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BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
3 9999 06660 789 4
City Document. — JVo. 6.
JOINT SPECIAL COMMITTEE
L. B. & O. E. WESTON, PRINTERS, GUILD ROW.
Citj of |l0ikrg.
In Boakd op Aldermen, May 7, 1860.
Report read and accepted, and ordered to be printed.
Sent down for concurrence.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
In Common Council, May 7, 1860.
FRANKLIN WILLIAMS, Clerk.
RoxBURY, May 7th, 1860.
The Joint Special Committee that was appointed to
confer with the Directors of the Roxbury Gas Company,
in relation to the Order introduced for the reduction of
the rates of Gras for the City, and citizens generally, have
attended to their duty, and submit the following
Your Committee take pleasure in stating, that after an
interview with the Directors of the Company, they have,
in a most creditable and liberal manner, sent the following
propositions : One cent per hour on City Lamps, instead
of 1^ cents, as heretofore. To citizens, $3.25 instead of
$3.50 on 1000 feet, to go into effect on and after the 1st
of July next. And the further assurance of a reduction
of 25 cents per 1000 feet to the citizens on the 1st of
January, 1861, or the 1st of April, 1861.
Thereupon, your Committee voted that it was inexpedi-
ent for them to take any further action upon the subject.
JOSHUA B. FOWLE,
FREDERICK A. BROWN.
City Document. — No. 7.
JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE
PARKS OR SQUARES.
L. B, & O, E. WESTON, PRINTERS, GUILD ROAV
CITY OF ROXBUKY.
In Board of Aldermen, May 7, 1860.
Report accepted, and one thousand copies ordered to be printed, for
the use of the City Council.
Sent down for concurrence.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
In Common Council, May 7, 1860.
FRANKLIN WILLIAMS, Clerk.
City of ^o^'huu.
In Board of Aldermen, May 7th, ISGO.
The Joint Standing Committee on Parks or Squares, to
whom was referred that portion of the Maj'or's Annual
Message relating to the subject, — and also the petition of
Edward Winslow and 104 others, asking the City to pur-
chase a piece of land lying between Walnut and Warren
Streets, for a Public Square, ask leave to
It is often said that our predecessors, when land was
cheap, should have bought Parks or Squares, many years
ago, and that now it is too late to do it.
That we may more fully realize their position then, and
the responsibility that noio rests upon us, it may be well
to look at a few facts bearing on this point.
The population of Eoxbury in 1790 was - 2,226
In 1800 it was - - - - - - 2,765
being an increase of 539 in ten years.
In 1810 it was 3,669
being an increase of 904 in ten years.
In 1820 it was 4,135
being an increase of 466 in ten years.
In 1830 it was 5,247
being an increase of 1112 in ten years.
The whole increase, therefore, for a period of 40 years,
only amounts to 3021, or an average of about 750'for ten
years, or 75 per year.
This was the period when land was cheap. From 1820
to 1830, some of the most picturesque and desirable spots
in the town for a public park, including the lower and
upper Forts, were selling at from ffty to one hundred dol-
lars per acre ! How deeply it is to be regretted, that 10
or 20 acres were not then dedicated to the public;' — it
almost makes the very pen creak with lamentation to
record the contrary !
But with the scattered population of that time, and the
very slow increase, can we wonder that little interest was
felt, and nothing done about public squares ?
The men of those days might well question the expedi-
ency of taxing themselves for purchasing for the public,
what almost every one had in excess, viz., land. And the
prospect, certainly, was not very flattering, that Roxbury
would ever have any future worth providing squares for.
Let us now glance at the contrast which the next period
of 30 years presents.
With a population in the year 1830 of - 5,247
We have in 1840, 9,089
In 1850, 18,316
And now, in 1860, probably - - - 36,000
This includes, of course, West Roxbury, as in all of the
During the last 30 years, then, we have the population
doubling every ten years, and an increase of over 30,000
in 30 years, against an increase of only 3021 in a period
of 40 years.
The valuation of property during the same period has
increased as follows :
In 1830 it was - - - . - $4,302,933
Whether the increase for the next ten years will be in
a less or greater proportion than for tlie past ten years,
no man is prophet enough to tell. Surely there is nothing
to cause alarm, unless we believe that, while population is
increasing on each side of us, Roxbury is to stand still !
Depending, mainly, for an increase of our population
upon the prosperity of Boston, and its commercial advan-
tages, do the high prices paid for land by the most intelli-
gent capitalists, and the amount of building there — the
net-work of railroads, diverging all over the country, and
centering there • — the fact that the great modern improve-
ment of horse-cars upon street-railroads now accommo-
dates all parts of our territory, — do all these considera-
tions allow one to doubt of the future growth of Eoxbury ?
Thirty or forty years since, doubt and distrust might have
been excusable ; not now ! Let us assume, then, that a
cnndid view of the present is encouraging for the futm^e,
and that this City is likely, at no distant day, to be a pop-
The first and most important inquiry, then, that presents
itself, is. are Parks, Squares, Commons, Play-grounds, call
them what you please, are they desirable, and to a limited
extent necessary ?
When we consider that the City of Roxbury, with a
population of 26,000, and increasing with a steadiness,
certainty, and rapidity never before exceeded, has not a
single broad acre of ground appropriated to the use of her
citizens, where, free from the dust, noise and turmoil of
the streets, they can go, men, women and children, for a
social gathering, or pic-nic, or where boys and young men
can go for cheap, innocent, healthy, manly, exciting sport
and recreation, the inquiry seems almost unnecessary. But
the simple fact that, up to the present time, all efforts in
that behalf have proved unavailing, and that now, in 1860,
in this nineteenth century, distinguished for attention to
the moral, intellectual and physical education of man, we
are destitute of even a play-ground for our children,
proves that the importance of the subject has not been
It has been asserted, that, as a Nation, our ceaseless,
nervous, anxious pursuit of business is changing the very
structure of our bodies. That we are growing narrow-
chested, angular, thin-faced, with a troubled and care-worn
expression of countenance ; and so forcibly has the subject
impressed the public mind, that within a short time a very
noticeable change has taken place, and more attention is
now paid to out-door, active, exciting social and joyous
sports. As a late writer has said, We do not want '•' phy-
sical exercise " simply. We want athletic sports ; not only
a development of tnuscle, but a development of spirit as
well. Heaving coal or sawing wood are exercise, as well
as ball-playing, skating or boating ; but the former are
infinitely less inspiriting, and therefore less healthful than
the latter. Of two men exercising strictly under the two
different systems, one will be of a clear, ruddy complexion,
happy looking, and full of healthful vigor ; the other,
equally strong, perhaps, but with a countenance heavy and
dull, and a look of despair. In-door exercise is of great
value, but, especially in cities, it is impossible to rear
healthy men and women, unless they are provided with a
cheerful and beautiful place of recreation, where old and
young may pursue their several inclinations, under every
influence which may enhance their health and enjoyment.
It is most observable that all nations, without distinc-
tion, in cities and considerable towns, have their public
squares, parks, or play-grounds. In the large cities of Eu-
rope, their crowning glory and beauty, and often the boast
of their inhabitants, is the public promenade, play -grounds,
parks, or squares. In this country, and especially in New
England, the school-house, the cliurch, ond the common,
even in the smallest towns, are usually found in company.
And who that was born outside of Roxbury, does not
retain the most vivid and pleasing recollections of the many
sights and sounds, sports and amusements enjoyed on some
spacious old Common, with its waving elms, shading maples,
and green turf?
Has any one thing that can be named contributed so
much to the beauty and renown of the city of Boston — so
much health, pleasure and liappiness — so much love of
country and patriotism to its inhabitants — as that glorious
old Common, striped all over with its beautiful walks, and
dotted thick with its graceful and friendly shading trees ?
And could you ask any Boston boy, who has now been ab-
sent from his native city for twenty years, what siglit
would give him most pleasure, next to his nearest kindred
and friends, he would tell you a sight of that same old
green Common, so associated and consecrated with past
pleasures and youthful friends. Our city may never be
as large, or our commons as beautiful, but human nature is
the same, and pleasing recollections and fond associations
will soon entwine themselves with every spot that may be
set apart for such a purpose. What was the population
of Boston when it first had its Common ? Less than our
own. What will be the population of this city one hun-
dred years hence ? for we must recollect that we are pur-
chasing commons, or open spaces, not only for the Roxbury
of to-day, but for the Roxbury of 1960.
The Common is the poor man's pleasure-ground. Let
those who are more fortunate, look upon an outlay for this
purpose as a contribution, for all time, to the comfort, hap-
piness, and health of those less fortunate. There let toil-
ing industry find relaxation, health, strength, and pleasure.
There, free from the dust, tumult and noise of the crowded
thoroughfare, let children pursue and enjoy their necessary
pleasures, and gain health and strength for the toil and
business of manhood.
There a more social, friendly spirit will be cultivated
among men, and mingling together, political bitterness,
sectarian animosity, sectional jealousy, and class distinc-
tions will be softened and rightly controlled. Such a place
will be too open and well ventilated for intemperance, lust,
and evil passions to congregate. With many, the cheap,
healthy, manly out-door sports will be substituted for the
attractions of the bowling-alley and the billiard-room, with
their impure and poisonous atmosphere 5 thus improving
the health, morals and happiness of the whole community.
In another point of view, too, all observation proves, that
open parks increase the value of the surrounding land, and
greatly improve the class of houses and the character of
the population that occupies them.
Influenced by such considerations, your Committee came
to the conclusion that Parks or Squares are desirable,
and for the best health and highest prosperity and beauty
of a city, a necessity.
Believing that it is not too late for this City to retrieve,
to some extent, the golden opportunities that have been
so unwisely neglected in the past, your Committee have
considered the advantagijs of the present time, and they
find that the unusual supply of money seeking investment
at low rates of interest, the temporary depression of com-
merce, keeping down for the present the price of land,
render this a favorable time for the City to purchase.
Should a sudden change in these particulars occur, and
money and land become high, the most hopeful on this
subject would despond.
The people will be benefited by them — they are, there-
fore, entitled to expect them; and. if, by unwise delay, the
subject is longer deferred, the treasury will ultimately
be obliged to pay heavy extra interest for the waiting.
Shall we, the free, sovereign people, be less thoughtful for
the health and happiness of ourselves and children, than
the monarchs and despots of otlier nations are for their
subjects ? Is it not the duty of those having charge of
public affairs, to add something to the attractiveness and
healthfulness of the place under their care ?
We have not been unmindful of the debt which we now
owe, or of the unwise economy in former years, which has
caused it. Shall the subject be deferred till the debt is
paid ? Posterity, we fear, would consider this decision as
disastrous as those of the past, and public squares would
be an impossibility.
With deliberation, with thoughtfulness, and the truest
regard to economy and the best good of the City, in their
judgment, therefore, the Committee recommend purchasing,
at the present time, three several parcels of land, to be
kept open forever for the health and enjoyment of the
inhabitants, and for the beauty and prosperity of the city.
The first piece contains about 107,000 square feet, and
is bounded about 300 feet on Ruggles Street, on two other
sides by streets, and on the fourth side by the Boston and
Providence Railroad, and is laid down on the plan of T.
B. Moses, dated April 14th, 1860, herewith submitted.
The price for this lot is 25 cents per foot. It belongs
to the Boston and Providence R. R. Company, and from con-
versation with officers of that corporation, your Committee
are satisfied it can be bought for about 22 cents. There is
a town way, over which this corporation have built one of
their buildings, and the land embraced in that road, the
Committee think, may be exchanged, without any detri-
ment to the City, in payment to the amount probably of
some $4000, should this lot be purchased for a square.
The second piece, another lot in this part of the city,
preferred by some on account of its location, &c., is part
of the Tremont Improvement Company's land, and is laid
down on a plan marked " Plan of Park on Tremont Im-
provement Co.'s Land, Nov., 1859." The price of this lot
is 15 cents per foot, embracing one-half of the streets, and
is to be i311ed hy the City, the Company agreeing to build
a good class of brick buildings on the surrounding streets.
The Committee recommend buying but one of these lots,
and the one that shall be for the best interest of the City.
The third piece is situated on Dale Street, near the
boundary between Wards 4 and 5, mid-way between Bos-
ton and West Roxbury, and contains about 9 acres, exclu-
sive of the surrounding streets. The land is owned by a
large number of parties, and the prices vary, but the
average per foot is a little over 8 cents, and is laid down,
in green, on a plan drawn by T. B. Moses, dated March
31st, 1860, herewith submitted.
This lot has been chosen by the Committee, in place of
the one petitioned for by Edward Winslow and als.
1st. Because it is more central and accessible.
2d. Because it is more healthful, being high and dry,
and needing no filling.
3d. Because it is in part higher ground, affording fine
views of the surrounding country, and the ocean, and the
surface is sufficiently diversified by hill and plain, to answer
well the purposes of a Common.
And your Committee are of opinion, a great majority of
the petitioners themselves, and certainly the great mass of
the public, will sustain the Committee in their opinion.
The fourth piece is situated on each side of Orchard
Street, contains about 80,000 feet of land, at one shilling
per square foot, and is laid down on a plan of T. B. Moses,
dated April 28th, 1860.
Before closing their report, your Committee desire to
say, that they are decidedly in favor of having that ancient,
well'prescrved and historical spot, called the " Old Fort,"
purchased and laid out as a public promenade or park. It
is believed to be in the best keeping of any Revolutionary
fort in the State. As part of the fortifications around
Boston, reared in 1775 for the protection and defence of
the principles of liberty, under the direction of the immor-
tal Washington, this Fort will alwa3's be dear to the anti-
quarian, the historian, and all true lovers of human free-
Is it unreasonable to suppose, that an earnest and united
petition, on the part of our citizens, to the next Legisla-
ture, to purchase it, would be favorably received ? It
would require but a small part of the receipts of the Back
Bay Lands, now flowing into the Treasury of the State,
instead of the Treasury of this City.
An appropriation was made by the State, a few years
since, for a similar purpose, to assist in fencing a square in
In conclusion, the Committee desire to express their
united opinion, that these lands will be bought, if bought
at all, at the most reasonable prices.
The Committee recommend the adoption of the accom-
THEODORE OTIS, Chairman.
CITY OF KOXBURY
In Board of Aldermen, May 7th, 1860.
Ordered, That the Joint Standing Committee on Parks or Squares be,
and they are hereby authorized to purchase three several pieces of land, for
public Parks or Squares, as set forth in their report herewith submitted,
one situated on Dale Street, one on Orchard Street, and the third situ-
ated on Ruggles Street, or on the Tremont Improvement Company's
land, as they shall deem it for the interest of the City. And to pay for
the same on delivery of satisfactory deeds thereof in City Scrip, payable
Ten thousand dollars in ten years, Tvrenty thousand dollars in fifteen
years, and the balance in twenty years, from the 1st day of June next,
at five per cent, interest, payable semi-annually.
And the Treasurer is hereby authorized to issue said Scrip, under the
direction of the Committee on Finance, to an amount not exceeding
Seventy thousand dollars.
CITY OF ROXBURY,
In Board of Aldermen, May 7th, 1860.
Ordered, That the Joint Standing Committee on Parks or Squares
be, and they are hereby authorized to sell the piece of land on Walnut
Street, lying between Munroe and Townsend Streets, belonging to the
City, (first obtaining the consent of all parties having any claim upon
the City that the same shall be kept for a public square,) at such price
and on such terms of payment as they may think for the interest of the
City, provided said Committee purchase another public Park or Square
on Dale Street.
Also, further Ordered, That said Committee have authority to nego-
tiate a settlement with the Boston and Providence Railroad Company,
in relation to an old town way leading from Buggies Street across the
road of said Company, and on a part of which their car-house now
stands, either by selling the land in said way to said Company, or in
such other way as said Committee may think for the interest of the City.