Street railroads have wrought a revolution in the structure of cities, scattering population over a wide area, adding value to the circumference by rendering it accessible for residences, and to the center by concentrating traffic within it, a part of this added value being removed from the intermediate zone. By rendering new districts acessible, thus increasing the area of supply of land, the value of all competititve land is reduced, so that the effect of street railroads on residence land is to lower its average value. The speed of an electric car is so great that the tendency is not to add on gradually to existing residence sections, but to project beyond them into the cheap country land. Ordinarily, capitalistic handling takes hold of a new outlying district and by laying out fine streets and sidewalks, sewers, water, gas, electric light, etc., and erecting high-class houses, establishes a residence section of higher values than much of the residence land nearer the business center. Opposed to this condition are the two factors of long settlement, which makes old residents reluctant to move, and the cost of car fares amounting to between $5 and $10 per month according to the size of the family, which operate in favor of the. old fashioned residence sections near the. business center.
It may happen that the best business street in a city has no car line on it, as for example Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis; 6th Street in St. Paul, and Felix Street in St. Joseph, these being for this reason better adapted to the "carriage trade." An example of the effect of street railroads on carriage trade occurred in New York when the construction of the electric roads on Broadway and 23d Street produced such a dangerous intersection that ladies were timid about driving across it. This hastened the northward movement of high-class shops from Broadway below 23d Street to 5th Avenue above 25th Street.
Transfer points, owing to concentration of daily streams of people and consequent opportunity for shops, are strategic points in a city's area, creating business sub-centers, whose prospects of increasing values are limited only by the. number and quality of the people likely to utilize them. As examples, note the marked effect of transfers in New York at Broadway and 34th Street, Madison Avenue and 59th Street, Lexington Avenue and 59th Street; also in New Haven at Chapel and Church Streets; in Denver at 15th and Lawrence Streets, and the many transfer points in the outlying districts of Chicago.
The success of street railroads in running cars to the top of fairly high hills has added millions of dollars of value to the higher lands in all hilly cities, as in San Francisco, Seattle, Peoria, etc. Similarly, every improvement in the construction, operation or service of street railroads strengthens their influence on the structure of cities. In general, if a city has less than the normal street railroad mileage the result is a number of small business sub-centers in outlying districts, and a consequent irregular diffusion of values, while a well developed street railroad system renders stable the normal distribution of values.
In the largest cities the elevated railroads have the same general effects as the electric street railroads, with the additional influence of removing value from between the. stations and increasing it at the stations. Despite the heavy damages paid by the elevated roads in New York, it is doubtful if they have injured many properties. It is certainly noteworthy that over 50 per cent. of the property owners affected did not claim damages from the elevated roads, also that the regular scale of damages paid out of court is only $10 per front foot. One beneficial result of the elevated road between stations is in affording shopkeepers along the route an opportunity to display advertising signs and goods on the upper floors. Where the elevated stations are only five blocks apart, as on the 6th Avenue line in the shopping district from 14th to 23d Streets, no building being more than 600 feet from an elevated station, the crowds from the different stations intermingle, so that all stores on the short stretches between the stations are benefited by the travel.