.
were found to be strictly tenementPresident Murphy added that tene houses. Of these 333 tenementment houses should be inspected houses only fifteen, or four per cent much oftener than the law requires, of all, were found to have no violawhich is twice a year. They should
tions of the tenement-house law. be inspected at least once a month.
In one house were found as many as Other witnesses examined were
fifteen different violations of the Frank H. Dillingham, the Assistant Sanitary Inspector for the Borough law; in another house nine difof Manhattan; Henry N. Steinert,
ferent violations; in seven houses counsel to the Board of Health ; Dr. eight different violations in each; Robert A. Black, of Brooklyn ; Dr.
in two houses seven different John L. Feeny, of the Borough of violations; in twenty-one houses Richmond.
six different violations; in for
ty-six houses five different violaThe Brooklyn Society for the
for the tions; in fifty-seven houses four
different violations; in fifty-six Prevention of Cruelty to Children celebrated its twentieth anniversary four houses two violations; and in
houses three violations; in seventyDecember 6. At the meeting a sub- fifty-three houses one violation in scription was raised sufficient to dis- each. charge the debt of $21,000 which The most important provision of has been carried by the society. the tenement-house law is that in reWith the debt raised, and the neces
gard to light and ventilation, which sity for paying interest removed, the provides that only sixty-five per cent
of the lot may be occupied by new society will be able to increase its
tenements. (The Commissioner of force of outdoor agents, and thus to Buildings, however, is given disaccomplish a greater amount of cretionary power to permit as much good.
as seventy-five per cent of the lot to