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City Document — No. 1.
HON. WILLIAM GASTON,
®i% Smnicil fl! ^oxtarif,
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
TWO BKANCHES IN CONVENTION,
Jaunary T, ISGl.
INTED FOR THE CITY COUNcl
In Board of Aldekmen, Jan. 7, 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
among the citizens.
Sent down for concurrence.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, Cihj Clerk.
In Common Council, Jan. 7, 1861.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
J. M. HElf^ES, PRINTEB, 81 CORNKItl, BOSTON.
Gentlemen of the City Council :
We have assembled for the purpose of entering
upon our duties as members of the sixteenth City
Government. At no time in the history of the City,
have greater responsibiUties devolved upon the City
Council, than those which we assume to-day. While
the City may possess an inherent energy, which en-
ables it to grow and to prosper almost in spite of its
Government, yet no one can doubt that its growth
and prosperity can be largely joromoted by the wisdom
of our action. I feel entirely assured, that we all ap-
proach the trusts committed to us with a due appreci-
ation of their importance, and with a resolute deter-
mination to execute them with fidelity and with
The fifteen years which have elapsed since the ac-
ceptance of the City Charter, have witnessed great
changes in the appearance and condition of the City.
The greater part of the territory which was at first
4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
comprehended within our limits, has been taken from
us, and is now under the government of another Cor-
During this period of fifteen years, the City has
erected a large number of valuable buildings for pub-
lic uses, constructed several important public ave-
nues, widened and improved many of the streets, built
several miles of sidewalks, increased and improved the
Fire Department, organized a thorough and efficient
Police System, acquired for, and appropriated to, the
uses and purposes of Public Squares, or Parks, sev-
eral large tracts of land, and commenced a system of
Such are some of the public improvements which
have been accomplished. At the same time, private
enterprise has been no less active, and has Avrought
equally important results. Population and wealth have
rapidly increased, and general prosperity has prevailed.
The policy of the Government, however, has been
by no means uniform. The rigid economy which char-
acterized the Town Government, and which failed
properly to meet the wants of a rapidly increasing
population, left much to be accomplished by the City
Government. The transition from a system of strict
economy, to one of liberal expenditures, was not sud-
den or immediate. In the early years of the City
Government, the desire to keep taxation low and mod-
erate, restrained the City Council from entering upon
many important or expensive improvements. But, in
18G1.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5
the meantime, the popuLation was fast increasing, and its
demands grew more pressing and imperious ; until, at
length, a change in the policy became visible, and im-
provements were deemed more to be preferred than
In a Town Grovernment there is danger that econ-
omy may degenerate into penuriousness, and in a City
Government, that a liberal spirit may degenerate into
lavishness. It would be unjust to accuse the old Town
Government of the one, and equally unjust to accuse
the City Government of the other ; but I think our
history does illustrate the fact, that a Town Govern-
ment is not well suited for a large community, rapidly
increasing in population and wealth.
And it is to this fact, and to the diversity of inter-
ests of the different sections, rather than to an illiberal
spirit, that any deficiency in the matter of public im-
provements under the Town Government is to be
charged ; and if the expenditures under the City have
been large, the excuse is to be found in the fact, that
under the old organization, public improvements had
not kept pace with the growth of the Town, and that
the City was thus born to an inheritance of labor and
I propose. Gentlemen, only briefly to advert to some
of the leading questions of public interest in our mu-
nicipal affairs. A labored consideration of them would
require a more intimate acquaintance with the details
than I now possess, and would protract this address to
6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
an unreasonable length. Statistics and recommenda-
tions from other sources will be before you, which you
will find more useful than any suggestions which it is
in my power to make.
The subject which has always, in Roxbury, been
deemed the one of leading importance, is that of Pub-
lic Schools. Under the government of the Town, as
well as under that of the City, liberal appropriations
have always been made for their support. In conse-
quence of this generous encouragement, our schools
early attained a high reputation, and still maintain it.
The principal care and charge of this important sub-
ject, is, by law, confided to another branch of the
Government, elected for that especial purpose ; but it
is the duty of the City Council to make appropriations
and provide money for their support.
During the past jear, a new brick school-house has
been erected on George Street, at an expense (includ-
ing the cost of the land on which it stands) of about
$20,000. The school-house on Kenilworth Street, for-
merly called the Dudley School, has been enlarged, at
an expense of about $11,500. The Vernon Street
school-house has also been enlarged, at an expense of
about $1,200. A new brick school-house has been
erected in Francis Street, at an expense of about
1861.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7
School have been enlarged, by the addition of a parcel
of land, purchased at the cost of about $1,200.
The School Committee have lately published and
distributed their Annual Report, containing valuable
statistics and important recommendations ; and I most
respectfully commend this report, and its suggestions,
to the attention of the City Council.
The Fire Department, as I am informed, remains in
the same excellent condition in which it was at the
commencement of the last year, and deserves the same
praise at my hands, which it received from my prede-
cessor in his last Annual Address.
The importance of a well conducted Fire Depart-
ment is fully appreciated by our citizens. The large
number of wooden structures which the city contains,
renders us especially liable to serious conflagrations,
and makes it our duty to carefully guard and protect
this important branch of the public service.
During the year just closed, a new brick engine-
house has been erected on Centre Street, at a cost of
about $4,000. A new Steam Fire Engine has been
purchased, at an expense of $3,000, and about $2,000
more has, as I have been informed, been expended in
the purchase of other things, needed for operating and
working the new engine, and for providing furniture
for the new house.
8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
A new Reservoir has been constructed on Walnut
Street, near Dale Street, during the past year.
It will require no urgency from me, to induce you
to give to this Department .your careful attention.
During the last six years, the City has made very
great and expensive improvements upon the public
highways ; one of the earliest of which, was the widening
of the lower part of Washington Street, made during the
administration of Mr. Ritchie. This measure was, at
the time, regarded by some as a bold one, but I think
none notu question its wisdom.
During the administration of Mr. Sleeper, Euggles
Street, (or as it was formerly called. Water Street,)
after having been the subject of discussion, for some
twelve or fifteen years preceding, was finally completed.
Shawmut Avenue was constructed, and the widening
of Tremont Street was commenced, during the same
Under the administration of Mr. Otis, the widening
of Tremont Street was finished. Short Street was ex-
tended to Dudley Street, Heath Street was extended
from its junction with Parker Street, to Centre Street,
and a part of Washington Street was widened.
Such are some, but, by no means, all of the impor-
tant improvements made during these six years. Large
sums have necessarily been expended in accomplish-
1861.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9
ing these valuable works, but they are works, the
benefits of which will be lasting and perpetual. Much
yet remains to be done in widening streets, and large
outlays, for repairs, will always be required.
This is a subject which will demand of you the exer-
cise of your best wisdom and your most watchful care.
By reason of the increasing density of population,
Sewerage has passed from a matter of convenience to a
matter of necessity. The City Councils, for several
years, have directed their attention to this subject.
Extensive surveys, at a large expense, have been made
by competent engineers, and various plans have been
The work has been commenced and must be con-
tinued. This is not the time for discussing, nor have
I the necessary information to enable me properly to
discuss the subject, in its details. It is enough for me
now to say, that there is no subject which I feel it my
duty to press more urgently upon your attention.
During the last year, three large parcels of land
have been purchased by the City, which have been de-
voted to the uses and purposes of Public Squares, or
Parks. One, on Dale Street, containing 401,000 square
feet; one, near Ruggles Street, containing 122,220
10 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
square feet ; and one on Orchard Street, containing
79,785 square feet.
Tliese parcels having been thus appropriated by
the City Council, the only question now remaining for
our consideration, is, what shall be done to prepare
these lands for the purposes for which they have been
POLICE, ALMSHOUSE, AND FOREST HILLS CEMETERY.
The Police Department, the Almshouse Establish-
ment, and the Cemetery at Forest Hills, are all matters
of interest and importance. Upon each of these subjects,
there will be reports before you, which will doubtless
contain such information and suggestions as you may
need for the purpose of aiding you in your delib-
THE ROXBURY CANAL.
The line between the City of Boston and the City
of Roxbury, passes through the centre of the Roxbury
Canal. The City of Boston has caused that part of
the channel lying within its territory to be deepened.
This act has rendered a corresponding deepening on
the Roxbury side, a matter of great importance to
navigation. An effort was made to induce all the
abuttors on the Roxbury side to unite in accomplish-
ing this work, but the effort failed.
The City, with a view of assisting in carrying out
this desirable enterprise, has purchased two parcels of
land bounding on the canal, the owners of which could
CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1.
not be induced to pay their proportionate part of the
expense of deepening the channel. The last report of
the Harbor Master contains some valuable suggestions
on this subject, to which I respectfully invite your
I would also recommend that such improvements be
made on the land purchased by the City, as are re-
quired for the purpose of putting it into a condition to
yield a proper income.
I now approach a subject which I think will be
found among the least inviting of any which I have
considered. I refer to the City debt.
The following statement shows its amount at the
different periods of our history.
In 1846, Feb. 1, it was
12 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
On the first day of January of the present year, the
City debt was $578,550, and, as I am informed by
the City Treasurer, will, by the first day of February
next, reach at least the sum of $611,000. To this sura
there will, undoubtedly, be further additions, on ac-
count of debts already contracted, and for the pay-
ment of which money must be borrowed.
It will be seen, by the foregoing statement, that
the debt of the City has become quite large, and that
its increase, for the last few years, has been very rapid.
Undoubtedly this rapidity of increase has been occa-
sioned b}^ the great improvements which have lately
been made. I have no doubt that many, if not all of
these improvements, have received general approval.
But whether the policy under which the}^ have been
made, was wise or unwise, the time for any useful dis-
cussion of it is now past. The work has been done, —
the debt has been created, — and the only way to ex-
tinguish it, is to pay it. My official connection with
the City enables me to bear witness, as I do most wil-
lingly bear witness, to the fact, that the administra-
tions under which this debt was principally created,
have exhibited entire devotion and fidelity to the in-
terest of the City, and have been instrumental in ac-
complishing works of great public benefit.
A heavy debt is a misfortune to a corporation as
well as to an individual. It cripples the energies of
both. It is one of the last subjects which we desire to
approach, and is one of the first which it is our duty to
18G1.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 13
meet. It is true, that with a good credit, we can defer
the time of payment, by obtaining new loans to meet
the old ones, but, in the meanwhile, the debt has a
way of periodically reminding us of its existence, by
calling for annual appropriations for the payment of
its interest. We can leave it to those who shall come
after us ; but such an inheritance is one which they,
in their turn, will most assuredly be inclined to trans-
mit unimpaired to their successors.
I think it is our duty to seek to diminish the debt,
rather than to inaugurate new schemes which may
tend to increase it. Undoubtedly, large expenditures
must continue to be made. It would not be a wise
economy which would too rigidly restrict them ; but
we certainly are not in a condition to enter upon ex-
pensive enterprises, for which there exists no present
urgency or necessity.
EMPLOYMENT FOR THE POOR.
We have many people among us, who, ordinarily, in
the winter months, are unable to obtain constant em-
ployment. The present national calamities have, to
some extent, paralyzed business, and thus increased
the number of those who are seeking for an opportu-
nity to labor. Whatever work of the City can be
pro-perly and profitably done, during the winter, I think
should be furnished to these people, as it may relieve
them from the pressure of want. I commend this sub-
ject to the immediate attention of the City Council.
14 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
THE LATE HON. SAMUEL WALKER.
I cannot conclude this address without referrino- to
the loss which we have recently sustained by the death
of the third Mayor of the City, — the late Hon. Samuel
Although this melancholy event was appropriately
noticed by the last City Government, yet I feel that a
further allusion to his great worth and abihty, and to
his large services, is due to his memory. I know of
no man in our community, who received more general
consideration and respect from all our citizens, or to
whom the public heart clung more closely.
Two of our Mayors have now passed from among
us. The distinguished and noble-hearted gentleman,
who immediately preceded Mr. Walker in office, also
preceded him to the grave. And he now sleeps amid
the scenes of beauty which his own hands helped
It is a matter of just pride to our citizens, that two
such men consented to take so large a share, as they
in their lives did take, in our municipal affairs. They
have now departed, leaving to us the rich legacies of
unspotted names, and of splendid examples.
It is our good fortune, Gentlemen, to reside in a
community in which all enjoy the greatest privileges
and blessings. Labor receives its reward, — individual
1861.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 15
and personal rights are maintained and secured, — gen-
eral education prevails, — the spirit of courtesy, kind-
ness and charity is nurtured and cherished, — the insti-
tutions of rehgion are respected, — and we are thus
made the recipients of the richest benefactions of God.
It is true, that we are now under the shadow of that
cloud, which rests so heavily over the whole country ;
but we all hope and trust, that it is among the pur-
poses of God to dissipate that cloud, and to again per-
mit us to enjoy the benignant light of Union, of har-
mony, and of peace. And I entertain a confident be-
lief, that at the conclusion of our labors, we shall be
enabled to look around us upon a prosperous and