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

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City Document — No. 1. 

ADDKESS 



HON. WILLIAM GASTON, 



®i% Smnicil fl! ^oxtarif, 



DELIVERED BEFORE THE 



TWO BKANCHES IN CONVENTION, 



Jaunary T, ISGl. 




ROXBURY: 



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INTED FOR THE CITY COUNcl 



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V 



1861 



/ PUBLIC 






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. 

Concurred. 

JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk. 



J. M. HElf^ES, PRINTEB, 81 CORNKItl, BOSTON. 



ADDRESS. 



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 
dilio-ence. 

CI 

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- 
poration. 

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 
drainage. 

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 
low taxes. 

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 
expense. 

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. 

SCHOOLS. 

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. 

FIRE DEPARTMENT. 

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. 

HIGHWAYS. 

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 
administration. 

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. 

SEWERAGE. 

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 
suggested. 

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. 

PUBLIC SQUARES. 

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 
purchased. 

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- 
erations. 

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. 



11 



1861.] 

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 
attention. 

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. 



CITY DEBT. 

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 



1847, 
1848, 
1849, 
1850, 
1851, 
1852, 
1853, 
1854, 
1855, 
1856, 
1857, 
1858, 
1859, 
1860, 



$22,776 25 

27,609 98 

29,443 31 

39,973 65 

56,976 65 

48,476 65 

140,387 05 

186,810 40 

181,110 40 

209,263 95 

254,865 95 

246,040 95 

257,340 95 

280,240 95 

410,975 09 



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 
Walker. 

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 
to create. 

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. 

CONCLUSION. 

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 
happy community. 



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