City Document. — No. 13.
HIS HONOR THEODORE OTIS.
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 3, 1861.
PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL.
L. B. & O. E. WESTON, PRINTERS, GUILD ROW.
Citg 0f lla^bwrs.
In Common Council, January 3, 1861.
Ordered, That twenty-five hundred copies of the Address of His
Honor the Mayor, be printed for the use of the City Council, and for
distribution to the Citizens.
Sent up for concurrence.
FRANKLIN WILLIAMS, Clerh.
In Board of Aldermen, January 3, 1861.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
Citjj of |lo^kri|.
In Board of Aldermen, January 3, 1861.
Alderman Frost offered the following resolutions, wliich
were unanimously adopted :
Resolved, That the thanks of this Board be tendered to His Honor Mayor
Otis, for the able, dignified, and impartial manner in ■which he has pre-
sided over its deliberations during the past municipal year, and for the
faithful and devoted manner in -which he has discharged the varied duties
devolving upon him in his official capacity as Mayor of this City.
Resolved, That on his retirement from the office of Mayor, -which he
has filled -with so much credit to himself and honor to the City, he has
the united -wishes of this Board for his future health, happiness, and
The Common Council having expressed a wish to be
present during the delivery of the Mayor's Valedictory
Address, a Convention of the two branches was held in
the Council Chamber, when the Mayor responded to the
foregoing Resolves, in the following
Gentlemen op the City Council:
In responding to the very flattering resolutions you
have just passed, I am aware that they may be regarded
as the mere ceremony of the hour ; I am aware, also, no
one can be more so, of the many short comings, imperfect
service and great deficiencies on my part ; but when I
reflect that during the two years I have had the pleasure
of being connected with the Government, every member of
each Branch, has treated me with the greatest kindness
and friendship, that no personal or party animosity or dis-
4 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
trust has ever interrupted for a moment our friendly inter-
course ; that the various measures brought forward have
received the cordial and nearly unanimous support of all,
I am encouraged to consider them as the genuine expres-
sion of your continued kind regard.
Accept, therefore, my grateful acknowledgments for the
complimentary manner in which you are pleased to refer
to my services.
The Mayor of a City, Gentlemen, in addition to the
specific duties assigned him by its charter, is expected to
assume all the responsibility, and solve all the difficulties
that arise. If aided, as I have been, by the cheerful assis-
tance and support of the other members of Government,
his task is greatly relieved ; but in addition to this, the
abundant confidence, sympathy and kindness which he is
sure to enjoy from his fellow-citizens, transforms many
labors into genuine pleasures.
If at this Board I have been able to perform my duties
acceptably, let me ascribe it to your forbearance, indul-
gence and kindness. Faithful and prompt in attendance
here, kind, conciliatory or firm, as the occasion required,
diligent in the discharge of business entrusted to your
care, you have made the duty of presiding officer easy
The amount of labor performed by the Government
during the past two years, both on account of the steady
growth of our city, and also from the magnitude of some
of the undertakings, has consumed much of the valuable
time of members of both branches. The diligence, fidelity
and unselfishness with which those labors have been per-
formed, entitles you to the thanks and gratitude of your
fellow-citizens, which I have no doubt you will abundantly
Gentlemen, while I feel under special obligations to the
Board over which I have presided, and where most of my
labor has been performed, it gives me great pleasure to
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 5
acknowledge to every member of the Common Council,
my appreciation of their valuable assistance, uniform kind-
ness and courtesy during my official service, and to extend
with added emphasis my heartfelt thanks to the City Clerk
and Treasurer, for their experienced counsel, advice and
assistance, whenever required. I desire, also, to bear tes-
timony to the fidelity and promptness of the Messenger,
and my indebtedness to all the heads of the various de-
partments of the Government, for unvarying kindness.
In reviewing rapidly some of the more prominent trans-
actions of the past two years, it is gratifying to find that
the extra expenditures have been for the most important
objects for which money is appropriated and paid out, em-
braced mainly under three heads, viz. :
1st. For the promotion of business and general pros-
perity of the city, in laying out and building new streets,
widening, grading and repairing of old.
2nd. For the promotion of health, in construction of
sewers, raising the grade of streets above the marsh level,
purchase of Parks.
3rd. For the promotion of education, in the construc-
tion of school-houses.
Large expenditures have been made during the past two
years in widening streets. In selecting those to be widen-
ed, the Committee have been governed by three considera-
1st. Urgent necessity, like Tremont, &c.
2nd. Those that needed and would ultimately have to
be widened, and where no buildings or other reasons made
it expensive to do it now, — Washington street, for in-
3rd. Those cases where abuttors held out inducements
in the low price of land, such as Lambert Avenue, Dennis
and Heath streets.
6 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
Can any one who reflects upon the steady and rapid
increase of this city in wealth and population, nearly
doubling in ten years, doubt the wisdom of anticipating
the future, and making such improvements now, as expe-
rience has demonstrated will be required ere long, at com-
paratively less expense.
By the action of our predecessors, the policy of widen-
ing Tremont street was commenced in 1858, and the orders
passed for taking various pieces of land, and a number of
buildings moved back, to make this street eighty feet wide.
The first question of importance, almost, after our organ-
ization, and apparently the only one on this subject, was,
How can the work be done most economically for the city,
and all parties interested ? No street in the city is so
much used — three-quarters, probably, of the heavy team-
ing of Roxbury passes over this great highway to and from
Boston. It is, as it were, the backbone of the city. It
contains three water pipes, a gas pipe, two railroad tracks,
and will soon have to furnish room for a trunk sewer. It
dictates the grade to all collateral streets leading into it,
and the sewers they shall ultimately contain. How abso-
lutely necessary, then, that its grade and width should be
established ! It was necessary, therefore, not only to take
a strip of land three-quarters of a mile long and twenty
feet wide, in part covered with buildings, but to bring the
street to the test of the engineer's grade, causing many fills
and cuts, and heavy damage to the abutting estates.
Careful examination was made of the value of each lot
of land to be taken, estimates made of the expense of
moving buildings, &c., and agreements made with the abut-
tors for almost every piece of land, on the basis that if the
land was put at a fair price the whole undertaking should
be done at once.
Fortunately, when the matter was brought before the
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 7
Government for its decision, there was not a dissenting
voice upon the course to be pursued. To the energy, fair-
ness and good judgment of the Alderman of Ward 2, then
in the Council, great credit is due. It has proved the
most successful widening of a street ever accomplished,
in Roxbury, as demonstrated by two conclusive tests.
1st, The approval of almost the entire population of the
city. 2nd, That land upon it has risen at least 20 per
cent, in value.
The bearing of this large expenditure upon the claims
and demands of citizens in other parts of the city for
necessary and reasonable improvements,, is obvious ; and
to this beginning may be largely ascribed other under-
takings, which must be the excuse if this subject has been
dwelt upon at too great length.
A new and important street (long sought for by some of
our most respected citizens), fifty feet wide, has been con-
structed from Centre to Parker street, — New Heath
Street, — which will develop and enhance the value of
some two or three hundred acres of land, before very
poorly accommodated with access to business, and conse-
quently assessed at a very low rate, and paying but light
taxes. That part of the city is now very directly connect-
ed with the centre, where are the schools, churches, stores,
and business generally.
The amount of land taken for this street is over 50,000
The whole expense of land and construction is about
Another new street, forty feet wide, has been laid out,
constructed and widened, from Dudley to Bustis street,
called Winslow street.
The amount of land taken is over 20,000 feet, at an
expense, including construction, of about $12,000.
This street is of local advantage, has increased the
8 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
value of property, promoted building in the vicinity, is a
protection against a wide spreading fire, and will very
much facilitate the drainage of that locality.
A private street from Warren street to Grove Hall
Avenue, forty feet wide, and half a mile in length, has
been laid out as a public street, at trifling expense, which
will prove of essential benefit to that part of the city.
Heath street has been widened by adding nearly 14,000
feet to it, making it, most of its entire length from Parker
street west, forty feet wide, at very little expense, except
moving the stone-walls and fences. The land for this
widening, obtained without payment, was one of the advan-
tages promised by abuttors if New Heath street was laid
Dennis street, at the extreme easterly part of the city,
very old and crooked, and in places but twenty feet wide,
has been, after much conference with the abuttors, laid out
to their and the public approval, thirty-five feet wide, the
walls set back, and part of it constructed. By doing it
now, the land damages are trifling. The amount of land
added to the street is 8700 square feet, at a cost of $240.
In September, 1859, a petition was presented to the
Government, signed by most of the abuttors on Lambert
Avenue, asking its acceptance. They relied on the action
of the town, in 1845, when, in open town meeting, it was
voted, to accept the street whenever the abuttors would
contribute to the width of the street some 1200 or 1500
feet of land, lying between Lambert and Porter streets,
and fix the sidewalk. This the petitioners now offered to
do. The Committee on Streets, to whom the petition was
referred, were unanimously of opinion that the City were
bound by the action of the Town ; that a change in the
form of managing our affairs, from Selectmen to a City
Council, did not release us j that the lapse of time did not,
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 9
for no limit was fixed within which the conditions should
be performed. Should they dishonorably try to evade, de-
ny or postpone the duty resting upon the City ? They did
not think it proper to do either. In addition to this, it
was admitted, that the street had been open for so many
years that it had become one of the public highways, and
could not be closed up. It was dangerously narrow, only
twenty-two feet wide, much used, with a very steep grade.
The Committee saw that, if accepted in accordance with
the petition, the next step would be another petition, to
have it widened and graded at the City's expense. It
seemed, therefore, judicious to obtain the cooperation of
the abuttors, to have it widened and graded at once. In
this effort, they were met, with a single exception, liber-
ally; one gentleman offered to give 1600 feet of land,
another two-thirds of the amount to be taken from his
This course, recommended by the Committee, met the
approval of the entire Government. The street has been
laid out thirty feet wide, thoroughly built and graded, gut-
ters paved, fences set back, edge-stone set (at abuttors'
expense), sidewalks constructed, 8425 feet of land added
to the street, running its entire length of a thousand feet,
at an expense of only $4000. An improvement, for its
thoroughness and cheapness, not equalled in the city.
The effect of this outlay is obvious ; private enterprise
has been encouraged, and one gentleman is spending
$30,000 on his estate.
Another very important improvement, in this part of the
city, is the grading of Cedar street, from Highland street
to Shawmut Avenue. This street was laid out fifty feet
wide, and kept in repair for twenty-five years by the abut-
tors. In 1858, by the construction of Shawmut Avenue,
and the digging Mien allowed to be done in Cedar street,
10 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
it was rendered dangerous, and was otherwise in bad con-
dition. The City incurred the risk of accidents, as it could
not be closed, and citizens were, to a great extent, unable
to use it. After obtaining from the abuttors a release of
all claims for damage, the City have graded it through its
entire length, and set edge-stone at the abuttors' expense,
making it one of the most spacious and elegant streets
for dwellings in the city, at an expense not exceeding
Washington street, the principal thoroughfare, where
land brings the highest price of any in the city, has been
widened in four different places, cutting off projections,
making it uniform, and adding to it 10,000 square feet.
Yernon street has been widened by adding to it some
two thousand feet — building a large culvert near Wash-
ington street, raising the grade there, and removing the
loam from a large portion of the street and filling in stone ;
thus making it dry and more healthy.
Lesser widenings have been made in Union, Warren,
School, Sumner, Bartlett and Walnut streets ; making ad-
ditions to the streets throughout the city of 120,462
square feet, or about three acres. And the amount of land
taken for new streets to nearly 70,000 square feet. Total
amount, 190,462 square feet.
The average expense for land, damage to buildings,
moving buildings, and construction of streets, $114,000,
averaging per foot, sixty cents.
Does not the example of Boston, in her large yearly
expenditures for street widenings, and the effort she is
now making for widening Washington and Tremont streets,
teach us the wisdom of attending to so momentous a sub-
ject before buildings are erected, thereby increasing the
expense ten fold. Such considerations, I am confident,
have influenced you in the performance of your duties.
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 11
In addition to the expense of building and widening
streets, we have incurred heavy expenses for grading
various streets, rendered necessary in consequence of some
improvements taking place not under the control of the city.
Such, for instance, as the regrading of Warren street, be-
fore the Rail Road track could be laid down. Also, the
grading of a portion of Walnut street, to carry off the
surface water, at the time improvements were going on
upon an abutting estate, thus avoiding the payment of
large damages. The same may be said of Eustis, Mall,
Shawmut Avenue, Centre, Webber, and part of Hunneman
In Lowell street, the Metropolitan Rail Road Company
has been required to pave and raise its track, in conse-
quence of which the city regraded much of the street,
raised it at its junction with Centre street nearly two feet,
paved 1000 yards, set edge-stone one-third its distance,
built an expensive bank wall and filled out the street, and
blasted off on the opposite side a projecting ledge ; thus
materially widening it at its narrowest point. Thus much
seemed necessary on a street traveled continually with
A portion of these expenditures may have seemed unneces-
sary to some persons; but no one has complained of im-
provements in his own vicinity, where he has observed the
need of them, but of those in a distant part of the city
from himself, where he could not be expected to realize
A more general system of watering the principal streets
has greatly promoted the comfort of our citizens.
During 1859 the profiles of all the streets, both public
and private, have been established, to enable the Govern-
ment to give parties building a permanent grade, that
should not be altered with every change of administration.
An idea of the amount of street work may be obtained
12 CITY DOCUMENT. — NcK 13.
by a comparison of the years 1857-8 -with 1859-60, as
to a few items.
Edge Stone set, _ _ _ 22,141 feet; 44,070 feet.
Stone Blocks, - - - _ 1,900 tons; 3,869 tons.
Paving, - - _ - _ G,704 sq. yds. ; 22,923 sq. yds.
PROFILES OF STREETS.
There is needed some additional State legislation em-
powering the Board of Health, or some other department
of City and Town Governments to cause buildings to be
erected sufficiently high above the flow of the tide to in-
sure drainage, and promote the health of low districts.
One great cause of the large expense to which the City
of Roxbury has been subjected, is the numerous private
streets that are allowed to be opened upon public avenues
before they are fit for acceptance — thus entailingpheir
construction upon the city. This calls for immediate cor-
rection. The Committee on Streets have collected valua-
ble information on the subject, which, I doubt not, our suc-
cessors will make good use of.
We have constructed a main trunk sewer of large size,
and in the most thorough and substantial manner, of brick,
from the City Dock, through Davis to Dudley street, a
distance of about 1500 feet. Owing to the quicksand
encountered, this was a most difficult and expensive work,
and great credit is due the Superintendent for the
energetic and successful manner in which he accom-
A sewer has been constructed through Fellowes and
Northampton streets, of plank, to connect with it.
Brick sewers, of suitable size, have also been constructed
in Sumner, Short, part of Eustis, and Mall streets.
The expenditures for sewers have been $20,000.
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 13
In this connection, the filling of Plymouth street, both
to promote health and save the City large expenditures in
future, was absolutely necessary. After the construction
of the Mill-Dam, in Boston, shutting out the force of the
tide, builders located their houses at so low a grade, that
the City of Boston is now spending some half million of
dollars to raise streets and buildings to secure drainage.
Tlie construction of Northampton street has operated in
the same manner, and shut out the tide from Plymouth
street and vicinity. Buildings have been placed upon the
marsh level, and the street allowed to be accepted, with
an absolute impossibility properly to drain it. Every
building, therefore, erected on this grade, made the City
poorer instead of richer, as at some time the entire tract^
streets, buildings and all, must be raised at her expense.
The street has been made sixty feet wide, adding 4435
square feet, and the grade raised ten feet. Probably no
more buildings will be placed too low for drainage in that
locality. A brick sewer was constructed the entire length
of this street, some portion of which, on account of the
settling, will have to be reconstructed.
The widening of this street, filling it, raising buildings,
and constructing the sewer, have cost $35,000.
There is one expenditure made during the past year,
gentlemen, looking exclusively to the future health, com-
fort, recreation and amusement of a large city. When
Roxbury becomes such, I doubt not a just meed of praise
will be awarded the Government of 1860, for its liberal
and disinterested policy in purchasing Parks. The great
point to secure was the land, before it should be built upon,
thereby making it too expensive to obtain. This has been
done. After building the streets about them, as contracted
for, and some other slight expenditures, let us pay the
14 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
interest and await with confidence for their improvement
and decoration by posterity.
The amount of land thus set apart is as follows :
Orchard Park, --___- 79,785 sq. feet.
Tremont " - - - - - - 122,220 "
Washington" -_..__ 401,000 "
Or over 14 acres.
At a cost of .-.____.-- $63,000
Should the Park on Munroe street be sold, as is contemplated,
this amount may be reduced, probably, ----- 8,000
If to this sum was added the expense of filling the Tremont
street Park, two years being allowed from next May for doing
the work, and the expense of building a street around Washing-
ton Park, say _--- 20,000
The whole amount for Parks will be $75,000
In addition to these, we have accepted from the propri-
etors, Long-wood Park, of 21,140 square feet; Highland
Park, of 5600 square feet. These have been fenced, and
form pleasing ornaments to the city.
All these Parks will tend to give increased value to land
in their vicinity, secure good buildings around them, and
insure a desirable population, and will ultimately have a
very favorable influence on the health of the community.
In fact, one of the conditions of purchase of the Park near
Tremont street, is that none but good brick dwellings shall
be built on the land surrounding it.
Two years ago our Grammar School accommodations
were not sufficient for the number of pupils. We were
hiring such rooms as we could get, poorly ventilated, cold,
destitute of yard room, and the absolute necessaries of a
school. From one to two hundred pupils were thus poor-
ly accommodated. The Committee asked for increased
rooms. The first question was, ought a City like this to
own its school-ro.oms, or hire ? This being answered in
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 15
the afl&rmative, the nest question was, Ought not our pub-
lic buildings to be of brick or stone, plain and substantial,
evidences of good taste, simplicitj^, incombustible, exhibit-
ing a due regard for the lives of pupils, and holding up a
proper standard for citizens to imitate in private struct-
ures — something in which a public-spirited, patriotic
citizen could feel a just pride ? After careful and delibe-
rate examination, you decided that the true economy of
the City demanded brick additions both to the Comins and
the Dearborn school-houses. They were built, and the chil-
dren of our fellow-citizens and our own are now enjoying
About 20,000 feet of land has been purchased near
East street, and a substantial brick building, with six large,
commodious rooms, has been constructed for primary
scholars, and is now ready for occupancy, rendering any
further accommodations in that part of the city unneces-
sary probably for many years.
With a view to improve the school, and lessen the ex-
pense of instruction, the Committee concluded to unite the
boys and girls in one high school. To carry out this mode
of instruction, a suitable building was essential. Without
purchasing any land, the dilapidated structure in Kenil-
worth street is converted into an elegant and commodious
edifice, creditable to the architect, the committee, and the
city, and expected to supply the wants of the city for a
After the burning of the wooden school-house on Francis
street, a larger and more commodious brick building was
These five school-houses have cost over $53,000, and in
some respects more than supply the present demand.
With moderate additions, as wanted, so large an expendi-
ture will not again be required.
16 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
A substantial brick engine-house was constructed last
year in Eustis street, ornamental to the city. A new
hand-engine was also added, and $1000 worth of leading
hose purchased. Four reservoirs of large capacity have
been constructed. Seven hydrants have been added to the
Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Co. pipes. Four, also, to the
One first class steam fire engine and horse hose-carriage
and necessary equipments have been purchased, thus call-
ing in the assistance of tireless steam and horse power to
the aid of man in his fearful contest with all consuming fire.
A new and appropriate building, of brick, answering the
three-fold purpose of an engine house, stable, and Ward
Eoom, has been erected on Centre street.
When we reflect upon the freedom from fire that we
have enjoyed, as compared with some of our neighboring
cities, the good order, energy and faithfulness of the De-
partment, we have great reason to be satisfied with the
liberal policy pursued towards the firemen, in thus furnish-
ing good houses, engines, reservoirs, &c.
It is believed the Department was never before, as a
whole, in so healthy and efficient condition. Great credit
is due to the Fire Department and the Committee for such
The entire police force, under the thoughtful manage-
ment of our excellent City Marshal, is believed to be dis-
creet, energetic, and reliable, possessing the confidence and
respect of the community.
To carry out so many costly undertakings, in addition
to the ordinary expenses of the Government, has of course
required a large amount of money. To think of putting it
VALEDICTORY ADDRESS. 17
in the tax bills now, would manifestly be unfair, since much
of the outlay is for future advantage. To delay their
accomplishment, and thereby greatly increase the expense,
was not wise. To borrow the money at five per cent., and
do the work at once, was the only plan that commended
itself to your judgment.
If these expenditures shall enable our successors to bo
judiciously economical, so much the better.
City Debt, Feb. 1st, 1859, - - - • -
City Debt, Dec. 31st, 1860, - - _ _
If we deduct the lot of land purchased of Mr. Ellis,
Also the wharf lot, -__-_-
Amount of bills due for edge-stone, - - -
Amount likely to be received from Munroe Street Park
in consequence of having purchased other Parks,
Increase, - - - - - - --
Amount of City Debt, - - _ _ _
Through the instrumentality of a committee appointed
for that purpose, the price of gas has been reduced from
12 to 15 per cent., both to the City and the public gen-
The Metropolitan Rail Road track has been laid from
the Post Office to Oak street. Also a second track in
"Warren street to Walnut street. And an extension from
Montrose Avenue to Dorchester, with a turn-out and ter-
minus at Dale street. These various extensions are of
essential convenience to our community.
You are all aware of the heavy expenditures caused by
the tracks of this road in our streets. JBut it is believed
that for the future they will be less, as most of the expen-
sive grading and widening has been done.
We can all rejoice in one very obvious and agreeable
reflection, that in carrying out the numerous expensive and
beneficial improvements, a large amount of money has been
18 CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 13.
paid to our own citizens. With it buildings have been
erected, or repaired and improved, comforts multiplied,
children better clothed and educated, laborers, mechanics,
contractors, traders, and, in fact, nearly all citizens have
received direct or remote benefit from it.
While in many places business has been stagnant, here
there has been building, improvement, and expenditure on
private account, before never equalled. The number of
buildings, as appears by actual inquiry, erected during the
past year, from the simple dwelling to the elegant mansion,
have been 250, at an expense of over $600,000, exclusive
of the land. $200,000 of this amount has been invested
in good brick buildings. And the excellent quality of the
whole, gives an average price of about $2500 for each.
In closing our labors at this time, gentlemen, may we not
forget the many agreeable hours we have passed together,
and wherever our lots may be cast for the future, I doubt
not many pleasing recollections will recall the two years
that have now closed.
By discussion, interchange of opinion, taste and judg-
ment, we have learned to treat with respect and liberality
each other's differences, and I believe the acquaintances
and friendships formed here, will abide with us forever.
Be assured it is the number and quality of one's friends,
and not his acres or dollars, that makes life rich and
In conclusion, gentlemen, let me again tender to you all
my deep sense of obligation for the forbearance and gen-
erosity which you have always been pleased to extend
toward my many errors and omissions in the performance
of duties new and untried.
May you all live to a good old age, and in the smiles of
friends, prosperity and happiness, look upon the improve-
ments you have made with satisfaction, crowned by the test
of time, that they have been for the welfare and prosperity
of our beloved city.