Monday, November 14, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New York State Capital.

Asssembly Chamber.

West Facade.

Library Main Reading Room.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Doesn't THE TIMES Sound Like a Cool Sadist?

May 30, 1873, New York Times,
The Winston-English Libel Suit-The Defendant's Bail Reduced to $2,000.
In the suit for libel brought by Frederick S. Winston, President of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company, against Stephen English, publisher of the Insurance Times and in which defendant was imprisoned in default of $20,000 bail, a motion was made yesterday on behalf of defendant for a reduction of bail. The facts of the case have already appeared in the columns of THE TIMES, not only when it has been before the Court, but also when the subject of investigation before the Legislature at Albany. Defendant, as grounds for the reduction asked for, stated that he had been in close confinement since the 23rd of January last; that he has suffered and is suffering great pecuniary loss and mental and physical hardship by his imprisionment; that his health and standing, his business and property have suffered already great injury, and that they will be ruined by the further continuance of his confinement in jail, and that he is unable to procure bail. It also appeared that he is held to bail on $10,000 in another suit brought by George F. Hope in the Supreme Court.

Judge Curtis, in deciding to grant the motion, said: The law, in requiring bail, seeks only to have security that the defendant's person will be within the jurisdiction of the court, to be amenable to its final judgmnet. There is no element of punishment in its requisition. There is nothing in the papers showing that the defendant will probably seek to escape beyond the jurisdiction of the court. On the contrary, it appears that he voluntarily came within its juruisdiction, and submitted to arrest, The plaintiff's counsel, on the argument stated that they did not desire to be considered as strenuously opposing the defendant's application for a reduction of the amount of bail. The defendant's counsel asked to have it reduced to $2,000. In view of these considerations, and without undertaking to pass in any degree upon the merits of the controversy, I think there should be an order reducing the amount of bail to the sum of $2,000.

Whatever happened to her passionate "our roots are growing together like the roots' of Aspens'" crap?

My handy inflation calculator, which I always feared was extravagantly high and off-the-mark, puts Stephen's former bail at $359,617.10, in 2010 dollars--that is if you were buying goods and not freedom---while CPI the Inflation Calculator, which only goes back to 1913, spat out a not-collaborating $457,666.67. So did the search's at, and John William's Shadow Government Statistic, give $457,666.67 going back only to 1913, while, came to $438,358, and www.moneychimp even higher at $554,800, both again. extending back only to 1913. So what happened again, so earthshatteringly in 1913? Oh, yeah, I remember...and the great fire of London in 1666 too.

I guess I can take my Free Judy Miller bumper sticker off my truck now. 119 days of real incarceration in the Tombs sounds like it could break a man if not Judy.

If you want some kick-ass good reading, try the collected year for 1869 of Stephen English's The Insurance times: Volume 2. I've kindly made a Google Doc with many tens of thousands of words of perfected article transcripts, and a link-able index in progress. It's just my little contribution to the cause of digitalization. English was good-guy Elizur Wright's close partner and confidant---and boy, we can sure tell each other apart now, though I'm sure it was just as clear back then. I believe I read somewhere that Winston et al. finally broke English, but then gave him a $35,000 stipend in the slap-cuddle-hug-slap...which, let's see...that would come out to....


April 22, 1887, New York Times,
Upon the suit of Josephine H. and William T. Black, the Sheriff on Wednesday evening levied a writ of attachment upon the office furniture and fixtures of the Homeopathic Mutual Life Insurance Company at 117 West Forty-second-street. The suit is for $2,329.09, the alleged surrender value of a policy for $5,000 issued upon the life of William T. Black on March 22, 1878. The complaint alleges the insolvency of the company as the cause of the proceeding, and the affidacits filed upon the application for the injunction allege that one of the officers of the company said that $41,390 which had been contributed by certain stockholders in January last to keep the company going had since been returned to them, and that he saw no prospect that the requiaition of the Superintendent of the Insurance Department on the stockholders of the company to make good the impairment of its capital within 90 days would be complied with.

The Homeopathic Mutual Life Insurance Company began business in July, 1868, with a paid-up capital of $200,000. That was a few years later reduced to $100,000. It started out by giving low rates of insurance to parties who certified their faith in the homeopathic system of medicin and who employed physicians of that school in case of illness. During 1886 the company's income was $155,658 77 and the disbursements $215,593 24. The reported balance of assets on Jan. 1 was $521,328 38, against $717,999 41 on Jan. 1 1886. Insurance fell off during the year from 47,990 policies for $7,631,968 to 9,406 polices for $2,641,426.

When in the Spring of 1886 the Superintendent of Insurance of Massachusetts discovered that the capital of the company was impaired, he peremptorily ordered it to withdraw from business in that State. The company had been issuing insurance in homeopathic doses. In 1884 it began issuing policies for any amount above $100, and during the next 2 tears issued many thousands of policies at figures between $100 and $1,000. But the expense of doing this business was about as large as it would have been if eacj policy had been issued for thousands instead of hundreds, while the income derived was insufficient to pay expenses. The action of the Massachusetts Superintendent of Insurance led the Directors to curtail expenses and increase premiums. But the income was not yet sufficient to pay expenses, and in January last the company issued its last policy.

In the statement of the company made to the State Insurance Superintendent on Feb. 18 last, but which was dated Dec. 31, 1886, the company scheduled as part of its income for the year 1886: "Amount paid in by stockholders," $41,390. The Superintendent sent on an examiner, who reported that an assessment had been levied, and that by cutting expenses to 25 per cent. of the income the Secretary hoped to spend only $14,000 and to take in $60,000 during the first half of 1887. Upon this report the Superintendent refused to consider the $41,390 as assets, and on March 8 called upon the stockholders to make good within 90 days the impairment of its capital to the amount of $80,232 30. Mr. and Mrs. Black don't believe this will be done.

In regard to the prospect of an application for a Reciever, Stewart L. Woodford said yesterday that the company was in no sense insolvent, and unless forced into the hands of a Reciever it would, in his judgment, meet its obligations to those who have the courage to continue their premiums. It has all the reserve, he says, required by the laws of this State. Robert Sewell, Frank B. Mayhew, William H. Arnoux, Joel W. Stevens, H.R. Hollister, and E,M. Kellogg are some of the stockholders. Mr. Black's attorney says he expects that the Attorney-General will ask for a Receiver.

One potato, two potato, three potato...Hi!...Hi New York Times! How ya doin'? It's like takin' candy from a baby, isn't it!

June 7, 1885, New York Times,New-York Homeopathic Mutual Life Insurance Company.

Among the reliable life insurance companies of the city of New-York the Homeopathic Mutual stands deservedly high. Its general business is like that of the other companies; but it has made of its office a factory of policies in its specialty of $100 policies. In this business the unit or base is simply reduced to $100.


Thus the wants of all classes of our citizens in all their various grades of prosperity now or a few years hence are provided for. The company has denominationalized the life insurance policy. These policies are participating, non-forfeitable, secured, available. The Homeopathic has popularized its business by fair methods and vigorous management, and with this peculiarly American plan of the $100 policy is gaining largely in members and strength. It has been swarming, and in its purchase of property on Forty-Second-street near Sixth-avenue, for its future permanent home has made another innovation. It will remove from No. 257 Broadway to Forty-second-street as soon as it can complete its building.

Mammies in the kitchen, makin' shortnin', shortnin', Mammies in the kitchen makin' shortnin' bread!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Massachusetts Reports on Life Insurance,

SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER. of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Part II. Life And Accident Insurance.
BOSTON: Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1872

Policies Terminated in 1871.

Summary of Insurance Outstanding.

Aggregated summary of new business transacted by all the Life Companies represented in Massachusetts, during the last sexennial period, commencing with the extraordinary development of 1866:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shameless Evidence of Foreknowledge

February 7, 1912, New York Times, TAKES CARNEGIE VAULTS.
Mercantile Safe Deposit Company Receives Transfer from the Original Buyers.

In accordance with the plan announced last month in THE TIMES by which the Carnegie Safe Deposit's Company's vaults at 115 Broadway were bought by a group of bankers identified with the Chase National Bank, the Guaranty Trust Company, and the American Exchange National Bank, who later took over the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company from the Bankers' Trust Company, the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company has increased its stock and purchased the Carnegie vaults from the original buyers.

The Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, which was formerly owned by the Equitable Life along with the Mercantile Trust Company, passed to the Bankers' Trust Company when the Equitable Trust Company absorbed the Mercantile Trust. Since the Equitable fire, which burned out the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, the boxholders have to a large extent transferred their patronage to the Carnegie vaults. The group of bankers who have turned over the Carnegie Company's old vaults to their recently acquired Mercantile Safe Deposit Company purchased the vaults from the State Banking Department, which is liquidating the bankrupt Carnegie Company, for $375,000. The vaults, which were built of armor plate by the Bethlehem Steel Company, originally cost in the neighborhood of $800,000, but until the Equitable fire were a losing investment. Attempts had been made by the State Superintendent of Banking Van Tuyl to sell them to the Guaranty Trust Company, which is building across the street, but engineers found that they were built so that they could not be taken apart and moved.

In reorginizing the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company under the new control the old President of the company, William Giblin, who narrowly escaped death in the fire, has been re-elected, along with former Vice President John B. Russell. Lawrence A. Ramage was elected Treasurer and will have charge at the new location.

The Nation - Index of Articles

Transcipts from: The Nation

April 16, 1868, The Nation, Editorial, Page 306, A National Bureau of Life Insurance.
April 11, 1872, The Nation, Report of the Insurance Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Massacusetts
December 12, 1872, The Nation, No. 389, Page 374, The Week, (Mutual's Proposed Reduction in Premiums)
January 2, 1873, The Nation, Correspondence , What Should We Pay For Life Insurance?
January 9, 1873, The Nation, The Magazines for January, "Savings-Banks Life Insurance," By Elizur Wright.
October 8, 1874, The Nation, No. 484, Page 228, The Week,
June 3, 1875, The Nation, Correspondence, Page 375, LIFE INSURANCE COMMISSIONS.
March 15, 1877, The Nation, Editorial, No. 611, Page 157, THE LIFE-INSURANCE FAILURES.
May 24, 1877, The Nation, The Week, Page 300, "The failure of the Continental Life Insurance Company,"
November 8, 1877, The Nation, Report, Page 292, Number 645,
April 5, 1883, The Nation, No. 927, Page 302, Book Review, Walford's Insurance Cyclopaedia,February 23, 1905, The Nation, Page 146, Vol. 80, No. 2069, Editorial, The Equitable Controversy,
June 15, 1905, The Nation, Page 472, Vol. 80, No. 2085, Editorial, The New Turn In the Equitable.
July 27, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2091, Page 68, The Week,
September 14, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2098, Editorial, Page 212, The Insurance Investigation,
September 21, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2099, Page 232, Editorial, INSURANCE AND POLITICS.
September 28, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2100, Page 252, CORPORATION ABSOLUTISM.
September 28, 1905, The Nation, Should Life Insurance Be Cheaper. Editorial,
November 23, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2108, Page 414, Editorial, A MISUNDERSTOOD STATESMAN.
November 30, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2109, Page 436, A LITTLE INSURANCE HISTORY.
November 30, 1905, The Nation, Vol. 81, No. 2109, Page 436, Editorial, "SOLICITOUS ABOUT NEW YORK."
January 18, 1912, The Nation, “THE EQUITABLE FIRE.
January 18, 1912, The Nation, Vol. 94, No. 2429, Page 52, Fires and Human Nature.
February 27, 1913, The Nation, Vol. 96, No. 2487, Page 203, Literature. Precursors of Life Assurance. An Introduction to the History of Life Insurance.
May 20, 1939, The Nation, [Page 592] A Case Study in Reform,

Friday, September 23, 2011

January 15, 1912, Best's Insurance News, Volumes 10-12,

"Editorial : Two Lessons of the Equitable Fire," by A.M. Best Company,


The recent destruction by fire in this city of the home office building of the Equitable Life Assurance Society has many lessons for insurance men. It is noteworthy that the Society carried no insurance on this building, the stated reason for this action being that the directors had two appraisals of their property, one of which showed that without the building it was worth $300,000 more than with the building; in other words, that it would cost $300,000 more than the value of the material in the building to raze it. Without entering into any discussion of the credibility of this statement, we direct attention to the fact that the company in its returns to the various State Departments did not report that there was no insurance on this building, for the excellent reason that the Convention statement form, representing the combined wisdom and experience of the Insurance Commissioners of the various States, does not require insurance companies to report to the Departments whether or not buildings owned by them, and carried in their statements as assets, are insured. This appears to be one of those extraordinary oversights which are only discovered through such an occurrence as the destruction of the Equitable Building. Certainly it would appear that if insurance companies are allowed to take credit in their statements for the value of buildings owned by them, which might at any time be destroyed by fire, they should be required to keep these buildings insured in responsible companies, and to report the facts to the various Insurance Departments concerning this insurance. Where insurance companies loan money on mortgage, they are required to have insurance policies payable to them as collateral security, and to report in their annual statements the amount of insurance carried. This information has not been required, however, where buildings have been owned outright.

The fire was confined to the Equitable Building, and did not spread to any of the structures across the four streets which formed the Equitable block. This was due principally to the facts that the burnable property within the building, though considerable, was small in comparison, for instance, to the stock, fixtures and other inflammable material contained in any large mercantile building; that all the buildings adjacent to that of the Equitable Life were of fireproof construction; and that the officers and men of the fire department gave their best thought and effort to conquering the fire, without hesitation risking even their lives. Chief Walsh, a fearless and experienced fire fighter, was killed "by being caught by falling debris while at work within the building. A strong wind was blowing at the time of the fire, and the temperature was so low that streams of water pumped on the building froze almost as soon as they touched it, in spite of the roaring furnace within. It is not pleasant to contemplate what might have occurred had this fire been on the windward edge of the dry-goods district, in which vast amounts of inflammable material are stored, with very few buildings of modern fireproof construction to act as fire breaks.

In other news:
page 5
Supervision of Companies
In a signed symposium in the Boston Globe last Sunday as to "which is the more desirable, National or State supervision of insurance," President Hall of the Massachusetts Mutual. Secretary W.H. Brown of the Columbian National and Samuel Davis, an agent of the Penn Mutual, argued in favor of State supervision, and George P. Field, president of the Boston Board and a member of the New England Policyholders' Protective Association of Equitable Life Policyholders, took the opposite view.

page 2
Germany Wants to Know.
A Berlin dispatch, dated July 7, says: "The Imperial Supervisory Office for Private Insurance Companies has demanded of the Equitable Life Assurance Society and Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York that they declare by August 1 in what manner they propose seperating their premium reserves on German policies from the general revenues and how they intend to invest them. The amounts affected are $7,500,000 of Equitable and $5,250,000 of Mutual."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Troubles in Venezuela.

The Chronicle: a weekly journal, devoted to the interests of Insurance, Vol. XLII,
1888 - The Troubles in Venezuela.

To The Editor Of The Chronicle:
Sir: The following from the editorial columns of the New York Times is full of significance and of much interest at tikis time:

It is quite evident from the present advices that the election of Dr. Kojas Paul as president of Venezuela was not accomplished as harmoniously and quietly as had been at first declared. Armed resistance to it was attempted by General Crespo from the neighboring island of Trinidad as a base, and was responded to by a number of the people on the coast of Venezuela nearest to the island. The possibility of this result was indicated as long ago as last February by our Caracas correspondent, who wrote that a change had been made in the customary methods of election and that five of the candidates for the presidency had agreed to submit their claims to an electoral convention, while two others, one of whom was General Joaquin Crespo, had declined to do so. General Crespo was president of Venezuela in 1884 during one term in an interval between two terms of Guzman Blanco. The island of Trinidad is a favorite rendezvous of malcontents since il is under English sway and yet is but a short distance from the mainland. Official tidings now acknowledge that there was an outbreak, but declare that it has come to nothing and that the insurgent leaders everywhere are surrendering.

The president of Venezuela, it will be remembered, created Henry B. Hyde, the president of the Equitable Life, " Busto del Libertador," an act which many assert has had much to do with the present difficulty. One party thought that this conferring of titles upon Americans would give the United States too commanding a power in the Venezuelan republic. Again, it was argued that the new " Busto del Libertador " had agreed to insure the lives of the insurgents, giving eighty per cent off the first premiums and taking the balance in guano. This offended Crespo, but seemed satisfactory to Blanco, who of course expected assistance from the new" Busto del Libertador." Mr. Hyde"s sudden departure for Europe, as alleged, may have some connection with this difficulty, or it may not. His previous services, which rendered the conferring of the title a possibility, lead one to infer that "Busto del Libertador" is expected to materialize south—as the almanacs say—about this time. Bolivar.

From: The World Order: A Study in the Hegemony of Parasitism, The history and practices of the parasitic financial elite-- by: Eustace Mullins, 1984
Brown Brothers Harriman

Harriman employed judge Robert Scott Lovett as general counsel for Union Pacific. When Harriman and Otto Kahn were summoned by the ICC in 1897, Lovett advised them to refuse to answer all questions about their stock operations. In 1908, the Supreme Court upheld their refusal to talk. The records of this case, SC No. 133 US v. UP RR, later disappeared from the Library of Congress. In 1911, the Equitable Life Insurance building, which contained all the records of the Union Pacific RR, burned, destroying all UP papers to that date.

Brown Bros. backed the B & O steamship line in 1887, and went into joint venture with J & W Seligman Co. on a number of South American loans. In 1915, Brown Bros. combined with J.P. Morgan to float a series of Latin American loans, which in many instances were followed by revolutions in the respective countries. In the Nation, June 7, 1922, Oswald Garrison Villard noted: "The Republic of Brown Bros with J & W Seligman had reduced Haiti, Santo Domingo, and Nicaragua to the status of colonies with ruinous loans. Most of the loans were repaid in 1924."

This Is Your FBI: Brought to You by...Equitable Society Sponsorship

Equitable Sponsor: This Is Your FBI was a radio crime drama which aired in the United States on ABC from April 6, 1945 to January 30, 1953 for a total of 409 shows. FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover gave it his endorsement, calling it "the finest dramatic program on the air."

Producer-director Jerry Devine was given access to FBI files by Hoover, and the resulting dramatizations of FBI cases were narrated by Frank Lovejoy (1945), Dean Carleton (1946-1947) and William Woodson (1948-1953). Stacy Harris played the lead role of fictional Special Agent Jim Taylor. Others in the cast were William Conrad, Bea Benaderet, and Jay C. Flippen.

This Is Your FBI was sponsored during its entire run by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (now AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company).

"The City of the Future." Appleton's Journal, 1872.

Jan. 6 to June 29, 1872, Appletons' Journal of Literature, Science, and Art, The City of the Future. Drawn by Harry Penn.

An illustration out of an obscure journal, but obviously a reference to the Equitable Building, which had opened in 1870, standing in just about the depicted relationship to the spire of Trinity Church on Broadway at Wall Street; in much the same way that 1974's The Towering Inferno was a cultural byproduct of the opening of the World Trade Center towers in the years preceding. Not very imaginative in either case---especially here in thinking the bustle was going to stay au courant into the future---but pretty nonetheless, and meaningful. However, a second illustration just came out spooky:

I don't know a specific publishing date beyond 1872, unless "page 156" can be dated in the series. I post this more to draw attention to a singular source online where I learned of this reference as I researched the Equitable Building and its demise. Being a particularly rich vein of American history, I found it odd that I had this field almost to myself, with a startling lack of attention from professional scholars or historians. It is this sort of energetic disposition I've come to see as a red flag.

However, there was one university source apt to come up in Google searches, in a collection of about 100 files, found at We can see it's from Michigan State University, and looking further, note it's from the history department, and it likely belongs to a professor there, Alan Fisher, who teaches "Europe to 1500" and "The Middle East: Period of Ottoman Domination." But in a larger data dump of files we see areas of his overlapping interest.

I don't mean to be unkind, but if this is college level work than I'm glad I never went. The files consist of completely unedited snippets, without links or identifying data, from different media sources, along with some fresh-to-me material that came directly from the Equitable company's archives. One such file said simply:
Appleton's Journal 1872 pg. 6, Equitable archives
RG 4 Secretary's Dept. Historical collection
Art supplement - Appleton's Journal 1872 pg. 6
RG 4 Secretary's Dept. Historical collection
It wasn't hard to find a web site: Public Domain Images from Appletons' Journal of Literature, Science, and Art (Jan. 6 to June 29, 1872) and locate what I assume to be what the file was referring to. Several other files in this collection have been useful, but the research collection overall gives off an odor that raises my suspicions off syntheticism.

Too bad Mr. Fisher, or his students, didn't take the work a level deeper. This story has one of the most glamorous narratives in all of American history, no matter how you approach the material. So why does his half-assed effort just sit there, seemingly abandoned online?

I'll hazard a guess. This looks like historical blackmail to me. Perhaps an effort was undertaken--with immediate contact directly with the corporate officials and sources, to let them know "what was up." It seems clear to my paranoid mindset that the Equitable fire and building collapse afterward became a no-man's land and blaring silence. It was a chance reference to "Hyde's Equitable collapse" on a JREF thread that got me started on this topic, equally addictive as 9/11, and thank God, it was time to move on! And I have the whole thing almost to myself! Muhahahahaha!

Like that woman, what's her name, who got a faculty job at Yale after researching as an undergraduate, and then writing the definitive book, about the anarchist bombing outside of J. P. Morgan's headquarters on September 16, 1920, another historic episode fallen down the memory hole, and a subject which one might think would also come up with some frequency in the decade of cultural processing that has followed September 11th. (Do I need to be blunt here and say that it looks like J. Pierpont Morgan was the central anarchist in both episodes?)

The Sept. 12 issue of The New Yorker's Talk of the Town opened by mentioning the contemporaneous General Slocum disaster, which is only a warm body count when the Equitable collapse is red hot matching narrative detail! But then the magazine went and spoiled everything with an appalling piece by a NYPD detective, Edward Condon, who helped man the "bucket brigades at the smoking pile, where we sought to cart out nearly two million tons of scorched wreckage by the hapless handful as the voids exploded beneath us and the remaining structures shuddered, threatening to topple over on us."

I hope he wore a face mask while he posed.

There was a third illustration in Appleton's Journal, which seems like a continuation of their aerial theme

Read a satire on newly installed elevators published in an 1870's Evening Post, which I copied to a blog that follows this one, for a much more imaginative take on what the future might hold for a present that was no different than ours---in fact, apparently much worse. And if I misread Mr. Fisher, who instead should be praised for providing a nascent trail of breadcrumbs, then I'll apologize, but I'm not holding my breath.

Sanborn Fire map 1895, Equitable Building "Superior Construction"

I mean, it's their business.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The New Way of Getting Up Stairs.

February 10, 1870, The Evening Post, Page 4, Column 3, The New Way of Getting Up Stairs.

What would our ancestors have thought, in the days of George Washington, if they had heard people talk of going up stairs by steam! In those good old times it was the elegant thing for a gentleman to have his drawing room, library, dining hall, chambers and kitchen all on one floor and to dispense entirely with stairs of any kind excepting as a means of getting into the cockloft or garret. But in these advanced times our wealthy citizens think nothing of occupying a suite of elegant and expensive apartments in the seventh story of the Grand Hotel, and are probably not over-particular whether there are stairs or not in the building, as all they have to do to get to their delightful home in the skies is to walk into a small but handsomely furnished room on the ground floor, wink at the young man who ever sits just inside the door, and away they go up to the clouds like one of the happy fellows we read of in the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.

It is not so many years since weary travellers just arrived jaded and dusty from the night train would have well-nigh fainted with chagrin and despair if told at the hotel that they were to have rooms on the eighth story. What a change has taken place! The comfortable, nay, luxurious elevator has reversed all these things. Old ideas are no longer current. A new order of things has come about. Now the top story is the most desirable. The view from the windows, the pure air of heaven, the distance from noise and confusion---these and many other attractions render these elevated regions the choicest of all.

This is no puff for elevator men---neither for hotels. We shall mention the name of none in the business. We are led to moralize and philosophize by the wondrous change that has come over our tastes as regards altitudes. Once New York city was not expected to grow in any other wise than longitudinally towards Harlem River, the waters of the bay and the Hudson and east Rivers having combined to prevent any lateral expansion. But now old residents are taken literally off their feet by the tendency of the city to grow upwards. We are now fully prepared to see next a down ward growth begun into the bowels of the earth.

It is the steam elevator which has done all this. The hotels are beginning to be modern Babels. One on Broadway has lately been adding ten or a dozen stories to its already dizzy height. We confidently look for the day when the city shall be built up so high that vertical city railroads will be run up and down by corrupt corporations.

Some twenty years ago or more, hoisting apparatus began to be introduced something after the fashion of modern elevators, but with none of the improvements. Then merchants and manufacturers began to make use of more convenient machines for the hoisting of merchandise, and steam was soon introduced as a power. As years passed on, and men of genius devised new modes of applying the theory, the hotels ventured to try the experiment of coaxing otherwise unwilling guests into the upper stories. The plan proved a success, and now a hotel without a steam elevator is like a gun without a barrel.

Even younger readers can remember the time when such a thing as going up-stairs in a dry goods store was are indeed. But now, not only are we invited up-stairs in such palaces as those of A. T. Stewart & Co., and Arnold Constable & Co., and H. B. Caflin & Co., but we are hurled up through the air, past story after story of their magnificent buildings, and brought into their fourth and fifth floors in a shorter time than we should have taken to ascend one flight of stairs in the olden time.

Even the down town office renters have snuffed the advantages of the elevating system from afar. Space is valuable about Wall Street and in Broadway up to Liberty Street. It is pretty difficult to find a plot of ground as large as 100 x 50 feet. And yet the Equitable Life Insurance Company has not only found a plot of ground at the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway, of dimensions about 100 x 150 feet, but has built a fire-proof house on it, the domes of which pierce the sky and the upper portion of which is filled with offices for lawyers and architects, and men of all vocations.

These people have made a new application of the aspiring tendency of the times, and the thing has already proved a success. A hundred offices, in a completely fire-proof building, made of nothing but iron and stone, is rather a nice piece of property to hold, without saying more. Add to this the most central location for lawyers, brokers, bankers, insurance companies, and managers of estates, and your property is greatly enhanced in value. This is what the Equitable has. But they have not been satisfied with this. They have heated all the offices with steam, ventilated them after the most scientific modern system, polished them in handsome style, arranged them in suites applicable to all branches of business, and put into the building, not one, but two steam elevators, both of which will be constantly running during the business hours of the day. These elevators are of the most improved and perfect description ever made in this country, and move not only with absolute safety but with great rapidity; so that a person having business with a lawyer on the fifth floor will reach his counsel's office sooner and with less exertion than in ascending stairs to the second floor.

The effect of this bold but brilliant move has already been felt. Leading law firms, capitalists and managers of estates have taken offices on the fifth and sixth floors of the building, and others are after the rooms. The officers of the company now regret that the building was not made twelve instead of seven stories high.

It is hard to realize---but on the 1st of May next this building will be filled with a swarm of lawyers and others six layers deep, and the upper ones will be more easily and speedily accessible than those who now pay high rents for second-story accommodations in second-class houses in Nassau and Wall Streets and Broadway---to say nothing of the advantage of the fire-proof structure.

If you call on a lawyer---instead (as now) of throwing away time, rupturing blood vessels, and losing your wind by clambering up dark staircases---you walk directly from the street into one of the handsome vertical steam cars (which will always be in readiness, one ascending while the other descends,) and, taking a seat on the comfortably cushioned seats, will be almost instantaneously lifted to the sixth floor, where, apart from the world, and undisturbed by the noises of the street, you can consult your advisers in seclusion and repose.

Who will not revel in such a luxury as this? The tendency of this movement will be to collect a great number of the legal profession together in this spacious building, and we doubt not a nucleus will thus be formed for a general settlement of lawyers in that neighborhood.

Now is the opportunity for some enterprising New Englander to buy a lot twenty by fifty and put up a building on it as high as Trinity Church steeple, with a line of steam elevators running every five minutes. Thirty floors, with two rooms on each floor, will be about the available office room of the structure, and the proprietor might rent out the roof either for an astronomical observatory, a shot tower, or a light house, as best accorded with his fancy.

One single manufacturer of steam elevators has erected over one thousand of them. They are now being introduced in almost every branch of business. People are forgetting the old prejudices against the upper stories of the house, and the time is not distant when the question will be "how high up can you let me an office?" instead of "how low down?"

Anything in this crowded, badly-cleaned city, to get Heaven's pure air and to escape the noxious smells of the street. Anything for quiet and repose. Anything for ventilation and light. And the business man will add---anything to get more desirable accommodation at the heart of the city, where its financial arteries meet.

[Actually, the first elevator in a commercial building in New York was in Eder V. Haughwout's fancy-goods emporium at the northeast corner of Broome Street and Broadway, built in 1857, and standing five-stories and 79-feet tall,

Built with cast-iron sections for its two street-fronts, provided by Daniel D. Badger's Architectural Iron Works, with its supposedly unseen north and east sides built of load-bearing masonry walls.

The building's designers installed the world's first successful passenger elevator on March 23, 1857, or thirteen years before insurance men dared. It was a hydraulic lift designed for the building by Elisha Graves Otis. It cost $300 and had a speed of .67 feet per second

Haughwout's was a bit of a hybrid, like the Equitable Building, having cast-iron columns and wood beams.]

October 16, 1869, Real Estate Record and Builders' Guide, Vol. 4, No. 5, Page 3,

"The Equitable Life Insurance Buiilding"

THE EQUITABLE LIFE INSURANCE BUILDING. This large and imposing granite edifice, for some time past in course of erection at the corner of Cedar street and Broadway, is now sufficiently developed to warrant a few words of notice. We allude only to the exterior, for, while the interior is already enough advanced to satisfy the visitor that, with its ponderous walls from 5 feet to 8 feet thick, and arched brick and iron floors from basement to roof, it will be one of the most massive and secure edifices ever reared in this city, it is altogether too unfinished to come at present within the range of artistic criticism. The building covers a space of 88 feet on Broadway, by 130 feet on Cedar street. Some idea of its colossal proportions may be gleaned from the fact that the whole length of the facade on Broadway is occupied by only five, and that on Cedar street by only nine openings—where, in ordinarily constructed buildings, half as many more if not double the number of openings would have been introduced. To produce this effect—a very telling, but really false one—recourse has been had to a sort of architectural legerdemain, not without example among the best standards of classical architecture, by which two distinct stories in height assume the treatment and appearance of only one. The building may be described as being divided vertically into three bold and distinct parts: the first floor comprising one, the second and third floors another, and the fourth and fifth floors another; the whole having the appearance of a gigantic three-story building, with basement and attic. On the first floor on Broadway is the large central door-way, formed of two clustered Doric columns on each side, surmounted by a plain pediment of good proportions, and innocent of all decoration, except a sickly-looking urn at each end. On each side of tho door-way are two very large windows, separated by massive and handsome rusticated piers. Under these windows light and access are had to the basements below. The second vertical compartment, comprising the second and third floors, has five windows, separated by attached double Ionic columns; and the third compartment, comprising the fourth and fifth floors, is treated in the same way, but with Corinthian' or rather Composite Columns. We use the names of these Classical orders as the nearest approximation, although it is hardly fair where such liberties have been taken with them. The windows are divided in their length by wooden transoms, which mark the intersection of the floors; the lower portion of a window lighting one story and the upper portion another. The upper story is crowned by a heavy cornice, very simple in detail, but bold and well-proportioned, and the whole is surmounted by a lofty attic, also of granite, with circular-headed pediment over its central window, and circular-headed dormers emerging from the steep Mansard roof covered with cut slates. The roof is very artistically managed, and from a distance, ascending or descending Broadway, presents a rich and splendid outline. The Cedar street front is treated in the same manner as that of Broadway. There are sundry vagaries of detail—apparently just now an epidemic among our architects—which mar this building, as they do pre-eminently that of the new Young Men's Christian Association, and others we could mention. We mean the poor conceit of cutting columns in two by unmeaning bands, breaking the plain abacus of capitals uncouthly into circles, for the mere sake of introducing useless rosettes and other petty ornaments, &c. —Louis Quatorze abortions that are good enough, perhaps, for a black-walnut bed-post, but are altogether too trivial for enduring granite. These defects are, however, apparent only to the more exacting eye of a rigid architectural student, and are altogether lost in the general effect of the building, which is grand and excellent. Indeed we know of no edifice hitherto erected in New York which so boldly rests its claim to admiration upon the simple dignity of large and true proportions, without the aid of ornamentation, and which, in this respect, is so completely successful. By this prevailing characteristic of overpowering proportions, it dwarfs all surrounding objects— a feature in itself sufficient to impart a certain majesty, for the absence of which no amount of mere decoration can compensate in civic architecture. Precisely as the previously much-lauded Herald Building was, on the erection of the Park Bank, by the force of contrast instantaneously transformed into a dull conglomeration of little marble pigeon-holes, so this granite giant of the Equitable Insurance Company has made the adjoining New York Life Insurance Building, with its infinity of vertical lines and invisible narrow little openings, so utterly insignificant that, from a short distance up or down street, it presents no more artistic appearance than a blank sheet of ruled foolscap paper. But dignity and intrinsic excellence combined, however overshadowed, can never be destroyed by contrast with mere surpassing size. Nothing proves this better than the beautiful American Exchange Bank on the opposite corner of Cedar street, which, although much smaller than the Equitable Insurance Building, instinctively draws the artistic eye to its manifold beauties of form and richness of invention, and would do so, though its overshadowing neighbor were of twice its colossal dimensions.

1877: What Goes Around Again, Comes Around Again.

April 17, 1877, New York Times, THE EQUITABLE INVESTIGATION.

We now have the results of the investigation into the affairs of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, instituted three months ago by the managers, and intrusted by them to an influential committee with ex-Gov. MORGAN at its head. Although not altogether spontaneous, the action of the society was eminently politic

The Equitable shared with equally reputable institutions the business effects of the distrust excited and justified by recent revelations. The system was discredited. Doubt had been cast upon the accuracy of published statements. Policy-holders complained that their opportunities of verifying the representations made by officers were inadequate, and that their rights were ignored by the stockholders, whose interests were trifling in comparison with their own. The complaint was not unreasonable, and in the interest of the companies, not less than of the policy-holders and the public, this journal urged that all proper facilities should be afforded for independent scrutiny as essential to the restoration of confidence. The officers of the Equitable accepted the suggestion. They did not, indeed, invite the policy-holders to nominate investigators, but they invited the co-operation of gentlemen identified in one form or another with the welfare of the institution, and occupying positions which removed them from the suspicion of being unduly influenced in its behalf. The character of the chairman reflected the character of the committee, and gave satisfactory promise of the thoroughness of the work to be undertaken.

The promise thus made has been fulfilled. It is only necessary to glance at the report printed this morning to discover the resolute purpose with which Mr. MORGAN and his associates commenced their task. They had been asked to investigate the affairs of the society, not to exculpate its management, and having accepted the responsibility, they adopted the best possible methods of securing the objects in view. They called various forms of skill to their assistance. They retained a competent actuary, and accountants and valuators without stint. Nothing seems to have escaped them. They caused the calculations to be tested. They verified the books. They subjected the real estate owned by the society and the properties covered by the mortgages it holds to be appraised by trustworthy persons. They took possession of the other securities, and caused them to be valued at present market rates. Upon all these points the inquiry appears to have been complete, and uninfluenced by the officers of the society. It would have been better, we think, had the various reports acquired by the committee from these sources been printed entire, as appendices to its report. As the matter stands, the committee accepts the conclusions presented by those to whom it delegated special duties. The actuarial requirements are fully met by the figures of the balance-sheet. The appraisal of the property covered by mortgages, in this City and State, and also in New Jersey, is more satisfactory than many who are familiar with the depreciation in real property would have anticipated. Some of the properties are, of course, inadequate security for the amounts loaned, though in the judgment of the appraisers the difference is inconsiderable. With a caution characteristic of its members, however, the committee recommends that half a million dollars be taken from the surplus and set aside as a special fund to provide for any probable loss on this class of investments. This sum is about one-eleventh of the undivided surplus as estimated by the managers, or one-ninth of the surplus as computed by the Insurance Department. To meet possible losses on other securities---concerning which, by the way, information must be gleaned from sources unconnected with the report proper---the committee suggests that a further sum of three hundred thousand dollars be added to the special reserve thus created.

The examination carried on by the Insurance Department, irrespective of that directed by the committee, indicates somewhat differently the amount of losses already incurred in respect of property accepted as security for loans, and also in respect of property owned by the society. These amount, according to the department, to $365,475, and are, therefore, amply provided for by the half-million reserve recommended by the committee. It is satisfactory to observe that the Finance Committee of the society promptly responds to the twin propositions of the Investigating Committee by setting apart eight hundred thousand dollars, "to cover any possible loss arising from the value of real estate and other securities."

The labors of the investigators did not end here. They had tested the condition of the company and found it sound. Then came questions of management, and in regard to these the conclusions set forth by the committee will be seen to be in perfect accord with views again and again expressed in these columns as inseparable from life insurance reform. On the subject of expenditures in buildings for the accommodation of the company, here and in Boston, the committee deprecates the course that has been pursued. The structures would have been more judicious "if less elaborate, less expensive, and less ornamental." The fact that parts of the buildings are advantageously rented to others does not blind the committee to what should be the guiding rule in relation to corporate investments of this nature, namely, that "the actual requirements of the corporation itself should, at all times, be the main object in view in such considerations." The mistake into which the Equitable fell is so prevalent that it invites no special condemnation; but the dictum of the committee is the only safe one when the investment of corporate funds is involved. On another point, even more obviously improper, the committee is explicit. It does not look with favor upon the investment of any portion of the society's funds in the capital stock of the Mercantile Trust Company, or any business outside of its legitimate business of life insurance. Nor is there any attempt to break the force of feeling excited by recent testimony respecting the salaries paid to life insurance officials, of the sources of extra compensation. A special inquiry into this branch of the subject left the committee no alternative but to suggest that the compensation paid to the chief officers of the society "has been excessive and objectionable in principle," because in part derived from a percentage of the surplus. While recognizing the necessity of adapting the pay to the actual value of the services rendered, the committee insists that only fixed salaries should be paid, and that they should be reasonable in amount.

These incidental results of the committee's labors are, then, timely and important. They vindicate the sensitiveness evinced by the public upon the subject, and they will assuredly exercise a wholesome influence upon the management of kindred institutions. The committee, it is evident, has no sympathy with the prevailing laxity of opinion in reference to fiduciary responsibility, and none with extravagance in the administration of corporate funds. As for the Equitable Society, its managers should be more than satisfied with the committee's work. Any doubt that may have existed as to the society's condition is removed. And we venture to hope that the society, having had the courage to invite investigation, will use its influence for the furtherance of the reforms which are essential to the complete re-establishment of confidence in the life insurance system.

March 27, 1877, New York Times, SUIT AGAINST THE EQUITABLE LIFE.
In the Special Term of the Common Pleas, judge Robinson yesterday rendered decision in the case of Lyman Elmore and Jenny L. Elmore against the Equitable Life Assurance Society, etc., and Henry B. Hyde and others, respectively President and Directors of the society. The complaint charges that Hyde and the other Directors have obtained control of the stock of the company, and without authority of law have spent $5,000,000 in the erection and decoration of costly buildings in this City and Boston. These buildings, it is alleged, are not necessary for the transaction of the company's business, as the greater part of them are leased to other corporations. The plaintiffs claim that by this conduct, and by their positions, the Directors have drawn large sums over and above their salaries, and have shared profits derived, or said to have been derived by the contractors for the buildings. The plaintiffs desire to have an accounting of the sums alleged to have been overdrawn, and ask for the appointment of a Receiver. The case came up on a motion for the examination before trial of Henry B. Hyde. The answer of the defendants admits the expenditures but denies that they were unlawful or unnecessary or unprofitable to the company, and denies each and every one of the other allegations. This case was recently argued in the Common Pleas Court on a motion for the order to examine Henry B. Hyde before trial. The court holds it must be shown to be not a mere fishing investigation. The plaintiffs say the knowledge which they seek is peculiarly within the possession of the defendants, but the plaintiffs failed to disclose the facts in regard to which they desire to examine Hyde. On account of the failure to make such disclosure, Judge Robinson, without passing on the plaintiffs right to sue the Directors, denied the motion for the examination.

April 6, 1877, New York Times, LIFE INSURANCE AFFAIRS.;
ALBANY, April 5. The Insurance Committee resumed its investigation at 9:30 this morning. Previous to the resumption of the testimony the committee went into executive session, and it is understood that Mr. Floyd Jones made a motion to discontinue the investigation and make a report. What the result of the motion was is unknown
After the recess Theodore Weston testified that he was the architect of the Equitable Building; the work was commenced in May 1874, and was completed in July, 1876; the leases commenced in May, 1875; the original office of the Equitable was separated from the main building, and its completion was delayed; there is no restaurant in the building; Delmonico's adjoins it; the actual expense of putting up the main building was about $1,500,000, including the land; the additional building cost about $1,000,000; witness received a salary of $15,000 per year; the preliminary plans were drawn by Mr. Kendall; he had not completed the plans before the building was commenced; the internal arrangements were left entirely to the preliminary drawing; there was no percentage paid upon any of the material to my knowledge; blank ; furnished a statement of expenditures to the Building Committee of the Equitable at almost every meeting; Mr. Lambert was Chairman of this committee; they had meetings three times a week; the plans were submitted to them, and the contracts were made by witness; upon the larger contracts, bids were advertised for; all payments were made by approval of the committee; Silman & Cheney were the contractors for the stone; they bid $98,000, I think; it was the lowest bid of 17; it ran a little over $3 per cubic foot upon the granite actually furnished; the granite was measured by myself; no commission nor any consideration was paid on the contract; the contractor for the masonry work who cut the stone was T.T. Smith; his work was let in the same way at $18 per 1,000 foot of brick, and $9, or about that, for setting the granite; that included pay for everything; he was paid nothing more; no one else received any gratuity on account of the contract; he did the fire-proof wall in the interior and the plastering; for the first he received 40 or 50 cents, and for the last 42 cents, per square yard; Morton and Chesley did the carpenter work at about $65,000; no gratuity or commission was allowed anyone on any work; a number of contracts were made for the elevators, for the boilers, for the sub-cellar, for taking down the old building, and for other purposes; the entire work cost about $1,000,000, and upon it no bonus or commission was paid to any one; neither to officers, Directors, not any one else; the granite contractors furnished about $1,500 worth of work for Mr. Hyde's house on Long Island; Mr. Calvert Vaux was the architect of the house.