Kansas City, Mo. Residence section. Figures represent value of corners, for lot of average width and depth, in dollars per front foot.

Kansas City, Mo. Residence section. Figures represent value of corners, for lot of average width and depth, in dollars per front foot.

Minneapolis. Residence sections. Figures represent value of corners, for lot of average width depth, in dollars per front foot.

Minneapolis. Residence sections. Figures represent value of corners, for lot of average width depth, in dollars per front foot.

New Orleans. Residence section in American quarter. Figures represent value of corners for lot of average width and depth, in dollars per front foot.

New Orleans. Residence section in American quarter. Figures represent value of corners for lot of average width and depth, in dollars per front foot.

The problem is never a simple one, being as complex as city life itself, but it is not insoluble, since the forces creating cities are governed by uniform laws, like causes producing like results, apparent exceptions being due to the influence of factors not reckoned on. The popular impression that the ability to forecast future movements of city growth points a quick way to fortune is an over estimate, since real estate movements are slow, large capital is required to handle it, carrying charges are heavy, and even though the forecast may be ultimately correct, the rate of movement is uncertain, depending on the operation of vast economic forces impossible of exact prediction.

If business expands and population increases in a city, the sum total of land values is certain to increase. All the land, however, will by no means increase in value, the great mass of medium business and residence property advancing but slowly since it supplies the wants of a large number of people of moderate earning power who cannot pay beyond a certain price. Coincident with the gradual lifting of values as population becomes more dense, decaying sections, left behind in the onward march, drop down the scale of inferior utilities and values, sometimes to the point of extinction. Such worn-out property exhibits in its dilapidations both absence of utility and public confession of that fact. If population and business become stationary the sum total of land values will decrease in proportion to the previous discounting of future growth, subsequent movements consisting of redistribution of value, as one part of the city or another, or one individual or another, flourishes or declines.

The principal causes of the redistribution of value in all cities are, increase in population and wealth, especially in causing relocation or extension of the best residence district, changes in transportation, such as new surface, elevated, or underground lines, new bridges, tunnels, ferries and railroads, and the readjustments of new utilities in new areas harmonizing the complex contending factors.

Present tendencies point towards greatly increased values at strategic points, with relative and frequently absolute drops in value in locations formerly competitive. The quiet side streets, the back alleys and deserted nooks and corners where land has almost no value, despite its proximity to valuable land, will doubtless continue at their present low planes, unless they are either reached by the spreading growth from some centre or are intersected by some new traffic street.

Map Showing Value per Square Foot in Dollars of New York Real Estate.

Map Showing Value per Square Foot in Dollars of New York Real Estate.

Map Showing Value per Square Foot in Dollars of New York Real Estate.

Map Showing Value per Square Foot in Dollars of New York Real Estate.

The point of highest value, responding in scale and location to the growth of the city, moves from the first business centre towards the best residence district, the crest of the wave being usually the middle of the retail shopping district, frequently strengthened by exceptionally large and handsome buildings, and occasionally checked by cross traffic streets. Apart from any factors which may deflect the line of growth, the land lying in its path is certain to increase in value, the time of such increase, however, being difficult to gauge, while the land left behind will usually sink in value, although in the largest cities, while decreasing relatively in value and utility, it sometimes increases slightly in absolute value. New York, the one financial centre of the country, is an exception in that its financial land is more valuable than its shopping land.

New inventions and new habits and customs will probably cause the most marked future changes other than those due to growth or transportation. All cheapening of the cost of buildings, all improvements in construction, all inventions, tend constantly to destroy the value of existing buildings. All improvements in transportation, such as the trolley, the elevated, the underground, the bicycle, the automobile - and in future possibly the flying machine - tend to destroy the value of these locations which depend on existing transportation. All changes in social customs, such as longer summer absences from the city, shift values, as in this instance from the city to the summer resorts. The great interchange of travel throughout the year from one city to another strengthens the radiating influence of the hotels, while the movement from residences to flats and apartments, concentrates population and augments the power of capital to-attract.

Change is a law of life, and as long as human activity continues to alter the. conditions of city life, and human tastes, prejudices, fashions, habits and customs continue to vary, city structure and values will shift and change, but the study of the basic principles of city growth should reduce errors in forecasting to a minimum, permitting well equipped intelligence, whether in buying, selling, renting, loaning on, or in any way dealing with city real estate, to largely eliminate the power of chance.