Loving Cup to Belmont Given at Subway Feast (1904)

From nycsubway.org

The New York Times · Friday, October 28th, 1904

Chief Engineer Parsons Says City Should Be Satisfied.
Belmont Declares Interborough Company's Stock Was Not Watered One Dollar's Worth.

As a befitting close to the Subway opening celebration. the Directors of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company gave a dinner at Sherry's last night in honor of August Belmont, the man who financed the building of the tunnel and as President of the Interborough Company will direct its operation. At the end of the dinner Walter G. Oakman, Vice President of the company, on behalf of the Directors, presented to Mr. Belmont a magnificent loving cup as a token of their esteem.

Mayor McClellan, who was one of the guests, paid a glowing tribute to Mr. Belmont on behalf of the city, which, he said, was indebted to him for the opening of a new epoch in its life. Incidentally, the Mayor made some remarks which conjured up a hopeful vista of new subways to be constructed in the near future.

While a generous tribute of praise was paid to Mr. Belmont, and while the function was more particularly in his honor, the other men who bore a part in the construction of the tunnel were by no means forgotten. Both the Mayor and the speakers that followed him, as well as Mr. Belmont himself, had words of high praise for Chief Engineer William Barclay Parsons and Contractor McDonald, as well as for the Rapid Transit Commissioners, all of whom attended.

Miniature of Subway. The banquet which was given in the small ballroom at Sherry's was attended by sixty-five men prominent in finance and in public affairs. They were seated at a long table which formed a hollow circle and occupied almost the entire width of the room. Diametrically across the inner circle within the table had been built a miniature facsimile of a section of the Subway, ending with a reproduction of the Seventy-second Street station at the head of the table directly where Mr. Belmont was seated. There the four tracks, the white painted uprights, and the ticket booths, the stairways, the lighting arrangements, the tracks, and the platforms were reproduced.

The top of the miniature Subway came about level with the top of the table. The empty space in the circle was banked high with American Beauty roses laid among tall ferns and Autumn foliage. On the tables at an interval of three or four feet potted rose bushes two and three feet high had been placed, each containing from half a dozen to a dozen roses in bloom. Tall palms and exotic plants were grouped along the walls.

Vice President Oakman acted as toastmaster of the evening. Mr. Belmont sat on his right, and Mayor McClellan on his left.

August Belmont Speaks. Mr. Oakman introduced Mr. Belmont, who spoke as follows:

"Gentlemen and my fellow-Directors of the Interborough Company, and those of you who are associated in the management of the company and who are here present. I want to thank you very much- I feel some diffidence and somewhat embarrassed when I find myself confronted with a token of this kind. It touches me deeply to feel that it is not only an evidence of your appreciation of my work such as you have said, Oakman, but as an evidence of friendship and kind feeling which I cherish more, rather than any flattering comment you may make upon my conclusion of this work.

"I can only say that I have never been associated with any business enterprise, or otherwise, which has resulted in so much good feeling and strong ties of friendship I feel satisfied will last always, and are dearer to me than anything in my career. [Applause.]

"This afternoon I touched in a very few words upon the question of the capitalization of this company and I felt that possibly I ought to say more because we are now assembled socially, privately, and, gentlemen, in justice to the company, I should say what the conditions really are.

"When I stated that there was no excessive capitalization I meant what I said, that every dollar that was put into the company is now represented by property or construction about to be finished, that is, the extension to Brooklyn which is being built practically with the money of the company. So that there has been no watering, as it is commonly called, of the stock, and the city can congratulate itself to-day upon having an enterprise, which, if it succeeds, succeeds entirely upon its merits and will have the full benefit of every dollar that has been put into it.

"It was necessary to found the company in this way because I think you do not realize that the conditions imposed were something quite out of the ordinary. Every private enterprise if it does not succeed at all events has something left. But those who planned the organization upon which the city was to depend provided that in case of failure the city took everything. Nothing was left at ail, and if we failed in our enterprise every single dollar put in by those who have been associated with me would have been forfeited for the reason that the city took a first lien upon all the enterprise and in case of failure of the property to pay they were at liberty, in fact, they would have taken the equipment. Operated the road, and whatever was left would have gone to us, which would have been nothing at all.

"But everything now looks prosperous, and such possible lien is remote and quite out of question.

Work on Lower Broadway. "The construction down Broadway has not been touched upon by any one in connection with the completion of Mr. Parsons's work, and I would like to say that the plan by which an underground road has been constructed in the City of New York without the disturbance of the surface is the result of his suggestions, and while that kind of construction is more expensive had the present road been built under those conditions it would probably have cost a good deal more, and possibly would not have beer undertaken at all.

"But the citizens of New York, thanks to Mr. Parsons's ingenuity, will never be obliged to submit to the discomforts which they experienced during the constructive period covering the past three or four years.

"I also say that the enterprise was entirely new, but I felt perhaps that it might interest you to know that Mr. Parsons and I had our baptism of fire, so to speak, in underground experiences together some fifteen years ago, and it resulted in discouraging us for a very considerable time. So I may say that I might almost be said to have been in the cradle of this undertaking.

"In 1880 the Subway Construction Company was formed. and a few enterprising young men and one or two other men of greater experience risked a moderate sum, and Mr. Parsons drew some plans. Those plays, so far as the construction was concerned, were the same, very much, as the present underground road, and I presume the underlying idea of that line Mr. Parsons had in mind when drawing the plan before this commission. That road was planned to run under Broadway, to Twenty-third Street, and up Madison Avenue. My honored father was a member of the commission in 1889, and my associates thought that under the circumstances then would be some advantage, perhaps, in having me to take up the subject before the commission, but not having much influence with the commission, we were not fully successful.

"We were not at all successful. That was really the cradle of this enterprise. We forget, all of us, both this afternoon, and in order that we shall not omit it to-night, want to say that we an pay a great many compliments to the captain and lieutenants, the engineers, and all the different staff of those who had to do with the construction and management of our vessels, so to speak, and we never mentioned the pilot.

"None of us would have been able to proceed without Mr. Shepard and Mr. Rives and Mr. Wickersham who advised them. ... know that without Mr. Wickersham and Mr. Nicoll and Mr. Davies we would have been entirely at sea. I never knew a day that we were not obliged to act under their guidance, and I wish to say that we do not realize as we should how much we owe to the lawyers of New York.

"They seem to cover every feature of the enterprise which we engaged in. They know everything. They advised in every way, and I want to state to you that I think without Mr. Wickersham at my side and the valuable advice of Mr. Nicoll I would have really been unable to accomplish what you now compliment me for."

The toastmaster, amid great applause, next introduced Mayor McClellan as follows:

"We have once to-day heard the voice of his Honor the Mayor so felicitously expressed down town, but since that time he has inaugurated his experience as a motorman, and I think we shall be glad to hear from him and have him tell us how he feels in that new walk of life, and also as the chief pilot of this municipality. I propose a toast for the City of New York and the Mayor of New York. [Applause.]"

The Mayor Speaks. Mayor McClellan spoke as follows:

"Mr. Chairman, Mr. Belmont, and Gentlemen: A moment ago, when Mr. Belmont referred in such touching complimentary terms to the pilot of the enterprise, for one happy instant I thought that he had referred to me. [laughter.] for I was the pilot that led you onward and upward to victory this afternoon, taking the first train from the Battery, more or less, to Harlem, more or less, in fifteen minutes. [laughter] I want to deny now the truth of the statement that was sent to me a moment ago by the press.

"I handed it to Mr. Oakman, who in his wrath may have torn it up. It said: 'Will the Mayor kindly inform the press if it is true that he nearly ran a man down this afternoon and was much overcome for some minutes thereafter?' [Laughter.]

"Joking aside, gentlemen. it gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction to be here to night to do honor to my friend and your friend, Mr. Belmont. I have heard a great deal to-day of what the city owes the many men to whom credit and praise are due, but among them all there is none to whom the city owes more than to the modest gentleman who is the guest of this evening. [Applause.]

"He has reminisced: let me do a little reminiscing. too. Strangely enough. In 1884, twenty years ago, his father and my father were associated in a proposition, a plan to build a subway up Broadway, which came to nothing. The twenty years have passed, and I in a very humble capacity am associated with the friend of two generations to-night. [Great applause.]

"Let me say just one word, and bore you for one second with a glimpse of the future. As Mr. Belmont hes hinted, this is not by any manner of means the last road that will be built. As most of you probably know, our borrowing capacity is limited. We have, if I remember rightly, a debt margin of $105,000,000-- I think it is that; it may be $110,000,000. Of that, something like $60,000,000 is already, so to speak, pledged for undertakings that have already been begun, leaving a margin of about $40,000,000.

"Now, I believe that the normal increase in valuations will take care of the issues of corporate stork which are necessary for the ordinary needs of the city, and that the margin of $40,000,000, more or less, should be kept intact for the two crying needs of New York, an additional supply of water first, and, secondly, additional rapid transit. [Applause.]

"And I trust that every gentleman here to-night will help me and aid me in carrying out that policy, because I think that with the aid of a most competent commission-- and with the aid of Mr. Belmont [applause] and the aid of Mr. McDonald, contractor of contractors, [applause] that additional routes may be laid out and undertaken with a margin that we have to-day at our disposal. I thank you again, gentlemen, and I again for the second time to-day, congratulate the City of New York on the auspicious occasion of a new epoch in our history. [Applause]"

President Orr of the Rapid Transit Commission said of the men who undertook the Subway enterprise.

"Had it not been for their action our commission would have failed, just as several commissions failed before: and I shall always feel, as I said to-day, a feeling not akin to gratitude, but a feeling of gratitude to these gentlemen who stepped in at exactly the right moment and filled the breach. Had it not been for their action, rapid transit in the City of New York, as I said before, would still be an unsolved problem."

Diners Drink to Parsons. William Barclay Parsons was introduced as a man whose value had been recognized in his appointment as one of the body of men selected to construct the Panama Canal. The health of Mr. Parsons was proposed and the diners rose and drank in his honor.

Mr. Parsons declared in the course of his address that the contract for the work of building the Subway was a very extraordinary one. "It stood then, and it stands to-day," he said, "unique.

"It was not only the largest single contract for cash that has ever been executed, but it was a contract extraordinary in its terms in that it called upon the contractor to complete the railway for a single fixed sum. Usually contracts of this nature are based upon a scale of prices for work performed; paid as the work progresses and develops, and proper recompense paid to the contractor for services rendered. Under the Rapid Transit contract Mr. Belmont and his associates undertook to complete for a certain sum the whole of the rapid transit system, guaranteed the plans, guaranteed the outcome, and assumed to carry out that contract, as it might be interpreted by the engineer.

"It is a source of great personal gratification to me, and if I may be permitted, I should like to mention it, that during the four years and a half that the work has been in progress and in spite of the number of decisions that had to be rendered, as to the interpretation of the contract, that neither the contractor nor the Rapid Transit Commission has appealed from a single decision. [Applause]

"But in carrying out this work, and in rendering these decisions, naturally as the work has progressed a great many improvements have suggested themselves largely upon the question of betterments, and naturally each one of these added a new expense. I did not feel that the rapid transit contract gave me a right to order them, and yet under the contract there was but a small provision, in fact, no provision made for the recompense of these improvements as they might suggest themselves.

"I, therefore, went to Mr. Belmont, as each one of them came up. and pointed out out to him how the system might be benefited, not that the company might not be benefited, because in nearly every instance it simply added a new burden of expense without any direct financial return. And it is a source of gratification to me that no decision has been appealed from.

"It is a source of still greater gratification to me that Mr. Belmont has turned around, in every instance, and said, 'Go ahead and make every improvement,' and the City of New York should be satisfied, and feel a gratification because the railway belongs to the City of New York, and is a better railway and a more complete railway, a more commodious railway, a better railway for the public in every sense, and the thanks and the debt for all of them is due to Mr. Belmont."

Morris K. Jesup, who as President of the Chamber of Commerce spoke on behalf of that body, said he was most impressed with the humane and moral side of the undertaking.

Jacob H. Schiff recalled that some twelve years ago he sought to demonstrate how utterly impossible it would be to construct an underground road which was to furnish transit as a low fare with private capital, saying that the only way to accomplish the task would be to let the city build the road and then lease it to an operating company, as was finally done.

"To-day, gentlemen," he said, "they rejoice and praise; yet to-morrow the critic and demagogue will come into the land and will complain because this great franchise has been given away, because the men in control enjoy it without paying tribute to him."

Police Commissioner McAdoo said there was much speculation among those experienced in police work as to the effect the tunnel would have on the police life of the town. "In case of great local disturbances or riots, great bodies of police can be transported quickly underground from one part of the city to another, and therefore, from a practicable and strategic standpoint, the tunnel will be an important factor in the police life of New York."

The Commissioner referred to Mayor McClellan as "the most honorable, clean-handed, clean-hearted, and clear-headed" Mayor that the city has ever had.

Ex-Corporation Counsel Rives and DeLancey Nicoll also spoke.

The loving cup presented to Mr. Belmont is of silver and a magnificent affair some two fret in height, with three massive silver handles. On one of the fields between the handles it bears the initials "A.B." in letters about four inches high and done in frosted gold. On another field it bears this inscription:

"Presented to August Belmont by the Directors of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, in appreciation of his services as President in constructing the Rapid Transit Subway, Oct. 27, 1904."


Subway's Capacity During First Crush Estimated by Hedley.

General Manager Frank Hedley of the Interborough Company said at 11:15 o'clock last night that the Subway trains had carried 25,000 passengers an hour since 7 o'clock. The same rate had continued up to 11 o'clock, and Mr. Hedley said he expected it to continue at least until midnight. He was about to leave off work for the night, and said he would not get further reports until this morning.

The statement that the tunnel's maximum capacity could be doubled, making it 50,000 an hour, was also authorized by Mr. Hedley.

"Our record to-night," he said, "is the maximum for the number of trains we are running now. We can double the trains and maintain the same time schedules."

"How long will it take you to do that?" he was asked.

"For a week we can put on three or four new trains daily, and shall do so if the traffic demands. Our shops about town have many cars nearly ready, but after a week we'll be slower in getting new ones."

When pressed for an exact date, he said he could not fix it, but it would not be far off.

The express trains ran last night at six-minute intervals, and the locals every three minutes. Mr. Hedley said the same schedule on both the tracks would remain in force until the people got ready to stop riding, which, he thought, would be some time after midnight.

"There was but one delay reported to me during the evening," he said. "The air brake hose on an express train burst at Fourteenth Street, and the expresses were stalled for about ten minutes."

During the time of which he spoke, (it was shortly after 9 o'clock,) the throngs of passengers on the express platforms at the Brooklyn Bridge Station increased to such proportions that the ticket men were about to shut off tickets for a while, but the block was lifted at that stage, and soon everything was going smoothly.

While fixing the road's ultimate maximum capacity at 50,000 an hour, Mr. Hedley put the daily maximum at 600,000. There would never be a day. he explained, when 50,000 people would ride during every hour. Were there such a day the tunnel could accommodate 1,200,000 in twenty-four hours.

When asked what effect he expected the tunnel's opening to have on the elevated roads, he said:

"There will be no empty seats on elevated or tunnel trains during rush hours-- that's my opinion. At other times both will be comfortable."

He said he expected people to use the tunnel in preference to the elevated whenever they could. Men from the Wall Street district, he said, probably would stick to the Rector Street elevated station, but those from the City Hall neighborhood would forsake the Park Place, Warren and Barclay Street elevated stations for the City Hall and Bridge Stations of the tunnel. The express trains yesterday and last night, he said, had made their schedule time of 14 1/2 minutes to Ninety-sixth Street from the Bridge.

"While we kept up to 25,000 an hour to-night," he concluded, "I don't think we carried more than 20,000 altogether while the passes were good during the afternoon. And those 20,000 were stickers. They rode back and forth several times each, until they grew tired."


People Using First Subway Trains Make Little Trouble.

The police arrangements made by Commissioner McAdoo after conference with the superior officers of the department were comprehensive and generally satisfactory.

The celebration at the City Hall and the running of trains for holders of invitation tickets from 2:30 to 6 o'clock were looked after by about 660 patrolmen, Roundsmen, and Sergeants under the command of eighteen Captains, four District Inspectors, and Borough Inspector Nicholas Brooks. When the first tickets were sold at 7 o'clock the details at the twenty-eight stations opened for public service called for as many Roundsmen and 810 patrolmen. The draft from the force will be in service for several days.

During the exercises at the City Hall, and up to the time that the first special express started at 2:30 o'clock for One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street, the police lines were kept by 300 patrolmen from Brooklyn and about as many were detailed to the stations from City Hall to and including One Hundred and Forty-fifth Street. Capt. Stephen O'Brien had direct supervision of the men assigned to the Park Loop and the Brooklyn Bridge Stations. He posted two men at each of the two loops and the four bridge entrances, three at the ticket agent's landing at the loop, five at that of the bridge and on the train platforms, ten at the loop, and fifteen at the bridge. These details will be continued until all risk of congestion is past.

The only time in the day when a little anxiety was felt was when after the three special expresses had started. A crowd with tickets surged about the four bridge station entrances, but the trouble was over in a couple of minutes.

Subway interests above City Hall were looked after by Inspectors W. W. McLaughlin, Walsh, and Smith, each having an eye to what went on at the stations in his district. The precinct Captains responsible for the service of their subordinates from Worth Street up were Kear, Martens, Tighe, McDermott, Gallagher, Cottrell, Shire, Cooney, Hussey, Dillon, Nally, McGlynn, and Halpin.

Both ex-Mayors Had Previous Engagements-- Grant Sends Congratulations. Among those who declined invitations to the opening exercises were two ex-Mayors, Seth Low and Hugh J. Grant. Both had previous engagements. Both were prominent in urging rapid transit during their terms of office. Mr. Grant wrote a note. to the commission congratulating it on the completion of the work. Mr. Low simply sent his regrets, and when an interviewer sought an expression of opinion from him on the opening of the road he sent out word that there was nothing he cared to say.


Interborough Has Three-Year Pact-- The Operating Men.

With more than 1,500 men employed to work on the portion of the Subway opened yesterday, the Interborough Company starts out with the outlook favorable for at least three years of peace. Under an agreement with the employees, there will be no strike in that period. The wages which the train operatives are to obtain under the bargain are as follows:

Motormen-- $3.50 a day (nine hours' work.) Conductors-- $2 a day. Guards-- $1.70 a day.

The only electric railway motormen in the world who receive better pay are those on the Manhattan elevated lines. These men, who are old members of the Locomotive Engineers' Union, get $3.50 for eight hours' work.

The Interborough's operating heads of departments-- the men upon whose judgment depend the comfort and convenience of the Subway's patrons-- are E.P. Bryan, Vice President; Frank Hedley, General Manager; S. L. F. Deyo, chief engineer, John Van Vleek, mechanical engineer, and L. B. Stillwell, electrical director.

Mr. Bryan won his spurs as a railroad man on the Louisville and Nashville system, of which August Belmont is President. Mr. Belmont took a fancy to him years ago down in Kentucky. After becoming Superintendent of Terminals in St. Louis, Mr. Bryan was Vice President of the Terminal Association of that city. He came to New York, at Mr. Belmont's request in 1900.

Mr. Hedley, a native of England and member of a family well known for its engineers and inventors, came to America in 1882 and started out as a mechanic on the elevated roads here. Later he worked for the Erie and then for the Kings County Elevated Railroad in Brooklyn. From there he went to Chicago, where he rose to high positions as an operating official on the elevated lines. Mr. Bryan sent for him last year to become the operating chief of both the Subway and elevated systems. He has] invented several railway appurtenances.

Chief Engineer Deyo, who has occupied the same position for the Subway Construction Company, comes from up the State and is a graduate of Union College. He has had a railroad experience from rodman up, and was with the New Haven Railroad when the Belmont syndicate called upon him in 1900.

Mr. Van Vleck, who designed the great power house at Fifty-ninth Street and Eleventh Avenue, is a New Yorker and a graduate of Stevens Institute. Formerly he was chief engineer of the Edison Electric Company, for which he designed several power plants.

Electrical Director Stillwell, a Pennsylvanian by birth and a graduate of Lehigh University, was chief electrical engineer of the Niagara Falls Power Company when he became a consulting engineer of the Manhattan elevated system in 1899. Later he came here to work for that system entirely, and in November, 1900, he was made electrical director of the Subway Construction Company. He has invented many well-known devices. and is a member of various learned societies.


Will Own It After Seventy-five Years, Maybe Sooner.

Under the McDonald contract the builder of the city's first subway has the operation of the Subway for fifty years, with a privilege of renewing the lease for another twenty-five years. In the case of the Manhattan-Bronx tunnel the construction contract was transferred by Mr. McDonald to his backer, the Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company, while the lease portion of the bargain was turned over to the Interborough Rapid Transit Company as the operating concern.

After submitting his bid, together with a certified check for $150,000 as evidence of good faith, Mr. McDonald secured the contract for the building of the tunnel for $35,000,000, with $2,700,000 to be added for stations, terminals. &c. The Rapid Transit Commission, using its legal prerogatives, has increased the total sum by making changes in the detail plans from time to time, so that the cost of the tunnel has aggregated more than $40,000,000.

The rental paid to the city for the first fifty years is fixed at an amount equal to the annual interest on the bonds issued by the city for construction and 1 per cent, additional, this 1 per cent to be contingent on the earnings of the road for the first ten years. If the lease is renewed for twenty-five years, it will be at a rental to be agreed upon by the city, but not less than the annual average rental for the last decade of the first fifty years.

To secure his contract, Mr. McDonald had to deposit $1,000,000 in cash as security for the construction, $5,000,000 as security for construction and equipment, and another $1,000,000 as continuing security for the performance of the contract. The Rapid Transit Subway Construction Company, or Belmont syndicate, furnished most of the funds as his backer. Perry Belmont personally put up $1,000,000. In addition to all this security, the city has a first lien on the equipment of the road, which, at the end of the fifty-year term, will be turned over to the city, pending arbitration as to fair compensation for it.

As fast as Mr. McDonald did the work be handed in his monthly bills to the City Treasury. Roughly speaking, he has received from the Controller an average of $800,000 a month.

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