Skip to main content

Full text of "[City documents, 1847-1867]"

See other formats


3 9999 06660 786 


jcq *6351 .2 





Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Boston Public Library 

City Document. — No. 13. 








In Board of Aldermen, Aug. 31, 1857. 

Laid upon the Table ; and it was Ordered, That five hundred copies be 
printed for the use of the City Council. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 

Citg of *§,iwhnt$. 

In Board of Aldermen, August 31, 1857. 

The subject of the impurities of Stony Brook, southerly 
of the culvert built several years ago between Tremont 
and Ruggles streets, has been brought to the attention of 
the City Government by the petition of Mr. L. S. Beecher, 
under date of July 27th, of the present year, and referred 
to the Surveyors of Highways. Complaints have also been 
made to members of the Government, repeatedly, by per- 
sons residing in that neighborhood, of the offensive charac- 
ter of the exhalations, particularly during the Summer 
months ; and the City Physician has expressed an opinion 
that the condition of the brook is injurious to health — a 
nuisance, demanding the attention of the Board of Health. 
And this can hardly be otherwise, when we consider that 
the brook, for the distance of one hundred or more rods, 
is used at the present time for all the purposes of a Com- 
mon Sewer j that the filth of manufactories of various 
kinds is emptied into it ; that sink-drains and impure mat- 
ters, solid and fluid, along the whole western line of the 
brook, there find a common receptacle : — and that privies 
are constructed along the borders in such a manner that 
the brook serves as a vault. All this conglomeration of 
filth is carried down by the water, until the stream widens 
and forms a large basin, at high tides, near the culvert, 
which basin is dry sometimes for days together, and with 
the impurities aforesaid resting upon it, forming a slough 
of slime, mud, and filth exposed to the rays of the sun, 

causes an annoyance to the residents in the vicinity and 
the passers-by, which calls loudly for some remedy, and 
■which, were it not for the sanative properties of the salt 
water at full tide, would render that section of the city 

And yet this Stony Brook, draining an important and 
populous section of this City, and having on its banks 
valuable manufacturing establishments, seems admirably 
adapted to the purposes of a Common Sewer, and, could 
it be used as such, confined within a channel of a uniform 
width of eighteen feet, and properly covered, instead of 
being a nuisance requiring immediate abatement at almost 
any expense, would prove a benefit to the City and to in- 

The question then arises, can any measure be adopted 
by which these two important objects can be accomplished, 
viz., a nuisance abated, and a common sewer provided for 
the wants of the people in the neighborhood ? Unless this 
can be done, it may be necessary for the City Government 
to exercise its authority to prevent all drainage into Stony 
Brook, on the part of any of the abuttors, of aught else 
than clean surface water. Probably in no other way can 
the nuisance complained of be abated, while the channel 
remains in its present state. 

It will thus be seen that the owners or lessees of build- 
ings and property on the banks of this stream have a deep 
interest in this subject — and it is to be hoped, and indeed 
there is some reason to believe, will be willing not only to 
give the City the right of using it as a Common Sewer 
forever, but also contribute liberally towards the expense 
of putting it in a proper condition for that purpose. 

It is presumed that the boundary line of the brook, 
eighteen feet in width, although encroached upon in many 
places, can be established; that the channel towards the 
culvert can be straightened, giving additional power to 
the current ; and that a substantial arch of Roxbury stone 

may be thrown across the stream, the whole distance from 
Orange street to the culvert, a distance of 11 to 1200 feet, 
at an expense not exceeding 10,000 dollars. 

Nevertheless, should this plan be adopted, there may at 
some future day arise more or less difficulty from own- 
ers of land bordering the stream, after it crosses Tremont 
street. When the lands in that neighborhood become 
more raised above the level of tide water, a process which 
is constantly going on, they will doubtless be improved 
and built upon — perhaps sooner — when it is possible 
that the brook may then become a nuisance, and the City 
Authorities called upon to abate it, or furnish a remedy. 
This can only be done by then continuing the Culvert until 
it enters the full basin beyond the Providence Railroad. 

After a full consideration of the subject, it would seem 
that there are three methods which offer themselves for 
removing, wholly or in part, the evils which have been 
brought to the notice of the Board of Aldermen, to wit : 

1. To establish the boundaries of the brook, and build 
a Sewer, arched or covered, from the present Culvert to 
Orange street, for a Common Sewer, regardless of the in- 
considerable risk of trouble from the owners of the lands 
below Tremont street, hereafter; provided the abuttors, 
or other persons interested, will pay a liberal portion of 
the expense, and surrender to the City the right to use it 
forever ; 

2. To compel the abuttors on the brook to discontinue 
all their drains of filthy and impure waters or liquids, and 
remove all the privies, &c, on the line of the brook ; or 

3. To exercise the authority of the Board of Health, 
and cause the owners of the estates, where the stagnant 
waters create the nuisance referred to, to fill up their 
lands as far as the borders of the brook, and thus, by nar- 
rowing the channel, prevent the overflow of the waters at 
full tide, by which means the strength of the current would 
be increased, and the greater portion of the filth and im- 

purity, whose deposit is so dangerous to health, and 
destructive to comfort, -would be removed. 

The first of these measures would undoubtedly be the 
best ; the most effectual and enduring, and most conducive 
to the credit and advantage of the City : but it would in- 
cur a large expense, a very considerable portion of which, 
as has already been intimated, should be paid by the par- 
ties most directly benefitted. 

The second measure alluded to, that of causing the abut- 
tors to remove or discontinue the causes of the nuisance, 
as asked for by the petitioner, could, for obvious reasons, 
only afford a partial remedy — and might bear hard on 
many of the abuttors, particularly on the owners of manu- 
facturing establishments, who have been in the habit for 
years of draining into the brook, which indeed furnishes 
the only means of drainage for those establishments. 

The third plan suggested would operate to remove, par- 
tially at least, the nuisance complained of, but would give 
the City or individuals no right to use the brook as a 
Common Sewer; and it is possible that any abuttors ag- 
grieved by such use of the brook, might, by adopting legal 
measures, at any time, prevent its being used as such. 

The subject is one of importance, requiring deliberation 
and judicious action. It must soon be met in some shape. 
The importance of adopting efficient systems of sewerage 
in our City, has been strongly and ably urged upon the 
attention of the City Government, in a Report made dur- 
ing the present year, and printed for distribution. Indeed, 
every intelligent citizen must be aware that measures 
should be, and must be, adopted at an early day, by which 
outlets, at least, should be secured to the City ; and thus 
the first and most important step be taken towards so de- 
sirable an object. 

Chairman of the Surveyors of Highways.