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The first county park system.A complete 

3 1924 024 465 415 

Date Due 

MAY 2^ 




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Cornell University 

The original of tliis book is in 
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First County Park System. 








Vice-President of the Original Commission. 

New Yoke: 

57 EosE Street. 




All Rights Reserred. 



Foreword 7 

Plan for the Essex County Parks 9 


The First Commission 24 

Peeliminaey Work Completed 39 

A Change in the Current 57 

Questions of Policy 74 

The First $1,000,000 94 

Park Sites Chosen 114 

Selection of Orange Park 135 


More Bonds and "High Finance " 143 



Experiences with Coonsbl 156 

A Ohanqb op Commissioners 164 


The Parkways 173 

Contest for Parkways Continued. .* 196 

Good Citizenship Helpless 319 

Toy Officials 343 

A Legislative Travesty 265 

Another Million Dollar Appropriation 281 

Experiences Elsewhere and Recommendations 290 



Map of the Pabks and Proposed Parkways of Essex 

County Frontispiece 

Brookside Walk, Branch Brook Park 24 

Hemlock Falls, South Mountain Reservation 40 

View from Rxtstic Bridge, Branch Brook Park 72 

Summer Scene ry the Lake, Branch Brook Park 94 

Road in Eagle Rock Reservation 118 

The Driveway, Orange Park 140 

Formal Garden, Branch Brook Park 172 

Children's Wading Pool, West Side Park 196 

Arbor Walk, Branch Brook Park 232 

A Willow by the Lake 264 

Fountain, Branch Brook Park 286 


Parks and playgrounds are commanding more and more 
attention. Their creation, care and maintenance have 
become one of the most important of municipal functions. 
The increasing interest of all classes in every urban com- 
munity accentuates the movement toward better and 
healthier conditions in, and contiguous to, the centers of 
population. American literature on this subject has thus 
far mainly considered effects rather than causes; results 
instead of methods. 

In this volume, the intention of the author has been to 
correctly indicate, step by step, the moving forces and 
potential facts in the development of an extended and 
costly park system, one of the largest, and the initial county 
park system of this country. 

The record begins at the beginning. It deals with the 

inception of the enterprise, the legislation creating it; and 

reflects the smooth course of progress until the blighting 

influence of special interests and of practical politics were 

injected into the undertaking. Events are reflected, as by 

a mirror, just as they occurred. The ten years covered by 

this history indicate a period of rapid development of parks 

and recreation grounds all over the country. The growth in 

expenditure for park areas and attractions here are typical 



of most other rapidly growing comnmnities. The general 
support everywhere given by the public, and the recent 
awakening for better civic and municipal conditions, augur 
well for the future. This increasing interest in New Jersey, 
■ as elsewhere, accounts for the publication of this volume. 
The first publication as a serial has called forth many 
expressions for the history in more permanent form. The 
generous words of commendation received have been grati- 
fying to the author, and have encouraged the publishers to 
comply with these requests. 

In the concluding chapter, the experiences of other large 
public p?-rk undertakings, and the reasons for recommend- 
ing changes in the law and in park administration here, are 




The inauguration of a great system of public impiove- 
ments is often preceded by general discussion, more or less 
public agitation, and sometimes by party divisions, in the 
efforts to obtain the requisite legislation. This has been 
not infrequently the case in the selection and acquirement 
of lands for public parks, which, owing to the great cost 
usually involved, becomes at once an important factor 
within the community or the areas affected. 

In New York the discussion over a proposed "outer park" 
in 1851 resulted in a special session of the Legislature in 
July of that year and the authorization made for the city 
to locate the park on the East Eiver, above Sixty-sixth 
street, and including the tract then known as St. John's 
Wood. Opposition to the project promptly developed, and 
the property was never acquired for park uses. Two years 
later, in 1853, a commission was created with authority to 
locate and acquire land above Fifty-ninth street for what 
is now Central Park. It was not, however, until three 
years afterward that the park received its name, and not 
until 1859 that the lines were extended to One Hundred 
and Tenth street, and that that park, which has since been 
so much to New York and to the country, was fully and 
firmly established. This history of Central Park has been 
repeated in many of its phases in nearly every large park 
undertaking where the parks have not been acquired by 
gift from individual owners. 


Here in Essex County the commendable efforts made by 
public-spirited citizens to secure a park for Newark were 
actively followed for four years — from 1867 to 1871— but 
without practical result, although the act of April 9, 1867, 
created a preliminary commission of twenty-six members 
to select and locate grounds for the purpose. From the 
available records of that movement it appears that by the 
selection of but one park in the northern portion of the 
city, rival claims of other sections, especially from the 
southern wards of the city, so complicated the situation as 
to prevent further action either by the Legislature or by the 
city authorities. 

The dedication by the Newark Aqueduct Board in De- 
cember, 1889, of the city reservoir property for park uses 
was a change of record and in name only, for nothing was 
done to utilize that small tract for park purposes. Its con- 
dition precluded this without some embellishment. 

The intOTesting report of the Newark Board of Trade 
committee on parks for 1892 was apparently well received. 
The initiative features for carrying the project into effect 
were, however, wholly lacking, and the movement did not, 
therefore, reach the legislative stage. Nor did it give 
opportunity for division or objection from the different 
localities where the opposition had been so pronounced 
against the plan for a single and similar park location as 
made by the commission of 1867. 


The experience in the establishment of the Essex County 
parks has been unique in the history of large public underr 
takings. Unlike similar enterprises, no hindrances obtained 
or objections were raised. The first recommendations were 
in favor of direct application and early action, and were of 
comprehensive scope, hence open to attack if disfavored by 
press, party or public. The reverse condition prevailed. 
So smoothly and rapidly did events culminate that but 
comparatively few persons not directly interested appar- 
ently appreciated the significance of the movement, or what 
it meant for the future. Now that nearly twelve years 


have elapsed since the inception of the enterprise, there are 
very many who know little as to the original plans for the 
acquirement and development of the parks, and many more 
who know even less ahout the causes and conditions which 
have led to the present status of the county park movement. 
This system has now cost more than $5,000,000 — a fact 
which shows how generous the people have been in favoring 
the appropriations. 

Many desire to know more about the formulative steps 
in the enterprise and the consecutive developments since. 
It fell to my lot to be one of those actively identified with 
the subject from the beginning. Eequests at various times 
have been made that I write an account of what has oc- 
curred. With some reluctance I have acceded. To my 
mind the public is as fully entitled to all the available 
information regarding the early activities and events con- 
nected with the parks as they are to the fullest enjoyment 
of these pleasure grounds, purchased and improved at the 
taxpayers' expense. 

It is, therefore, my purpose in this and in succeed- 
ing chapters to give some of the more important incidents 
connected with park developments in this county. As no 
consecutive account of the enterprise has yet been written, 
I shall devote some space to the inception of the movement, 
and to the basic principles upon which the structure of 
popular approval then rested ; shall refer to the selection of 
commissioners ; and shall indicate some of the more impor- 
tant work of the first commission, appointed July 18, 1894. 

Of subsequent events, such matters will be considered, as 
the change in the shaping of the enterprise, from the time 
of the appointment of the permanent commission in 1895 ; 
how that change came to be made; the location of the 
parks; the contest over the parkways; the corporate in- 
fluences that finally prevailed ; how the original plans have 
been changed and enlarged at greatly increased cost; and a 
reflex of such other conditions as have a direct interest and 
potential bearing upon the subject — but always with fidelity 
to the facts. 


In thus adhering to the line of truth, I shall reproduce 
here and there letters and oral statements of those officially 
or directly concerned, adding, in this way, the element of 
personal touch and a present and live interest to the record. 

For a number of years prior to 1893, I had given con- 
siderable attention to the development of the larger 
American and European parks, and had become firmly 
convinced of the needs and opportunities for a park system 
covering the interesting and varied topography of Essex 
County, with Newark as the central or radiating point. 

On December 6, 1893, the Board of Trade of the Oranges 
adopted a resolution which I had presented to the meeting, 
urging "that legislation may obtain at an early date that 
will enable the growing communities in this portion of the 
State to provide a suitable system of parks and parkways," 
and authorizing copies of the resolution sent to "His ex- 
cellency. Governor Werts, also to the Senator and to the 
Assemblyman-elect from this district." 

The resolutions were well received and favorably com- 
mented upon at the time. Very soon afterward, January 3, 
1894, the first annual dinner of the board was given in the 
Music Hall building, Orange. Among the sixty or more 
guests present was President William A. Ure, of the 
Newark Board of Trade. 

In responding to the toast, "Orange and Its Suburbs," I 
referred to the action that had previously been taken favor- 
ing a park system; described the wonderful views from 
Eagle Rock and other points on the crest of the Orange 
Mountain; noted that no such locations for public parks, 
with such views and overlooking such vast populations, were 
elsewhere available in this county, and brought out the 
desirability of immediate action. Later in the evening, in 
meeting then for the first time Mr. Ure, his generous and 
complimentary reference to my presentment of "the larger 
park project," as he termed it, led to the suggestion made 
at his office in Newark, a few days afterward, that the com- 
mittees of the two boards should "get together" and see 


"what could be done toward carrying the suggested project 
into practicable effect. This was soon accomplished. 

In that brief conversation Mr. TJre then called my atten- 
tion to the fact that the Newark board already had a 
special Committee on Parks; that its report two years 
before, although generally approved in the city, had not led 
to any more practical results than had the earlier efforts 
toward establishing a larger park ; that the Park Committee 
and the Newark board would most willingly co-operate in 
any feasible plan for a much needed park system ; and that 
anything he could do individually or in behalf of the board 
as president he would gladly do. Both in his bearing and 
conversation, he was cordial, earnest, direct and practical. 
Of all the men I had met since I had been a resident of 
Essex County, no one with whom I had up to that time 
discussed civic affairs had impressed me more favorably 
than did Mr. Ure. His evident sincerity of purpose to have 
something accomplished for the public good, solely for the 
reason that it would be for the people's interest and for 
civic betterment, was inspiring. The conversation was of 
but perhaps ten minutes' duration. It has always been a 
most agreeable recollection, leaving a strong impression on 
my mind, and, as it now comes again vividly before me, I 
feel impelled to pay this deserved tribute to Mr. lire's 

At a meeting of the Orange board a few days after the 
conversation referred to, the proposition to meet with the 
Park Committee of Newark was explained and fully ap- 
proved, and a special committee was then appointed to 
attend the proposed conference. This was the committee: 
F. W. Kelsey, chairman; Frank W. Child, E. M. Condit, 
J. H. Baldwin and J. S. Holmes. The committee at once 
took up the subject of "formulating a suitable plan," and 
by the time of the first meeting of the Newark and Orange 
committees, held at the Board of Trade rooms in Newark, 
on April 14, 1894, a definite and complete plan had been 
agreed upon. 

In the meantime President Ure, who was also then pro- 


prietor of The Sunday Call, had been active on lines looking 
toward immediate results. On January 31, 1894, the fol- 
lowing editorial appeared in The Call : 

"The park question has been brought forward again by 
the Orange people, and we hope they will keep at it. The 
County of Essex is made up of cities and towns whose 
people, are without opportunity to get near Nature or enjoy 
any open-air recreation, excepting on the pi;blic highways, 
or by trespassing upon private property. There is available 
for public park purposes at moderate expense the finest park 
site known near any Eastern city — ^the slope and crown of 
Orange Mountain. Delay will remove it from possible use 
as a park, for it is being rapidly occupied by residences. 
The appropriation of a suitable tract, at almost any point 
from Maplewood west to near Montclair, is now feasible, 
and it will not be so a dozen years hence." 


This article indicated that at least one of the leading 
county papers would favor the movement, and with the 
two Board of Trade organizations actively interested in the 
work, there was every encouragment that strength and en- 
larged influences would be rapidly added from all portions 
of the county. This prediction was very soon verified, as 
the sequel of events will show. 

In order to insure interest and co-operation in legislative 
circles, a copy of the resolutions which had been adopted by 
the Orange Board of Trade favoring a park system was 
sent to Senator George W. Ketcham, then the representa- 
tive of Essex County in the State Senate, to which, on 
March 31, 1894, he replied : 

"Your communication of the twenty-fourth instant, en- 
closing resolutions relative to public parks, is duly received. 

"The subject is a most important one, and has my sym- 
pathy. Some weeks since the New England Society sent a 
similar letter, and my suggestion was that Assemblyman 


Storrs, of the district covered by these natural parks, should 
formulate a bill, which could be supported in both Senate 
and House of Assembly. If your board will suggest some 
partieularsj naming, for example, certain areas to be set 
apart, I shall take great pleasure in urging the matter upon 
the attention of the Legislature. The time seems to be 
propitious for a movement of this kind. I shall be glad of 
any suggestions which the Orange Board of Trade may be 
pleased to make." 

The resolutions of the New England Society had been 
adopted at the March (1894) meeting, and, while favorable 
to the park project, did not outline any definite plan of 
procedure. The plaoi was not for certain mountain areas 
as was evidently in Senator Ketcham's mind, but rather for 
a comprehensive scheme of parks and parkways for the 
whole county. These responses, however, indicated that the 
legislative coast was apparently clear for favorable action 
there, and, therefore, all that was needed was a concise and 
readily understood plan that would not only unify all inter- 
ests throughout the county and districts more directly 
affected, but would also directly appeal to the Legislature, 
without the action of which no plan, even of the most at- 
tractive outline, could be carried out. With an appreciation 
of these underlying conditions, the Orange committee went 
quite exhaustively into the subject, as to how the desired 
results could best be accomplished. 

The formulative plans and accompanying legislation of 
many established park systems were considered. The in- 
tent was to select the more desirable features of each, based 
upon practical experiences elsewhere, to simplify the most 
effective and practicable, and then to formulate a plan that 
would be in every way adaptable to the municipal, taxable 
and topographical conditions, and unified into one system 
for our "home county." 

Our committee from Orange was, therefore, in a measure 
at least, prepared for the meeting of the joint committee on 
April 14, above mentioned, notices of the conference having 


been »eiit to «ach member of botli committeeB April 13, 

TIl» committee from the Newark Board of Trade con- 
T. S. Henry, S. J. Meeker, S. S. Sargeant, E. S. Ward, 
eisted of Messrs. Cyrus Peek, A. Q. Keasbey, J. S. Higbie, 
J. E. Fleming, A. B. Twitchell, P. T. Quinn, Edward 
Sehickhaus, G. W. Wiedenmayer and President William A. 
Ure, member ex-officio. 


Most of the members of both committees were present at 
the meeting. Almost the sole topic discussed was what 
would be the most desirable plan for inaugurating the park 
movement. There was no dissenting voice as to the need of 
having something done, and that directly. The Orange 
committee, while having in mind its definite plan, stated 
that it would be glad to first consider any plan or suggestion 
from the Newark board, which represented a much larger 
district, and a very much larger and longer established 
membership. To this proposition came the response that 
they had no special suggestions to make at that time; that 
no action had been taken by them since the report of the 
committee of two days before; that they had understood the 
meeting then in session 'Tiad been called at the suggestion 
of the Orange committee;" and that they would therefore 
be glad to know what we had to suggest. As chairman of 
the Orange committee, I then proceeded to outline the plan 
as given below, stating that our committee were unanimous 
in favoring it; that it was, however, submitted in a tenta- 
tive way, for suggestion, for improvement or amendment, 
or such changes as might make the plan better serve the 
purpose which all desired should be accomplished. 

The plan as outlined was heartily approved. Its present- 
ment in writing, and publication, was ■ requested. A. Q. 
Keasbey and myself were then by resolution appointed as a 
sub-committee of two to prepare for prompt introduction 


into the Legislature a bill drawn on the lines of the plan as 

After the meeting I wrote out, as requested, this plan. It 
was in the form of a letter addressed to the chairman of 
Committee on Parks of the Newark Board of Trade, and 
was dated April 16, 1894. 

As this communication and plan soon became the founda- 
tion upon which the superstructure of the movement for a 
county park system and the favorable legislation that soon 
followed rested, the letter is here given in full. It is as 
follows : 

"Agreeable to the understanding at our meeting Satur- 
day evening, fourteenth instant, I note below the principal 
features of the plan unanimously approved by all the mem- 
bers of both committees then present, as being the most 
feasible for establishing a system of parks and parkways : 

"First — That action be taken by a special commission, 
authorized by legislative enactment applicable to Essex 

"Second — That such commission be composed of five 
members appointed by the resident judge of the Supreme 
Court, and that an appropriation be provided by a direct 
charge upon the county for requisite expenses, surveys, 
plans, etc., the commissioners to serve without compesation. 

"Third — That the commission be strictly non-partisan, 
its members selected for fitness, with the sole object of 
devising the very best scheme for a system of parks that is 
practicable for the entire district. 

"The more we consider this plan the more simple, direct 
and effective it appears. It provides for immediate action. 
It admits of comprehensive treatment for the whole section 
from the Passaic Eiver to the Second Mountain, without 
complications or delay incident to so many local governing 
bodies attempting to solve the problem. The method of 
appointment, free from political or speculative interference, 
should at once enlist the confidence and support of the com- 
munity favorable to the enterprise. 



"A bill, simple in its provisions, providing for the carry- 
ing out of this plan, and affecting only counties of the first 
class, could hardly meet with reasonable objection in the 
Legislature. Every one recognizes that a well-devised pub- 
lie park system for this great Essex County population 
would be not only of great benefit and value to every local- 
ity, but of immense importance to the State as well. Every 
home in the entire section would be more attractive and 
valuable; every piece of property share in the improvement; 
and the cost be largely or fully compensated in this way. 

"Should your committee and board, upon further con- 
sideration, concur in the general plan stated, or suggest any 
other providing for similar results, we shall be happy to 
meet you again in conference at an early date with the view 
of arranging further details and the drafting of a bill that 
can be with confidence submitted to the Legislature and 
the people. 

"Very truly yours, 

"Frederick W. Kelset, 
"Chairman Committee of Parks and Public Improvements 

of the Board of Trade of the Oranges." 

The plan met with immediate popular approval. The 
leading papers favored it. Various civic organizations 
passed resolutions commending it, and public-spirited citi- 
zens in different portions of the county wrote personal 
letters favoring its prompt adoption. 

There was no longer any doubt that the time had arrived 
for prompt action. When Mr. Keasbey and I met soon 
afterward to prepare the desired legislative bill, we were 
entirely agreed upon all but a single point. The plan as 
favored by the joint committee on April 14 was to provide 
by legislative enactment for a permanent commission, re- 
lying upon future legislation for authority to enlarge its 
needed powers and to provide the requisite appropriations. 
This conviction, I believe, was shared by all the members 
present at that meeting. In preparing the bill Mr. Keasbey 


expressed to me the view that in law it was "inconsistent to 
provide by legislation for a permanent board to perform a 
temporary act." As the duty of the commission first ap- 
pointed would be to map out and report on a plan for the 
park system, he contended that the term of authority and 
life of the commission should therefore be for a limited 
term only, and be provided for in the act itself. To this 
view I acceded, although some members of the committee 
felt that, owing to the uncertainties of future legislation, 
the provision for a permanent commission was preferable. 
On April 30, 1894, W. A. Ure expressed this view in a 
letter which I then received from him : 

"Replying to yours of yesterday, I would say that the 
Park Commission plan you outline seems to meet all the 

"As to making the commission permanent, I think that 
would be necessary in order to accomplish permanent bene- 
fit. At the outset, however, the joint committee, which is 
composed of gentlemen competent to consider the subject, 
might formulate a general plan to be submitted to the peo- 
ple of the county, the details of which, if ratified, to be 
afterward supervised and controlled by the commission." 

In all other respects than the one limiting the time for 
which the commission was to be appointed, the bill was in 
strict accord with the plan as above outlined, and was 
favorably reported at the meeting of the joint committee, 
held at the Board of Trade rooms, Newark, the afternoon 
of April 25, 1894. The proposed bill was there, as drawn 
and without amendment, unanimously approved, and the 
same afternoon a copy of the bill was transmitted to Sen- 
ator Ketcham at Trenton for introduction into the Legis- 
lature. The bill was accompanied by the following letter : 

"We believe this bill will meet with the unanimous ap- 
proval of substantially the whole county. If in your judg- 
ment the presence of representatives of our organizations 
'wiU ia aay vvaj- imA to expedite the passage of the bill, 


kindly advise us by wire and we will respond promptly. A 
message to Frank W. Child, secretary, Orange, will reach 
us directly." 

This letter was signed by the members of the Newark 
and Orange committees then present at the meeting. 

Under the same date, April 25, 1894, a letter was sent to 
Senator Keteham from the chairmen of the two committees, 
explaining that "the bill had been prepared by the joint 
committee on public parks of the board of trade of Newark 
and the Oranges ;" that "it is merely the first step designed 
to lead to a general plan which may command public ap- 
proval and accomplish great results with the aid of future 

"The expenditure," the letter stated, "is limited to a 
small sum and the commissioners are to act without com- 
pensation. We earnestly hope that the bill may be promptly 
passed, so that the work of the commission may be well 
advanced during the coming summer." 

"After much discussion and consideration of the sub- 
ject," continued the letter, "we are convinced that this 
simple, initial step toward a great public improvement will 
command the general approval of the citizens of Essex 
County. It will not be necessary for Hudson County to 
adopt the plan, and, therefore, it should meet with no oppo- 
sition in that quarter." 

The bill as sent to Senator Keteham was promptly intro- 
duced by him the following day, April 36, and then made 
its appearance as "Senate Bill No. 205." It was promptly 
referred to, and soon afterward reported by, the Committee 
on Municipal Corporations, and passed without obstruction 
or hardly a dissenting vote in ttie Senate. A like result 
followed in the passage of the bill in the Assembly, and on 
the eighth of May, within two weeks after the measure had 
reached the Legislature, it was approved by Governor Werts. 
As a result, the bill, exactly as prepared by the joint com- 
mittee, had in this short time thus become "Chapter CLVI" 
of the Laws of 1894. 


The provisions of this law, providing for a temporary 
commission, scarcely call for extended reference here. In 
brief, the presiding justice of the Supreme Court was 
authorized to appoint a commission of five persons for the 
term of two years, to "consider the advisability of laying 
out ample open spaces for the use of the public * * * 
in such county," with "authority to make maps and plans 
of such spaces and to collect such other information in 
relation thereto as the said board may deem expedient;" 
and "as soon as conveniently may be," to "make a report 
in writing of a comprehensive plan for laying out, acquir- 
ing and maintaining such open spaces." 

The commission was also authorized to employ assistants, 
and to be reimbursed for actual traveling expenses incurred 
"in the discharge of their duties." The total expenditures 
were limited to $10,000, the payment to be provided for by 
the Board of Freeholders* in the usual manner. 

The attitude of the public at the time of the approval of 
the bill had continued to grow more and more favorable. 
The suggestion that those identified with the enterprise had 
merely adapted the scheme of the metropolitan park system 
of Massachusetts, entirely overlooked the fact that it was 
merely the preliminary stages of that undertaking — the 
initial legislation for the first commission — ^which had been, 
in a general way, followed. The Orange committee had in 
the early part of that year, 1894, gone quite fully into the 
various phases of many of the larger park systems. It was 
found that the Metropolitan Park plan, embracing, as it at 
that time did, thirty-nine separate municipalities, and vari- 
ous counties about Boston, and having an entirely new and 
untried system of financing, was wholly unsuited to the 
needs of Essex County. Indeed, we had all along under- 
stood that, under the New Jersey Constitution, such a dis- 
trict as had been mapped out and included in the Metropoli- 
tan Parks area could not be legally laid out or established 
here; and that this State would not be likely, even if it 

♦Board of Chosen Freeholders Is the official title of ths county 
governing bf\dle§ in New Jersey, 


could, to advance its credit to the various municipalities for 
millions of dollars, as had been done in Massachusetts, 
relying, as there, upon a future apportionment or assess- 
ment upon the cities and towns within the district for final 


It was, therefore, recognized at the outset of the discus- 
sion that only the general form of the preliminary legisla^ 
tion in Massachusetts could be in any way advantageously 
used here. It had also been recognized that the movement 
for larger parks or park systems had taken different forms 
in nearly every city. New York had in 1888 expended mil- 
lions of dollars in adding nearly 4,000 acres of new park 
lands, extending, with the great connecting parkways, from 
Van Cortland Park on the Hudson, to the beautiful Pel- 
ham Bay Park on Long Island Sound — all embraced in 
what was soon afterwards known as the park system of the 

In and about London the County Councils had at that 
time located and acquired, as had the authorities of Paris, 
vast tracts of lands for park uses, but each was then lack- 
ing, as in most other European and American urban com- 
munities, in any concerted action or comprehensive con- 
nective park system such as, I believe, was first adopted in 
this country in Detroit, and as was now deemed desirable 
for Essex Comity. 

It was accordingly understood that the favorable legis- 
lation that had just then been so promptly obtained in our 
own Legislature, would not only enable the work of acquir- 
ing and developing a park system here to go readily and 
rapidly forward, but, under the law, a commission, "se- 
lected for fitness," would be enabled to adopt the best 
features pf all the park systeiJis, and by holding the enter- 
prise on the lines so cordially approved by the Legislature* 
the-preSs aiid the people, w&aM retain public confideace and 


support, to the lasting benefit of the whole county and 

Thus was the bark of the first county park enterprise 
safely launched, in smooth water, under fair skies, without 
a reef or ripple in view. 



Not many days after the enactment of the park law, as 
stated in the preceding chapter, I chanced one morning in 
New York to meet Senator Ketcham, and as we walked 
together down lower Broadway, after exchanging some con- 
gratulatory remarks over the success of the park bill in the 
Legislature, he said to me that he had just seen Judge 
Depue, and that he understood the appointment of the five 
commissioners was soon to be made. He then conveyed to 
me the message, which he said the judge had requested him 
to give to me, viz., that he (the judge) desired to see me 
with Cyrus Peck before the appointments were made. He 
said that he had not asked, and did not know, what object 
the judge had in mind. 

When I learned, a day or two later, that Mr. Peck had 
not received any invitation for the conference direct, I 
wrote to Judge Depue, May 21, 1894, as follows: 

"Senator Ketcham has kindly conveyed to Mr. Cyrus 
Peck and myself your request for further information on 
park matters and the suggestion that we meet you in con- 
ference. Eeciprocating the confidence expressed, it will 
give us pleasure to meet you at such time and place as most 
agreeable for you to make the appointment." 

The following was the response: 

"11th June, '94. 
"My Dear Sir — I will be glad to see you and Mr. Peek 
at the courthouse on Saturday morning, next, at 10 A. M. 


Please bring copy of park bill with you. I will ask you to 
notify Mr. Peck of the appointment. 

"I am now going to Trenton every day to Supreme Court, 
being home only in the evenings. Hope the time for the 
meeting will be satisfactory. 

"Very truly yours, 

"David A. Depue. 
"Fred. W. Kelsey, Esq." 


Before this letter ^'as written, a meeting of the joint com- 
mittee on parks was held at the Newark Board of Trade 
rooms on the afternoon of June 6. At this meeting resolu- 
tions were adopted, "expressing the sense of the meeting 
that a letter be sent Judge Depue requesting at as early a 
date as agreeable the appointment of the commission, as 
provided by recent act of the Legislature;" Also, that 

"The chairman of the Newaxk and Orange committees 
be requested to present in person to Judge Depue a certi- 
fied copy of the act, together with the letter signed by the 
full membership of each committee." 

In accordance with these resolutions, the letter was then 
prepared and was as follows : 

"Newark, June 6, 1894. 
"Hon. David A. Depue, Justice of the Supreme Court. 

"Dear Sir — We, the undersigned members of the commit- 
tees on public parks of the boards of trade of Newark and 
Orange, who have been active in preparing the bill for the 
appointment of boards of county commissioners, a certified 
copy of which accompanies this letter, beg to request that 
you may, at as early a date as agreeable, appoint the com- 
mission as provided in said act. We have further resolved 
that this letter and copy of this act be presented to your 
honor by the chairmen of our respective committees. 

"Cyrus Peck, chairman Newark committee. 

"Fred. W. Kelsey, chairman Orange committee. 

"S. J. Meeker, Edward Schickhaus, J. H. Baldwin, 


James E. Fleming, William A. Ure, president Newark 
Board of Trade; James S. Holmes, president Board of 
Trade of the Oranges; P. W. Child, A. Q. Keasbey." 


The judge was advised of this action the following day, 
June 7, but the letter and copy of the act were retained 
to present to him "in person," as called for in the resolu- 
tion of the committee and as requested in his note of June 
11, for an appointment. 

Judge Depue received us in his private room at the court- 
house on the morning of June 18, according to appoint- 
ment. He said: 

"Gentlemen, I sent for you because I desire to consult 
with you as to the appointment of the fifth commissioner. 
Pour of the appointees I have already decided upon. I 
have in mind the names of several men outside of Newark 
whom I think well of or who have been recommended to me 
as the other commissioner, but I have thought I should like 
to talk with you before making a further decision. 

"First," he went on, "I propose to appoint my old friend, 
Edward Jackson, of Belleville. You know him, do you 

"Well," he continued, when we had answered him in the 
negative, "I'll vouch for Ed. Jackson" — which was by com- 
mon consent acceptably received ; and he then said : "I am 
going to appoint you, Mr. Peck, and Mr. Meeker, of the 
Board of Trade committee, from Newark, and you, Mr. 
Kelsey, from Orange. This leaves the fifth member from 
the county at large, outside of Newark, yet to be selected." 

The judge then mentioned the names of five men whom 
he had in mind for the place — ^two from Montclair, two 
from South Orange, and one from Orange. My own ap- 
pointment, he said, precluded the consideration of the other 
resident of Orange. The other names were then gone over. 
Not one of them had been favorably considered by the mem- 
bers of the joint committee who had given the personnel 
of the proposed commisdofi earnest thought Whea a^sd 


our opinion, I thus stated to the judge, and explained why 
we believed there were others available who would better fill 
the requirements of the position. I explained that, in the 
initial stages of this large undertaking, we believed it of the 
utmost importance, not only that the members of the com- 
mission should possess the requisite qualifications as to 
competency and fitness, but also that the best results would 
obtain in a small board, as would be the new commission, if 
men were selected for congenial tastes and similar ideas of 
public duty. 

In response to the inquiry as to whom we would suggest, 
two names were mentioned. One, the Judge explained, he 
could not for local reasons consider. The other was that of 
George W. Bramhall. After listening to the reasons given 
for Mr. Bramhall's appointment as the fifth commissioner, 
the judge replied : 

"Well, I do not know Mr. Bramhall. I never met him, 
but, from what has been said, I am willing to appoint him." 


He then, from a directory on his desk, made a note of the 
name. Directly after this incident Mr. Peck and I with- 
drew. The judge came immediately into court and an- 
nounced the names of the commissioners as follows: Ed- 
win W. Jackson, of Belleville; Cyrus Peck and Stephen J. 
Meeker, of Newark; Frederick W. Kelsey, of Orange; and 
George W. Bramhall, of South Orange. His remarks in the 
court were brief. After referring to the application from 
the Board of Trade committee for the appointment of the 
commission and to the act authorizing the appointment, he 
then named the commissioners as stated in the conference, 
and said : 

"I propose this morning to name the individuals, leaving 
the actual appointment until I understand whether they are 
willing to serve. There seems to be a great public interest 
in the subject pro and con, and mainly in favor of it. I 
have received a great many letters of advice and I may say 
that they governed me somewhat in the selection. The com- 


missioners, while appointed, are not authorized to execute 
the work. Their duties are tentative, leaving the Legisla-- 
ture to execute the carrying out of the scheme as future 
legislation may provide. 

"I think it is my duty to appoint men who are so favoi"^ 
able to this enterprise ajid so desirous that it should be 
executed that they will be judicious enough to make such 
recommendations as will be approved by the public, so that 
the work will iinally be accomplished. If I had another 
commissioner to appoint, I could easily find another to fill 
the place. 

"The act provides that the commission employ persons, 
and that it may spend a sum not exceeding $10,000, I 
think. I will appoint the five men named next Saturday, 
unless they should decline to serve." 

Judge Depue's manner and conversation during the con- 
ference, and his remarks in open court, were indicative of 
his earnest approval of the new law, of the objects sought, 
and of_the legal machinery provided to those ends. Con- 
sidering that "fitness" for the position had already become 
the corner-stone of the commission's structure, it was quite 
unexpected to hear him first speak of appointing his "old 
friend," without expressing any opinion as to whether he 
himself believed in the appointment for reasons of especial 
qualifications for the office. But there could be no reason- 
able doubt that the judge shared in the current sentiment 
favorable to the parks. It was also plain that he was desir- 
ous of appointing a commission that would be generally ac- 
ceptable, and that up to that time no pressure of political 
of other scheming influences had been active in shaping 
either his thought or determination in fulfilling to the best 
of his ability the trust reposed in him as the sole appointing 
power in naming the commission. 

The public response to the announcement of appointment 
of the new commission was as cordial as it was generous. 
Both editorially and in the news columns, all the leading 
papers within — and some without — the county were em- 
phatic in their commendation of the project, and referred 


f avorablj^ to those selected to perform the preliminary work. 
The Newark News editorially, on June 18, 1894, ac- 
credited Judge Depue with having "wisely sought to give 
every locality proper representation." 

"Not in this country, if in the world," said the News 
at that time, "is there another place where the eye can look 
upon the dwelling places of so many people as may be seen 
on a clear day from Eagle Eock and other good points of 
observation on the Orange Mountain." 

"The ease with which the park bill passed the House, 
Senate, and Governor is proof of the wisdom and popularity 
of the measure," is-the way The Daily Advertiser put it 
in an editorial of June 10; following an editorial of the 
day previous referring in a complimentary way to the per- 
sonnel of the commission and expressing confidence that 
"these men will do their work faithfully and well." 

At the same time the commissioners were each asked if 
they intended to accept the appointment and for their views 
for publication. Mr. Bramhall said : 

"There should be a series of parks and parkways so de- 
signed that at least a part of them could be reached by walk- 
ing. * * * Within the county there are many excel- 
lent locations for parks." One of the other commissioners 
referred to "public parks as a common possession in which 
the poor and the rich share, and share alike." 

On June 23, 1894, Judge Depue made the formal an- 
nouncement of the commission's appointment in a brief 
statement, again referring to the action of the Board of 
Trade committees, and to the act authorizing the appoint- 
ment; and renaming "the commissioners — Messrs. Jackson, 
Peck, Kelsey, Meeker and Bramhall — to be known as the 
Essex County Park Commission, to hold ofQce for the term 
designated in the act, and to execute all the powers, and 
perform all the duties, mentioned in said act." 


The reader may now readily appreciate the favorable con- 
ditions under which the first park commission began the 
discharge of its duty on the organization of the board that 


same afternoon — June 33, 1894. It was with interest and 
fenthusiasm that each of the commissioners took up the work 
entrusted to him. A position and condition of trust had 
been imposed and accepted, with the sincere desire, I believe 
shared in by all, to be loyal to that trust and the obligations 

With the prevalent sentiment of confidence that had been 
extended by the public, by the Legislature, by the press 
and by the court, what greater incentive could be placed 
before a body of men than was thus placed immediately be- 
fore the commission at that time? The members soon 
found that in the work before them they were both officially 
and personally congenial, and that differences in conviction 
were soon moulded into harmonious action for a common 
purpose. Such was the fact ; and as I now cast a reflective 
view back to the efforts and results attained by that board, 
it occasions in my mind less surprise than ever before 
that this preliminary commission should have accomplished 
in about half a year that which it was authorized to occupy 
two years in doing, and that less than one-half of the avail- 
able appropriation of $10,000 had been expended. 

The organization of the boajd took place at the Board of 
Trade rooms, Newark. In talking with Mr. Peck prior to 
the board meeting, he had suggested that, as I had formu- 
lated the plan that had proven so acceptable, I should be 
the first president, and I was chosen temporary chaiiman. 

The judge later sent word by his friend. Commissioner 
Jackson, that he desired Mr. Peck should be president. 
No reasons were stated. The commission was not a com- 
mittee for organization under parliamentary rules, but a 
legally constituted body, with clearly defined duties and 
powers, and presumably possessing inherently the unques- 
tionable right of providing for its own organization. As, 
however, Mr. Peck resided in Newark, which city repre- 
sented the largest population in the county, we acquiesced. 
Nevertheless, we did not recognize the judge's right to in- 
terfere. I was then elected vice-president and Mr. Jackson 
was agreed upon as temporary secretary. 


It was then agreed to employ a secretary; yarioiis com- 
mittees, on by-laws, rooms, printing, etc., were selected ; and 
the actual work of the board thus began. It was decided to 
have regular monthly meetings, and more frequently, as cir- 
cumstances required. The requirements soon called for 
meetings once a week, or even more often — a policy and 
condition that was followed to the close of the work of the 

At the meeting of June 28, a series of resolutions were 
received from the "East Orange Park Avenue Protective 
Association" expressing "its approbation" of the prompt ap- 
pointment of the commission, favoring additional legisla- 
tion, and suggesting that the "care of certain streets and 
avenues leading to and through such park or parks" be 
placed in the hands of the new board. The resolutions also 
requested "the active co-operation of the said Park Com- 
mission in our efforts to preserve Park avenue for the pur- 
poses above described." 

The petition was accompanied by a lengthy communica- 
tion favoring "a small park or parks within the limits of 
each of our large cities or elsewhere in the vicinity;" a 
"large park or a chain of parks on or over the Orange 
Mountain;" and suitable approaches to the parks, "re- 
served as carriageways, free from trolley cars, overhead 
wires and anything that would detract from the character 
of these approaches as first-class residence streets." No 
reference was made to Central avenue, which was ere long 
to become the storm center of one of the most stubbornly 
fought contests between corporate greed and the forces that 
make for civic betterment that have yet occurred in this 

As the commission had not at this time fairly completed 
its organization, and had not even taken up the subject of 
the proposed park locations, the communications were read 
and received without action. 

The work of the board now went rapidly forward. Com- 
missioner Meeker was elected treasurer. A large number of 
applications were received for the position of secretary. A 


committee of the board, after passing upon the various ap- 
plicants, recommended Alonzo Church — the present secre- 
tary — and he was appointed at the meeting of July 13, 

One of the first matters looking to results that was de- 
cided by the commission, was as to the desirability of get- 
ting in. touch with the various governing bodies of the 
county. It was felt that, not only was each locality entitled 
to be heard regarding its preference or recommendations, 
but that the board would be strengthened, and in many 
ways assisted, by calling out the wishes and suggestions from 
various parts of the county. It was agreed that the most 
feasible and effectual way of doing this would be through a 
communication addressed directly to each of the local au- 
thorities and associations interested in municipal improve- 
ment. This plan was agreed upon, and on June 28, I was, 
by resolution of the board, requested to prepare a letter from 
the commission on the lines indicated. After referring to 
the powers conferred by the Park act, and to Judge Depue's 
selection of the commissioners, "two from Newark, one from 
Belleville, one from Orange, and one from South Orange," 
the letter was as follows : 

THE commission's LETTER. 

"The outlining of a plan that will result in the greatest 
good to the greatest number, by the most direct methods 
and at the least cost, necessitates wide research, and the 
fullest suggestions as to localities and their availability. 
To these ends, and in the spirit indicated by the law, and 
the court, we invite your co-operation in according fair 
consideration to every portion of the district. 

"That the prompt location and acquirement of a compre- 
hensive system of parks in this county is desirable, if not 
imperative, for the health and prosperity of the people, ap- 
pears to be generally admitted. Indeed, that this commun- 
ity is belated in this important public improvement is quite 
too apparent. 


"The experience of other places demonstrates conclusively 
that parks are the most appreciated where most liberally 
provided. The more the public realize their advantage to 
health, to property- — to say nothing of enjoyment — the 
more eager all classes axe for park extensions and new 
pleasure grounds. 

"With all the millions New York had previously ex- 
pended for park lands and improvements, only a few years 
ago large areas of additional park lands were secured at an 
expense of some $9,000,000 or $10,000,000, and that munic- 
ipality has again this year undertakings for additional 
parks at an authorized expenditure of several millions more. 

"Philadelphia, with her city squares and beautiful Fair- 
mount Park, is just undertaking at an estimated cost of 
$6,000,000, the construction of a boulevard from the new 
city hall direct to Pairmount Park, much of the way 
through a densely built up part of the city. These are only 
instances of the movement going on everywhere. Smaller 
communities like Paterson and Trenton have already parks 
and parkway approaches of commanding importance. 

"Not one of these communities, and but few in this coun- 
try or in Europe, have the natural advantages of topog- 
raphy, scenery, etc., that nature has already provided here 
in Essex County. 

"Hardly another community so important has so long 
neglected to utilize these advantages, or so persistently 
failed to realize the importance of this subject. 

"There are more than 300,000 people in this county, in 
the midst of these unusually favorable conditions, yet there 
are only a few acres of public park lands in the whole 

"The whole population appears to have developed with 
but little regard to matters of this nature that have long 
ago been deemed vital in isolated cities and towns of less 
population and fewer resources. We believe you will concur 
in the conviction that existing conditions call for immediate 

"With this view, we invite your co-operation, and would 


be happy to receive from you at an early date any sugges- 
tions that occur to your honorable body as to particular 
localities in your section you think could be practically ac- 
quired by gift or otherwise for park purposes, either sepa- 
rately or as part of a county system. We further invite any 
other recommendations or objections that you may deem 
of importance bearing on this question. 

"Presuming you have in your vicinity lands considered 
specially suited for a local park or parks, we should esteem 
any suggestions as to these; also as to what proportion of 
the cost of such lands and improvements you would think 
equitable to be borne by your own city, or adjacent property, 
or both, and what proportion, if any, by the county at large. 

"Hoping we may be favored with your early reply, 
"Yours very respectfully, 


Eeplies were very generally received. Many were sent 
promptly. All were in heaxty accord with the aims and 
objects of the commission. Some of the suggestions were 
practical and of value ; others were visionary or too elabo- 
rate. Each bore the imprint of good wishes and good will. 
Mayor Lebkeucher, of Newark, was one of the first officials 
to respond. He expressed the intention of co-operating 
with the commission in its work and stated that he would 
take up the subject with the Common Council and the 
Board of Street and Water Commissioners. Mayor Gill, 
of Orange, sent a similar reply. 

The majority of suggestions favored the location of the 
large park sites on the Orange Mountain. Montclair, East 
Orange, Millburn, Bloomfield, Belleville, South Orange, and 
other places were soon heard from. A number of civic as- 
sociations, improvement societies, and citizens in various 
localities throughout the county also responded and ex- 
pressed a desire to co-operate in some way in the work of 
the commission. 

Indeed, the recommendations became so varied and ex- 
tended as to the matter of park sites that the commissioners 


begaji to ask themselves if the entire eounty was not 

While the friends of the parks were providing sugges- 
tions and recommendations, the board was looking also to 
broader fields of information and to the guidance of expe- 
.rience. At the meeting July 19, 1894, the secretary was 
requested to obtain the best available maps of the county; 
with the reports, together with such other data as might be 
of value to the commission, from the leading park depart- 
ments of the country and from the larger cities abroad. 
The information thus obtained was later of great value for 
comparison, and in the preparation of the charter for the 
permanent commission. 


A resolution was also adopted at the July 19 meeting 
which has since remained a factor in the proceedings of the 
Park Board, although it long ago outlived its usefulness 
and therefore by sufferance remains as a relic of the past. 
I believe it would have been better had it never been adopted 
than to have encroached, as it has thus far, into a field 
where its purpose and workings were never intended. I 
may, perhaps, be pardoned for the reference to this subject 
here, for I drew the resolution in question and on my mo- 
tion it was adopted. It provided that "the meetings of the 
commission be in executive session, and that the secretary 
furnish a report of the proceedings to the press after each 

When this motion was agreed upon, every member of the 
commission realized that the moment our decision to locate 
park lands anywhere in the county was made public, there 
would naturally be a speculative movement attempted to 
forestall the future Park Board in securing the required 
lands at the then current prices. The matter was carefully 
considered, and the resolution promptly adopted for the sole 
and only purpose of giving any future commission the op- 
portunity of acquiring such locations as might be needed 
for the parks without starting the real estate adventurers 


and speculators on the clxase toward securing the needed ac- 
quirements first. There never was a suggestion, or a 
thought, which I have ever heard expressed, that favorable 
action on that resolution should or would have the effect of 
practically and permanently creating, in method of proce- 
dure, a close corporation in the transaction of public busi- 
ness — a method of conducting, under ordinary conditions, 
meetings of public officials, which I disfavored in July, 
1894, as I have since the location of the parks was made 
public in 1896. 

During the summer of 189-i, the park project, so far as 
the commission was concerned, kept as warm as the weather. 
Two meetings a week were not exceptional. If not a meet- 
ing, a conference, or some other call to duty kept up an 
active, continuous interest. The latter part of July the 
commission rented the rooms at 800 Broad street, formerly 
occupied by Hon. Theodore Eunyon — a portion of the suite 
since occupied by the present commission. 

During August the letters of suggestion and replies to re- 
quests for reports — some from foreign countries — continued 
to come in. The secretary prepared, and under direction 
of Commissioner Bramhall, chairman of the printing com- 
mittee, the board published a pamphlet on "Park Benefits" 
that had a friendly reception and extended distribution. 


By early September the commissioners had personally 
examined many of the possible park sites; had, in fact, 
looked over the county east of the Second Mountain quite 
generally. Some of the more desirable locations had been 
studied with care. The general plan for the park system 
was gradually taking shape. _ Expert advice was needed. 
Arrangements were accordingly made with five experienced 
landscape architects, who were to prepare plans and act in 
the capacity of "park making advisers" to the commission. 
In the engagement of Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot, it was 
"with the wish and expectation that the commission obtain 
the personal services and report of Frederick Law Olmsted," 


The request was complied with, and this was the last pub- 
lic work that received the attention of that great specialist 
in park designing. The other architects were Nathan F. 
Barrett, Ehrenherg & Webster, John Bogart and Gray & 
Blaisdell. The agreement with each was specific and well 
understood in advance. They were, as park experts, "turned 
loose in the county," figuratively speaking. Each was en- 
gaged to act entirely and wholly independent of the other. 
Each received a county map, upon which, after studying the 
topography of the whole county below the Second Mountain 
— the relative populations, etc., etc. — was to be marked in 
a way indicating the locations of such parks and connecting 
parkways as, in his (or their) judgment, would provide the 
best park system, as viewed from the standpoint of the 
whole county. In this view the needs and conveniences of 
the denser populations were to be considered. The maps, 
when completed and marked as indicated, were to become 
the property of the commission. The necessary expenses 
in making the investigations were to be met by the board, 
but the compensation was for a fixed fee, which was in each 
case very reasonable; for it was understood that the plans 
to be submitted were on the principle of competitive designs, 
and the architect (or firm) making the most acceptable de- 
sign and report would very naturally have an advanced posi- 
tion for future engagement should their plans be carried 

THE experts' plan. 

Under this arrangement the commission received the five 
plans and full reports for what, in view of all the circum- 
stances, was an exceedingly reasonable price, viz. : a total 
cost of but $3,373.13. 

In a number of important features, their recommenda- 
tions, such as the location of Branch Brook Park, Newark, 
the acquirement and retention of Central avenue and Park 
avenue as parkways, and the location of large areas for 
mountain parks and reservations, all agreed, and were, after 
careful study, found to be in full accord with the convic- 


tions of all the commissioners ; and these outlines were defi- 
nitely agreed upon before the close of the year. By Decem- 
ber the plans of the board had sufficiently matured so that, 
on December 6, a committee of two was appointed "to wait 
upon John R. Emery, Esq., and consult with him about pro- 
curing his legal services for the commission," for the pur- 
pose of preparing a charter for a succeeding commission. 

Thus at the close of 1894, all was yet smooth sailing. We 
were nearing the port of destination, and the harbor of safe 
condition for an attractive and most creditable county park 
system did not seem far beyond. 



The inspection and selection of park sites within a terri- 
tory possessing the varied topography and variety of nat- 
ural scenery found in Essex County was a most agreeable 
and interesting experience. 

Three of the commissioners at this time, 1894, belonged 
to that numerous contingent in Northern New Jersey, who, 
in common parlance, "live in New York and sleep in New 
Jersey." They knew, from everyday experience, something 
of the practical workings of "the strenuous life," having 
passed the years of business activity under the exacting con- 
ditions imposed by close application to commercial afEairs 
in the metropolis, yet, in common with many well-inten- 
tioned citizens of this class, they had felt some degree of 
interest and pride in their locality and in the county at 
large. It was, therefore, a pleasure for them to become 
better acquainted with the beauties of their own county by 
the personal contact and observation required in looking 
over possible park sites. 

It is one of the unfortunate elements in all the 
matters pertaining to good citizenship that Essex 
County, and, in a greater or less degree, the entire 
State of New Jersey, should be deprived of the local 
interest of so many of her most active residents and voters, 
as results from so large an egress from their homes of busi- 
ness men and workers every day, excepting Sundays and 
holidays, throughout the year. 

In roaming over "green fields and pastures new," all the 
commissioners were deeply interested in what they saw. 
One day they were looking at the then very unattractive 



Newark reservoir (now Branch Brook Park) site; another 
day found them at Millbum. Perhaps the day following 
they were in the Oranges, or Montclair, or at Belleville. 
Next they visited Weequahic and passed from consideration 
of this mosquito-breeding and buzzing locality with un- 
favorable comment. 


But of all the experiences during the summer and 
autumn of that year (1894) the days devoted to the Orange 
Mountain were at once the most impressive and delightful. 
As we walked on the crest of the first mountain from the 
point where the mountain abruptly ends near Millbum to 
the limits of the county at Northern Montclair Heights, 
the beautiful and varied views were inspiring. Every new 
prospect along the entire distance was a revelation. 

The beauties of these diversified scenes on ideal autumnal 
days can be only inadequately described. The views from 
the southern points of the crest overlook plains, farms, and 
occasionally a small village ; or South Orange, Hilton, Irv- 
ington and the fringe of southern Newark, and an attrac- 
tive section of Union County. Prom the central portion, 
as from the cable road track above Orange Valley looking 
toward Eagle Rock, Orange and East Orange, portions of 
Montclair, Bloomfield and the full lines of Newark beyond, 
Bergen Hill, the Brooklyn Bridge and the tall buildings of 
Greater New York, all appear in view. The whole area, 
save for the intercepting trees and foliage, of this vast, ex- 
tended area of buildings, looks as though, of this immediate 
prospect, it might be truthfully written : "All the world's 
a roof." The points from the northern sections of the crest 
are again more open and picturesque. Standing there, one 
looks down upon the rolling country in the direction of 
Brookside, and the attractive section of Franldin Township 
and Nutley, and the still more picturesque central eastern 
portion of Passaic County. 

Over all this wonderful panorama is cast the varying 
shades of sunshine, cloud, and shadow. The gray dawn of 



a misty morning casts a somber aspect, which, in turn, is 
transformed into brightness as the sun dispels the shadow, 
and the scene changes, refulgent with the warmth and glow- 
ing tinge of light. The alternating lines of sunshine and 
shadow, as the fleeting clouds pass over the landscape below, 
call to mind the words of the poet, when he describes the 
grandeur of nature's greater mountains, in the lines : 

"The snow-capped peaks of the azure range. 
Forever changing, yet never change." 

From these experiences the reader may readily infer why 
the first park commission favored the acquirement of liberal 
areas on the Orange Mountain for parks, and may recog- 
nize the conditions that controlled such locations as were 
afterward made there, and which are now a part of the 
county park system. 


In October, while the commissioners were devoting con- 
siderable time to the Orange Mountain, it occurred to me 
that it might widen the scope of the enterprise to bring to- 
gether a number of men, active friends of the parks, and 
enlarge the acquaintance and congenial interest of some 
of the earnest supporters of the movement. Accordingly I 
arranged a dinner and invited a number of those interested 
in the enterprise. After the commission and its guests had 
spent the day of October 20 on the mountain, the evening 
at the Country Club, with the entire party there, was de- 
voted to discussing with much interest and earnestness the 
pending park question. 

Mayor Lebkuecher, of Newark, thought "the work of the 
commission had thus far commended its recommendations 
to public favor" and hoped "there would be no difficulty in 
carrying out the work so auspiciously begun." Senator 
Keteham, after referring favorably to the action of the 
court in the appointment of the commission, said : 

"You have in this undertaking the good will of all classes 
of our people. Often there are hindrances to public inj- 


provements, jealousies arise between communities which 
hamper or prevent all progress, but, in the present instance, 
our larger and smaller municipalities vie with each other 
in the desire to secure the best results from this commis- 
sion." He thought "our county as a whole rivals the subur- 
ban districts of those of any in the world;" referred to the 
press as being "a unit for the establishment of parks and 
parkways;" and added that, "to set apart for public uses 
even a portion of these" attractive places "and bind them 
by a cordon of parkways, will tax the skill of the commis- 
sion, but their reward will surely come." 

John F. Dryden expressed regret "that Essex County, 
with all her resources, enterprise and wealth, should be so 
far behind other places in establishing suitable breathing 
places for public enjoyment," and, after calling attention to 
the needs of Newark in the matter of parks, advocated that 
"suitable lands for parks should be acquired now and the 
embellishment left mainly to the future." 

Franklin Murphy was of the opinion "that what the 
public required and what he hoped would be accomplished 
was a system of parks and parkways which he, his family, 
and friends could enjoy now." He thought "it well to bear 
in mind the future, but what was wanted, were suitable 
parks now, and appropriate boulevards and parkways for 
reaching them." 

"Wayne Parker suggested "the immediate acquirement of 
waste spaces, leaving the improvements mainly to the 
future." Mayor Gill, of Orange, believed "that it was the 
consensus of opinion of all classes that the great park for 
the county should be located on the Orange Mountain. 
Frank H. Scott stated that there was "three purposes for 
which parks were created — ^health, recreation and enjoy- 
ment, and, for their attainment, three things were neces- 
sary — space, pure air and natural beauty, enhanced or sup- 
plemented by art." Wendell P. Garrison called attention 
to the desirability of co-operating with the State Geological 
Survey in considering the question of forest reservartion, 
^d to the advantages and comparatively^ small cost of 


natural reservations for park purposes. Others contended 
that delay would largely increase the cost of the requisite 
park lands. Many suggestions were made apropos of the 
discussion. The occasion' was but another indication of the 
sentiment of good will and best wishes which generally pre- 
vailed at that time. 

Before passing from the work of the first Park Commis- 
sion, there are two or three matters that were considered 
and acted upon in the preparation of the charter creating 
the permanent commission, which it may be of interest to 
refer to here. There were two vital principles involved. 
First, as to whether the commission for establishing and 
maintaining the park system should be elective or appoint- 
ive, and, if appointive, in what official or court or courts 
the appointing power should be vested. And second, should 
provision be made for directly assessing the cost of the lands 
for the parks and the improvements, or both; or should a 
portion of the cost, or all of the cost, be provided for by a 
general tax according to the ratables upon the county as a 
whole. It was deemed imperative to have these conditions 
clearly defined, and, before John R. Emery submitted the 
first draft of the proposed charter, on January 25, 1895, 
the points pro and con, as to an appointive board, had been 
seriously considered by the commissioners. They were 
unanimous in the conclusion, in consideration of the 
methods by which candidates for important county offices 
secured, or were accorded, nominations through the cus- 
tomary channels of party selection, that, for such a position 
as that of park commissioner, charged with the responsi- 
bility of locating, acquiring and developing an extended 
park system and the consequent expenditure of large sums 
of public funds, the chances might be more favorable for sat- 
isfactory results under the appointive plan than under the 
elective system. 


It was recognized that the work of locating and develop- 
ing a series of parks for so large an area of such diversified 


interests as in Essex County, would, if undertaker, to the 
best advantage, require men especially qualified, from 
tastes, training and experience; and that, as the plan of 
having men selected because of fitness had been so well re- 
ceived, the continuation of a similar provision in the new 
charter might be equally favored by the public. It had been 
shown that, in many instances where the elective plan of 
selecting commissioners had been in vogue, the practical 
results had not been acceptable to the municipalities or to 
the other local ofSeials, and that "practical politics" was not 
a desirable factor in park making, whatever , might be 
claimed for its contributory influences in other public 

It was solely and only for these reasons that the commis- 
sion decided for the appointive system, and not with any 
desire to extend the sco23e of a method of creating a public 
board, which, at least theoretically, majf be criticized as con- 
trary to the principles and prerogatives of our whole system 
of government. Not only were results found to have been 
unsatisfactory in numerous instances of elective park com- 
missioners, but conversely in other instances — notably such 
examples as that of the South Park system of Chicago, 
where the entire control of all park matters from the incep- 
tion has been vested in a commission appointed by the 
courts — the practical workings were found to have been 


To those who believe that any other than the elective plan 
of creating public boards for the expenditure of public 
funds is objectionable and un-American, it is due to say 
that such a plan would have been adopted in drawing up 
the Essex County Park act of 1895, had not the investiga- 
tions then made compelled the conviction concurred in by 
Messrs. Emery and Coult, the able counsel of the first com- 
mission, that the appointive system was preferable here. 
Having determined that point, the question arose as to 
where the authority for making the appointments should 


rest. Should the Governor be charged with that office? 
This would mean, or might mean, possible interference in 
what was strictly a county affair ; it would open up the field 
of possibilities for the exercise of political or party "influ- 
ence;" and it would be open to the still further objection of 
a board for the county being named by the authority of an 
official outside the county, chosen by and representing the 
State at large. 

Would the freeholders be likely to agree upon the right 
sort of a commission? Here were more serious objections 
still, with all the possibilities of unrestricted controversy 
and acute jealousy. Should one judge, or a plurality of 
judges, make the selection ? The single court appointment 
was finally agreed upon, following the precedent in creat- 
ing the first commission. It was this plan which was finally 
included in the charter and is still operative. Whether the 
adoption and inauguration of that plan was wise, it may be 
the rightful province of the public to determine. I shall 
refer to this subject in a later chapter. Here I will only 
add in passing that, before the commission of 1905 had been 
long in existence, circumstances developed which made it 
manifest that it would have been better had the plan been 
modified and restricted. 


The matter a^ to financing the park project was at once 
an interesting and troublesome proposition to determine. 
Tlie precedents and experiences of very many park under- 
takings, both in this country and in Europe, were carefully 
looked into. Almost every scheme of providing for the cost 
of park lands and the improvements was considered. They 
included direct assessments on contiguous property in full 
or in part; partial assessment on adjacent lands ; and for the 
entire cost being provided in the general tax levy upon the 
whole district or municipality. Each appeared to have ad- 
vantages against other more or less potent disadvantages. 
Direct assessments were found to have been cum- 
bersome, costly and unsatisfactory, and in many 


places difEcult, and not infrequently impossible, to 
collect. This was due to the fact that every pub- 
lie park, as to location, size, property environment, 
and other conditions determining assessable benefits on ad- 
jacent property, is a law unto itself. No two, in these re- 
spects, are alike; hence no uniform system of awarding 
damag-es and assessing benefits as obtains, for instance, in 
the case of municipal street openings, is possible. 

This, of necessity, makes confusion and uncertainty in 
the legal proceedings, and gives an almost unlimited oppor- 
tunity and exceedingly broad field for never-ending litiga- 
tion to "those who won't pay." Then, too, as every park 
is different in size, topography, and the other conditions 
noted, the task of fixing with comparative exactness and 
equity the district lines within which an assessment for 
park benefits should be levied, becomes the more difficult 
the more study is given to the solution of the problem. 
Shall the park belt benefits extend 100 feet, 1,000 feet; or 
over the whole municipality or county wherein the park or 
parks are located ? This becomes the troublesome question. 


An attempted partial direct assessment for park lands on 
the lines as above indicated, tends to make confusion worse 
confounded. If the plan involves providing a portion of the 
cost by tax on the available ratables, on the principle that 
in a large park or system of parks the benefits inure to the 
whole community, why should not all the cost be thus pro- 
vided ? That is the almost invariable contention of objec- 
tors to a direct tax for special benefits. 

As a matter of fact, these phases of objection to any plan 
of assessing benefits for the Essex County parks became so 
serious to the first commission that the conclusion was 
finally and reluctantly reached that the expense of acquir- 
ing, developing, and maintaining the parks of the system 
should be borne by the whole county by issuing county 
bonds, and through the tax levy. It was also decided that 
it was injudicious to attempt to provide any of the requisite 


funds for the parks by direct assessment on adjoining prop- 
erty. The park charter was accordingly drawn on these 
lines, as is these respects it at present remains. 


The precedents and conditions for providing for the cost 
of the parkways were entirely different. For this purpose 
existing boulevards, avenues, streets, or other public places 
where rights of way had already been secured, might be 
desirable in connecting the various parks into a system or 
chain of parks ; or new rights of way might be indispensable 
for the same object. A parkway being of a definable width 
similar in many respects to any other avenue or street ac- 
quirement, the application of the principle of assessing 
benefits becomes a comparatively simple matter. This pro- 
vision was, therefore, included in the second and sixth 
sections of the park law (of 1895), and the East Orange 
parkway has been laid out under the assessment-for-benefits 
plan therein provided. In the method prescribed for mak- 
ing parkways of existing avenues or streets, there were ap- 
parently no very intricate questions to be solved. 

It was deemed advisable that the future commission 
should have the right, and it was provided, as it now has the 
right, to appropriate for a parkway any existing highway; 
but as the local municipal or county authorities already held 
possession under the right of eminent domain, the proviso 
(section 2 of the charter) makes it necessary to first have 
"the concurrence of the Common Council or other body hav- 
ing authority over highways" in all cases where a larger 
width of area for a parkway than the existing highway is re- 
quired. The "care, custody and control" clause (the 
eighteenth section), which was for so many years the bone 
of contention over the efforts to make parkway* of Park 
and Central avenues, was intended to simplify, not to com- 
plicate, the transfer and utilization of those avenues as fun- 
damental parts of the park system. 

The scramble to obtain possession of one or both of those 
great county thoroughfares by the corporations for traction 


uses, while not lost sight of, was not fully anticipated, as 
it did not seem probable that the insatiable desire for the 
spoils of public franchise exploitation had yet reached the 
point of utter disregard of public rights and a determina- 
tion to push through the public property appropriation 
scheme at all hazards that afterward followed. 

Another question which the first commission found diffi- 
cult to determine was as to the amount of the appropriation 
that should go into the report and be provided for in the 
new law. Next to the matter of method in providing for 
the selection of the next commission, and of determining 
how the necessary funds for the undertaking should be ob- 
tained, this was considered of paramount importance. At 
first the amount suggested in our deliberations was $1,000,- 
000. This was soon increased by half a million. Later 
$2,000,000 it was deemed should be the limit. 

Finally, when the different factors in the situation had 
been carefully gone over — ^the needs for a comprehensive 
park and parkway system adapted to, and creditable to, the 
whole county; the probable increased cost of future land 
acquirement after the parks were once established ; the large 
expense involved in the reclamation and parklike embellish- 
ment of the "swamp" lands, such as the lower portions of 
the Branch Brook tract and the triangle tract in Orange; 
the demands that would naturally follow for enlarged parks 
and the inevitably unforeseen contingencies — it was finally 
determined that the amount should be $2,500,000. 

This was with the distinct understanding, as stated in the 
report soon afterward issued in February, 1895, that "the 
amount of money which the commission feels is needed for 
this undertaking, $2,500,000, may seem large for practi- 
cally a single investment in that direction, but it must be 
appreciated that it is for a system of parks in its entirety." 

This was an equivocal, definite statement, and all of the 
members of the commission thus considered it. I believed 
then, as I have believed since, that it was in the nature of 
a trust obligation between the conunission, the people, and 
the Legislature, and that this clearly defined obligation 


rested upon the succeeding commission to carry out: Or, 
failing in that, to have laid out a park "system" complete, 
at least in outline, within that amount, before asking for 
additional appropriation. 

That the reserve policy was adopted after the organiza- 
tion of the permanent commission in 1895 is now well 
known, and some of the reasons why the original plan, 
policy, and promise were not carried out will be considered 
in succeeding chapters. 

It may be a matter of interest for the reader to know 
that, so far as could be learned from tlie investigations 
made in 1894-5, the Essex County Park enterprise was, and, 
so fax as I have since been able to learn, still is, the initial 
county public park undertaking of this country. In the 
legal preparation of the charter there were, for this reason, 
so many novel and intricate questions involved that on 
January 28, on request of the counsel, John R. Emery, it 
was decided to employ Joseph Coult as associate counsel 
"in the construction and provision of the bill to be pre- 
sented to the Legislature." 

On February 1, 1895, the draft of the bill was gone over 
by the commissioners with the counsel. The recommenda- 
tions that the entire financing of the undertaking be left 
with the Board of Freeholders, the funds to be paid over 
on requisition of the park commissioners, rather than that 
an attempt should be made to create an entirely separate 
system of tax levies for the parks, were agreed to, and the 
finishing touches of the bill were passed upon. At the same 
meeting the report to accompany the bill was considered, 
corrected, and made ready for publication. 


A few days afterward the commission received word from 
Judge Depue suggesting 'that the report be sent to him, as 
was done. A copy was also sent, with a draft of the bill, to 
Senator Ketcham, who promptly introduced the measure 


in the Senate. It became "Senate No. 114." The report 
was ordered printed at the meeting of February 4, and sev- 
eral thousand copies were distributed throughout the 

About this time an efEort was made to change the bill 
then before the Legislature so as to provide for at least six 
commissioners. Judge Depue favored the change. He was 
advised by letter as to the reasons that led to the naming of 
five commissioners in the bill, as "we were unanimous in 
the conclusion, not only upon our own judgment in view 
of all the circumstances, but also for the reason that experi- 
ence in other places seemed to indicate that a board of five 
commissioners generally gives the best public service and 
results." The following, under date of February 13, 1895, 
was the reply : 

"My Dear Sir — I received yours of yesterday. I have not 
read the proposed bill. It provides a commission, as I 
understand, the members of which get no compensation. I 
thought the number should be six for these reasons : 

"First, although I hope and expect the commissioners will 
act in unanimity, yet if there is to be a division I thought 
affirmative action by a vote of 4 to 3 preferable to that of 3 
to 2, a bare majority. 

"Second, I thought the northwestern section of the 
county should be represented, say Montclair and that sec- 
tion, when I appointed the original commissioners, and I 
incline to that view with respect to the new commission. 

"I have now written tersely my views. They are mere 
suggestions. I am not tenacious on the subject. I will be 
content to abide by the judgment of the commissioners. 

'^Very truly yours, 

"David A. Depue. 
. "To F. W. Kelsey, Esq." 


My reply was as follows: 


"Orange, February 36, 1895. 
"Hon. David A. Depue : 

"My Dear Sir — Your favor of the thirteenth instant 
was duly received. The suggestions therein mentioned have 
had thoughtful consideration. 

"As to the matter of compensation to the members of the 
commission, there appeared but one satisfactory way of dis- 
posing of it, viz., to make the position honorary, and then 
rely upon the appointment of men of sufficient probity, 
honor and civic pride to appreciate the honor, and, in the 
great and lasting good and worthy repute growing out of 
the improvement, thereby have sufficient inducement to de- 
vote their best thought and purpose to the carrying out of 
the whole enterprise. 

"It was felt that a small salary would sooner or later 
attract petty politicians incompetent to execute such a trust, 
and make the pressure for their appointment a burden on 
the appointing power, while a large salary would be open to 
other serious objections and tend to make the compensation 
the object sought, rather than the matter of pride in suc- 
cessful results. 

"I believe that all of the commission fully concurred in 
this view. 

"In like manner an even number has not seemed favor- 
able for a practical working board to any of us. Four to 
two, as you suggest, is certainly a stronger majority than 
three to two; but how would it be should an even vote occur 
with a possible 'deadlock' lasting, as it has with some even- 
headed commissions, a length of time? 

"Similar commissions elsewhere for similar undertakings 
generally recognize a number above five as unwieldy, and 
the efficiency of a board reduced by a divided responsibility. 

"If the right men fill such positions — ^those competent, 
faithful and loyal to the trust — there should be no division, 
but every vote of record undivided, and this is frequently 
the case with some of the higher-class commissions. 

"In our board thus far, although questions have arisen 
apon which we have had different convictions, yet, after 


full consideration, all things have been harmonized so that 
■when the ballot was taken every vote of record has s-tood 
5 to 0. 

"I do not recollect a single instance since the organiza- 
tion of the board in June where there has been an exception. 

"A permanent commission, it would seem, should have a 
like result, as the ground work is now laid and some of the 
intricate questions already passed upon. 

"The cordial public support given the commission, and 
its report and proposed bill (conferring, as the latter does, 
ample powers and a large appropriation) is, I think, owing 
to the fact that we have avoided local and sectional ques- 
tions throughout, and have treated the county as an entirety 
on the lines substantially as outlined at the inception of the 
enterprise. It has not been the question of section, faction, 
or particular locality, but what was the best system which 
could be devised for the whole, considering topography, ac- 
cessibility, convenience to population, ratables and other 

"In this way every section has been represented. No 
locality in the county, available and desirable, has been over- 
looked. Each section has received as careful consideration 
as though a member of the board were a resident of that 

"While Mr. Bramhall and myself were supposed to rep- 
resent the Oranges, generally speaking, we have both given 
really more study and thought to the other portions of the 
county where we were less familiar and saw greater oppor- 
tunities for effective parking for the county as a whole; 
also the entertainment given at the Country Club by myself 
in November was not to advance the interests of the 
Oranges at the expense of any other section, but solely to 
enlarge the acquaintance and interest and cultivate the sen- 
timent for the enterprise in its broader sense. 

"The representative element of Montclair is, I think, in 
accord with the work of the commission, and some of the 
members of the Township Committee, and others there, will 
co-operate with the work of tiie new commission as con- 


scientiously, if not as earnestly, as though they were mem- 
bers of it. 

"Personally, I should have been glad to have concurred in 
your views as to the number of commissioners, save for the 
reasons stated. The board, in again considering the sub- 
ject since the receipt of your letter, were all of the opinion 
it would be better not to recommend that change in the bill. 

"Senator Ketcham conferred with other of the members, 
and, I think, also concurred in this view. We are indebted 
to him for his good counsel and active interest, and he will 
no doubt talk with you freely about the matter. 

"His approval of the suggestion of the original plan, 
briefly stated in the enclosed letter of April 16th last, had 
much to do with bringing about the present law, which was 
drawn in accordance with that plan by Mr. A. Q. Keasbey 
and myself. 

"As the points mentioned in your letter of the 13th inst. 
have an important bearing on the new bill, I have written 
more at length than I otherwise should. 

"Eespectfully and truly yours, 

"Feed. W. Kelsey." 

There was apparently official anxiety in certain quarters, 
at least in Newark, on this question. The evening of March 
4, 1895, a well-attended delegation of ISTewark officials met 
at Trenton, and agreed upon the form of a bill to ajnend the 
park bill, so as to provide for eight commissioners. The 
Mayors of Newark and of Orange and a representative of 
East Orange — all Eepublicans — were to be included. The 
other five members, according to the proposed amendment, 
were to be selected from Newark. Alderman William^ 
Stainsby, Chandler W. Eiker, who was then city counsel of 
Newark, and others present at the conference favored the 
change. On March 7, Mr. Eiker appeared officially before 
the commission and pleaded with much earnestness that the 
board should consent to the change. That view did not pre- 
vail. The scheme, which at the outset would give the park 
board a political complexion, was not generally approved. 


and, outside of a comparatively small official and political 
contingent, evidently received but little support. ISTo further 
active effort in that direction, to my knowledge, was made. 
While the bill was pending in the Senate, two of the com- 
missioners incidentally, and almost accidentally, ascer- 
tained about the same time that the legislation providing for 
an appointive park commission for Hudson County a few 
years previous had been declared unconstitutional by the 
courts. The question at once arose as to how the act, then 
before the Legislature, could be amended so as to avoid a 
similar experience in Essex County. The problem was, at a 
special meeting of the board, immediately given to counsel 
to work out, and on February 18 Messrs. Emery and Coult 
gave three optional remedies for the apparent defect in the 
bill. They were : 

(a) An amendment providing for the appointment of the 
new commission by the Governor — an elective official. 

(b) To have the commission selected by or from the 
board of freeholders — an elective body. 

(c) Apply the referendum principle and submit the 
measure and the question whether it should or should not 
become operative to the electorate of the county to 


The commissioners promptly decided that they would 
"trust the people on the issue." An amendment was at 
once prepared providing for a vote throughout the county 
at the next election, which was to occur April 9, (1895), 
with the ballots "For the park act" and "Against the park 
act." This draft of the amendment was immediately sent 
to Senator Ketcham, at Trenton. It was, without objec- 
tion, added to the bill, and on February 26 the measure was 
passed in the Senate by a vote of 14 to 0. On the following 
day it was passed in the Assembly by a vote of 50 to — not 
a single vote having been recorded in either house against it. 

The bill carried ^vith it a direct appropriation, should it 
be approved by the people of the couatyj of $2,500i,000 of 


public funds. This large sum was to be expended as a board 
of five men to be appointed by tbe court should determine. 
The conditions for raising the money were arbitrary, indeed 
peremptory. The disposition of the funds was unrestricted 
and wholly discretionary _with the board when appointed. 
The matter of appointment, too, was left entirely within 
the discretion of the Supreme Court official in naming the 

In view of all these conditions, that such a bill should 
pass without objection or a negative vote, called forth much 
comment. It has been stated by those conversant with such 
matters that the passage of that bill in vie^ of the then 
existing circumstances — ^the amount of appropriation of 
public moneys, etc. — was one of the most remarkable and 
unique pieces of State legislation which up to that time had 

In Governor Werts's message of January 8, 1895, ap- 
peared a complimentary reference to the park movement in 
Essex County, and to the work of the commission thus far. 
He had also transmitted to the Legislature the commis- 
sion's report after it had been sent to Judge Depue. It 
was, therefore, a matter of public record that he was in 
favor of further legislation toward the objects sought, and 
on March 5 he approved the second park bill, now Chapter 
XCL. of the laws of 1835. 

The -affairs of the first park commission now worked 
rapidly to a close. Early in April it was decided by the 
commission to bring the park subject as far as practicable 
before the people prior to the election on April 9. At the 
meeting of April 15 it was shown from the ofBcial canvass, 
as certified by the county clerk, that, in that election, the 
park law had been approved by a large majority. In New- 
ark the vote was 11,853 for the bill and 9,330 against, or a 
majority of 3,523 in favor of it. In Orange 1,848 was re- 
ported for, to 294 against it; East Orange, 1,474 in favor of, 
to 305 against; Montclair, 871 for, 121 against. In other 
towns and boroughs the vote was equally favorable, making 
the ma^'ority in the county for the law 8,321. 


On April 18 the appointment of the new co^nunission was 
announced. Of this and of some of the conditions incident 
therewith, I shall treat in the next chapter. 

The following day — the afternoon of April 19, 1895 — ^the 
first commission met for the last time. The financial states 
ment was then submitted and approved. The total expendi- 
tures, including architects' fees (as before stated), 
$3,372.13; counsel fees, $450; printing and stationery, 
$172.55; rent, secretary's salajy, telephone, etc., and all in- 
cidentals, were $4,474.25, which amount had been received 
from the freeholders and the account closed. The board, 
by resolution, then authorized "all maps, plans, reports and 
other property turned over to the commissioners appointed 
April 18," and then adjourned sine die. 

The record was made. The die was cast. The book was 
closed. Yet, as the people had voted for the parks and the 
way was at last open to secure them, the scene had shifted, 
and a larger book, with vastly greater possibilities, was 



As the rivulet becomes a s-tream, and the stream broadens 
into the river, the current moves on until the course is 
changed, or completely reversed. So the movement for the 
Essex Count}' parks, from a small beginning, rapidly 
widened and deepened on its course, and although not di- 
rectly obstructed, the current became entirely changed by 
the appointment of the second commission on April 18, 

This commission then had everything a public board 
could possibly have in its favor : An extremely liberal char- 
ter, conferring ample authority, approved by almost unani- 
mous action of the Legislature and by a large majority vote 
of the people of the county as well ; a generous appropria- 
tion; and more, the good will and confidence of its constit- 
uency and the cordial support of public opinion throughout 
the State. 

While the plans of the first commission were, during the 
early part of the year, maturing, the favorable comments 
and commendatory articles in the local papers were reflected 
in the press of other cities. The ISTew York Tribune, Times, 
World, and Evening Post all had a good word for the Essex 
parks, during the month of January of that year, and be- 
fore the new commission was appointed, had given a resume 
of the movement and of the friendly support extended it. 

The Tribune of April 8, 1895, under the caption "A Fine 
Park System," dilated at length on the subject, favorable 
alike to the report and the bill to be voted on the following 
day. An editorial in the same paper gave an interesting ac- 
count of "A Great Park Project in New Jersey;" described 



the bill ; declared that "the child is born who will see this 
entire 150,000 square miles of Essex County a continuous 
city ;" gave a glowing account of what "nature has done for 
this region" of "mountain ridges, fertile valleys and wooded 
slopes ;" and added that "it is to be a county park system" 
and, "so far as we know, little opposition to the project has 
been developed." 


The attitude of the New Jersey press had continued in 
Ifftudation of the enterprise, and there appeared also a gen- 
eral sentiment in favor of the reappointment of the same 
commission that had had charge of the preliminary work in 
the undertaking. The Newark News of February 6, 1895, 
editorially referring to the report of the first commission, 
stated that "a good system of parks would supplement the 
natural attractiveness of the city and county." 

And, on February 28, the same paper said: "This is a 
rich and populous county, and one that has a future. Be- 
fore many years it will be the theatre of a greater city. Its 
situation destines it to a rapid and steady growth. What- 
ever adds to its attractiveness as a place of residence means 
advantage to every one of its industries, to every business 
enterprise carried on within its boundaries." 

On February 6, The Daily Advertiser, in a lengthy edi- 
torial on "The Proposed Park System," had this to say : 

"No one, of course, questions the need of a park or a sys- 
tem of parks in Essex County. Out of 92,000 acres in 
Essex County, only twenty-five acres are devoted to park 
purposes and uses ; and as for Newark, with its population 
of 200,000, it is a fact that it has a smaller park acreage 
than any city in the United States or Europe of over 
100,000 population ! This in itself is a rebuke and a humil- 
iation. * * * There is scarcely any question that the 
bill presented by the commission which has completed its 
task in one-fourth the time allotted to it, and with an ex- 
penditure of less than half the money at its disposal, will 
become a laW'. In that case, we sincerely hope tJbai the prea- 


ent commission will be reappointed to prosecute the work 
eo well begun." 

The Newark Call of March 24, said editorially: "The 
plan proposed is the best that can be devised under the cir- 
cumstances. It is a novelty in some respects, as park re- 
serves, under county control, have not been attempted. The 
necessities of the popular conditions which prevail in Essex, 
however, make the plan most desirable. The sites for the 
parks will, in some cases at least, be in townships which 
would not dream of such a reservation at their own expense, 
and the county plan, in any case, will prevent conflict of 
interest and secure systematic arrangement for care and 
maintenance as well as location. The scheme is, in short, 
not only feasible and practical, but is probably the only one 
that could be carried through." 

PARK board's course COMMENDED. 

The Orange Chronicle, one of the most earnest exponents 
of the park system cause, in an editorial February 16, 
stated that "A number of improvement societies and public 
boards throughout the county have passed highly compli- 
mentary resolutions relative to the work of the Board of 
Park Commissioners, as shown by the report recently 

Even the Essex papers printed in foreign languages did 
not neglect the subject. In La Montagna of March 31, 1895, 
appeared a plea "For Public Parks," in which, after refer- 
ring to "the very important question the voters of Essex 
County will be called upon to decide April 9," and 
saying "No Italian need be told of the advan- 
tages and pleasure derived from public gardens," 
and "that the park scheme is always the poor man's 
benefactor," it adds: "America is far behind the 
Old World in the matter of park development, and this 
county has only twenty-five acres devoted to such uses — a 
less number than any other community of like population 
in the world." An interesting and evidently well-meant 
statement, but quite too flattering as to the European parks 


which, as a whole, do not compare favorably with the vefy 
many extensive and well-kept public parks in this country. 
All the papers vigorously and continuously reflected what 
seemed a popular public sentiment for a forward movement 
on the same lines and under the same management as had 
been the efforts thus far to obtain a park system. This 
view was also accentuated by the action of local associations 
and some of the personally disinterested friends of the parks 
in different parts of the county. The only discordant note 
which was heard out of harmony with this general acclaim 
favorable to the parks, and the new law for creating them, 
was the action of the Newark Democratic City Committee 
early in April, 1895, in the adoption of a resolution dis- 
favoring the law and the appointive, instead of the elective 
method provided for the selection of commissioners. 

Among the earnest advocates of the park system perhaps 
there was no one man who had been more earnest or active, 
or whose influence had been more effectually brought to bear 
in holding the enterprise on the lines as originally proposed 
than William. A. Ure. Knowing his sincerity and interest 
and wishing to learn his conviction on the existing status of 
park matters, I wrote him April 8, the day before the elec- 
tion on the park bill, and, after referring to the able editor- 
ials on the park question that had appeared in The Call, 
and to the cordial reception of the plans and the new law by 
the public, expressed my appreciation of the principles 
which an article in The Call the day previous had indicated 
should govern in the selection of the new commission. I 
then added : 

"I am glad you still favor the selection on the same prin- 
ciples so heartily favored at the time. If any other consid- 
erations than those of fitness are now allowed to determine 
the new appointments, the execution of the plans will, in my 
judgment, be hampered in the same proportion, and the 
final success of the scheme in just the same degree be im- 
periled. I have every confidence in Judge Depue, in his 
strict integrity of purpose and his loyalty to the principles 


of faithful administration. But it is fair to presume in a 
public measure like this that there may be powerful pres- 
sure brought to bear upon him at the present Juncture, 
which the position of the real friends of the enterprise 
may do much to nullify or counteract. The time for nam- 
ing the new commissioners is very limited, and if the efforts 
for place last summer, at the inception of the enterprise 
and before the appointment of the first commission, formu- 
lated so readily, now that the actual work is to be under- 
taken, speculative and corporate interests may look at the 
field as all the more attractive. 

"The general support given the report and plans of the 
commission show that the great mass of people are disposed 
to rightly discriminate in favor of a work of great public 
importance undertalcen on sound, correct principles ; and, if 
the plans and policy of the present board are carried out, 
I believe the results will fully justify the anticipation of 
those who have given the subject the most thought and 

"All this, of course, if the new bill carries. If not, we 
shall have more than a year yet, under the old law, to for- 
mulate new plans or present the subject in other forms. I 
have little doubt that the vote will be overwhelmingly in 

Under date of April 9, 1895, Mr. Ure's reply was as 
follows : 

"My Dear Sir — Yours of the 8th instant received. The 
first person I met after reading your letter was a well 
known public official who brought up the park question by 
asking me what I thought about the appointment of new 
commissioners. When I told him that the present commis- 
sioners ought to be reappointed, he said there was 'no use 
talking to me further on that subject,' but said Messrs. Peck 
and Jackson did not satisfy him. This may- indicate that 
a movement will be made to change the personnel of the 
present board, although I hope that any such scheme will be 


frustrated. I am confident that the park bill will be in- 
dorsed by the people to-day, and I am also confident that it 
Vill require an enormous pressure to induce Judge Depue 
to appoint any commissioners in place O'f the five he first 
named, in whose ability, integrity and judgment the public, 
as well as myself, have full confidence. 

"Yours very truly, 

"William A. Ueb." 


This correspondence is given thus fully, as it gives a clear 
and correct reflex of the situation at that time. Immedi- 
ately after the county vote was found to have given a large 
majority for the park bill, almost the entire field of activity 
for the parks and the pressure from political and special 
interests was at once transferred, and the scene of focal 
action shifted to, the inner room of the court, or wherever 
the judge having the appointments to make could be fo^und. 

In most instances, where large and diversified interests 
are at stake and conflicting claims become a factor for adju- 
dication, whether before a court, a legislative body or an 
executive ofllcial, things are not always what they seem, and 
the kaleidoscopic conditions of conclusion may be frequently 
shifted almost from day to day as the see-saw of contending 
influences and varying elements enter into the final disposi- 
tion of the subject in hand. 

The question then before the court was no exception to 
this rule. True, the judge, in announcing the new commis- 
sion the morning of April 18, 1895, gave as quoted below 
some of the reasons that appealed to him for making the 
change against what was evidently the trend of public de- 
sire, and the conclusion left upon Mr. Tire's mind prior to 
the appointment that no change would be made. That pre- 
sentment of the judge, however, gave no intimation of, nor 
made the slightest reference to, some of the most important 
and potential influences brought to bear upon him to make 
the changes as he did. Those influences were known to a 
few at the time, but so far as I know have not yet been 


publicly referred to, although the court dwelt quite at 
length upon the subject. In naming the commissioners in 
open court, the judge said : 

"In the long service that I have had here I might say 
that all of the communications put together would not oc- 
cupy one-third of this bundle. It illustrates the anxiety 
that the public have that, in the composition of this commis- 
sion, commissioners shall be so selected that the park project 
shall be considered as one that is not to be subject to fluc- 
tuations arising from local feeling or local jealousies." 


Eeferenee was then made to "more interviews on the part 
of the people of this county than I have had, I may say, 
diiring the whole of my service." 

"The commissioners under the original act I appointed 
on my own judgment. The commissioners' powers were 
merely tentative. The commissioners have discharged their 
duties in a manner that entitles tliem to the approval and 
commendation not only of this court, but of the 

"There is everything in the composition and conduct of 
these commissioners that malces it desirable for me to reap- 
point them, and it would be my personal pleasure to com- 
mend the course of these commissioners by a reappointment. 
* * * But under the new act a very different condition 
of affairs confronts me. This new act confers upon these 
commissioners powers that I may say are extraordinary. 
The amount is large, the powers of these commissioners are 
very great, and, in the selection of the persons who are to 
compose the commission, there are considerations to which 
I must yield in the performance of a public duty. * * * 
The principle on which our government is founded is that 
taxation and representation shall go hand in hand. That 
principle ought to govern in the execution of a public duty 
which involves the creation of a debt to be paid by the taxa- 
ble inhabitants of the county. 

"The city of Newark pays of the county taxes about 75 


per cent. It is obvious that it was the requirements of 
this great city which was the main object in establishing 
a system of public parks. It is apparent that a considera- 
tion of what the city of Newark requires, beyond the ques- 
tion of taxation, was a consideration which influenced the 
establishment of this scheme to the extent and of the mag- 
nitude that this act provides." 

The court then referred to the assurances on the part of 
those 'interested in the government of Newark that, if 
Newark's interests were not to be provided for, "this power 
of selecting these commissioners would not have been con- 
ferred upon the court." 

The adverse vote of Newark was next touched upon, and 
it was stated by the judge "that a considerable portion of 
this vote was due to an apprehension that in the appoint- 
ment of these commissioners Newark would be subjected to 
taxation by persons who are not directly interested in the 
public affairs of the city. 


"And I know from representations that have been made 
to me by gentlemen of influence in this city," continued the 
court, "that their votes in favor of this law were influenced 
by their confidence that, in the appointment of these com- 
missioners, that which was apprehended would be obviated. 

"I departed from my usual rule and asked for the ap- 
pointment of six commissioners, with a view of the adjust- 
ment of representation in such a manner as to conserve the 
interests of the whole county. A vote of three to two would 
not, perhaps, be as safe as one that had the support of four 
of the commissioners. If I had had the lively appreciation 
of the condition of things that I have now I should have 
made the number larger yet, in order that the principle of 
representation and taxation should be carried out in a more 
perfect manner than it can by the small number of com- 
missioners. They are not mere executive ofiicers, but have 
judicial duties as well. I would not make a government of 
this city composed of five persons, but toward an adminis- 


trative board such as the Board of Public Works, I would 
pursue that course." 

In reference to his being willing to continue the first 
commission, the judge said: "But I am entirely satisfied 
from the information I have received that that does not 
conform to the wishes of the public, and that they require 
as far as possible that this court, in the appointment of 
these commissioners, should allow the principle that is fun- 
damental in all government representation. These things 
make it, in my judgment, absolutely essential that I should 
give to tlie city of Newark three commissioners. "When I 
have done that, the readjustment of this commission is 

The resolutions of the township authorities of Montclair, 
Bloomfield and West Orange were then read. They claimed 
joint taxable valuations of over $25,000,000, with the com- 
ment that the request justified the appointment of a com- 
missioner from that district. 


"I have selected for the commissioner who shall repre- 
sent these three townships," went on the judge, "a gentle- 
man who is well known to myself, and I presume to almost 
every one in this county, as a man eminently fit for this 
position — Frederick il. Shepard. This appointment leaves 
only one other commissioner to be selected. In the selection 
of that commissioner I have felt the greatest delicacy, be- 
cause a duty is imposed upon me that is not pleasant, that 
of deciding between two persons, gentlemen of my own 
acquaintance, who were among the most efficient of the 
members of the first commission, Frederick W. Kelsey and 
George W. Bramhall. 

"I know that Mr. Kelsey has been actively in favor of 
this project from the beginning, and, perhaps, in the inau- 
guration and pushing through of this scheme, he has been 
of great public service. If I could criticize Mr. Kelsey at 
all, it would be that I might think that in an office in which 
so much depends upon the judicial and conservative feat- 


ures, he might, perhaps, in his zeal for the execution of this 
public work, allow his mind to be so influenced as not to be 
controlled by the question of expense. 

"Mr. Bramhall I do not know. He was the only com- 
missioner with whom I was not acquainted; but I have 
heard from every quarter the highest commendation of him. 
I know from information I have with regard to the per- 
formance of his duty in the old board that he has been one 
of the most efficient of the commissioners. He lives in 
South Orange, and I have had the same sort of representa- 
tions from South Orange and Clinton townships with re- 
gard to the selection of somebody residing there that I have 
had from other townships. If I were left to my own inclin- 
ation, and to the considerations that I have just mentioned, 
I would be impelled to appoint Mr. Bramhall on this 
board. But I propose to be consistent, not for the sake of 
consistency alone, but also because of the considerations 
which I have stated. I must regard the interests of the 
location which shall bear the burdens. The city of Orange, 
in the taxable valuations of the county, is rated at $8,290,- 
000. It is a city, and is one of the municipalities where the 
location of parks and the construction of them would prob- 
ably be conserved by considering the population and the 
area over which it extends. 

"The persons who would be benefited by the parks to a 
large extent are persons who have no other means of getting 
recreation from the labors of the week. I have had from 
different persons who are connected with the city govern- 
ment of Orange a request to appoint Mr. Kelsey. I have, 
in addition to that, letters and recommendations from a 
great many persons in the city of Orange who are interested 
in this project, and who are large taxpayers, who desire his 
appointment. I have no means of saying what proportion 
of the taxation of the city of Orange is paid by these gentle- 
men who presented the petition. I only know that it repre- 
sents a body of the taxation in the city of Orange that is 
quite considerable. I have said with regard to the city of 
Newark that considerations of this kind have controlled 


my mind. I must apply the same principle to Orange in 
leaving off the two gentlemen who have served on the pres- 
ent commission with so much credit. I regret it very much, 
but personal considerations are not of the slightest weight 
in the decision of this public question, and it is not for any 
personal reason that I have made the changes that I have 
already indicated. 

"The two commissioners selected from the body of the 
county will be Frederick W. Kelsey and Frederick M. 

"Now I come to Newark, and here I strike another cause 
of perplexity in making the selection. 

"I have said that in selecting these commissioners I de- 
sire very much to obtain for the benefit of the public the 
experience and knowledge that they have, and I ought, as 
far as practicable, to give that consideration in the selec- 
tion of the commissioners. 

"Cyrus Peck and Stephen J. Meeker are on the present 
commission. They were both my personal selections, having 
regard to their fitness. They are men in whom everybody 
has, or ought to have, confidence. I propose to retain these 
two gentlemen. I can see no reason why I should make any 

"Mr. Peck lives in Eoseville, at the northeastern limit of 
this city; Mr. Meeker resides in tlie Eighth Ward, at the 
north end of the city. 


"The southerly part of this city is without any represen- 
tative, and while ordinarily that might not be a considera- 
tion of much importance, yet when it comes to the question 
of parks within the city, I believe that west of High street 
there is no park, and east of the railroad there is one park. 
I want to give the southerly part of the city representation, 
in carrying out the principle that I have already announced. 
When I undertake to make a selection in that part of the 
city I have a superabundance of material, but I desire to put 
on this commission, as an additional member, a man who is 


well known; a man of public spirit; a man of intelligence, 
one who knows the deficiencies of the city of Newark as 
compared with the improvements in other cities ; and, hav- 
ing regard to his judgment and to the interest he has talcen 
in this public park project, and the interest he uniformly 
exhibits in all public affairs, I have selected for that place 
Franklin Murphy. 

"Giving the subject the most anxious consideration — 
more than I have given to any duty of this kind since I 
have been called upon to perform public duties — I think the 
commission that I have constituted will be as good as any 
commission that I could possibly select." 

I have never doubted Judge Depue's, sincerity in dealing 
as he did with the taxation-representation phase of the 
question, or that it was made to appear to him as desirable 
that the sectional or local representation principle should 
then be injected into the enterprise — although this very 
principle of sectionalism, as I have already indicated, occa- 
sioned the wreckage of the park enterprise for Newark in 
1867-78 ; was largely responsible for the failure to mater- 
ialize of the commendable efforts of the committee of the 
Newark Board of trade in the same direction in 1893 ; has 
occasioned the failure of many public park enterprises all 
over the country ; and was the very thing that the first com- 
mission had made every effort to prevent, and which, hav- 
ing been prevented, was in reality one of the essential ele- 
ments in the immediate indorsement of its plan by the pub- 
lic and the Legislature. 


Nor do I doubt that it had been forcibly represented to 
the judge that the better plan would be to reverse the divi- 
sional lines of representation from three from the county at 
large, as he had endeavored to establish in selecting the first 
commission, and give the majority in the board to Newark, 
as the portion of the county paying the larger proportion of 
the county tax. Nor do I believe there is the slightest reasoit 


to doubt that he had, from representations made to him, be- 
come apprehensiye that in reality one of the most cautious 
and conservative members of the first commission might, 
from his defep interest "in the inauguration and pushing 
through of the scheme," drift away into the realms of ex- 
travagance and possibly shape the affairs of the commission 
in that direction. 

Then again, from the viewpoint of the court at the time 
and under the swirl of varying influences brought to bear 
upon the judge in selecting that board, may he not have 
been sincere in thinking that merely the qualifications of a 
successful manufacturer or man of business, and those of an 
energetic chairman of a State partisan committee of his 
own political predilections, might constitute the very ele- 
ments of fitness for the responsible position of park mak- 
ing? As one having a mind with judicial tendencies and 
attainments, and who had evidently never given the subject 
of creating an extensive park system theretofore special at- 
tention, a generous thought may, I believe, be accorded this 
action as to its intention, whatever may have been its prac- 
tical results. 

But some of the "interviews on the part of the people 
of the eoujity" were not directed to the question of geo- 
graphical representation of the new commission, nor of tax- 
ation, nor of the conservative, or extravagant tendencies of 
any of the candidates who were then under consideration; 
but to other and decidedly different phases of the subject. 
There were $2,500,000 of county funds to expend. "Who 
was to have charge of the handling of this great sum of 
money?" "Who was to control the patronage in this new 
and important Department of Parks ?" 

Subsequent events indicated, clearly enough, what these 
and other arguments and influences were which became 
potent factors in the final selection of a majority of the 

The change in appointing Messrs. Shepard and Murphy 
in place of Bramhall and Jackson was apparently some- 
thing of a surprise to the public, and was variously com- 


mented upon by the press. The unexpected had happened. 
The plan of laying out "the best park system that could be 
devised" for the whole county irrespective of local and sec- 
tional lines, which had been the keynote and the foundation 
structure of the work of the first commission, and the rea- 
son for its popular approval, had been by this act of the 
court — where the appointing power had been placed for the 
express purpose of minimizing the chances of failure in the 
execution of the plan — completely reversed. And, in that 
enterprise, a new principle and prerogative was then and 
there established, with two-fifths of the board of new mater- 
ial, one new member an active and ambitious politician, 
both representing large corporation interests — ^men who 
had had nothing whatever to do with the formulative plans 
or the work of the first commission, and who were not con- 
versant with the causes that had led to the popular success 
of the undertaking up to that time. 


Whatever may have been the intentions of the court, this 
reversal of policy was the practical effect, as was conclu- 
sively shown at almost the first meeting of the new commis- 
sion and has been more fully demonstrated since. The Daily 
Advertiser referred briefly, though kindly, to the new cO'm- 
mission. The News was editorially non-committal, as were 
many of the other papers, both in and out of the county. 
The Call, while having a good word for the new board, in 
an editorial note, referring to the appointments, expressed 
this sentiment : 

"The omission of Mr. Bramhall from the park commis- 
sion is incomprehensible. It was hoped and expected that 
his valuable services would be retained in the interest of the 
public throughout the county." 

In an interview about the same time Senator Ketcham 

"In appointing the permanent commission I am sorry 
Judge Depue could not continue in office the original 


Though "oft expectation" had, with many, in this in- 
stance failed, the appointments were made, the provision of 
the law in this respect had been complied with ; the past was 
a finality beyond recall, and the question now became : What 
was forward, and woidd the current of park affairs iiow on- 
ward as smoothly and rapidly as before ? 

On April 20, 1895, the newly-appointed commissioners, 
Messrs. Peck, Meeker, Shepard, Kelsey and Murphy, took 
the prescribed oath of office and the same afternoon met in 
the rooms of the former commission for organization. When 
the question of selecting officers was taken up, Commis- 
sioner Murphy, whose appointment was for the full term of 
five years, made the surprising statement that Judge Depue 
had expressed the wish that Mr. Peek should be president, 
Mr. Shepard vice-president, and himself (Mr. Murphy) the 

Two of these three commissioners, now placed in control 
of the board, who had just received their appointment and 
who then, for the first time, came into the park enterprise, 
all made and created, with the $2,500,000 to expend, were 
lifelong "always to be depended upon''' Eepublicans, and 
were directly installed as officers at the request of the court. 

Discussion, however, as to the judge's right to thus deter- 
mine the organization followed. Why should he assume to 
encroach upon this prerogative of the board in deciding for 
itself who the officers should be? No satisfactory answer 
was given. Mr. Murphy was disposed to press the point, 
and promptly offered a motion that Mr. Peck be made presi- 
dent. Mr. Meeker said he thought the board competent to 
select its own officers. Mr. Shepard said he thought the 
vice-presidency should remain the same as in the previous 
commission. Mr. Peck was, as usual in discussion, silent. 

"Mr. Meeker," I remarked, "has been an active member 
of the first commission and a satisfactory treasurer. Why 
this desire for change?" 

As the prospect for differences in the board at the very 
outset was not an agreeable one to contemplate, and as no 
one then seemed to care who the officers were sufficiently to 


make a contest over the principle involved, the matter was 
allowed to stand, as the judge had requested. The three 
officials were chosen and the two officers of the previous 
board were changed accordingly. 

In this record of the park undertaking — ^the truth of 
which will staad long after all of us engaged in its work 
and development thus far shall have passed to the beyond — 
not wishing to do the memory of Judge Uepue or any 
living person any injustice, I will here state, that, while the 
judge might not have intended by this action tO' usurp 
powers that did not rightfully or legally belong to him, or 
to the office he was then administering, I am just as firmly 
convinced that such was the fact. The very first section of 
the law under which he was acting, "Chapter XCI., 
Laws of 1895," already referred to, distinctly provides that 
"every such board shall annually choose from among its 
members a president, vice-president and treasurer, and ap- 
point a clerk or secretary, and such other officers and em- 
ployes as it may deem necessary to carry out the purposes 
of this act." 

If that clause does not clearly enough leave the selection 
of officers solely as a prerogative of the board tO' determine, 
and with equal clearness leave only the selection of the com- 
missioners with the court, what language could be employed 
to express such meaning? If the judge, under this law, 
could assume to determine and direct by an expressed 
"wish" or otherwise, who the officers should be, why could 
he not with equal right or authority decide who the secre- 
tary, counsel, or any other officer or employe should be ? 

I do not think that at the moment when the expression 
as to the judge's wishes was made, or during the brief dis- 
cussion that followed, any of the commissioners thought of 
the clause in the charter above quoted. And I have also the 
generous disposition toward Judge Depue's memory to be- 
lieve that, in the extraordinary pressure brought to bear 
upon him regarding the appointments he had overlooked it 
or possibly may have never read it. There was, however, at 
least one of the commissioners present at that meeting who 


knew, without a shadow of doubt, that it certainly never had 
been the intention in framing that law or the preceding 
park act, to lodge with the presiding justice of the Essex 
Circuit of the Supreme Court any power whatever beyond 
naming the commissioners who were to be entrusted with 
the park undertaking. With that appointive power securely 
placed in the court by legislative edict, an officially ex- 
pressed "wish" in such a matter as the selection also of offi- 
cers, may, in the absence of counteracting influences or ad- 
vices, be constmed, as it was intended to be and was in this 
instance construed, to have almost the force of a mandate. 
The effect of that action has had a great influence in shap- 
ing the affairs of the Park Commission down to the present 
time, and was one of the causes that a little later brought a 
sharp turn in the rapid-flowing current of Essex County 
park affairs. 

The question as to who should be secretary of the new 
board was soon determined by the appointment of the 
former secretary, Alonzo Church. Then came the settlement 
of two questions, the solution of which practically con- 
structed a dam across the heretofore straight and smooth 
course of the park movement, and effectually turned to one 
side, and almost back upon itself, the current, in an entirely 
reverse direction from that taken all through the work and 
life of the first commission. 

These questions, in the order disposed of, were: First, 
the selection of "counsel to the board; and, second, the policy 
to be pursued relative to the location and acquirement of the 
parks in. establishing the county park system. 



The selection of counsel to the Park Board was, at the 
outset, recognized by all the commissioners as a matter of 
much importance. It was a new proposition, at least in 
Essex County, for an appointive board to have the right by 
law to make requisitions for large amounts on an elective 
board of the same constituency and area of jurisdiction. 
Such attempts, theretofore, in other places, had created 
jealousies and litigation. These conditions it was, by all of 
the members, deemed imperative, if possible, to avoid. 
There were also many questions, it was known, which would 
arise as the scheme developed, and which would require thp 
advice and service of an able attorney. To this extent we 
were all agreed. 

Soon after the organization of the board this subject was 
taken up. Commissioners Murphy and Shepard were both 
ardent and decided in their advocacy of Joseph L. Munn. 
Commissioner Meeker was as decidedly opposed, and favor- 
ably mentioned Henry Young. Mr. Peck said nothing. I 
was unprepared to make a decision and asked that the ques- 
tion go over. The matter was again brought up at the fol- 
lowing meeting. Messrs. Murphy and Shepard were insis- 
tent for Mr. Munn's appointment. Mr. Meeker and myself 
objected. There was a prospective issue, for it was mani- 
fest that those favoring Mr. Munn's appointment were de- 
termined it should be made. The points as then stated in 
his favor were mainly that his knowledge of, and position 
as counsel with, the Board of Freeholders would be of as- 
sistance in establishing and continuing friendly and co- 



operative relations with that board. This all recognized as 
desirable — indeed, necessary, for the harmonious execution 
of the Paxk Board's plans. 

"At the meeting May 7 it became evident that longer de- 
lay would retard the work of the commission. Previously I 
made inquiries as to Mr. Munn's character and qualifica- 
tions. The replies from, and statements of, those I thought 
most competent to judge were conflicting. I was told that, 
while employed as town counsel of East Orange, and later 
by the freeholders, his attention was mainly given to politi- 
cal or party affairs and that he was extremely friendly, and 
most valuable, to the traction companies when they wanted 
new legislation or additional franchises. 

In this dilemma of uncertainty I left the meeting re- 
ferred to. The question was pressing for solution. Mr. 
Shepard and I came out together and boarded an Orange 
car. I then stated directly to him the result of my inquiries 
as to the two candidates, and my misgivings about Mr. 
Munn. That, as I seemed to hold the balance of power, I 
felt it "doubly incumbent that no mistake should be made 
in the decision." I said to him : 

"Mr Munn has been your close neighbor for years. You 
must know him thoroughly well, his character and all about 
him. In this park enterprise you have now an equal re- 
sponsibility with me. You are the older man and have far 
better opportunities of judging whether Mr. Munn will 
properly fill the requirements of that position than have I. 
I am suspicious of him and in doubt as to what is best 
to do." 

The answer was in these words: "I have known Mr. 
Munn for years. He has been my counsel in other matters. 
If this expenditure of $3,500,000 was all of my own money 
I would not think of employing any one else but Mr. 
Munn." My reply to that statement was equally direct: 
"If you now say that to me as my colleague in this great 
undertaking I will withdraw my opposition at the next 
meeting and vote for Mr. Munn's appointment." He as- 
sured me that was his conviction. I then repeated my 


promise of giving Munn's candidacy my support — and 
did so. 

At the meeting of May 9, Commissioner MurjDhy, know- 
ing tliat Mr. Munn's appointment could then be secured, 
pressed for that result by moving that the salary for the 
counsel be fixed at $2,000 per year, and that J. L. Munn be 
the counsel. Mr. Shepard seconded the motion. Commis- 
sioner Meeker formerly proposed Henry Young. Mr. 
Murphy called for a vote. It resulted in 4 for and 1 against 
J. L. Munn; and he thus became the legal adviser of the 
Park Commission, with all the opportunities for good or 
evil which that name and position implied. 


Immediately there were public mumblings of discontent. 
The previous December Mr. Munn had been "chosen" eoun' 
sel to the Board of Freeholders at a like salary of $2,000 
per year. The Republican politicians and "the boys" of that 
party had^or a long time been berating the Democrats for 
having allowed, when that party was in control, one man to 
fill more than one remunerative office. Now that the same 
scheme, and for the same reasons, had become operative in 
their own party, the same principle was brought forward, 
and the question was raised as to why "the plums" falling 
from the Park Board's table should not be more evenly 
distributed. These advance monitions of a possible party 
storm, however, finally blew over, when it was found that 
"what's done" was not likely to be undone, and that the seal 
of fate had been set upon the hopes of many other lawyers 
who had been rated as of the faithful in party allegiance. 
Like the appointment of the commissioners, the thing was 
a thing of the past, and what was the use of continuing to 
mourn or agitate it, even though, to many aspiring attor- 
neys' minds, the overturning of that overflowing milk pail 
had diverted the cream of some of the richest available 
county funds to one already gorged — considering the ser- 
vice he was performing — with the emoluments of public 


The discussion, while it lasted, was entertaining. It was 
also instructive, in reflecting, as it did, the practical aims 
and ideals of many otherwise good citizens in dealing v^^ith 
questions of party control, and in showing how services, pro- 
vided for at the taxpayers' expense, are, in party parlance, 
really looked xipon as "the spoils of office." 

The Newark News of May 29, 1895, gave an amusing ac- 
count of this episode, quoting from some of the aggrieved 
publicists who thus had opportunity to vent their 

"Why shouldn't the county pay the legitimate expenses 
of the man who goes to Trenton in its interests ?" was the 
way one of the party statesmen expressed his sentiments. 
This observation might, by the cynically inclined, be deemed 
of much significance, in view of the appearance, a few 
months later, of Mr. Munn before the Assembly Municipal 
Corporations Committee in favoring the "Eoll trolley bills." 
Then, with much earnestness, he contended that the control 
of all such county roads as Bloomfield avenue "rightfully 
belonged" to the freeholders, "the only logical body to con- 
trol county roads" — a board then, as since, well under "trol- 
ley" influences. When objection was made to the "undue 
interest displayed by the Board of Freeholders in reference 
to the passage of those bills," Charles D. Thompson asked 
if Mr. Munn "represented the freeholders or the Park Com- 
mission, or appeared as the counsel of East Orange in this 
matter." Mr. Munn replied: "I do not; I represent my- 
self;" but added that "he knew several freeholders who 
were in favor of the bills." As these measures sought to 
deprive municipalities and property owners of all control 
or voice in granting trolley road franchises, and vested that 
right exclusively in the Board of Freeholders — then, as 
afterward, to all appearances, under corporate and party 
boss dictation — ^the counsel's efforts to secure their passage 
was, indeed, significant. 


In public matters, as in other affairs of life, there are 


certain general principles which with reasonable certainty 
foreshadow ultimate results, much as, under the applica- 
tion of the axiomatic rules of science, like causes produce 
like results. Anticipating that park making on a large 
scale might involve these principles, the first Park Commis- 
sion had, as indicated in the preceding chapters, continu- 
ously dealt with the park system as an entity, hoping 
thereby to avoid the pitfalls of sectional differences, and, by 
treating the proposition as a whole, thus to be in a position 
to better determine the probable limits of cost for "a system 
of parks in its entirety." 


After the second commission had completed its organiza- 
tion, the question then before the board, briefly stated, was 
whether the pledge made by the first park commission in re- 
spect to the policy of establishing the park system should be 
carried out, or a new policy on other lines be inaugurated. 
The consideration and discussion of the subject went on for 
months. At almost every meeting it received attention. 
Although free from personalities or acrimonious reilections, 
the arguments for and against the proposition stated were 
earnest and persistent. 

Mr. Murphy was emphatic in his advocacy of a new 
policy in saying "I am here to lay out the parks and to 
expend the money appropriated for that purpose as in my 
own judgment I think best, without regard to what the 
former commission may have said or done." When in 
answer, in espousing the cause of continuing the plan and 
■policy of the first commission that had received such cordial 
public indorsement, I referred to the conviction forced upon 
me, "to consider the pledge of that board as a binding obli- 
gation upon its successors, for it was upon that pledge the 
court, the Legislature, and the electorate of the county had 
acted in passing the charter and in granting the large ap- 
propriation then available," we were reminded that the first 
commission was no longer in existence, and that it had no 
right to bind the present board in any way whatever. 


There were certain parks, it was claimed, that should be 
selected first. When these were provided for, and the boun- 
daries, etc., established, others could be taken up. Wee- 
quahic was one of these, although that lake, with a railroad 
on one side and mosquito marsh on the other, had been 
rejected by every one of the landscape architects employed 
by the former park board, and the commission had also 
passed it by as too costly to improve, and having too many 
other disadvantages to even give it consideration as a prob- 
able location for a future park. 

Again, what appeared to be the defects and dangers of a 
change of policy were pointed out. If we were to start in by 
selecting piece by piece and park by park, without regard 
to other locations and requirements throughout the county, 
who could estimate where the board would finally come out 
on the plans, or what the ultimate cost would be ? Would 
the cost not be more than double the amount the first com- 
missioners had assured the people the expense of the entire 
system would not exceed ? If the proposed policy should be 
adopted would we not be in the position of the man begin- 
ning to build a residence within a definitely estimated price 
for the house complete, and then starting the foundation 
without regard to the cost of the superstructure, only to find 
when foundations and frame were up that the money pro- 
vided had disappeared with the building but half com- 
pleted? If the Newark parks were first determined upon 
without any reference to the mountain parks or the park- 
ways, or vice versa, would not the board be in similar situa- 
tion long before any part of the proposed system was 
completed ? 


At the close of each meeting the situation remained sub- 
stantially as at the beginning. Arguments were unavailing. 
The logic of events and experiences of the past were met by 
a statement of condition and of intention to go ahead on 
new — and to the park enterprise — untried lines. Whether 
right or wrong in my contentions, the more I thought of 


the confidence anli generosity extended on all sides to the 
first commission, of the sincere and loyal support of the 
yarious elements in the county and State, of the direct 
pledge we had made in the reciprocation of that confidence, 
and of the possible — or what seemed to me almost certain — 
dangers involved from such a radical change of policy, the 
more I shrank from it. Not content in relying upon my 
own judgment, I sought the counsel and advice of those out- 
side of the scene of action, away from any of the persons or 
influences directly involved, and in whose character 
and judgment I believed I could place implicit confi- 
dence in such matters. Among my acquaintances there was 
one for whose Judgment I entertained the highest regard — 
Mr. Jy. Willis James. I had known of his philanthropic 
deeds, his kindly nature, his public spirit and withal excep- 
tional judgment on large financial operations, and on 
matters pertaining to the carrying out of large undertak- 
ings. I met Mr. James at his summer place at Madison. 
Without mentioning the names of the commission or giving 
any intimation as to which side of the question any of 
them stood on, or the slightest inkling of my own views 
on the subject, I presented the matter to him precisely as 
it was then before the park board ; stated the claims at issue, 
which had been put forward by each of the commissioners ; 
explained to him the amount of the appropriation and that 
it was intended and was appropriated for a park system for 
the whole county; and set forth the plan that had up to that 
time been followed by those having the enterprise in charge. 
His reply was earnest, emphatic and directly to the point. 
It made a lasting impression upon my mind. 


"Do not make the mistake," he said, "of attempting to 
carry out any piecemeal policy in such an undertaking aa 
that. It will cost you more than twice what you anticipate 
before you get through, and if you start that way you will 
never be through. 

"In my judgment," he added, "there is but one way to 


proceed in an undertaking of that magnitude, and that is to 
have the whole scheme laid out in advance before any com- 
mitments are made. In this way you can see the end from 
the beginning and at least approximately know at the start 
where you are coming out." 

Those statements are now as clear in my mind as though 
Mr. James had made them but yesterday. At the next 
meeting I reported the conversation to the board. Mr. 
Murphy reiterated the answer: 

"1 am here to spend that two millions and a half of 
dollars as I think best. JSTewark pays about three-fourths 
of the county taxes, and, as one of the representatives of this 
city, I propose to be free to favor such parks here or in the 
county as I wish." 

On May 20, 1895, a conference was held with Landscape 
Architects and Engineers Messrs. N. P. Barrett and John 
Bogart, who had made the most original and suggestive 
plans for the first commission. On the recommendation of 
the committee on landscape architects — Mr. Shepard and 
myself — ^these gentlemen received their appointment and 
went immediately at work on data for the preparation, 
later, of landscape plans. Mr. Bogart was chosen with the 
view of his having especially in charge the various engineer- 
ing problems which it was soon recognized the commission, 
in carrying out the plans for such varied topography as ex- 
isted in Essex County, would have to solve. 

About the same time, Messrs. Murphy and Meeker acted 
as a committee in conferring with Mayor Lebkueeher to 
obtain his views in regard to the transfer of lands belonging 
to the city of Newark which might be desirable for use in 
the new park locations. Eequisitions for funds were made 
on the freeholders — one for $5,000 on May 9 — and promptly 
honored, and that board was advised that the commission 
"would probably require the current year $750,000." On 
June 17 a conference with the Finance Committee of the 
freeholders was held. This was followed a week later by 
another requisition for $50,000, which amount was prompt- 
ly forthcoming. 



While the question as to the general policy of the board 
was yet undecided, there seemed to be no doubt 
that the Branch Brook reservoir property should be- 
come the nucleus of the central park for Newark. The loca- 
tion was central — although far north of the center of the 
large population in Newark. The tract belonging to the 
city, had in December, 1899, owing largely to the active 
efforts of the Roseville Improvement Association, Charles 
H. Pell and others, been transferred by the Aqueduct 
Board to the Common Council, and a few days later was 
dedicated to park purposes and came under the control of 
the Board of Works — the right being reserved to use such 
part of it as necessary for reservoir purposes. There had 
been more or less agitation in favor of having the transfer 
of this tract made to the Park Commission. The Mayor 
recommended it and the press favored it. It was "as good 
a place to begin with as any, and all should help hasten the 
development of the park system. Let there be some practi- 
cal results shown as soon as possible."* That was the way 
The Call put forth its claims for a park site to public favor. 
The tract as transferred contained about sixty acres. Ad- 
joining on the easterly side, within the park site soon after- 
ward chosen, were many residences, always very costly in 
acquirement for park uses. But the reservoir property was 
already in municipal control and held for park improve- 
ment, and in July, 1895, was transferred by the Newark 
Board of Street and Water Commissioners to the Park 

At the board meeting of July 18 the landscape architect 
and engineers were requested to prepare a map indicating 
their best judgment as to the lines for a Branch Brook 
Park. The lines soon afterward recommended, did not 
then, as now, include either the central or northern divi- 
sions, and on the north extended only as far as Fifth ave- 
nue. This plan was approved July 30, 1895. 

The subject of a county bond issue for the parks was also 


under active consideration during the summer, and 
early in August it was decided to make a further requisition 
for $945,000. It had also been determined tO' locate a 
small park in the eastern district of Newark, where all 
agreed a park was needed, and where opportunity offered to 
obtain about thirteen acres of unimproved city lots in the 
midst of a built-up and populous district. 

The acquirements of nearly all this land from the single 
owner, John O'Brien, of New York, enabled the commis- 
sion to avoid the expense and delay incidental to condem- 
nation proceedings, and made the improvement of that park 
the first work completed. 

Early in July, I brought before the board the matter of 
encouraging gifts of park land, etc., from private owners, 
and the following statement was approved and appeared in 
most of the Essex County papers about that time : 

"The Essex County Park CoMMissioisr, 
"Newark, N. J., July 25, 1895. 

"In order that Essex County may possess as elaborate a 
park system as possible, the Park Commission has thought 
it wise to invite the people to assist in increasing the area 
and attractions. This is the only commission in the United 
States where the park movement embraces an entire county, 
and the splendid possibilities which follow from such an 
almost unlimited choice of magnificent natural features 
make most desirable the hearty co-operation of the press 
and people in every portion of the county. 

"The experience of other localities shows that park de- 
velopment has been materially assisted by liberal gifts of 
land and money, and in almost every community the park 
systems are a monument not only to the wise public policy 
but to private benefaction as well. 

"Of the 425 acres in the Springfield (Mass.) park sys- 
tem, more than 300 acres have been by gift from individuals 
and but 116 acres — less than one-third — acquired by pur- 

"Within the pa^t two years the city of Hartford (Conn.) 


has received donations of 180 acres of park lands and sev- 
ei-al hundred thousand dollars by bequest from one of her 
late citizens. 

"Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburg and many other communi- 
ties have received similar munificent gifts for like uses. 

"In all cases the results are as gratifying to the donors as 
the public. Land forever dedicated to public park uses is 
an enduring monument to the giver. 

"The Pa.rk~ Commission hopes that the experience of 
other localities may be repeated here, and gifts of land and 
and money will be gladly received. The plans under con- 
sideration admit of the selection of alternate sites for the 
county system, and it is important that notice of the inten- 
tion to present land be given to the commission as soon as 
possible, in order that all lands accepted may be developed 
in harmony with the park plans. 


"'The commission will also be glad to receive proposals 
for sale of lands suitable for park purposes from individuals 
or other owners desiring to co-operate in the acquirement 
of lands on advantageous terms to the county. 

"The commission will make public acknowledgment ajid 
suitable recognition of all donations, whether land, money 
or bequests. Gifts of money will be used according to the 
directions of the donor in any way which tends to increase 
the beauty of the parks. 

"Suggestions have already been made of gifts of certain 
tracts, and offers of others at nominal prices, and the Park 
Commission feels sure that the public spirited will respond 
liberally to the call and render it possible for Essex County 
to possess one of the finest park systems in the country. 

"Cyrus Peck, 
"Frederick M. Shepard, 
"Franklin Murphy, 
"Frederick W. Kelsey, 
"SsBPHEN J. Meeker/'' 


The commission afterward received from the Messrs. 
Ballantine a gift of thirty-two acres, and from Z. M. Keen 
and William A. Eighter one of about twenty acres, all 
valuable land in northern Newark, and now included in the 
northern division of Branch Brook Park, north of Bloom- 
field avenue. In 1896, a number of public-spirited citizens 
in Orange and Bast Orange made a donation of $17,275 in 
cash toward the acquirement of the triangle tract there, now 
the Orange Park. 


As the preliminary work of the board early in 1895 con- 
tinued, it was found that one of the intricate, if not diflQcult, 
obstacles to overcome would be the acquirement of the land 
needed for the parks. It is unfortunate, but true, "and 
pity 'tis 'tis true," that whenever realty property is re- 
quired of private owners for public uses there is, in most 
instances, an immediate increase in the owner's estimate of 
the value ; and not infrequently the demands become so ex- 
orbitant as to price as to leave no other resource excepting 
either to abandon the purchase or resort to troublesome and 
frequently costly litigation. Although the commission had 
guarded its plans, as had the previous board, there was a 
general impression that soon appeared to pervade the dis- 
trict immediately contiguous to the reservoir site that a 
park would in all probability be located there at an early 
date. In order to accomplish, as far as possible, the acquire- 
ment of the land by purchase, it was decided to employ, as a 
part of the working organization of the commission, two 
real estate experts, who would undertake this important 
work of land purchase, and on July 18 Messrs. B. F. Crane 
and E. E. Bond received the appointment of land agents. 
Both of these gentlemen performed most valuable service, 
especially Mr. Crane, who was continuously active and 
earnest, and by kindly and tactful effort was very successful 
in acquiring a great number of the small lots and residence 
properties within the Branch Brook Park area. His loy- 
alty to the int^ests of the commission won the confidence 


and esteem of all the members, and by his death, in Febru- 
ary, 1896, the Park Board lost one of its most trusted and 
careful assistants. 

In January, 1896, A. L. Cross was chosen as assistant land 
agent, in place of Mr. Bond. The purchasing agents were 
not always successful, even in instances where there had 
been no intimation to the owners that the lands inquired for 
or under negotiation were for public use. No one outside 
the board rooms knew of the decision of the commission 
regarding the East Side Park location, as mentioned, or, as 
far as I know, at the time negotiations were opened for the 
land, no one in that part of Newark had any thought or 
knowledge that the subject was under consideration. 

Messrs. Bond and Crane reported that J. M. Lummis 
was the agent of John O'Brien, who owned the 134 unim- 
proved lots, and constituting nearly all of the thirteen acres 
required for the park, bounded by Adams, Walnut, Oliver 
and Van Buren streets, in eastern Newark. They were 
authorized to negotiate with Mr. Lummis and to have a 
careful appraisement made, including their own valuation 
of the property. Later they advised that $148,000 was the 
price asked, and reported the appraisement, which they said 
had been carefully made, at $95,700. The board declined to 
pay any such price as that asked. After some further nego- 
tiations the selling price was reduced to $125,000, as "the 
very lowest price" that would be accepted. At the board 
meeting of December 31, 1895, a resolution was adopted 
authorizing condemnation proceedings toward securing the 
property. Not long afterward I received word at my place 
of business in New York that Andrew H. Green, whom I 
had pleasantly known and whose office was convenient to 
mine, desired to see me. In the interview following Mr. 
Green informed me that as a lifelong friend he had, as a 
personal favor to Mr. O'Brien, consented to look after his 
property interests in Newark ; how both he and Mr. O'Brien 
disliked either to stand in the way of such public improve- 
ments or to go into litigation ; and that he had sent for me 
because from our vmt acquaintance he felt that "we could 


amicably settle the question of the purchase of the lots, if 
any one could settle it." 

commission's methods explained. 

I explained the methods employed by the commission in 
arriving at a basis of fair valuation of the property — con- 
sidered alike fair to Mr. O'Brien and the people of the 
county who were paying for it, and how we should be glad 
to reciprocate the spirit of civic improvement that had been 
so marked a characteristic in his administration of public 
affairs. I endeavored to make it clear to him that the Park 
Commission, in its position of trustee of public funds, in 
placing the limit of the purchase price at tlae appraised 
price ajid what we believed a fair and equitable price, was 
acting as he had so many times acted in similar positions of 
trust, when duty and loyalty to the obligation as trustee had 
been the paramount consideration. 

Mr. Green then asked me when condemnation proceed- 
ings would be begun. I replied that authorization had been 
made for them to be instituted directly. He then wanted 
to know if we could not "divide the difference between Mr. 
O'Brien's last asking price, $125,000, and the appraised 
valuation as reported of $95,700." He declared that this 
seemed to him preferable to litigation for both sides, and 
that he had imderstood Mr. O'Brien had for some time con- 
sidered the property worth $150,000. 

"Were it a personal transaction or the commissioners 
were negotiating individually," I replied, "we might very 
likely get together on the principle of dividing the differ- 
ence, as you suggest, but in this instance I think the com- 
Kiissioners are agreed that we should stand on the agreed 
valuations of our experts, in whom we have the fullest con- 
fidence. Unless this price is acceptable to you and Mr.- 
O'Brien, we should prefer to have the court proceeding fof 
acquiring the property to go on, rather than increase the 
limit of price." He said he should like to confer with 
Mr. O'Brien, and that I would hear from him soon. 

The followLug da^ Mr. Green called upon me, and wrote 


out the following authorized acceptance, at the valuation 
the commission was willing to pay for the property : 

"New York, February 7th, 1896. 
"Mr. Fred'k W. Kelsey, Commissioner. 

"Dear Sir — I am authorized by Mr. John O'Brien to sell 
to your commission all the property belonging to him in 
blocks Nos. 964, 965, 966, 967 and 968 on the revised map 
of the O'Brien property (of Ward & Tichenor of September, 
1885), situated in the city of Newark, at the price of 
$95,700, payable on or before the fifteenth day of March, 
1896, or sooner if satisfactory examination of title can be 

"Yours truly, for John O'Brien, 

"And. H. Geeen." 

At the next meeting of the board, February 10, the pur- 
chase agreement was formally closed at $95,700, as pro- 
posed in Mr. Green's letter. From the later experiences 
of the commission in acquiring park lands by condemnation 
proceedings there can be little, if any, doubt that this action 
of Mr. Green's was the means of a direct saving to the tax- 
payers of Essex County of at least $30,000, to say nothing 
of the delay that would have resulted in the improvement 
of the East Side Park through tlie acquirement of the land 
by legal process. 


The question as to the still unsettled general policy of 
the commission in establishing the park system was yet 
before us. The subject would be discussed, put over, and 
come up again whenever definite locations or estimates of 
cost of proposed park areas were under consideration. A 
solution seemed no nearer than before. The sectional 
piecemeal plan was, notwithstanding, gradually taking 
shape. The landscape architects were, as requested, pre- 
paring plans and studying boundary lines for different 


parks, not for a park system as a whole. There was noth- 
ing whatever in the way of carrying out the other policy 
while the different sites were under consideration or being 
informally acted upon. The situation at this time may be 
readily understood from the following letter to Commis- 
sioner Peck of October 2, 1895 : 

"Dear ilr. Peck — On my return home last evening I 
went carefully over the report of the first commission, with 
the view of ascertaining whether I was not in error in my 
impression that the present commission was under a trust 
obligation to carry out substantially the recommendation of 
that report. Even a casual reading would have made my 
impression as to such obligation a conviction. 

"As the meetings of our first commision were held in 
executive session, that report and the bill accompanying it 
were the only direct and official statements to the public of 
our conclusions and intentions. The confidence of the public 
in the recommendations made was evidently strengthened 
by the reiterated statements in the press as to the high 
character and aims of the commission. 

"About 6,000 copies of the report were distributed 
throughout the county and in the Legislature. From that 
report, and upon the recommendations and statements there 
made, the press. Legislature and public approved the report 
and adopted the charter recommended. Every one of our 
names was signed to that report (in duplicate), and to the 
statements of fact and intentions there stated. 

"If, under these conditions, a trust obligation does not 
rest upon the present commission, how could one be cre- 
ated? If the careful preparation of that report, with our 
signatures attached, does not clearly specify such conditions, 
how would it be possible to present a subject that would 
involve trust obligations ? 

"If we were borrowing a large amount of money for our 
personal account, would not the stipulations and statements 
accompanying the loan become important factors in the use 
of the money ? What distinction or difference can be made 
in this instance, where the interests of 300,000 people are 


directly ailected, after the loan has been made, the confi- 
dence reposed and powers conferred, based upon these state- 

"Surely there was nothing in the report that indicated 
there was the remotest thought or intention of adopting 
a piecemeal, sectional policy. On the contrary, every 
statement and inference was that a ''system' of parks was to 
be created; that they were to be laid out on the general 
plans as outlined in the report, for the good of the whole 
county, free from local entrammelments. 

"If this view be the correct one, it seems to me that it is 
incumbent upon our board to change its policy, and instruct 
our architects to at once proceed and lay out a comprehen- 
sive plan for the county before we decide upon any other 
large areas, besides the Branch Brook tract, as a starting 
point already agreed upon. 

"You will recollect I suggested to you this plan soon 
after the organization of the present commission. It has 
been my conviction from the first that it was the proper 
way, and, indeed, the only way, that we could make efEective 
progress and lay out a system that would meet the obliga- 
tions entered into with the public on the acceptance of our 
statement and charter, or that would avert adverse criticism 
and keep the work of the commission on broad lines, ac- 
ceptable to the people of the county and the State. 

"I have not more strongly advocated this plan before 
because I have deferred to the feelings and judgment of the 
other members of the commission who, I felt, would, sooner 
or later, from their own convictions, arrive at the same 
conclusion. Very truly yours, 

"Pebdeeick: W. Kelset." 

The reasons why it seemed desirable to carry out the 
policy of the first commission, as above indicated, and many 
others, had been repeatedly stated at the board meetings, 
where, as I have already mentioned, the discussions, al- 
though earnest, were always in good nature. Believing 
that there was a vital principle involved, T also wrote Corn- 


missioiiers Shepard and Murphy on similar lines. In a 
letter to Mr. Shepard, October 11, 1895, 1 wrote: 

"If the plans outlined by the first commission, and so 
cordially approved, are to be changed to a piecemeal, sec- 
tional policy, without regard to where we are coming out in 
the expenditure of the two and a half millions provided in 
the charter, should we not so state, openly and publicly, in 
the beginning? 

"To my mind our duty is clear in the obligation we are 
under to keep faith with the public in fulfilling the stipu- 
lations and in making the conditions confo^rm to the state- 
ments upon which our charter was formed." 

In his reply Mr. Shepard submitted an estimate of the 
probable cost of the park sites then under discussion, 
amounting to $1,900,000, and stated that he thought the 
architects should make a connecting plan "with parkways 
as suggested." 

"This meets the obligation we have inherited," he wrote, 
"and when our plan is settled and we have some developed 
work to show, we can apply to the people through the Legis- 
lature for sufficient money to complete the work." 

Eeferring to the estimates and his proposition, I replied : 

"li we start on Lake Weequahic I think the least we can 
safely estimate for getting out of it with anything like ad- 
missible results would be over rather than under $500,000, 
and it might largely exceed that sum. Even if a half 
million were a limit, or if it were more in the center of the 
county or of the population, the proportion would look to be 
less formidable, but it is almost on the county line — in 
reality almost as much for Elizabeth and Union as for 
Newark and Essex. My feeling is that when that tract is 
improved for park uses Union County should unite in the 
undertaking and contribute at least one-third of the 


I again wrote Mr. Shepard on November 32, 1895 : 

"Our park enterprise was laid out and the preliminary 
work carried out on broad lines; successful because sec- 
tionalism was avoided and the pledge made that the money 
was to be expended for the benefit of all the county, rather 
than with special reference to particular localities. 

"The majority sentiment at the meeting yesterday focal- 
ized directly on the negative side of those principles. No 
matter what arguments or facts favor the successful original 
scheme, it must now be superseded by a local policy plan, 
as distinct in its aims and objects and as much at variance 
with its former methods and policy as can possibly be. 

"Whether the cable tract is or is not taken is not more 
vital, it seems to me, than this breach of faith with the 
pi;blic — ^the change of policy with its natural sequence, and 
the question of one's duty and obligation under such cir- 

"If the change be made, it will be extremely expensive. 
It will tend soon or later to disintegrate any com- 
mission or public body entrusted to carry out a great public 
improvement, as surely as local and personal jealousies sep- 
arate individuals and communities. If our enterprise can 
be anything of a success under such a load it will be a mere 
matter of good fortune. 

"Should not this matter of policy be outlined and agreed 
upon before we go any further?" 

Again, December 1, I wrote: "If the majority plan is 
adopted, the trust obligation we are under to the public is 
ignored and» the experience of other local commissioners 
unheeded. Feeling as I do that nothing that you or I or 
any individual can do will prevent the final outcome and 
result of these two fundamental policies, the thought still 
uppermost in my mind is as to our duty, and the best course 
under the circumstances." 

But further argument was useless. The work of the 
commission in establishing the lines and acquiring the land 


for the different parks was going on apace. The relative 
bearings that one park should have to another, or that any 
of those determined upon should have to the park system as 
a whole, was lost sight of, or considered as "wholly sec- 
ondary." Each park was treated as an entity, as though 
the plan for a unified system had never been under con- 
sideration. The location for one park as a distinct propo- 
sition as exemplified in the Bast Side Park in Newark, 
had accentuated the pressure brought to bear upon the com- 
mission to locate others. 

The suggestions of the court as to local "representation," 
and the two new commissioners appointed to carry out that 
principle, had borne fruit, and, before the close of 1895, the 
sectional policy for the Essex County parks was well estab- 
lished and became the controlling principle, as it has, sub- 
ject to minor modifications, since remained. 


THE FIEST $1,000,000. 

With the great mass of people, to whom the matter of 
mcome vs. expenses is a present and ever-recurring problem, 
there are, perhaps, few characters in fiction more interest- 
ing or that have attracted wider attention than Wilkins 
Micawber. His object lesson in correct finance, showing 
the happiness that may follow from an income of "twenty 
pounds a year" and expenses of "nineteen pounds nineteen 
shillings and sixpence," when compared with the misery 
resulting from a like income and the expenditure of 
"twenty pounds one," illustrates in a few words a principle 
of very general application. 

Thus, in the park enterprise, each of the commissioners, 
favoring the policy of being pecuniarily forehanded in pub- 
lic matters as in private affairs, was of one mind as to the 
desirability of providing ample funds before incurring lia- 
bility for land purchases or other financial obligations. 

After the organization of the department was completed 
and the first requisition for $5,000 on the Board of Free- 
holders in May, 1895, had been made, the commission then 
took up the subject of a bond issue for a large amount. 
This was arranged through a joint meeting with the 
Finance Committee of the freeholders on June 17. At this 
conference it was agreed that, as the proceeds of the bonds 
were under the law to be turned over to the park board, the 
commission should take the initial and active steps in the 
negotiations for the bond issue. 


The meeting was entirely harmonious, and I was ap- 
pointed a committee, with the counsel, to consult with some 










THE FIRST $1,000,000 95 

of the leading New York bankers having resources for 
handling such a loan and as to the kind of bond that could 
to the best advajitage be issued. Soon afterward several 
conferences were held with the United States Mortgage 
and Trust Company, Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and J. & W. Selig- 
man. All recommended a "four per cent, gold bond" for as 
long a time as practicable, and, if maturing at different 
periods, that the average date of maturity should be not less 
than thirty years. These recommendations were approved 
by the commission, a.nd a circular letter was prepared in- 
viting proposals for the bonds. On June 28, 1895, the New 
York Bond Buyer announced that it had been "reported 
June 17 that the Board of Freeholders of Essex County, 
New Jersey, had decided to issue bonds at not exceeding 
four per cent, to the amount of $2,500,000 ;" and that "the 
Finance Committee, after consultation with the Essex 
County Park Commission, had decided to issue them in 
three lots" of four per cent, semi-annual twenty-year gold 
bonds, two issues of $750,000 each, and one of $1,000,000. 
The bonded debt of the county was given as "$780,197; as- 
sessed valuation, $154,071,200; tax rate, 6.22." With the 
exception of the time stated for maturity of all the bonds, 
this announcement was substantially in accord with the plan 
as then agreed upon. 

About this time I brought the subject of the proposed 
bond issue to the attention of J. Pierpont Morgan. He had 
just returned from Europe. I had known for a number 
of years, as does every one having business relations with 
him or his firm, that he was the master spirit, exercising 
the deciding mind on all important matters there. For this 
reason we had awaited his return, while conferring with 
the other bankers mentioned. In calling upon Mr. Morgan, 
I stated briefly the situation. He replied that he would look 
into the matter, and that he thought it a favorable time to 
bring out such a bond issue. He was then accredited with 
having just closed in London some exceedingly large finan- 
cial transactions, and spoke of the low rates of interest 
prevailing both "there and here." A few days later, June 


24,1895, I wrote Mr. Morgan, enclosing "copy of the act 
aijthorizing the issue of Essex County Park bonds referred 
to in our conversation," and adding : "As a committee of 
the commission to look up this matter, I should be pleased 
to again confer with you personally, and will try and call on 
you in the course of a few days." 

Soon afterward I again wrote Mr. Morgan, as follows: 
"In looking into the Essex County (N. J.) Park loan, I 
believe you will find the bonds now to be issued of the very 
highest class; indeed the very best. Under the county 
system of New Jersey there axe special safeguards thrown 
round the county organization which give county measures 
such as the issue of bonds almost the prestige and resource 
of a State. This, with the fact that county claims have 
preference over local and municipal payments on all taxes 
collected, makes such an issue as the Essex Park bonds 
doubly sure." 


While the subject of the bond issue was under consider- 
ation, an incident occurred that settled one point, regarding 
the method of placing the bonds, most effectually. A 
transaction in Newark bonds by a committee of the free- 
holders with one of the local financial institutions had 
excited much adverse comment. Even the grand jury made 
a presentment on the subject of the bonds having been 
disposed of at private sale at a price below the prevailing 

The amount was not large, but the transaction was held 
up also by the press as a warning against the further dis- 
position of any city or county securities in like manner, or 
in any other way than by competitive bids. As these criti- 
cisms were aimed directly at the proposed issuance of the 
park bonds, the commission and Finance Committee of the 
freeholders were in entire accord in deciding that sealed 
proposals should be invited for the new bonds, and that 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 97 

they should not be otherwise disposed of. It was also 
deemed advisable in this way to extend the credit for such 
securities, and the advantages which might accrue to the 
community should foreign capital be employed in invest- 
ment in the bonds were considered. 

On the afternoon of July 9, 1895, I went over the bond 
matter quite fully with ilr. Morgan. He said that it was 
a good bond ; that it would sell for a good premium ; that 
he would take the whole two and one-half millions author- 
ized issue and pay a good price for the bonds ; and that he 
would arrange payment so that the commission could have 
the money as fast as needed or whenever wanted. I asked 
him if he thought the bonds with a rate of less than four 
per cent, "would go." He said: "Yes." "Three and a 
half per cent. ?" I asked. "No," he replied. "Well, then, 
what rate would you suggest as being safe for insuring a 
sale of the bonds below four per cent.?" He thought a 
moment, and remarked: "Some people like the idea of a 
cent a day on a hundred dollars, or a 3.65 interest rate," 
and intimated he would talce the bonds himself at that 
rate; also that he thought they could be sold at a small 
premium. I told him that we should be glad to take up the 
negotiations with him, but the decision had already been 
made that the only way the bonds could be sold was by com- 
petitive bids, under the usual specifications. He replied 
that he would not go into competition, but would probably 
pay as good a price for the whole issue as likely to be ob- 
tained from others. Events soon demonstrated the correct- 
ness of Mr. Morgan's observation. 

Immediately after leaving his office I conferred with 
Commissioner Peck, who agreed with me that we should 
favor the change in interest from four per cent, to 3.65 per 
cent., notwithstanding that reports like those above quoted 
had gone out to the effect that the park bonds were to be 
"four per cents," and the form of advertisements and circu- 
lars inviting proposals at the four per cent, rate were then 
in proof ready for printing. The same afternoon I wrote 
Treasurer Murphy and Counsel Munn as follows : 


"New York, July 9, 1895. 

"My Dear Sir — Prom the bids on the Brooklyn and 
Philadelphia bonds, opened yesterday, and from informa- 
tion received here to-day, Mr. Peck and myself fully agree 
that the interest on our park bonds should be 3.65 per cent, 
instead of four per cent. 

"We believe that the other members of the board will 
concur in this view in considering the matter further at the 
meeting on Thursday. 

"While this may delay the printing a day or two, we 
deem it a matter of considerable importance, and as the 
addressing of the lists for proposals can be completed in 
the meantime, it need not necessarily delay the publication 
but a little to defer the advertisements and sending until 
after our Thursday's meeting. Very truly yours, 

"Peed. W. Kelset." 

"Franklin Murphy, Treasurer." 

At the next meeting referred to, the conversation with 
Mr. Morgan was reported, and a resolution, oifered by my- 
self, that the rate of interest be changed to 3.65 per cent., 
.was adopted. The following printed letter, inviting pro- 
posals for the bonds, was soon afterward sent to the leading 
bankers and bond brokerage houses generally : 


"The Board of Chosen Freeholders of the county of 
Essex, New Jersey, proposes to issue bonds to the aggregate 
amount of $3,500,000, pursuant to the provisions of Chap- 
ter XCI., of the act of 1895, which act has been approved 
by a vote of the people of said county, for the purpose of 
establishing ^ system of parks and parkways for said county. 

"These bonds will be dated August 1, 1895, payable as 
follows: $500,000, August 1, 1915; $500,000, August 1, 
1920 ; $500,000, August 1, 1925 ; $500,000, August 1, 1930 ; 
$500,000, August 1, 1935. 

"They will be of the denomination of $1,000 each; will 
bear interest at three and sixty-five one-hundredths (3.65- 
100) per cent, per annum, payable semi-annually; will be 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 99 

coupon bonds with the option to the holder to have them 
registered or exchanged for registered bonds; will be exe- 
cuted by the county officers, and the whole issue duly coun- 
tersigned, principal and interest payable in gold coin. 

"The proceeds will be required for use by the Park Com- 
mission from time to time during a period of not less than 
two, nor more than three years. At least $750,000 will be 
required during the present year. 

THE county's indebtedness. 

"The coimty of Essex has a population of 300,000, and 
an assessed valuation of $178,166,000. Its present total 
indebtedness is $766,859, or less than one-half of one per 
cent, of the assessed valuation. 

"The act under which the bonds are issued requires the 
annual levy of a county tax sufficient to meet interest and 
principal when due. A county tax for any purpose is 
entitled to priority in payment over local taxes for munici- 
pal purposes. 

"Sealed proposals will be received by the Finance Com- 
mittee of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, at a meeting, 
to be held by said committee, at the freeholders' room, in 
the courthouse, at Newark, N. J., on Tuesday, July 30, 
1895, at 3 o'clock P. M., which meeting will remain open 
until 3 :30 P. M. Proposals should be: 

"1. For the whole of said bonds, to be issued at once. 

"2. For $1,000,000, to be now issued. 

"3. For the whole amount, to be issued in instalments 
of not less than $500,000 during a period not exceeding 
three years. 

"4. For any part of said bonds. 

"The purchaser to pay the interest accrued on said bonds 
to the time of delivery. 

"Under the statute, no bids can be received at any other 
time or place. 

"The Finance Committee reserves the right to reject any 
and all proposals, if in its judgment the interest of the 
gounty requires such action," 


Of the responsible bids received, the United States Mort- 
gage and Trust Company offered 101.35 for a million 
bonds at four per cent, interest; J. & W. Seligman, 100.34 
for a million of the 3.65 bonds — $500,000 payable on 
delivery of the bonds and $500,000 six months later; New 
York Life Insurance Company, "par fiat for a million," 
$300,000 on delivery and $100,000 per month thereafter; 
Vermilye & Co., 100.77 for a million, averaging thirty 
years' maturity; and the Hovpard Savings Institution, par 
for $50,000 of the bonds as advertised. 

The award was made to Vermilye & Co. and the 
$1,008,400 proceeds were received by the freeholders in a 
certified check for that amount on August 26, 1895; 
$945,000 was paid over to the Park Commission five days 
later, $55,000 having been previously received. And thus 
was closed the first transaction whereby a 3.65 rate of 
interest bond issued by a county at par had, so far as could 
be ascertained up to that time, been sold. 

In commenting upon this sale. The Call said editorially : 
"The sale of a million of county bonds bearing interest at 
$3.65 per $100 at a slight premium showed that the Park 
Commission and freeholders of the Finance Committee 
who worked together in this matter had gauged the bond 
market pretty accurately in fixing the interest." 

While this observation was no doubt correct, it was the 
suggestion made by Mr. Morgan, in the interview as 
stated, which resulted in a direct saving to the people of 
Essex County in their taxes for the thirty years' average 
life of the bonds, of $3,500 per year in the interest charge 
alone; and the particulars are here narrated, as having an 
important bearing, as will be mentioned in a succeeding 
chapter, at that juncture of park affairs. 


With an abundance of cash in bank — ^these funds having 
been promptly deposited in various county banks and 
trust companies of accredited standing, subject to call and 
with interest at two per cent. — the commission proceeded as 

THE FIRST $1,000,000 101 

rapidly as possible with the acquirement of park lands and 
other work of the board. The land agents were requested 
to expedite purchases. The counsel was authorized to begin 
condemnation proceedings, directly owners were found who 
would not sell at a fair price, or in cases where such action 
was found necessary to correct or complete title. The com- 
mission held frequent meetings, often twice a week, to pass 
upon those questions and to determine the boundary lines 
of each of the parks as soon as a location for a park was 
decided upon. In almost every instance these locations, 
after they were determined, brought up anew the question 
as to extensions. 

As Jias already been stated, the first outlines of the 
Branch Brook Park, agreed upon July 30, 1895, extended 
only so far as Park avenue on the north and to Orange 
street on the south. Almost immediately afterward exten- 
sions in both directions were under consideration. No 
sooner had the official map for the East Side, or "Down 
Neck," Park been prepared, than petitions and delegations 
from that section asked that the park area there be enlarged. 
This result followed quite generally, and as the majority of 
the board had determined upon the plan of dealing with 
each of the park sites separately, rather than as a part of 
the system as a whole, the importance of each location was 
unduly magnified accordingly. In order to give the reader 
a correct view of the progress of this work, perhaps an ac- 
count of the selection of each of the parks in something like 
the order of their location may here be of interest. 

While a number of the park sites as afterward chosen 
were under consideration simultaneously, a final decision 
was more readily evolved with some than with others, and 
these decisions, in a few cases, were deferred for many 

The same day (July 30, 1895) that the commission 
accepted formal control of the reservoir property, the land- 
scape architects and engineers were requested to prepare a 
map indicating their best judgment as to the lines for a 
park with the sixty acres transferred by the city of Newark 


as a nucleus. At that time the estimated cost of the land 
and buildings, between Fifth avenue and Orange street, 
above mentioned, was $361,685. It soon became apparent 
that a creditable "Central Park" for Newark and for the 
county could not be established within those lines. By 
Januar]^, 1896, the Sussex avenue extension and the block 
east of Clifton avenue, the Garside street addition had been 
included. The questions as to these additions were not long 


The extension from Park avenue to Bloomfield avenue 
was a more serious matter. A large acreage of city lot 
property was involved and the estimated cost was nearly 
$300,000. Such an expenditure, together with the cost of 
improvement, would make a heavy drain oil the available 
funds, before the needs of the other portions of the county 
could be considered. The proposition was finally carried, 
however, and on January 9 that liberal, extension through 
to Bloomfield avenue was also included in the Branch 
Brook Park. 

But the lines were not to stop there. Pressure had been 
brought upon the commission to carry the northern limits 
of the park still farther. Forth of Bloomfield avenue and 
east of the Morris Canal on the line of the park, the land 
was mostly low, swamp property, impossible of improve- 
ment without draining, and until thus improved, practi- 
cally worthless. In the springtime, or during a rainy sea- 
son, many acres there were practically as impassable to a 
person on foot as the jungles of Africa. In the spring of 
1896 the commission made two or three tours of inspection 
there, but no one would take the risk of sinking in the 
swale by attempting to explore the inner recesses ol the 
waterlogged tangle of grassy bumps and hummocks, then 
known as the old Blue Jay Swamp. 

On December 4, 1896, this northern extension matter was 
the special order of business. Commissioner Murphy had 
offered a resolution the July previous that the northern 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 103 

boimdary of the park be at the old Bloomfield road. At the 
meeting of December 2, this resolution was offered : that 
"all speeches be limited to five minutes, and only two 
speeches be permitted from the same person." An amend- 
ment to the main resolution that "the territory between 
Bloomfield avenue and Fredonia avenue be treated as a 
parkway," was lost — 2 ayes, 3 nays; likewise by the same 
vote an amendment providing that the cost of land in the 
property extension should "not exceed $150,000." This 
130-acre tract, estimated to cost $160,000, was thereupon 
added to what seemed then, and has since proven, an al- 
ready heavily ballasted financial load; although the re- 
deemed land and the present attractive features of the 
northern section of the Branch Brook Park of to-day afford 
some compensation alike to the public and those responsible 
for the accession. 

The financial part of this undertaking kept full pace 
with, or quite outran, the acreage accumulations. The es- 
timated cost of $361,685 of June, 1895, had, at the close of 
1896, mounted to an actual cash expenditure for land alone 
of $850,687 ; and a year later to $1,129,086, or nearly one- 
half of the entire county park appropriation for this one 
park of 278 acres. There were very many buildings ac- 
quired with the land purchased, especially in the portions 
of the park south of Fifth avenue ; but these, mostly inex- 
pensive residences, realized but little. At an auction sale on 
April twenty-fifth, these houses were disposed of at from a 
few dollars to a few hundred dollars each, and the costly 
experience of making public parks from improved city lot 
property was again exemplified. Only about $16,000 was 
realized from the buildings in this park, that had cost more 
than $500,000. 


Concurrently with the consideration of park sites came 
the question of beginning park development. All the com- 
missioners were anxious that the practical work of improve- 
ment should proceed. The public reflected this sentiment 


through the press in urging that "something be done." It 
was now April, 1896. The commission had been in office a 
year; a million of dollars had been available for months, 
and why should not the work go forward ? On April 11 the 
landscape architects and engineers were "requested to for- 
mulate a plan for the improvement of Branch Brook Park 
and for employing 300 men." By May 25 sufficient pro- 
gress had been made to invite proposals, to close June 3, 
for the work, and to pass a resolution "that this work be 
done through contractors, who will agree to employ upon it 
citizens of Essex County on a basis of cost, and at such 
compensation as can be agreed upon by such contractors and 
the commission." 

The plan of giving preference to residents or business 
houses within the county, other conditions being equally 
favorable, had already become an established rule of the 
board. The work to be done was in what is now known as 
the southern division of the park, south of Fifth avenue. A 
number of proposals — more than twenty — were received. 
They were as varied in specifications and offerings as were 
the qualifications and facilities for doing the work of the 
various bidders. The bids ranged from the offerings of a 
few horses and carts to those proposing to do all the work 
complete. After a moderately successful effort to properly 
classify these complex propositions^ the rejection of all bids 
was deemed the only solution that could be properly made. 

The meeting when the bids were opened was, as usual, in 
executive session. There was, in this unofficial and unbusi- 
ness-like procedure, no discourtesy to any of the bidders; 
none was thought of or intended. ISTor, so far as I can now 
recall, would any of the commissioners at that time have 
been likely to have objected to the presence of the public. 
The bids were called for in the regular course of business, 
and no occasion for secrecy could or did exist. 

The fact was that, owing to the topography and peculiar 
situation of that property, it was a most difficult matter to 
draw any specifications for contract work, as a whole, that 
would give the commission, through the architects apd 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 105 

engineers, the necessary reservation for directing the work 
— a matter so vitally important in park improvements of 
that character. 


In the second communication inviting bids, this right of 
direction by the engineer in charge was noted in the speci- 
fications and "any work directed by the engineer should be 
included." It was also provided that all "tools, machinery, 
etc., must be satisfactory to the engineer," and that bids 
should state "upon what percentage of payments actually 
made to the employes and for materials" the contractor 
would undertake the work. 

Six bids from all those to whom this communication was 
sent were received. These were also opened at an executive 
session of the board. The contract was, on the same day, 
June 9, 1896, awarded to the Messrs. Shanley, whose bid, all 
things considered, appeared to be the most favorable. All 
the commissioners, I believe, concurred in this view, which 
was also in accord with the recommendations of the chief 
engineer. As soon, however, as the action became known, 
there was a "hue and cry" directly. 

Whether right or wrong, the commission was taken se- 
verely to task, both by some of those whose bids had been 
rejected and by the press. One of the bidders in a published 
letter wanted to know : "Are not the books and records of 
the Park Commission public documents and open to inspec- 
tion at any reasonable hour ? Are not any moneys expended 
by the Park Commission under such contract expended con- 
trary to law, in direct violation of chapter 181, laws of 


The writer went on to say that he had "called at the office 
of the Park Commission and asked to see the twenty-three 
bids received June 3," and "was informed by the secretary, 


Mr. Church, that they were not for the public and could not 
be seen." 

One of the leading Newark papers, in commenting editor- 
ially upon the incident, said: "The Park Commission 
should be compelled to expose to public view the contracts 
made. To keep confidence with bidders is one thing, but to 
let the public know the facts regarding actual business com- 
pleted is a duty which admits of no argument. Every de- 
tail of such an arrangement should be available. The com- 
mission are occupying themselves with expenditure for the 
public of money from the public, and owe official existence 
to the public ; confidence reposed in the public would seem 
to be nothing more than a report of a servant to a master." 

Another editorial criticism pointed out that "the bids 
relate to public business, and any citizen who asks for the 
privilege of making examinations of them at a reasonable 
time and in a proper manner should be accommodated. The 
park commissioners ought to understand that they are pub- 
lic ofiicials and that the fact that they are men of standing 
in the community and have had reposed in them a great 
trust, does not mean that they should be permitted to trans- 
act public business as if it were a matter entirely personal 
and private to themselves." 

And again : "The people of Essex County do not desire 
to have two standards set up for the conduct of public 
boards and officers. They do not want to have some so ex- 
clusive or so lofty in their own esteem that open records and 
open meetings are intolerable to them. As men active in 
public life, the members of the commission will make a 
grave error if they try to assume any such position as that." 

These cogent and convincing reasons were so thoroughly 
in accord with my own convictions that I soon afterward 
gave notice that later in the year, when the park locations 
were more definitely determined and the needed purchases 
to establish value in each park were made, I should offer a 
resolution providing for all regular meetings of the board 
to be held in open session. Such a resolution was accord- 
ingly offered, and before the following April — at which 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 107 

time my term of office as commissioner expired — it was two 
or three times called up for action, but each timfe "went 
over" by request. 


While the discussion on the bids during June and July, 
1896, was going on, at least some of the commissioners ap- 
peared to be impressed by the circumstances occasioning the 
adverse comments on secret sessions. This is shown by a 
statement made by myself after the board meeting July 22, 
1896, in response to an inquiry from the News as to the 
attitude of the commission regarding these executive ses- 
sions, and published the day following. This statement was 
in part as follows : 

"We have about concluded all that part of our work 
wherein we considered that the interests of the county 
might suffer by premature publication, and I know of no 
reason why our meetings should not be open to the public 
hereafter. We are simply the agents of the taxpayers, who 
have placed at our disposal the expenditure of $2,500,0'00. 
While our selection may have been due to confidence reposed 
in our judgment, it is natural that the public should express 
anxiety as to the manner in which we are executing the 
trust. By affording every facility in this direction, we will 
remove all causes for criticism and make our relations with 
the public more pleasant. 

"It is admiii^d that much of our work was of a character 
that would suffer by premature publicity. 

'TVe considered that the interests of the county would be 
best served by conducting our negotiations for property 
quietly and without publicity, which might tend to cause ex- 
orbitant prices to be demanded in certain sections. Now 
our labor in that direction is about complete. We have 
nearly all the land necessary for the Branch Brook and the 
East Side parks. The same may be said in reference to the 
Eagle Eoclf, South Orange Mountain, and Waverly parks, 
and options have already been tendered on land for a West 
Side Park. The balance of our work, in my opinion, can be 


more advantageously conducted in the same line as that fol- 
lowed by other city and county hoards, and for that reason 
our meetings hereafter should be open." 

The article continued: "The speaker's sentiment was 
echoed by other commissioners, and Mr. Munn says he is 
satisfied that in the near future all the business of the board 
will he transacted publicly." 

In the first report of the "board of commissioners" for 
1896, issued early in the year 1897, the following paragraph 
(pages 3 and 4) appears: "The sessions of the commission 
have always from the beginning been held twice each week 
and have hitherto been executive in character. The com- 
missioners feel that, as custodians of a public fund, it was 
necessary for them to adopt such a course as long as the pur- 
chase of land formed the chief topic of discussion." 

When I afterward presented the resolution to carry this 
sentiment for open meetings of the board into practical 
effect, it was objected to by two of the commissioners, 
Messrs. Murphy and. Shepard, as was the case whenever the 
subject of passing on the resolution was brought up. This 
resolution was left with other commission papers in the 
drawer of the board-room table at the place I occupied when 
my term expired, the April follov/ing. Why there was ob- 
jection or why this resolution, or one of similar purport, has 
never been favorably acted upon, I have never known. 
Perhaps some future historian of the parks may ascertain, 
and elucidate this question. 

laborers' wages fixed. 

Another incident that attracted much attention at the 
time, and may here be of interest, was the action of the com- 
mission in June, 1896, in making it a condition in the con- 
tracts for work on the park that "laborers be paid $1.35 
and foremen $2.50 per day respectively, and for cart, horse 
and driver $2.50 and for double team and driver $4.35 each 
per day," and in notices to contractors that "the rates to be 
paid for services be fixed and approved by the commission." 

There was, at that time — the summer of 1896 — a very 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 109 

large contingent of laborers in ISTewark, as elsewhere, out of 
employment.' The Presidential election was pending, and 
the great struggle between the McKinley and Hobart sound 
money forces and the persistent advocates of a silver cur- 
rency, under the leadership of W. J. Bryan, was going on 
and had already resulted in an extended business depres- 
sion. The labor situation was still farther depressed by the 
continuous arrival of hordes of emigrants, especially Ital- 
ians, many of whom found their way immediately to Essex 
County. The commissioners understood that this class of 
labor was then being employed by contractors on railroads 
and other large works at prices as low as ninety cents to $1 
per day. They wished to have the work done as cheaply 
as it could be done, and done well, and at the same time to 
insure the laborers receiving whatever rate was paid. This 
would prevent the large margin, which, without some such 
restriction, might be exacted; as in cases then occurring 
where the contractor would be paid the contract price (of 
perhaps $1.35 per day), but actually pay the laborer much 

In establishing the prices noted, the commission intended 
that they should be the fair current rates for the service 
named. This view was not shared by some of the other 
public boards, and the action was severely criticized by some 
of the labor representatives. 

The Board of Freeholders at the meeting June 11, 1896, 
voted down a drastic resolution offered by one of the mem- 
bers protesting in vigorous language against such a restrip- 
tion "in fixing the pay of the laborers on county park work 
at $1.35 per day, as we do not believe good men should be 
compelled to work for so small a compensation." There 
■was a lively discussion over the resolution. Freeholder 
Medcraft denied that he had offered the resolution "for elec- 
tion purposes" on his own behalf. Mr. Condit suggested 
that "if the Park Commission should pay any more than 
the market prices for labor, they would be doing wrong, and 
taking money wrongfully out of the pockets of the taxpay- 
ers; and the rate per diem of wages was evidently the mar- 


ket price for labor, or they would not be able to get men to 
work for the figure named." When it was farther brought 
out that the passage of such a resolution would be an open 
criticism of one county board upon the official action of 
another public body of the same county constituency, oil was 
poured on the troubled waters and the resolutions were 


When there came to be a better understanding on the part 
of the objecting officials, the labor leaders, and labor unions, 
the agitation ceased, and the work, under the contract, in- 
cluding the specifications that had occasioned the discus- 
sion, went smoothly on to completion. 

In the initial work at Branch Brook Park, there was a 
question in which another public board was directly con- 
cerned, that did not work out so readily. This was the 
authoritative closing of the streets ; and later, the matter of 
transferring to the commission other land under control 
of the Kewark Board of Street and Water Commissioners, 
besides the reservoir property within the park limits, which 
soon became a part of the same negotiations. Still later, in 
1897, the construction of the Millbrook sewer, directly 
through the southern portion of Branch Brook Park, was 
for many months a bone of friendly contention between the 
Newark board and the Park Commission. 

Incidentally, too, the question arose as to the payment of 
assessments due the city on land acquired by the commis- 
sion. On June 23, 1896, Mayor Seymour wrote the Park 
Board as follows : 

"During the last week a number of bills for assessments 
for city improvements, levied against property, have been 
returned to the city comptroller with the statement that the 
property benefited has been purchased by the Park Board. 
An investigation shows that, while the improvements were 
made prior to the date of purchase by your honorable body, 
the assessments were not confirmed until after title had been 
taken by the commission. 

THE FIRST $1,000,000 111 


"I am advised that under the decision of the courts these 
assessments cannot be collected. So far the losses discov- 
ered aggregate $1,000. 

"This matter you will understand is a serious one to the 
city. Believing, however, that an adjustment can be made 
satisfactory to you and the county of Essex, I respectfully 
request that you attend a conference in my office Friday 
morning at 10 o'clock. An invitation has also been sent the 
counsel of your board. 

"Pending the conference, the ordinance of the Board of 
Street and Water Commissioners vacating certain streets for 
park purposes will be held under consideration. 
"Very truly yours, 

"James M. SetmouEj Mayor." 

There was apparently no objection made to closing the 
streets, but, as this letter indicates, both boards were, so to 
speak, fencing for position. There were questions both of 
ethics and equity involved. The city officials were naturally 
desirous of recovering if possible on the assessments as they 
appeared on the official books, and to obtain as large a con- 
tribution as could be secured toward the costly sewer. The 
courts had ruled out the assessment claims as against the 
commission, but they were not omitted as a factor in the 
negotiations. After various conferences, $40,000 was the 
proportion or share the city officials asked the commission 
to contribute toward the Millbrook sewer expense. 

The commissioners contended that the assessment matter 
was in no way under consideration; that the expenditures 
for park improvements were of great benefit to the city ; and 
that to divert public funds from the purpose thus designated 
to pay for municipal necessities such as drainage, would be 
an unwarranted procedure, and, under the circumstances 
then existing, on the principle of "robbing Peter to pay 



The city authorities, not wishing to delay work on the 
parks, had in the meantime, during the years 1896 and 
] 897, with reasonable promptness, taken proceedings to close 
the necessary streets leading to each of the parks — Branch 
Brook, East Side, and West Side — as located within the 
city limits. But the questions referred to were not fully 
disposed of until the offer of the commission, agreed upon 
at the meeting November 16, 1898, was accepted. Under 
that proposition and the final settlement, the commission 
paid the city of Newark, through the Board of Street and 
Water Commissioners, $20,000, together with the privilege 
of constructing the city sewer through the park; and, in 
consideration of this, the latter board ceded to the commis- 
sion the two blocks of land — all the city then owned — in 
the Sussex avenue division of the park, between Duryee 
street, Orange street and the Morris Canal. 


The real work in grading, and for the surface embellish- 
ment of Branch Brook Park, was begun the morning of 
June 15, 1896. No special ceremony graced the occasion. 

Three of the commissioners, Messrs. Peck, Meeker and 
myself, with the secretary and Engineer Bogart, were pres- 
ent. Promptly, at 8 :30 o'clock, the president, with 
a new spade, turned the first sod. The contractors 
had a large force of men and teams ready, and, from that 
time, the work on this great pleasure ground went rapidly 
forward. Now that more than nine years have passed and 
more than $2,500,000 has been expended there, the work is 
hardly yet completed, and at the present rate of progress 
it may be another year before the bridge approaches and 
other improvements are finished. 

When completed, this park of 278 acres will be one of the 
most attractive and interesting pleasure grounds of the size 
in the country. The topography is sufficiently varied to make 
practicable the different styles of landscape treatment em- 

THE FIEST $1,000,000 113 

ployed. The laviii tennis courts and comparatively open 
level surface of most of the northern division; the play 
fields and open lawn features of the middle division, bor- 
dered with raised and closely planted banks on each side; 
these are in pleasing contrast to the formal treatment — the 
Italian gardens, arbors, pergolas, bordered walks and other 
ornamental attractions of the southern division. The lake, 
with the connecting waterways under Park avenue and 
Bloomfield avenue, with the artistically beautiful bridges, 
carrying both avenues over the park driveways and water- 
ways, greatly enhance the other landscape features of this 
park. In winter the merry faces and gay costumes of thou- 
sands of happy skaters enliven the scene, and turn the 
somber effect of the winter season into a joyous moving 
panorama for all. 

That the people of Essex County may derive increasing 
benefit and enjoyment from the very large expenditure for 
this park, must be the earnest wish and hopeful expectation 
of every one who is a sincere believer in parks, and whose 
sympathies are touched by the needs for that uplifting in- 
fluence to all classes, which only attractive public parks can 



As noted in a preceding chapter, the decision to locate 
a small park in the eastern and densely populous portion of 
Newark was made soon after the organization of the com- 
mission in 1895. This determination was the outgrowth 
of a sentiment within, rather than from any particular 
pressure brought to bear from without, the board rooms. 

In like manner, the ownership of nearly all the property 
to the extent of 134 city lots being vested with one person, 
and all that property unbuilt upon, was an important factor 
in deciding the location. Indeed, no other site in that por- 
tion of the city was, I think, at the time under considera- 
tion. All the commissioners were agreed that if there was a 
particular place in the county where a park was especially 
needed it was in that section, and by ISTovember the land- 
scape architects and engineers were authorized to prepare a 
map for the park. The announcement of the location and 
the purchase of the O'Brien property soon afterward was 
well received. 

The arrangement with the Newark Street and Water 
Board for closing the necessary streets was made at a con- 
ference with that board held at the commission's rooms, 
January 2, 1896. These city officials were also in favor of 
the park. 

The press commended the action. One of the papers, on 
January 3, contended that "nothing the Essex County Park 
Commission had done will be received with more genuine 
satisfaction by a great population than the plan approved 
yesterday by the Park Board and Board of Works in joint 
session for a fourteen-acre park in the heart of the Iron- 



bound District." A similar sentiment was reflected by other 
editorial notes and published expressions of the opinions of 
many persons entirely outside the district immediately 

There was no adverse criticism that ever reached the com- 
mission until the board declined to extend the lines of the 
park as originally established. These objections were, how- 
ever, confined to those more directly interested, and evi- 
dently never got beyond the point of individual opinion. 
The lines of the park were at first located at the limits that 
it was desired should be placed in each direction. As soon 
as the requisite property outside of the O'Brien purchase 
could be acquired, the working plans were completed and 
fthe contraOts, in August, 1896, were let for practically all the 
work for completing the park. This work, also undertaken 
by the Messrs. Shanley, was pushed rapidly forward and 
finally completed in 1897. It was the first of the county 
parks to be turned over in a finished condition for public 
use. The entire area was a level tract, and the landscape 
treatment, with trees on the borders, walks, lawn, etc, simi- 
lar to most city squares or parks of small acreage. The 
park contains a little more than twelve acres, and has cost 
upward of $160,000. 


Although the decision to locate a park in the western por- 
tion of Newark was not in the order following that for the 
East Side, the conditions controlling the selection were so 
directly the reverse of those in the other case as to make the 
comparison of them quite apropos here. With the West 
Side situation, instaad of the moving forces being from 
within the commission, they were — at least during the early 
stages of the discussion — wholly from without. The park 
experts to the first commission had not made any special 
recommendation for a park there, and none were included in 
the plans of that board, as it was believed that a park of 
'creditable dimensions within the city limits there would in- 
volve in proportion to its size too great cost. While other 


possible or probable park sites were receiving attention dur- 
ing 1895, no suggestion had come before the new commis- 
sion favoring a "West Side" park, and not one of the com- 
missioners had advocated such a location. 

This was the status of affairs when, on January 30, 1896, 
a letter from Mayor Lubkuecher was received. It called 
attention to the need of the "Hill section" of the city for a 
park and bespoke favorable consideration of the claims of 
the people in that vicinity. Active agitation toward press- 
ing those claims did not, however, begin until it became well 
known through the local associations in that district that 
the East Side park had become an established fact. Then 
the trouble began, and extended "all along the line." 

If there was ever a public board literally bombarded with 
communications and delegations by which a strenuous con- 
stituency can bring pressure to bear toward favorable offi- 
cial action, it was the Essex County Park Commission, as 
the recipient object of that attack and siege during the 
year 1896. 

First, on March 12, came a committee of citizens urging 
that a park was "a necessity in the West End." This visit 
was followed two weeks later by a resolution from the New- 
ark City Council favoring the project for a park in the 
western part of the city. On the same day a committee rep- 
resenting the West End Improvement Association, includ- 
ing Mayor Lubkuecher, A. B. Twitchell, Commissioner 
Frederick Kuhn, of the Board of Works, E. G. Eobertson, 
president of the association, and -George H. Forman, made a 
forcible presentation of the subject before the commission. 
The speakers dwelt at length upon the imperative need of a 
park in proximity to the large public school there; they 
referred to the healthy location of the "Hill" district ; con- 
tended that there were "close upon 70,000 people in that 
western portion of the city, or nearly a third of the popula- 
tion of Newark;" and added that it was their belief "that 
ninety per cent, of the people of Essex County were op- 
posed to the Waverly Park site." They asked for a park 
"convenient to the population," such as the proposed site in 


the vicinity of Eleventh street, Seventeenth street, and from 
Sixteenth to Eighteenth avenue would provide. 


During April and May, 1896, four petitions, with aggre- 
gate lists of 1,717 names, were received; and during the 
summer various delegations of citizens and associations 
from that district attended the meetings of the commission, 
urging favorable action. On October 29, a request from the 
Newark Board of Works for a "conference" was received. 
This was arranged for November 9, when Commissioners 
Van Duyne, Stainsby, Burkhardt and Ulrich again urged 
favorable action, recommending a location "somewhere be- 
tween Springfield and South Orange avenues, west of South 
Tenth street and including the Magnolia swamp." 

At the meeting on October 2, President Eobertson, of the 
improvement association, and Messrs. Twitchell and Kuhn 
appeared and reiterated the claims of the West End Asso- 
ciation and the people of that district generally; and later, 
during October and November, there were other delegations, 
including one from Irvington, on November 19. All urged 
that the locality favored should not be overlooked. How 
could it be? There was the commission, with petitions to 
the right of them and petitions to the left of them, while in 
front of them delegations had "vollied and thundered." 

The board had been reminded that, by its own official ac- 
tion, it had established a precedent favorable to the West 
Side cause. 

"You have located a park on the East Side," said the 
West Side people ; "why should you not now follow the same 
precedent for the same reasons for our side ? We, too, have 
a large industrial population, and why not do something for 
us also?" 


Early in February, 1897, the commission having decided 
to locate a West Side park, the requisite maps were ordered 
and land optims and purchases were authorized. At last it 


was done, and the strenuous cohorts of the West End had 

In December, 1896, the provisional estimate of cost for 
"a park on the West Side" was $75,000. One year later the 
cash disbursemeiits for land and buildings there amounted 
to $172,334. This amount, however, covers about all that 
has been paid for land in that park. The improvements have 
now cost something over $100,000. The area is twenty- 
three acres. The varied topography has given opportunity 
for diversified landscape effects, with a small lake or pond 
feature, attractive stretches of turf, and effective tree and 
shrub plantations. 

About $40,000 in value of the acquired land on the west 
side of the park, originally intended for a parkway, is still 
held in the name of the Fidelity Trust Company — ^the mat- 
ter of the parkway extension having been suspended — and 
has thus remained in statu quo for years. 


Since "ye olden time" and the days of Carteret, and of 
"East and West Jersey," Eagle Rock has been famed for its 
commanding views and attractive natural surroundings. 
For generations residents and sojourners in Essex and 
neighboring counties have made it a place of pilgrimage to 
enjoy the views, and the numbers have increased with the 
growth of population and the added facilities for reaching 
"the rock." Situated as this point is, on the bold precipi- 
tous cliff of the Orange Mountain, 600 feet above tide water, 
yet but a short air line distance from it, with Montclair, 
Bloomfield and the beautiful Llewellyn Park on the side of 
the mountain in the immediate foreground, and the 
Oranges, Newark, New York, and the hills of Staten Island 
in view beyond — what more fitting place could be selected 
for the first choice' of the outlying parks than this. 

It was, therefore, quite within the natural order of things 
that the Park Commission should turn its attention to the 
location of a park at this place as soon as the selection of 
park sites was taken up. Immediately after the Branch 



Brook location and that of the East Side Park were dis- 
posed of, this was done. Each of the commissioners favored 
the proposition. The only points for determination, there- 
fore, were as to the lines of the park limits, and the acreage 
that should be included. The subject was under discussion 
during the summer and early part of the autumn of 1895, 
and on October 3 the architects and engineers were author- 
ized to prepare a map of the outlines that they would rec- 
ommend for a park, including Eagle Eock. A little later, 
H. D. Oliphant was appointed purchasing agent to look 
after land options and purchases within the established 
lines. These limits included a little more than 400 acres, 
extending along the mountain clifE something more than a 
mile north of Eagle Rock avenue, nearly to Upper Mont- 
clair, and about a mile westward ; and besides Eagle Rock, 
containing many of the finest viewpoints in New Jersey. A 
road along the crest, since constructed, has opened up a 
great variety of beautiful views over the hills and valleys 
to the eastward, while from the western slopes the views 
of the surrounding section and of the Second Mountain 
bej^ond are unsurpassed. 


While it was the intention of the commissioners to extend 
at the outset the limits of this park as far as it was deemed 
advisable to make them, a delegation of citizens from Mont- 
clair on January 30, 1896, urged that the northern limits 
might be still farther extended. The boundaries of the park 
remain to the present time substantially as finally agreed 
upon after a personal inspection by the members of the 
commission in 1896. 

In November, 1895, the announcement that there was to 
be an Eagle Rock Park met with favorable response from 
the public. The press was cordial in its approval. All the 
county papers commended the selection. Some of the New 
York papers were equally outspoken in the indorsement of 
the project. An editorial in the Newark News of Novem- 
ber 2^i i895j on "The New Park Sites/' referred to it thus ! 


"Whatever other property the Essex County park eoinniis- 
sioners may acquire, there is no question that they have 
acted wisely in securing Eagle Rock and the land about it. 
This is the show place of Essex County." On the same day 
The Daily Advertiser expressed this sentiment : "A county 
park system without Eagle Rock would be in the nature of 
an anomaly. That elevated point, overlooking an extensive 
and varied panorama of town, country and river, seems to 
have been destined by nature for a public breathing place." 
An editorial in the Few York Press of November 37 stated 
that "the acquirement of the far-famed Eagle Rock the 
other day for park purposes was a great thing for the peo- 
ple. Prom this giant knoll the homes of tens of thousands 
of New Jersey's citizens can be plainly seen, and it is de- 
clared that it looks upon more homes and varied industries 
than any other natural elevation in the world." 

And The Orange Chronicle of November 30 thus referred 
to the acquirement: "A more suitable or a more beautiful 
site for a park could not possibly be found. There is double 
reason for rejoicing at the announcement Just made." 

With the exception of opening roads through this reser- 
vation, some thinning of the natural growths and clearing 
in places the east brow of the cliff so as to open imobstrueted 
views, little has been done in the way of improvement of 
this beautifully situated and densely wooded reservation, 
and it yet remains largely in the primitive state as of years 
gone by — a place to delight an Emerson, a Thoreau, or a 
Euslrin, and to charm any lover of nature who revels in 
her rugged and unintruded haunts. 

The estimated cost of this park in January, 1896, was for 
land acquirement, $202,775. The actual disbursements by 
January, 1901, were for land and buildings, $243,563. Up 
to the present time the total cost of the park, including the 
413 acres .of land, and the improvements, has been about 


During the tours of inspection of the Orange Mountain 
by the first commission, in 1894, perhaps no oae observation 


had more favorably impressed the members than had the 
plans and the forethought of Llewellyn Haskel in his 
scheme for the county boulevards extending from Newark 
to the mountain crest; these avenues in turn to be con- 
nected by a crest boulevard along the top of the First Moun- 
tain. In the study as to how this idea could be utilized in 
the park scheme then under consideration, it was practically 
agreed that the plans for the park system should embody 
this feature of a mountain boulevard, at least from the pro- 
posed Eagle Eock Eeservation, south as far as the Walker 
road or South Orange avenue, a distance of two or three 

It was intended that this crest boulevard should be one of 
the great features of the park and parkway system, with its 
beautiful vistas and commanding views opening from the 
crest along the edge of the cliffs ; then diverging back where 
extensive improvements existed, giving the western slopes 
and view of the mountain beyond ; and then emerging again 
to the great view stretching out from the clifE itself — and 
by these changes enhancing the beauty of the whole. Also 
that Central avenue should be continued up the mountain 
after the Swiss Mountain road plan, winding or "zigzaging" 
up the mountain side at an easy grade, up which horses or 
vehicles might proceed at a fair rate of speed. 

The object in extending the line, at least as far as the 
points indicated, was to make this intended mountain park- 
way at the apex of the park system topography accessible 
and convenient to the mass of people of the county. With 
the location and construction of this parkway there would 
be, from the base of the mountain below, an almost un- 
broken area of the compactly built up portion of the county 
from that line direct to the Passaic Eiver. For like reason 
it was deemed in every way desirable that a park location of 
suitable size should be selected on and back of the crest, 
somewhere between the Northfield road and some point 
south of the terminus of the mountain cable road. In this 
way not only would the crest boulevard become a most at- 
tractive and convenient central feature of the park system, 


but a park at this point would, like Eagle Rock Park as a 
terminus at the north, greatly accentuate the attractions, 
not only of that crest parkway and the approaching park- 
ways, as proposed from the east, but of each of the parks 
as well. 

Moreover, this site would make a direct and convenient 
park and parkway entrance to the Great South Mountain 
Reservation, which the members of the first commission had 
from their earlier investigations also favored. 

In August, 1895, this subject was brought regularly be- 
fore the board for consideration in a resolution offered by 
me, "that it is now deemed expedient to acquire for park 
purposes : 

"First, suitable areas of park lands and parkways on and 
adjacent to the crest of the Orange Mountains. 

"Second, that such locations be selected with regard to 
convenient approaches; that the crest of the mountain be 
followed as far as practicable, and with reference to obtain- 
ing the best east and west views. 

"Third, that the total area be not less than 3,000 acres, 
and that the architects and engineers proceed to locate the 
above parks and parkways connecting with Branch Brook 
Park and prepare the necessary maps and plans." 


These resolutions were afterward modified, in accordance 
with the "piecemeal" or sectional policy already referred to, 
and the park locations were treated separately from the 

As the subject of the parkways was such an important one 
to the whole enterprise, and for years occupied so much 
public attention as well as the attention of the commission, 
the progress of those events will be consecutively stated in 
succeeding chapters. 

In November, 1895, the question of locating a park in 
what had then become known in the boardroom of the sec- 
ond commission as the "cable road tract," and as "a counter- 


part of the Eagle Eock Park" in so far as its being an ob- 
jective mountain park, came up for formal action. P. W. 
Child had already been authorized to obtain options on the 
tract, and on my motion the matter was made a "special 
order" for the meeting of November 11. At that time a 
■written report from Mr. Child was, presented. It gave a 
list of the land options he had secured from George Spottis- 
woode and others and stated that he could then acquire the 
property — the 121 acres, upon which options had been re- 
quested — for $67,000, or possibly $65,000— "a very low 

On November 33, I wrote Commissioner Shepard, who 
also favored the purchase, that I was "very much im- 
pressed that a reservation for the future, south of South 
Orange avenue, is entirely a secondary consideration to the 
cable tract, in that central location ; and that I believed no 
further action should be taken toward acquiring those out- 
side reservation lands until the more important in location, 
convenience, value and other respects are first considered." 

And the same day I wrote Commissioner Franklin 
Murphy: "Unless I am greatly misinformed, it will be a 
long time before the trolley will overcome in practical use 
the long steep grade of South Orange avenue, and when it 
does that section will still remain entirely at one side and 
out of the reach of the mass of population. Surely, for the 
present, we ought not to have a reservation at the expense 
of a park accessible at once to all the county. 

"As to any commitment regarding the reservation track, 
with the exception of the statements upon which our charter 
was obtained, it is my conviction that we are committed to 
nothing, save the interests of the people, the county and 
the parks." 


At the board meeting November 29, 1 offered a resolution 
"that the property on Orange Mountain at the head of the 
cable road between Northfield avenue and Walker road, be 
acquired, and that P. W. Child be authorized to purchase 


at a cost not exceeding $65,000 the 121 acres in that tract." 
There was considerable discussion. Two of the commission- 
ers expressed the view that, with the needs of the Newark 
and other parks then practically agreed upon, the purchase 
could not be afforded. This was answered by a reference to 
the fact that that park would be "at the very door" of, and 
directly convenient to, most of the people of the whole 
county, and would be in reality a corner-stone of the chain 
of parks, and, like Eagle Rock, the mountain key to the 
western portion of the park system. 

It was also pointed out that the whole 121 acres, extend- 
ing for such a long distance on the mountain crest back to 
the proposed South Mountain reservation, would cost far 
less than the single city block of the Branch Brook Garside 
street extension east of Clifton avenue. In view of all this 
it was asked how could we afford not to acquire it. 

As Commissioner Peck had all along been one of the most 
earnest supporters of the mountain park and parkway 
projects, it was thought by at least some of the commis- 
sioners that he would without a question of doubt favor the 
resolution. Mr. Shepard and myself were known to be in 
favor of the plan. Mr. Shepard called for a vote. It was 
lost. Two ayes, Messrs. Shepard and Kelsey; three nays, 
Messrs. Peck, Murphy and Meeker. The options were al- 
lowed to expire, and as the subject had been gone over very 
fully, it has never, so far as I know, been brought up for 
consideration since. The following day, in sending to the 
park board's office the return of the papers, I wrote Com- 
missioner Peck as follows : 

"Nothing that has occurred since the inception of the 
enterprise has been such a surprise to me as your action and 
statements on this subject yesterday." 

In March, 1896, the commissioners paid Mr. Child $250 
for his services and expenses in obtaining the options, and 
the proposition to acquire this most accessible of all the 
mountain locations was then most regretfully closed. The 
opportunity of obtaining this magnificent park site, the 
most direct in communication with Newark and the nearest 


to the centres of population of the county, was thus lost 
to the public ; and the value and loss to the park system is, 
I believe, difficult to estimate. 


Large reservations of natural scenery have become one of 
the attractive features of a modern park system. ISTor is 
the movement confined to localities especially acquired or 
reserved for park uses. The general government, and many 
of the States, have of late years included in their forestry 
reservations large areas of timbered lands, with the object 
at the same time of conserving also the feature for recrea- 
tion and attractive natural environments. The movements 
toward the preservation of the big trees (Sequoia Washing- 
tonian) of California; for a natural park and forest re- 
serve along the Appalachian Mountains; and the White 
Mountain forest reservations in Kew Hampshire, are some 
of the better Imown efEorts m this direction. In the Massa- 
chusetts Metropolitan Park's system the great Blue Hills 
reservation, with its more than 4,000 acres of beautifully 
wooded slopes and valleys ; and the Middlesex Fells on the 
other side of Boston, with its 1,800 acres of timber lands, 
lakes, open fields, etc., are recognized as special attractions 
there, as have become Van Cortland and Pelham Bay Parks 
in New York, Epping Forest, outside of London, and the 
many other outlying natural reservations lying wholly 
without the large cities. 

The Essex Park Commission of 1895, like the preceding 
commission, was in favor of a liberal acquirement of these 
lands in such a reservation for the park system here. There 
was but one location which in size, relative convenience, 
varied topography and attractive natural and wooded feat- 
ures, seemed to meet the requirements. That was the exten- 
sive tract between the apex of the First and Second Moan- 
tains, and principally south of the Northfield road. Former 
Commissioner G. W. Bramhall had always advocated this 
proposed reservation. In September, 1895, he was requested 
to assist the commission. Up to that time it had not been 


the intention of the commission to extend the lines of the 
reservation south of South Orange avenue. This was the 
view of the first commission, although the subject of the 
southern limit of the proposed park had been left in abey- 
ance. At the board meeting of September 6, 1895, Mr. 
Bramhall was present. The result of the conference was 
that he was authorized to make purchases on behalf of the 
commission of such lands between the mountains or includ- 
ing the crest of the First Mountain south of South Orange 
avenue, as he could acquire and would recommend within 
an expenditure of $20,000, This action was the beginning 
of an acquirement of one of the finest reservations of nat- 
ural scenery in the country, and in comparison with the 
population of Essex County is proportionately one of the 
largest to be found in any of tKe park systems. In Feb- 
ruary, 1896, the lines of the reservation were still farther 
extended in Millburn, and the closing of several of the land 
options secured through Mr. Bramhall was authorized. 
Later, in August, the lines were extended and purchases 
were authorized for practically the whole length of the val- 
ley and of the First Mountain to the south, and from the 
crest of the First Mountain to the sky line of the Second 
Mountain. The lines of this reservation as agreed upon in 
the ofiicial map then, as now, contain abo'ut 3,500 acres, and 
the cost has been approximately, within the estimates of 
December, 1896— about $250,000. 

When in August of that year, the announcement was 
made that there was to be "a 3,000-acre mountain park," the 
project was referred to in some of the papers as "an ideal 
site for a public park," and Frederick L. Olmsted's remark 
that "he thought it one of the best locations for a park that 
he had ever seen," was freely 'quoted. The reservation is 
about three and three-quarter miles in length north and 
south and has an average width of about one to one and 
one-quarter miles. Its natural beauties are greatly ac- 
centuated by the water effects of the two reservoirs of the 
city of Orange water supply. These reservoirs cover a 
maximum area of about seventy acres, and, being located 


in the valley, along the West Branch of the Eahway rivers 
make an added attraction from many viewpoints within the 


The first that was heard of a Weequahie Park was the 
suggestion from Commissioner Murphy, soon after the or- 
ganization of the Park Board in 1895, which was in effect 
that that was "one of the best locations for a park in the 
county." The first commission had, as indicated in a pre- 
ceding chapter, treated the possibility of a park there, and 
without any pre- formed prejudice, with scant courtesy. If 
for no other reason, the mosquito pre-emption and unre- 
stricted occupancy of the tract was thought a sufficiently 
serious matter to negative any favorable consideration of 
locating one of the county parks there. Moreover, the un- 
certainty as to the large cost and .as to the future of the 
springs that fed the lake and water supply; the direct 
proximity to Elizabeth and Union County — neither of 
which would, under a county park plan for Essex, contri- 
bute to the large cost of acquiring or expenses of maintain- 
ing a park there — ^were all factors in the decision that, for 
m.any reasons, other park sites more within the county were 
deemed preferable. That Mr. Murphy entertained a decid- 
edly different view, was apparent almost from the first meet- 
ing of the second commission. 

On July 18, 1895 — only the three Newark commissioners 
present — ^he offered a resolution that "the landscape archi- 
tects and engineers be requested to prepare a map, indicat- 
ing their best judgment as to the lines for a park at 
Waverly." Later, as the subject was discussed, the proposi- 
tion was not enthusiastically received. Messrs. Barrett and 
Bogart had not thought well of the Weequahie district in 
their earlier investigations and reports as experts to the 
first commission. The situation, however, had now changed, 
there being in the board an aggressive element in favor of 
the scheme to locate a park there. With the exception of 
Commissioner Murphy's ardent advocacy of the project 


there appeared to be little interest in the subject, either 
within or without the commission. Dtiring the autumn 
(1895) it continued to be a frequent topic for discussion at 
the board meetings. The land agents were requested to as- 
certain at what prices land that might be needed could be 
secured. Their reports indicated that the cost would be 
large, and that, if a park was established there, it "would 
come high." Finally, on October 28, the report from the 
architects and engineers was received. It was very moder- 
ate in tone and conservative in character. Of Weequahic 
Lake they wrote : 

"We feel that it is our duty to say that this lake and its 
surroundings can, in our opinion, be made an attractive and 
valuable adjunct to the park system, at a moderate cost, and 
that it will, when so improved, provide what is desirable 
in this section of the county." 

This was, I believe, the first expert opinion making any 
favorable reference to that park site which had been re- 
ceived. It seemed to modify the convictions of some of the 
board who had entertained adverse views on the question. 
I am free to admit that the report brought up in my mind 
the question as to whether I had not been mistaken in the 
conclusions I had before formed from the examinations of 
the tract and of the surroundings. The project still rnade 
slow progress in the commission, notwithstanding this re- 
port and the urgent advocacy of Mr. Murphy. 

In November, 1895, it was decided to acquire some of the 
property — ^the Cooper tract, the Ougheltree farm and land 
belonging to Daniel Price — in the Waverly district, but not 
including Weequahic lake, upon which the land agents had 
obtained options, The estimated total cost of the land 
within the lines of the architect's map that had been tenta- 
tively agreed upon was, at this time, $180,000. 

FAIR association's STOCK. 

One of the stumbling blocks in the way of making prog- 
ress in either direction toward any definite result was the 


property of the New Jersey Agricultural Society, better 
known as the Waverly Fair Association. This property con- 
sisted of a number of acres, a racetrack and the usual para- 
phernalia of country fair grounds, and was the focal point 
of the district. The association owning the. property had 
had financially a varied and varying career since its incor- 
poration in 1858. In good seasons the receipts might result 
in a dividend on the $90,000 of capital stock of perhaps five 
per cent. With bad weather and poor attendance, an assess- 
ment on the stockholders for the deficiency growing out of 
the light receipts was not an uncommon occurrence. As a 
result of these conditions, the price of the stock had for 
years, up to 1895, oscillated betsveen 30 and 60, or, in ex- 
treme cases, 80. Transactions were few and far between, 
and if a holder must sell he was usually at the mercy of 
the buyer, somewhat after the order of the unsuspecting 
merchant of old who once met that world-renowned indi- 
vidual who demanded "the pound of flesh." 

There were 3,600 shares of the stock, of a par value of 
$25 per share. It was "well distributed." Nine stock- 
holders, however, with their combined holdings, controlled 
the association. They held the majority of the stock. These 
stockholders of record at that time were : P. Ballantine & 
Sons, 60 shares; Franklin Murphy, 186 shares; E. A. Dodd, 
70 shares; E. B. Gaddis, 122 shares; H. H. Isham, 721 
shares; L. H. Jones, 230 shares; G. B. Jenkinson, 109 
shares; Jacob Skinkle, 125 shares, and E. A. Wilkinson, 

This was the situation when it was reported in the papers 
that in all probability there would be a park at Weequahic. 
As the indications and reports grew more favorable, the 
price of the Waverly Fair Association stock increased pro- 
portionately in value. What would have been considered a 
good sale, at 60 or 65, at the time the reports were first 
emitted, was no longer a fair price. The stock was soon re- 
ported "worth par and none of the large stockholders would 
sell for a penny less." The history of this enterprise was 
not known in the Park Board rooms — certainly not to all 


of the members — when a proposition to make some of the 
land purchases in that locality was agreed to. 

Some of the commissioners firmly declined the proposi- 
tion of paying par for the stock. It was agreed that an 
effort should be made to acquire it at a price nearer the 
current value. Negotiations were in consequence suspended. 
Those anxious to sell the stock, after three years of "great 
expectations," got tired of waiting, and the Pair Associa- 
tion directors finally gave an option, No. 416, for the Park 
Board to consider. The association delegated E. B. Gaddis 
and H. H. Isham to close the sale, and on March 13, 1899, 
they had a conference with the commission on that subject. 

The question then before the board was: Would it be 
better to pay something like the asking price for the fair 
association stock, or go through an expensive and tedious 
litigation in an effort to acquire it. The former plan, on 
the recommendation of those in the board who were under- 
stood to be well informed on the subject, was agreed upon, 
and, in March, 1899, $75,000 of the available park funds 
were thus disposed of. 

The proposition to locate a park at Waverly had, in the 
meantime dragged along; and apparently evoked but little 
public interest in any direction. A small delegation from 
Clinton Township appeared before the commission at the 
meeting November 19, 1896, and spoke in moderation in 
favor of "park improvement of the district about Wee- 
quahic." This was the only delegation or petition favoring 
the park there that I can now recall or find record of. The 
adverse comments were not so limited. Eeference has al- 
ready been made to the statement of the West End Improve- 
ment Association's delegation at the hearing March 12, in 
opposition to the "Waverly park site." The press was also 
non-responsive; or, if any comments were made when the 
announcement was given out that a Weequahie Park was 
no longer a matter of doubt, they were either distinctly con- 
servative or positively chilling. One of the leading papers 
asked editorially if "mosquito bars were included in the 
purchase." One of the old established New York papers 


referred to "the State fair grounds and Laile Weequahic, 
with its eighty-five acres of watery expanse," and said : "As 
this park will be nearer Elizabeth than Newark, Union 
County citizens are rejoicing at the philanthropy of the 
Essex commissioners." 

My own convictions were quite fully stated in a letter to 
Commissioner Murphy, dated Saturday evening, May 33, 
1896, which was as follows : 

"Dear Mr. Murphy: Mr. Peek and I have spent the 
afternoon looking over "West Newark," Weequahic and the 
southern parkway question. The situation troubles me. A 
double track on Elizabeth avenue at once disposes of any 
prospect of making a park in that vicinity a part of a cred- 
itable connective park system. It is the only avenue avail- 
able or worth considering for parkway purposes. The width 
is only fifty or sixty feet between the curb lines. Another 
track there will make it merely a tramway thoroughfare, 
like Frelinghuysen avenue — both dangerous and unsightly 
— and preclude any thought of ever making it a parkway 

"If the Board of Works will grant the franchise regard- 
less of facts or conditions, we have then to meet the situa- 
tion of a site for an important park of the county system, 
isolated from suitable driveway approach from the great 
center of population of the county, bounded on both longi- 
tudinal sides by railroads; a swamp tract with most unat- 
tractive features at one end, and a cemetery and Union 
County line at the other — ^with a large area of swamp in the 
center, the expense of dredging which opens up a perfect 
kaleidoscope of possibilities as to cost which no man can now 


"I cannot be frank with you as my colleague and asso- 
ciate in this enterprise without expressing to you these im- 
pressions as I looked over these conditions to-day. I was 
forcibly reminded whether thq adverse report of four of the 


architects of the first commission, and the unfavorable criti- 
cism we have thus far received since the location has been 
under consideration, may not be correct and well founded. 
If the selection be not judicious, the public will soon find it 
out as they study these very conditions, and the whole 
enterprise thus imperiled. 

"The situation is complicated, too, by the action of the 
traction people, the Fair Association, and the speculators in 
the adjoining property. 

"As I read the signs of the times, the people are becoming 
very suspicious of corporate control of boards transacting 
public business, and this of itself makes the situation a deli- 
cate one, both as to the avenue and the association property. 

"The natural park lands, such as the Nye property to 
the north and west, also north of Clinton avenue toward the 
West Newark sites recommended, appear more desirable as 
to location and parkable features, and come nearer meeting 
the requirements of the petition we have received; also of 
the park system. In those locations, too, the ratables would 
be largely increased in every direction by park acquirement. 

"These conditions have never impressed me so forcibly as 
they did to-day. Mr. Peck will tell you of his own impres- 
sions, and I believe they were on similar lines. 

"I wish to act most heartily with whatever is determined 
upon as best by the majority of our board, but I feel that 
this is a subject of great importance and should have very 
careful consideration under the conditions as we now find 

"I enclose clipping giving some data showing reasons 
why our traction friends do not feel that they 'can afford' 
to give up these valuable and available thoroughfares. 

"Sincerely yours, 

"Feed. W. Kelsey." 

a serious question. 
When the practical work of improving the Weequahic 
reservation was taken up by the Park Board, in 1899-1900, 
a serious question arose as to the treatment of the lake. In 


1896 the engineers of the department had advised that the 
raising of the lake for the purpose of improving the appear- 
ance of the surface and retarding the growth of rushes, 
etc., from the bottom, was of doubtful utility. On May 14, 
1900, Engineer M. E. Sherrerd, in a special report to the 
commission, recommended the raising of the laie level five 
feet by obstruction to be placed in the outlet. The landscape 
architects, in their report at the same time, emphatically 
disapproved of this plan of treatment, stating at length the 
legal, engineering and esthetic objections. It would be 
experimental, they contended. Percolation of the water 
through the raised banks might make the result uncertain. 
It would "inevitably destroy the handsomest and most val- 
uable part of the beautiful fringe of fine forest trees now 
existing most of the way around the lake." The resulting 
loss of water flowing from the lake, under the binding con- 
tract between the Park Commission and the Lehigh Valley 
Company of June 4, 1897, and with the Pennsylvania Com- 
pany, that the commission would "not directly or indirectly 
do, or cause to be done, anything which would in any man- 
ner interfere with the natural flow of the waters of said 
Bound Creek," should the raising the lake seriously dimin- 
ish or stop the overflow, would make the Park Commission 
"liable to prosecution." 

As the loss of water from raising the lake five feet was by 
the engineer estimated at 550,000 gallons per day of a nor- 
mal minimum flow of only 1,500,000 gallons daily, the 
point thus raised may at any time become a most serious 
one, and result in heavy claims for damages against the 


The estimated cost of dredging and properly treating the 
banks of the lake at its natural level was $250,000 ; and for 
raising the lake five feet, cleaning out the bogs, etc., with 
the destruction of the best part of the wooded banks and 
the prospective litigation with the railroad companies in- 
volved in this plan of treatment, was $50,000, 


It was, therefore, largely a matter of Hobson's choice 
with the commission as to which horn of the dilemma should 
be taken. The matter was held in abeyance and left unde- 
cided for years. Commissioner BramhaJl, who had pre- 
viously taken an active interest in the question, afterward 
wrote a formal letter to the board protesting against the 
lake raising level plan. That plan was, however, adopted, 
and, at the Park Board meeting August 9, 1904, bids were 
received for removing the bogs and other growth from the 
lake. These bids were for amounts from $32,000 up to 
$97,500. The contract was awarded to P. Sanford Ross at 
his bid of $32,000, and the work began in October, 1904. 
The lake water is now at the raised level and the bog clean- 
ing contract is practically fLnished. This lake and the sur- 
rounding bog marsh comprise about eighty acres. When 
dredged and portions of the borders filled in, the lake area 
proper will be between fifty and sixty acres. 

The old race track of the fair association is used under a 
nominal lease by the Road Horse Association. The "play 
stead" is used, as was intended (mosquitoes permitting), 
for athletic sports. 

The cash expenditures for land for the Weequahic reser- 
vation, including the $75,000 to the 'fair association, grew 
from the estimated cost in 1895 of $180,900, to the cash 
expenditure up to December 31, 1901, of $343,563. The' 
improvements up to that time had cost $67,258. Large ex- 
penditures have since been made, and must continue to be 
made, before this park of 265 acres can well or effectively 
answer, to any marked advantage, the purpose for which 
it was acquired. 



The Orange or Triangle Park, the last of the county 
parks not already referred to, has a unique history, quite 
unlike the other seven locations described. The selection 
of the Orange Park involved a continuous contending of 
differences between the commissioners themselves on the 
one side, and the almost unanimous sentiment of the public 
on the other side. That those favoring the project finally 
■won, after two years of persistent effort, was the outcome 
of an incident which may be of interest here. 

As a prelude, however, it may be well to give a very brief 
history of the events leading up to this conclusion. Nearly 
forty years ago, after the triangle bounded by Central ave- 
nue, Harrison street. East Orange, and Center street. 
Orange had been formed by the opening of these streets, it 
was a favorite topic for discussion among those in the 
Oranges who had a spirit of civic pride and forethought for 
the future, to refer to this tract as a place for a public park, 
which would be much needed in the time to come, and 
which, from its topography, would be one of the most at- 
tractive of parks, at a comparatively small cost. Although 
the central portion of the tract was low, swampy, marsh 
land, this was surrounded on each of the larger sides of the 
triangle with gentle slopes to higher ground the entire dis- 
tance. Among the pioneers of civic betterment at that time 
who continued to refer to the desirable improvement were 
Llewellyn Haskel, Mr. and Mrs. Eoss Browning, of 
Llewellyn Park, and Edward Gardner, then proprietor of 
the Orange Journal. Some of the articles published in The 
Journal many years ago on this subject, show how clearly 



and correctly these early advocates of the Triangle Park 
saw the possibilities which have, by latter events, become 

While this discussion was going on, nothing toward prac- 
tical results then came of it. These advanced thinkers were, 
like so many of their class, a little ahead of their time in 
the agitation, and it was, therefore, left for the first Park 
Commission of 1894 to take up the question where their pre- 
decessors in advocating the project had left it. With the 
first cOiHunission there was no difference in conviction, 
either in the minds of the commissioners or of the land- 
scape experts as to the desirability of establishing a park 
there; indeed, the reasons, as they then appeared, in favor, 
were so many and so ample as to have left no question of 
doubt, that I had ever heard expressed, upon that question. 


[When the second commission of 1895 was appointed, an 
entirely different situation was presented. For some reason 
which I have never been able to fully account for, the two 
new members of the board, Messrs. P. M. Shepard and 
Franklin Murphy, were radically and persistently opposed 
to the project. When, during the summer of 1895, the sub- 
ject was referred to as one that in all probability would 
require the attention of the commission at a later time, the 
triangle was slightingly referred to in the commission as "a 
back door park." When later the petitions began to come 
in, urging favorable action, the opposition gradually in- 
creased, instead of the reverse. 

In September a long petition was earnestly presented by 
a citizens' committee from Bast Orange and Orange. This 
document recited the reasons for the park — the natural ad- 
vantages, the proximity to dense populations, the attitude 
of public opinion in favor of it, the reasonable cost, etc. The 
communication bore the signatures of Frank H. Scott, 
chairman; William Pierson, L. D. Gallison, W. S. Macy, I. 
Bayard Dodd, B. V. Z. Lane and R. W. Hawkesworth. It 


was followed in December by one from the city officials of 
Orange, as follows : 

"Orange, N. J., Dec. 20, 1895. 
"Honorable Park Commissioners of Essex County, 
ISTewark, N. J. : 
"The undersigned members of the city government of 
Orange, N. J., would respectfully recommend to your honor- 
able body the favorable consideration of the proposed plan 
for a park to be located in the triangle between Central 
avenue, Harrison street and Center street. The natural ad- 
vantages of the situation, with its unfailing springs of clear 
water, must be evident to you, and its location as a link be- 
tween two of our county roads, namely, Central avenue and 
South Orange avenue, will readily appear as a feasible part 
of your system of parkways belonging to the county. Hop- 
ing you will find it possible to carry out this recommenda- 
tion, we remain, 

"John Gill, Mayor of Orange; Louis D. Gallison, Pres- 
ident of Common Council; Hugh J. Brady, Henry G. 
Miller, Irving M. Genung, Edward S. Perry, W. H. Hen- 
derson, Daniel McCarthy, Joseph D. Holmes, Charles 
A. Meigs; Members of Common Council, Orange, N. J." 


"On December 16, 1895, a co'nunittee represented by 
ilessrs. George W. Bramhall, Frank H. Scott and William 
S. Macy also urged favorable consideration, as did the same 
committee 'again on February 10 following. On March 2 
a petition signed by every member of the East Orange 
Township Committee and by 160 representative citizens of 
East Orange was received. This communication referred to 
the proposed park as "particularly desirable," and as "not 
opposing in the slightest degree the proposed plan of a 
speedway north and south in East Orange," adding that, 
"although the larger part of this land lies in Orange, it is 
nevertheless as convenient to East Orange residents as to 
those in Orange." 


"We also advocate," said this petition, "the control by the 
Park Commission of Central avenue as a parkway, it being 
one of the most important avenues in the county and the 
most direct route from the center of Newark to the Orange 

At this time the citizens' committee had offered to make 
liberal donations in cash or land, or both if necessary, to 
secure the park which all desired. I moved that the propo- 
sition as proposed by Frank H. Scott, chairman of the local 
committee, be accepted; that the architects and engineers 
prepare an official map, and that "a separate map of a con- 
necting parkway along, or adjacent to, Mosswood avenue, 
from Warwick avenue via Tremont avenue to the triangle 
tract," be included. The resolution was objected to, and 
the following substitute, as drawn by Commissioner 
Murphy, finally agreed upon : 

"Resolved, That if the parties interested in the Triangle 
Park in Orange present a proposition to the commission sat- 
isfactory to it as to quantity of land, and involving an ex- 
penditure for land by the commission not to exceed 
$100,000, the commission would act upon it favorably." 

Just where the adoption of this resolution left the propo- 
sition for assistance which had been made by the citizens' 
committee, I was puzzled at the time to know how they, or 
we, were going to find out. It was at this time considered 
very doubtful if the land could be acquired for that amount, 
in which event the resolution would defeat the project. The 
real crux of this situation lay in the fact that J. Everett 
Reynolds owned about sixteen acres of the land which it 
would be necessary to acquire for the park, and at what 
price he would be willing to sell this land, no one in, or out, 
of the commission had thus far been able to ascertain. 

The city of Orange had built a large and costly storm- 
water sewer as far south as Central avenue. Mr. Reynolds, 
as a heavy taxpayer, and others, had been most urgent in 
petitioning the city to extend that line through his prop- 
erty, situated just south of the avenue. This extension 
>vould drain his and other acreage property there, aad im- 


mediately place all the land within the proposed site, on the 
"city lot" hasis. The extension had been deferred, pending 
the decision of the Park Commission. If a park, then no 
sewer extension. If no park, the extension would be 
promptly built. With this see-saw of possibilities, the un- 
certainty continued for months. Mr. Reynolds would not 
fix a price. The commission decided, owing to the opposi- 
tion referred to, that it would not undertake to acquire his 
property unless it could be secured by purchase. The local 
committee did not know what proposition might, or might 
not, be "to the commission satisfactory" — and thus the in- 
creasing doubt continued, to the advantage of the opposi- 
tion, though not to the discouragement of those favoring 
the park. 

At last the uncertainty culminated. The Orange Com- 
mon Council arrived at an understanding with the triangle 
property owners that, if on December 7, there should have 
been no decision by the Park Commission regarding the 
park, proceedings to extend the storm-water sewer would 
then be taken. The public agitation continued, more gen- 
erally and more earnestly than before. All the newspapers 
favored the proposition. There was not a dissenting voice — 
outside the Park Commission. The citizens' committee and 
the local authorities were becoming impatient at the delay. 
Finally, on December 7, 1896, Mr. Reynolds was invited to 
attend the Park Board meeting on that day. He was pres- 
ent. For nearly an hour we endeavored to ascertain his 
price. These eiforts were without success. It was then 
after 6 o'clock. The Common Council was to meet that 
evening. With the passage of a resolution to extend the 
storm-sewer, there would be no triangle park. 


By one of those peculiar decrees of fate, when, at the last 
moment, the tide seems irrevocably set in an adverse direc- 
tion and is as abruptly changed, so in this instance a single 
incident completely altered the drift of events. 

"Mr. Shepard," I asked, "what, in your judgment, would 


be a fair price for Mr. Eeynolds' holdings there in the tri- 
angle — one which the commission would be justiiied in pay- 
ing him by purchase?" After a moment's reflection, he 
replied, "Twenty thousand dollars." 

"Gentlemen/ T said, "will you entrust" me to negotiate 
with Mr. Eeynolds before the council meeting to-night, and 
close with him for his land at the limit which Mr. Shepaxd 
has stated he thinks a fair price ?" 

We were all tired and anxious to get away. I think no 
one believed, and I was myself in grave doubt, as to whether 
any practical result would materialize from the proposition 
which I had made for the purchase. I have always under- 
stood that a like impression was in the minds of the other 
commissioners. But this resolution went through : "Moved, 
that the counsel and Mr. Kelsej be authorized to offer Mr. 
Eeynolds not to exceed $20,000 for such of his property 
as the commission desires, and if he (Eeynolds) signs an 
option to that effect they are authorized to state to the 
Common Council of Orange that the park commission ex- 
pects to locate a park in the triangle bounded by Central 
avenue. Center and Harrison streets. Orange." 

It was then nearly 7 o'clock.' The council was to meet 
at 8 o'clock. Mr. Shepard conveyed the word to Mr. Eey- 
nolds to meet me at the council chamber at 7:45 o'clock. 
Before that hour I was in a coupe by the entrance there. 
Mr. Eeynolds soon came along and stepped into the carriage 
as requested. I cannot now recall all of the conversation. 
It is not important here. 


We were in the carriage together perhaps a half hour. 
We then entered the council chamber together. The meet- 
ing was in session. F. H. Scott and others of the friends 
of the parks were anxiously waiting. 

"Mr. Scott," I said, "I have just closed the purchase on 
behalf of the Park Commission of all Mr. Eeynolds' land 
in the triangle for $17,500 and you may announce to the 
council that there is to be a triangle park." 


Mr. Scott soon got the'iloor and made the announcement, 
which was loudly applauded by those present, even by some 
of the aldermen. 

Early the next morning Mr. Shepard came to my office. 
Mr. Reynolds had already advised him of the result of our 
negotiations the evening previous. For eighteen months or 
more, both officially and personally, he had opposed the 
proposition for a triangle park with apparently all the re- 
source he could command, and with a persistence against 
an emphatic public sentiment and the expressed wish of 
his own immediate constituency which challenged my 

On the morning in question, however, in a gracious and 
agreeable manner he said : "Well, now that we are to have 
a park in Orange, let's go right ahead with it." The senti- 
ment was accepted in the same spirit in which it was ten- 
dered, and from that time the acquirement and development 
of the park went smoothly forward. Mr. Reynolds soon 
received the $17,500— the agreed price — instead of the au- 
thorized price, $20,000. A direct saving of $2,500 was thus 
eifeeted. The citizens' committee proceeded to collect their 
subscriptions for the park and turned over to the commis- 
sion for that purpose in cash, as before stated, $17,275. 

Commissioner Murphy's attitude, after the purchase was 
closed with Mr. Reynolds, was quite in contrast to that of 
Mr. Shepard. At the meeting of December 14, Mr. Murphy 
sent an official letter to the board "formally protesting 
against the purchase of property for the said triangle park 
until the sum promised by neighborhood owners shall have 
been received." On my motion Mr. Shepard was appointed 
"a committee of one to reply." 

When, later, the official map of the park had been pre- 
pared and was signed by the other four commissioners, Mr. 
Murphy declined to attach his signature, and it thus re- 
mained for a long time unsigned by him. 

Commissioners Peck and Meeker were all along favorably 
disposed toward the park, but when the decided opposition 
referred to developed in the early part of 1895, they were 


inclined to let Mr. Shepard and myself, as more directly 
familiar with the local situation, "get together" first. This, 
after months of earnest effort, it was found impossible to 
do; Commissioner Shepard repeatedly declining to accom- 
pany me in looking over the proposed site. 

The announcement of the final decision favorable to the 
triangle park was everywhere most cordially received. All 
the Newark newspapers, and others in the county, contained 
commendatory references to the action. The Call of De- 
cember 13, 1896, referred to the decision as one that will be 
hailed with delight, and added : "It is within the scope of 
the commission to make this park one of the« garden spots 
of the county." A prediction that has been amply verified 
by results since. 

In 1898, largely through the interest of Commissioner 
Brainhall, who had succeeded me as a member of the Park 
Board in April, 1897, the lines of the park were extended 
on the Central avenue side about 700 feet, and resulted in 
making the park, together with the finishing improvements 
inaugurated at that time, what it has since frequently been 
called, "The gem of the Essex County park system." The 
transition from the former swail and swamp conditions 
there, to those of a completed park of unexcelled attract- 
iveness, was as rapid as the effects, to the public were 
gratifying. The low swamp portion of the tract is now a 
beautiful English park-like meadow. The attractions are 
greatly accentuated by the small lake of about one and a 
half acres, and the beautiful specimens and groups of well 
developed trees. The effective shrubbery borders, and rising 
slopes on each side of the park, make an appropriate frame 
to one of the most attractive and restful landscape pictures 
that have resulted from modern park-making. The total 
cost for the forty-eight acres of land and buildings, with 
the expensive additions of 1898 included, has been $185,213, 
and for all improvements about $115,000. 



With the many and extended land acquirements by the 
Park Commission during the latter part of 1896, and 
■with some of the single purchases running into the 
thousands, money went fast. In February, 1896, a 
requisition was made on the Board of Freeholders 
for the remaining $1,500,000 of the authorized $2,500,- 
000 appropriation. By June 1, 1906, the commit- 
ments and assumed obligations were nearly a million of 
dollars. Bids were advertised for and received for the new 
additional bond issue under the same plan and method as 
employed in the disposition of the first million of bonds 
the year previous. Of the bids opened June 16, there were 
four for the full amount, $1,500,000. The new York Life 
Insurance Company offered 104.08 and D. A. Moran & Co. 
101.68 for four per cent, bonds; Franklin Savings Insti- 
tution, of Newark, in series of bonds at four per cent., 
101.40 to 102, and J. & W. Seligman "10028" for a 3.65 
interest issue — the same as the $1,000,000 of bonds awarded 
Vermilye & Co. in August, 1895. In comparing the bids, 
a controversy between the representatives arose over the 
omission of a period in the Seligman bid. This led to a 
series of triangular protests and an attempted withdrawal 
of. some of the proposals; which, however, was not per- 
mitted. It was admitted by members of the Finance Com- 
mittee of the freeholders, in charge of the bond-letting, that 
the bid in question, and all the bids, had been made in good 
faith, and that the meaning and intent of the "10028," 
minus the period, was "perfectly clear." It was there stated 
that the Seligman bid was "upward of $20,000 better than 
that of the New York Life," and that "the four per cent. 



bonds, on a 3.65 basis, are worth 106^," — a statement the 
correctness of which was not challenged or denied. A lively 
discussion ensued. 

The Finance Committee later retired and went into 
executive session. The bonds were there in secret awarded 
to the New York Life Insurance Company. The reasons for 
this action, as then given out for publication by Counsel 
Munn, were that, as the Park Commission might not want 
all the money "for five or six months," the interest account 
would be quite an item, which would not result from the 
acceptance of the Seligman offer ; and that the bid accepted 
would, out of the $1,572,900 proceeds, allow the $73,900 
premium to go to the sinking fund, for the subsequent re- 
demption of these same bonds. This disposition of the 
premium received was soon afterward made. 

An interesting incident in sequence of the action of the 
Finance Committee occurred in the pa5rment for the bonds. 
Although the award was formally made to the life insurance 
company, the certified check received a few days later in 
payment for the bonds, bore the signature of J. & W. 

After the requisition referred to had been made, the Park 
Commission took no farther formal or official action regard- 
ing this issue. Treasurer Murphy had a few weeks before 
been appointed one of the sinking fund commissioners of 
the Board of Freeholders, and as both he and Counsel Munn 
were at that time "close to" that board, the individual mem- 
bers of the Park Board did not deem it consistent to take 
up the subject farther than to express their convictions in 
an informal way as opportunity presented. This I did, 
both at the Park Board rooms and in conversations with the 
president, treasurer and counsel. 


On May 1, 1896, I wrote Counsel Munn as follows : 

"Personally, I have for some time had the feeling that if 
handled rightly the remaining issue of bonds can be placed 


during the coining 'dull season' — say June to August — at 
the same rate, 3.65, as before; and private sale, in my judg- 
ment, is the best way to accomplish the most favorable 

"You recollect Mr. Morgan told me he would take the 
whole two and a half millions at private sale, but he would 
not go into competition for an issue of that size. 

"There has been no perceptible change in the underlying 
conditions as to rates of interest in the moneyed centres. 
English consols touched the highest price last week they 
have ever sold for. The demand for high-class bonds was 
shown the other day, when Brooklyn's million and a quarter 
loan, 3.50 bonds, were bid for two or three times over 
above par. 

"All there is in making a good sale of bonds now is, first, 
a good bond ; second, the right method of handling it." 

I was free to confess then, as since, my inability to grasp 
even the possibility of advantage to the taxpayers of Essex 
County from the proposition for them to pay in $5,250 
extra every year for thirty years (the average life of the 
bonds) in interest, for the privilege of having a sinking 
fund of $'('2,900 in the hands and under the control of the 
sinking fund commissioners of the Board of Freeholders, 
instead of the $5,250 each year being saved and retained in 
their (the taxpayers) own pockets. That the bonds of a 
3.65 interest rate were then saleable "at not less than par," 
as provided in the park charter, was manifestly shown by 
the Messrs. Seligmans' bid of 100.28 for the whole 
$1,500,000 issue. 

"modeen" high finance." 

What the actual loss to the people of Essex County by 
the issuance of those bonds at four per cent, and the addi- 
tional $2,500,000 of bonds since issued for the parks at that 
rate instead of at the 3.65 rate, as with the first million 
issued, may, I think, be properly left to the future and for 


the public to determine. From present indications, it will 
not be long before the question of detriment to the public 
at large, from the methods of modem high finance, and the 
concentration of large sums of other people's money in the 
hands of a few men to control, will be readily understood 
and the false principle upon which the operations are based 
generally appreciated and measured at their true worth. 

At the close of 1896, within fifteen months after the re- 
ceipt of $3,450,000, the commission found that its financial 
limit had been practically reached. The results of the 
policy of individual selection of the parks, rather than that 
of a careful prior study of the requirements for the park 
system as a whole had, in this comparatively brief time, 
fully materialized. Although the balance sheet of Decem- 
ber 31, 1896, showed a cash balance on hand or $1,309,559, 
the outstanding obligations for land and other liabilities 
and contracts were then sufficient to absorb all but a rela- 
tively small portion of this unexpended sum. At the board 
meeting of December 3 the landscape architects and engi- 
neers submitted, under a resolution of September 17, 1896, 
a "general plan of the system of county parks and park- 
ways," including a formal estimate of the cost of the parks 
already determined upon. These estimates were made after 
consultation with the land agents and other employes of the 
department, who were then in charge of the various phases 
of the work. This estimate was as follows : 

Estimated cost for land at various parks : 

Branch Brook _$1,076,000 

Lake Weequahic 180,000 

Eastern (East Side) 125,000 

Eagle Eock 337,000 

Millburn (South Mountain) 250,000 

Orange Triangle 100,000 

*South Orange Park 25,000 

*This Item of $25,000 was for park or parkway lands out 
in South Orange, on or near Grove road; formal action regard- 
ing which had not then, and has not since, been taken. 

West Newark (West Side) 75,000 

Total $2,058,000 

Approximate estimates of park improTements suggested 
for early construction: 

Branch Brook improvements from 
Sussex avenue to Old Bloomfield 

road $350,000 

East Side Park 40,000 

Weequahic Park 25,000 

Eagle Rock Reservation 25,000 

Triangle Park, Orange 25,000 

West Newark Parks 25,000 

Total $490,000 

As will be seen from these figures, they represented a 
total actual and estimated expenditure of $2,548,000, from 
an appropriation made but the year previous "for a system 
of parks in its entirety" of $2,500,000. This, notwithstand- 
ing the conservative estimates for the cost of the remaining 
land yet unacquired in the different parks, and the ex- 
tremely limited amounts noted for improvements in those 
parks, other than in Branch Brook, where contracts were 
made and improvement work was already well under way. 


Although the subject of the impending dificiency was not 
referred to in the first official report of the commission for 
1896, issued early in 1897, it became well understood in 
the park board room that there would be no object in longer 
"executive sessioning" the fact from the public. As Com- 
missioner Franklin Murphy had been the most active and 
outspoken exponent of the sectional policy adopted in ac- 
quiring the various parks, he was delegated by his colleagues 
to convey in his own way the financial situation in the 
board's affairs to the public. This was done, and I think 
Ihe first inf;;r;;!;;' n V)o reople had of that matter was ob- 


tained throligli a published interview given out by Mr. 
Murphy January 5, 1897. It was there stated that "unless 
additional appropriations be made for park purposes in the 
future, the system of public pleasure grounds and county 
boulevards outlined in a general way by the Essex County 
Park Commission will not be completed," and "that the 
commissioners do not expect to turn all the property pur- 
chased into finished parks with the $2,500,000 that was 
placed at their disposal for the purpose." Mr. Murphy 
further said : "The board has no right to suppose that addi- 
tional money will be furnished. On the other hand, it has 
no reason to think that additional appropriations won't be 
made. * * * The commission feels bound to give the 
county certain completed parks for the money it has been 
given, to satisfy the people, and this no doubt will be done." 

"The conditions as to the Orange Park," he said, "are in 
the air. Yes, we did agree to purchase the land, but there 
were certain conditions that — oh, well, I can't tell you now. 
* * * We cannot arrange for maintenance before we 
have something to maintain. That question has not been 
considered yet." 

As a part of the same interview. Counsel Munn, the same 
■morning, was reported as having said: "The plans of the 
commission have not been laid out on the theory that there 
will be additional legislation." 


These announcements were evidently something of a sur- 
prise to the public. The time had run by so quickly since 
the appointment of the commission, only about twenty 
months before, that many, even among the friends of the 
park movement, hardly realized that the work of the com- 
mission was by that time well begun. The public utter- 
ances, for the most part, were not favorable. Mayor Sey- 
mour made a severe arraignment of the commission, and of 
the appointive system of legislation under which it was 
created. This law, providing for an appointive board, he de- 
clared, in a written statement a few days prior to the an- 


nouncement of the Park Commission shortage, "should be 
amended." This method of appointment, he said, "is wrong 
and opposed to the popular notions of self-government." 

"Under certain contingencies," he wrote, "it might re- 
move the power of selection entirely from an officer of Essex 
County and place it with an ofScial residing in some dis- 
tant part of the State. This might occur in the event of 
the selection of a Park Commission being made during a 
vacancy in the Supreme Court in this county. Officers of 
such importance should be chosen by the people. A public 
board making such large demands upon the taxable prop- 
erty of the community should be in closer touch with the 
people of the community. According to the highest concep- 
tions of popular government, that closer touch is to be had 
only through the medium of the ballot-box. The law should 
be changed and the Park Commissioners be compelled to 
take their chances before the community." 

These forcibly-expressed sentiments, published both in 
the leading New Jersey and New York papers almost con- 
currently with the park deficiency statements quoted, appar- 
ently touched a responsive chord with many people through- 
out Essex County. While the Mayor's presentment was 
[merely an elaboration of the anti-appointive commission 
plank of the Democratic city platform, as before mentioned, 
its reception by the public was no doubt accentuated by the 
disappointment which the call for more funds to complete 
the parks occasioned. The claim was at once made by the 
partisan advocates of the appointive plan, that the attack of 
the Mayor and those favoring his side of the question was 
in reality naught but an incident in the play of politics, and 
an attempted flank movement by which the Democratic 
minority hoped to secure a "vantage" point with the people 
over their Eepublican opponents, who counted upon then 
having a safe working majority locally as well as in the 

Senator Ketcham came ^t once to the rescue, and in a 
published interview told of his surprise at the Mayor's state- 
ments. He fiiplained the features of the park law he had 


so earnestly favored, and defended his support of that 
(measure in the Legislature on the ground of expediency — 
as he considered the appointive Park Board under the ex- 
isting conditions far preferable to an elective commission. 


Monsignor G. H. Doane was also a zealous supporter o" 
the Park Commission's cause. He, too, responded vigor- 
ously. While not touching in any way upon the political 
features of the controversy, his optimistic thought in favor 
of some of the things then accomplished toward the im- 
provement of Branch Brook Park was clearly expressed in a 
published letter January 9, 1897. In this letter, after re- 
ferring to the skating he had just witnessed in the park aa 
being "Holland over again" and wishing he were "a boy 
once more," he added : "The promise of the beauty of the 
park is great, and the commissioners and engineers are 
showing great judgment, skill, knowledge and good taste." 

Others joined in the effort to repel the attack, and the 
conflict of words soon had the appearance of a drawn battle, 
yet actually leaving the appointive commission in possession 
and victor of the field. The discussion, however, bore fruit 
in largely extending in the public mind the objection to an 
appointive commission. This was manifestly the result, as 
shown by the resolutions of disapproval of that system in 
the different political conventions since. Published indi- 
vidual opinions then and since have reflected a similar sen- 
timent as existing in the minds of officials and publicists, 
both in Essex and in Hudson counties and elsewhere, in 
conformity with the generally accepted objection to specially 
appointed public boards. 

One of the persistent advocates of the elective plan con- 
tended that the only answer to the claim that the appoint- 
ive system is in every way contrary to the fundamental 
structure upon which our entire political and representa- 
tive system of government is based, has been that "the law 
so provides," and that such legislative results are "accom- 
plished by log rolling, scheming and jollying of ignorant, 


inexperienced and ambitious legislators." "The park com- 
mission law" is thus pronounced "radically wrong in its 
conception and construction." 

Answer was made that such views belonged to the "Rip 
Van Winkle order of observation," ignored the teachings of 
experience with elective boards in inaugurating large 
schemes of public improvements, and disregard the fact that 
park making is in itself a special undertaking quite unUke 
the ordinary administration of public affairs. 

The converts to the elective plan side of the question have 
apparently continued to rapidly grow in numbers. Since the 
discussion over the last million-dollar appropriation, and 
the question of mandatory maintenance in 1902, and the 
war for eight years waged over the parkways, it is extremely 
doubtful whether the number averse to an appointive park 
board has not been materially augmented: And equally 
doubtful whether if the proposition to continue the present 
appointive system were now submitted to the voters of 
Essex County it would not be by a liberal majority defeated. 


In 1897, however, the agitation soon ceased. As there 
was no immediate prospects of the law's being changed, the 
discussion in January of that year soon turned upon the 
financial aspects of the enterprise. The attitude of the 
public, as voiced by the press, was not enthusiastic. It was, 
indeed, largely apathetic or distinctly unfavorable. Aside 
from the generous view taken by Monsignor Doane and a 
few ardent supporters of the commission, the comments not 
infrequently conveyed a tone of severe criticism. The pub- 
lic was reminded of the promise of the first commission as 
to the completion of the parks and parkways for the 
$3,500,000 appropriation. 

While many readily accepted the theory that all such ap' 
propriations were subject to additional or later demands, 
others were outspoken in their objection to the way the af-' 
fairs of the Park Board had been managed. No charges of 
bad fftithj which I ean recall or find in the various records 


I have examined, were made; but rather a subdued feeling 
of disappointment and of disapproval permeated more or 
less the mental atmosphere throughout the county. This 
sentiment was forcefully expressed in the editorials of the 
Newark News, January 6 and February 13, 1897, the 
former referring directly to Commissioner Murphy's state- 
ment above quoted. 

As these articles then embodied a clear and evidently cor- 
rect expression on this subject, the salient portions may here 
be of interest. Under the caption "The Cost of the Parks 
and the People's Power Over the Outlay" it was stated: 
"The letter, the spirit and the intent of the law under which 
the Park Board is acting require that, with the expenditure 
of $2,500,000, all the parks and parkways which they have 
the right to establish, shall be completed and turned over to 
the county of Essex. The commissioners, presumably acting 
with forethought and good intention, have chosen to set up 
a law for themselves by purchasing large tracts of land, to 
be held for future development, with increased cost to the 
people. * * * The park commissioners are going to 
spend $2,500,000 in the development of a few parks in 
Newark, and the purchase of certain lands outside. To im- 
prove these lands very large additional expenditures will be 
necessary. The present board, or its successors, will prob- 
ably make an appeal to the Legislature for authority to 
issue more bonds. If the practice sought to be established 
by the present board be allowed to stand, and be imitated 
in the future, the legislative restrictions regarding public 
expenditures for parks will have no meaning. If the parks 
of Essex County are going to cost more than $3,500,000, 
who may say what they are going to cost? Will the total 
run up to $5,000,000 or $10,000,000 or $30,000,000 ?" 

In commenting upon the report of the commission for 
1896, issued early in February, 1897, the News, February 
13, said: "The scheme of parkways is not discussed in the 
report. The commissioners have not yet determined as to 
the character and the scope of those great avenues which 
are to connect the various parks, and which are to add new 


charm to the beauties of the county. It is reasonable to 
expect that the improvements of these broad avenues will 
involve a large expenditure, and that this work, taken in 
connection with the improvement of the great areas already 
secured in the Orange Mountain district, will necessitate 
an expenditure of at least $2,500,000 more, and perhaps a 
sum in excess of that amount/' 

The correctness of this prophetic statement as regards the 
application for additional funds for the parks, was vindi- 
cated within a year by the issuance of the commission's re- 
port for that year (1897), in January, 1898. In the clos- 
ing paragraphs of that report appears (page 18) the 
following statement : 


"The Park Commission can expend the balance still on 
hand in completing as far as is possible the land purchases 
within the areas already selected, and in bringing the city 
parks to such condition as will make them useful, in a 
measure, to the public. But for more perfect development 
of the parks, for the acquirement of some further lands to 
improve the outlines of these parks, and especially for the 
expense of parkways, the need of which becomes more ob- 
vious as the system is developed and appreciated, the com- 
mission estimates that the further sum of $1,500,000 is 
needed. And this sum is, in the estimation of the commis- 
sioners, all that ought to be expended for acquirement and 
development of the system as laid out and designated." 

This official intimation of the needs and the intention of 
the commission was put into practical shape by the prepara- 
tion of a bill, which, at about the same time, early in 1898, 
made its appearance in the Legislature. This bill, contain- 
ing a referendum clause providing for its submission to the 
electorate of the county in April, was soon passed by both 
houses of the Legislature, and was approved February 31, 
1898. At the election of April 12, following, the vote stood 
for the law, 14,737; against, 9,954; or a majority in favor 
of only 4,783, although the Newark Board of Trade, the 


New England Society, the Koseville Improvement Associa- 
tion and other organizations had, just prior to the election, 
passed resolutions favoring the adoption of the law, and the 
approval of the act by the voters. 

Another factor which might have been favorable in de- 
ciding the vote was the impression and promise given out 
by the commission that the additional $1,500,000 asked for 
would be sufficient to complete the park system plans. The 
News of January 31, 1898, gave a detailed account of a con- 
ference upon the new appropriation bill "held at the home 
of Franklin Murphy, treasurer of the Park Commission," 
the night previous, at which meeting Senator Ketcham, a 
number of the Essex County assemblymen, and all of the 
park commissioners, excepting Mr. Bramhall, were present. 
It was there stated, according to this report of the confer- 
ence, that while the amount ($1,500,000) "would not do 
all that might be done, for the commission could expend 
$5,000,000 if all the suggestions advanced were followed, 
yet it would, he said, be sufficient to leave the county in 
possession of a park system, properly connected by park- 
ways, second to none in the country, and all secured for a 
total outlay of only $4,000,000." 


The comparatively small total vote of 34,691 — only a lit- 
tle more than half in the county — and the reduced majority 
of only 4,783, as against a majority of 8,321 for the first 
appropriation, April 15, 1895, clearly reflected the reduced 
interest in and lack of popular support of the commission 
and of the county park undertalcing, as it was then before 
the public. On January 11, 1898, the commission made a 
requisition on the Board of Freeholders for the $1,500,000, 
as provided in the bill, "on approval of the bill by the peo- 
ple," and in April, directly after the vote on the bill, an 
unconditional requisition was made for $500,000 of the ap- 
propriation as then available. 

The issuance of these bonds was delayed for several 
months. A technical question had arisen as to the legality 


of the referendum feature of the new law. Able lawyers 
differed upon the question. The freeholders declined to issue 
the bonds "until directed to do so by a court of competent 
jurisdiction." The question was taken into the courts by 
the friendly suit method. On July 8 the new act and the 
proposed bond issue was, by the Court of Ectots and Ap- 
peals, declared valid. An instalment of $500,000 of the 
bonds was then, in August, 1898, sold. They were four 
per cent, gold bonds, similar as to form and time of ma- 
turity to those last issued. The sale was made under the 
sealed proposal method, as before. 

There were seventeen bids. The award was made to the 
Illinois Trust and Savings Bank, Chicago, and Mason 
Lewis & Co., Boston, on their joint bid of 113.199. The 
remaining $1,000,000 bonds of that authorized issue also 
brought a good premium. They were disposed of in like 
manner, $500,000 in 1899 and $500,000 in 1900. 

In the meantime methods had been devised for turning 
over to the Park Commission the premium realized on all 
these bonds, instead of retaining it in the sinking fund as 
theretofore. On August 3, 1900, the last $500,000 of this 
appropriation, together with $80,000 premium on the 
bonds, was turned over to the commission. 

Thus, within five years, the people of Essex County had 
raised and contributed in cash for the park system promised 
them for $2,500,000, more than $4,000,000. 



Some of the causes indicating the increased cost of the 
parks over the previous estimates have been stated in pre- 
ceding chapters. Another reason for the enlarged expendi- 
ture was the persistent inattention of the counsel to the 
duties of his office. This continued neglect hy Counsel 
Munn of the interests entrusted to him began almost simul- 
taneously with his appointment in May, 1895. 

Any one having had practical experience in great enter- 
prises where large financial operations, and intricate or 
varied legal questions are involved, recognizes the necessity 
of having in charge of the legal department not only a man 
of ability, but one alert in the grasp and direction of legal 
affairs. While this is directly applicable to all large under- 
taldngs, the principle applies with special force to a public 
enterprise, where there is such a temptation and tendency 
with people generally to take any and every advantage pos- 
sible in securing from the public treasury the maximum 
amount of cash, for the minimum amount of land, goods or 
service, or whatever is to be given in exchange. 

In the organization of the park department these condi- 
tions were supposed to be well understood, hence the impor- 
tance of the care to be exercised in the selection of counsel. 
Eelying largely upon Commissioner Shepard's strong advo- 
cacy of Mr. Munn's appointment, based upon his experience 
with Mr. Munn as his own counsel and neighbor, I had, as 
previously stated, reluctantly supported him for the posi- 
tion. This tentative confidence that he might prove the 
right man for the place was somewhat strengthened by the 
receipt of a letter soon after the appointment was made. 
In this letter Mr. Munn stated : 




"My imaginatiooi was fascinated years ago by a state- 
ment from Llewellyn S. Haskell as to the possibilities of 
converting Essex County into a world-famous park. The 
present county avenues — radiating from Newark — were a 
part of his plan, and we are indebted to his heroic advocacy 
for the limited success achieved. If he had lived he would 
be the enthusiastic supporter of the present park commis- 
sion. I count it a great honor to be identified with a project 
so noble, and the prospect of its success, in the hands of 
commissioners so high in character and ability, constitutes 
an incentive to all who are identified with the work to give 
to it their best endeavor. To be able, also, to feel that 
cordial relations subsist with the members of the commis- 
sion, makes the work a pleasure, apart from its intrinsic 

What more could one ask as to implied intention, or an 
ideal sentiment in undertaking the work of a new enter- 
prise, than was apparently by this letter expressed? But 
the reality, and what soon afterward followed, was a very 
different matter. At first, and during the early part of the 
summer of 1895, Counsel Munn evinced a disposition to 
fulfil the obligations of his of&ce and thus to vindicate the 
ideal sentiments above quoted. In looking up matters per- 
taining to the bond issue, he was reasonably attentive and 
helpful. In the ordinary legal routine also, there were, at 
first, no noticeable lapses. When, however, the work of the 
legal department began to increase, his care and attention 
to it commenced to decrease in a corresponding and ever 
increasing ratio. 

On the determination of the lines of Branch Brook Park 
in July, 1895, the requirements in condemnation proceed- 
ings and other legal questions were rapidly augmented. 
Aside from the reservoir property in that park, the entire 
area was in city lots. With the desire of the commission to 
obtain possession of all the property at the earliest practi- 
cable date, all the small holdings that could not be pur- 


chased required prompt and vigorous attention. Later in 
the summer the work of the counsel began to get badly in 
arrears. In the autumn and early winter, when the East 
Side, Eagle Eock and South Mountain Park locations had 
been decided upon, matters went from bad to worse. In 
almost every direction there was evidence of negligence. 
The counsel, instead of attending the board meetings, 
where, with all the important matters then in his charge, it 
was considered his place to be, was frequently conspicuous 
by his absence. 


The suggestions and requests for better service and atten- 
tion to duty met with no appreciable response. Through 
the spring and summer of 1896 matters went on in this way. 
The neglect was not only costing the county dearly in 
money, but was preventing progress in the development of 
the parks. This was having a demoralizing influ- 
ence on the entire department. When the active 
work of the commission was taken up early in the autumn, 
I determined that I would not acquiesce in the prevailing 
conditions longer. First one commissioner, Mr. Meeker, 
then another, Mr. Peck, declared the same view. This was 
a majority of the board. Something must, therefore, be . 
done, and that speedily. It was done — and this is the way 
it was done: 

At the board meeting of October 6, 1896, immediately 
after roll call, the commission went into the most executive 
of executive sessions. Even the secretary, always present at 
our meetings, was excused. Only the commissioners were 
present. Counsel Munn's case was at once taken up. When 
he was appointed the "votes were there" to elect- him. Now 
the votes were there to dismiss him. The question was well 
gone over. All concurred, or admitted, that his conduct was 
inexcusable; its continuance intolerable. The remedy sug- 
gested was immediate dismissal. One or both of the com- 
missioners just mentioned concurred in that view. 

At this juncture Commissioner Franklin Murphy- began 


to interpose palliatives and to plead for Munn. Commis- 
sioner Shepard joined in the pleadings. It would be very 
trying, they said, for Mr. Mnnn, as it would be for any 
attorney, to have a peremptory dismissal from such a board. 
We should not act hastily, they contended, in so important 
a ease as this. The official relations with the freeholders 
were friendly. Might not differences arise, should the pro- 
posed dismissal be made effective? Give Mr. Munn a trial 
— another opportunity, provided he would promise to do 
better, they urged. His salary was not large for a counsel 
in so responsible a position. Perhaps this may, in part, ac- 
count for his lack of attention to his duties, they continued. 

It was decided to call Mr. Munn in, explain the situation 
to him, and, unless he would promise to do better forthwith, 
that he should go. He entered. His manner was serious; 
his bearing courteous but grave. He took a seat at the end 
of the commissioners' table, where he could be closely ob- 
served. The status of matters was explained to him. He 
listened attentively, scarcely uttering a word. He was told 
how the business of the commission in his charge was suf- 
fering from his neglect; how serious the result was becom- 
ing ; that it must be stopped, or a change made. His man- 
ner indicated more clearly than words that he realized the 
truth and the force of the charges made. I then looked him 
directly in the face and said : "Mr. Munn, if we retain you, 
can we rely upon your properly attending to your duties 
here ?" In a subdued but clear voice he replied : "Yes, you 
can!" He was excused. 

The pleadings of Messrs. Shepard and Murphy for his 
retention then continued. He had made a pledge in the 
presence of us all ; why not at least give him an opportunity 
to redeem that pledge. Who else could be selected, of all the 
attorneys in Essex County, who could then come into the 
department and have the grasp of the legal situation that 
Mr. Munn already possessed ? These arguments prevailed. 

It then seemed logical and consistent to give him a 
further trial before exercising our right of peremptory diS' 
missal. Those of us favoring this latter course hoped for 


better results, and agreed to the time-and-trial extension 
proposition. Munn's answer to my question, as quoted, to- 
gether with the arguments on his behalf, inspired that hope. 


As it was now agreed to give Counsel Munn the oppor- 
tunity of redeeming his promise for proper service, Com- 
missioner Murphy promptly offered the following resolu- 
tion: "That the counsel's salary, from October 15, be 
$3,000, it being understood that, in view of the increased 
compensation, the counsel shall give additional time to the 
work which has now become necessary,." After further 
discussion, in effect, that if he did not thereafter adequately 
attend to his duties he should be dismissed, the motion was 
agreed to, and Mr. Munn was thus retained in that respon- 
sible and, at that time, most important position. Did he 
fulfil his new obligation? Never, to my knowledge, with 
the exception of a slight temporary improvement for a few 
weeks immediately after the described incident, and tem- 
porary, spasmodic efforts on exceptional occasions since. 
Nor was he dismissed until more than seven years after- 
ward, when he had drawn from the taxpayers more than 
$20,000 in salary, and his negligence had caused losses to 
the commission difficult to estimate. 

The incident in then retaining Counsel Munn, as detailed 
above, cannot in a few words be more forcibly or accurately 
expressed than in the humorous comment of one thoroughly 
conversant with the circumstances then and since, who has 
repeatedly said to me in referring to that incident: "You 
agreed to discharge Munn for cause, then turned immedi- 
ately around and hired him over again at an increased 


But the efforts to secure another counsel who would prop- 
erly attend to the duties of the office did not rest here. 
When in April, 1897, George W. Bramhall succeeded me as 
commissioner, the affairs in the legal department were 


found to be in the utmost confusion. As a man of experi- 
ence in model business methods, Mr. Bramhall's attention 
was at once attracted to this situation. It was not long be- 
fore reports were in circulation of the conditions being so 
bad that some of the leading attorneys were considering the 
advisability of sending a protest to the Park Board against 
Munn's retention. Some remedy must be found. Two of 
the commissioners determined to get rid of him. They 
made an earnest effort with that end in view. 

Upon further investigation, it was found there was ample 
cause. The neglect to advance the very many cases in con- 
demnation proceedings was resulting in higher awards. 
These awards for increasing liabilities against the commis- 
sion could have been secured for less amounts, earlier in the 
proceedings, when lower values on contiguous property had, 
by purchase and otherwise, been established. The failure 
to have deeds and other legal papers of the land acquire- 
ments promptly and properly recorded, as required under 
the Martin act, was making the commission liable for taxes 
and other charges. Valuable papers of the law department 
could not be found when wanted. Much inconvenience, de- 
lay and loss was being occasioned by the absence of the 
counsel when important meetings of the commissioners were 
held to take testimony in condemnation proceedings. The 
failure to attend meetings of the commission when matters 
of great importance and urgency were to be considered, 

With these conditions before them, the minority mem- 
bers endeavored to secure the necessary third member to 
constitute a majority for action. Commissioner Peck's atti- 
tude was felt to be too uncertain. Conunissioner Shepard's 
position, in persistent advocacy of Counsel Munn, was well 
known. Commissioner Murphy went to the Park Board 
rooms, looked over the situation there with one of the other 
members, and admitted that the case was serious. The im- 
pression received was that he would unite in the vote for 

At the next board meeting the subject was brought up. 


The secretary was again excused. It was warm weather, 
and the temperature was soon increased inside the Park 
Board rooms. The minority members, when they came into 
the meeting, thought there would be no doubt as to the 
result. They were mistaken. Commissioner Murphy at 
once joined Commissioner Shepard in a repetition of the 
pleadings of a few months before. The time had "not come 
for the dismissal of Counsel Munn." They would not vote 
for it. Commissioner Peck reversed his previous position 
and holding, as he then did, the deciding vote, gave the 
necessary majority to that side. The counsel was, therefore, 
retained. The incident was closed. 

When legal work of importance must be done, special 
counsel was employed. On February 11, 1898, W. B. South- 
ard was thus employed at an expense of $125 per month 
"to expedite condemnation proceedings." At the Park 
Board meeting, March 11, following, a bill of $300, of 
Eiker & Eiker, attorneys, "for services in the S. Howell 
Jones condemnation case," was ordered paid. On July 7 a 
bill of Eobert H. McCarter for $500 in attending to "the 
park law mandamus case before the Court of Errors and 
Appeals," was presented. October 1, 1901, CortSand Par- 
ker^s bill of $184.45 in the Watkins insurance case — ^the 
property on Orange Mountain then in process of condemna- 
tion — was paid. April 8, 1902, a bill of Corbin & Corbin of 
$200 for an "opinion on the constitutionality of the park 
law" was approved. August 19 of the same year Eobert H. 
McCarter was retained as associate counsel in the matter of 
the certiorari proceeding of the Forest Hill Association 
against the Park Commission," and was paid $500 for that 
service. January 20, 1903, Henry Young was "retained in 
the litigation to test the constitutionality of the park act" 
and paid $250, with $250 more the following April. On 
the same day, April 7, 1903, Corbin & Corbin were paid 
$500 in the same case for services before the Court of Errors 
and Appeals. 

On November 10, 1903, Secretary Church was paid an 
extra $600 "for services rendered and to be rendered for 


1903." He had previously become an attorney of record, 
and the partnership of Munn & Church, consisting of 
Joseph L. Munn and Alonzo Church, had been formed, with 
offices, then as since, with the same entrance and adjoining 
the Park Board rooms at 800 Broad street, Newark. 

Other and similar payments to the above from 1897, or 
eaj-ly 1898 down to time Counsel Munn's "services" were 
dispensed with, January 1, 1904, were made. As to the 
propriety of these payments, or, under the circumstances, 
the partnership referred to, I prefer to make no comment. 
I merely state the facts as a part of this record. 

That conditions regarding the services — or lack of serv- 
ice — of Counsel Munn had not improved for more than two 
years after Commissioner Bramhall's retirement from the 
Park Board in April, 1900, may be conclusively inferred 
from the action of the commissioners taken at the meeting 
August 13, 1902. The East Orange parkway was to have 
been the special order of business for that day, "but, owing 
to the failure of the counsel to report," the following resolu- 
tion was adopted : "Whereas, the counsel has failed to re- 
port to the commission, which held a meeting at considera- 
ble personal inconvenience to the commissioners, for the 
express purpose of receiving his report; therefore, be it 
resolved, that the secretary notify the counsel that his negli- 
gence in failing to report as to the property between Main 
street and Central avenue has greatly inconvenienced the 
commissioners. Eesolved, further, that the counsel be di- 
rected to report immediately to the chairman of the Com- 
mittee on Parkways as to whether he intends to see the 
property-owners between Main street and Central avenue as 
requested by the commissioners, and as agreed by him. 

"Eesolved, further, that a copy of this resolution be sent 
to Mr. Shepard." 

Since 1896 the question has been frequently asked : Why 
was this neglectful and faithless counsel retained by the 
Park Board for so many years? 



In the early afternoon of April 20, 1897, my former col- 
league on the first commission, George W. Bramhall, called 
me by telephone and asked for an appointment at my house 
that evening. It was accordingly made. From the time of 
our appointment on the first Park Board in June, 1894, 
our personal relations had been cordial, and, in park mat- 
ters, intimate. After April, 1895, when I was reappointed 
on the permanent commission and he was not, we had con- 
ferred on many of the more important park subjects. 

When his appointment on the first commission was rec- 
ommended it was recognized that he was a man of cultiva- 
tion and taste in park matters; that he entertained broad 
views on that subject, and that, as commissioner, he would 
have "no ax to grind" in bringing to bear on the problems 
involved his experience and ability shown in other direc- 
tions. This estimate of his qualifications was, I thinlc, vin- 
dicated during the two terms of his service as commissioner. 


It may be well to here state the underlying conditions at 
the time of the conference mentioned. My two years' term 
as park commissioner expired that day. For some months, 
even prior to the Munn dismissal incident, there were pow- 
erful corporate and political interests, which for reasons 
that may be readily inferred from the reading of the facts 
contained in this history, were averse to my reappointment. 
This condition was materially accelerated by the contest 
over the parkways begun the Kovember previous, and by 
my attitude in insisting that the counsel attend to his duties 


or leave the service of the commission. The traction com- 
panies up to that time had had quite smooth sailing in their 
successful efforts to secure coveted franchises, and the more 
valuable the public franchises were, the more successful the 
managers of the companies appeared to be in their efforts 
to secure them. Any individual aggressively opposing this 
"gift enterprise" business was soon made to feel that his 
future, politically or otherwise, would be far more agreeable, 
or, perchance, successful, if he should not "stand in the 
way" of what the "organization" — or in other words, what 
the corporations, then, as afterward, so closely allied with 
the party bosses — wanted. A park commissioner who would 
, insist that the people should have what had been promised 
them, provided the execution of the promise interfered with 
the corporation plans for a valuable public franchise — ^not- 
withstanding the promise may have been for a park system 
that was being paid for from the tax budget — was not the 
kind of man the corporations wanted. The pressure brought 
to bear upon Judge Depue as the appointing power to leave 
me off of the commission, was, now that the die for the 
parkways had been east and my outspoken position well 
understood, materially increased. 

Commissioner Franklin Murphy's political craft had also 
up to that time had smooth sailing, and if he could unify 
the various elements in both the corporate and political 
fields, there was a fair prospect of his reaching his ambition 
in the climb for the Gubernatorial chair. Counsel Joseph 
L. Munn was regarded as one of his active political workers 
for furthering that object. 

Commissioner Frederick M. Shepard, as the principal 
owner of a valuable water plant, which, with the assistance 
of "Counsel" Munn, it might be during the next few years 
desirable to sell at a good price to the municipalities of 
East Orange and Bloomfield — (as was accomplished in 
1903) — was in full sympathy with, and extremely friendly 
to, these corporation influences and interests. 

There were, perhaps, not many men in Essex County who 
then had a keener appreciation of these underlying condi- 


tions than had I. The situation as to the efforts made with 
the court to make a change in the appointment of commis- 
sioners in 1895j had been fully reported to me by my 
friends, some of whom were then consulted by Judge Depue 
before he made that change. 

The final decision then made in my favor was the -result 
of the action taken by my friends, unknown to me until 
after the commission was appointed. 

My experience during the two years in the second com- 
mission had made the situation, as it existed at this time, 
as clear as the noonday sun. It was perfectly evident from 
Mr. Murphy's bearing and conversation with me that he 
would do what he could to prevent my reappointment. Al- 
though our personal relations had remained courteous, and, 
in a measure, to all appearances, friendly, our views as to 
policy and method in the management of the park depart- 
ment were, from the outset, radically at variance. We dif- 
fered on almost every vital principle, from tlie plan of pro- 
cedure in laying out the parks and the impending contest 
with the trolley companies over the parkways, to the reten- 
tion of Counsel Munn. The official records and correspon- 
dence make this situation for that two years, from first to 
last, perfectly clear. Every one knew, who knew anything of 
the conditions as they existed in April, 1897, that both 
Commissioner Murphy and Counsel Munn were in close 
touch, directly or indirectly, with Judge D'epue. 

Weeks before the expiration of my term as commissioner, 
my friends expressed to me their fears that the influences 
so inimical to my reappointment might prevail. My an- 
swer was : That while I fully appreciated the circumstances, 
I would not seek the appointment. The original suggestion 
that the appointing power be placed with the court had been 
made by me, and the full responsibility had, in accordance 
with that suggestion, been by law conferred upon the judge; 
that if appointed I would, at least for the present, accept 
the office, but would not vary from the conviction and prin- 
ciple I had always believed in and adhered to — that the 
office should seek the man, not the man the office. 


Several friends told me they had written strong letters 
to the judge urging my appointment, and I learned after- 
ward that many letters were sent of similar tenor. 


From the above, the reader may readily infer that Mr. ' 
Bramhall and myself were both prepared for a heart-to- 
heart talk on that evening of April 20, 1897, in question. 
We went over the subject quite fully. He explained to me 
how Judge Depue had sent for him — much as he had sent 
for me just before the appointment of the first commission, 
in 1894, as noted in Chapter II; how he (Mr. Bram- 
hall), had frankly stated that he was not a candidate, could 
not accept an appointment, and his aversion to even ap- 
pearing to countenance any action unfavorable to my reap- 
pointment. After further conversation with the judge, Mr. 
Bramhall stated, he said to him, "Mr. Kelsey is as well 
equipped as a.ny man in the county to fill the position ; his 
appointment is favored by me and I have so stated." 

The judge then made answer: "I cannot consider his 
appointment. Pressure has been brought to bear against 
it." Mr. Bramhall said that he then asked the judge the 
direct question why my reappointment could not be con- 
sidered. The answer was not forthcoming. Later in the 
conversation the question was repeated, but the information, 
he said, "could not be wrung" from the judge. Mr. Bram- 
hall said he then indicated that, even though he should ac- 
cept the appointment, he could not serve the full term. The 
judge was urgent. Mr. Bramhall finally assented to the 
appointment; but before doing so it was agreed between 
them that before the appointment was announced Mr. 
Bramhall should see me and that we should talk the matter 
over together. This we did without reserve. 


After he had related to me what had occurred during his 
conversation the evening before with Judge Depue, I stated 
that I was glad to be relieved of the duties, which for two 


years had been most exacting; that I was pleased that he 
had consented to accept the appointment in my place; that 
I was perfectly well aware of the influences brought to bear, 
and the reasons why my reappointment was not considered 
by the judge ; and that those reasons would not be given to 
the public when his appointment was announced in court 
any more than they had been given him, on his urgent re- 
quest, during their conversation in the privacy of the 
judge's home. 

I hardly expected at that time, however, that the correct- 
ness of this prophetic remark would be so soon and so fully 
vindicated as it apparently was, when the appointment waa 
made. The next morning I wrote Judge Depue as follows : 

"Orange, April 21, 1897. 

"Dear Sir — Mt. Bramhall called upon me last evening, 
stating that he had done so in accordance with an under- 
standing with you that you were not to announce the ap- 
pointment of my successor in the Park Commission until he 
had seen me. 

"I was astonished at his statements. My relations to the 
enterprise, its inception and development since, and my 
work as commissioner have been such that my constituency 
and the public, so far as I understand, have been satisfied, 
and I am told have asked for my reappointment. 

"If, in any way, my work has been unsatisfactory or not 
what it should have been to you, or to the public, I am open 
to criticism, and will gratefully receive it. Until then I 
feel, in view of the facts, that it is just and due to me to 
know why my services are discredited and my appointment 
not under consideration. 

"It seems to me that this statement is due you. And that 
it is equally due me in consideration of the work I have 
done in the enterprise, and the time I have given it, that 
you advise me why my name ''cannot be considered,' as Mr. 
Bramhall states. "Very truly yours, 

"Peed. W. Kblset. 

"Hon, David A. Depue," 


No acknowledgment or reply to this letter was ever re- 
ceived, and I never saw or heard from Judge Depue again. 
In the afternoon of the, and the day following my 
conversation with Mr. Bramhall, April 21, 1897, the ap- 
pointment was annonnced in open court. The aimounce- 
ment was noticeable for its brevity. It also occasioned com- 
ment for not giving the public the slightest suggestion or 
intimation, any more than had been given privately to Mr. 
Bramhall, as to the reasons the judge had for making the 
change. This was in marked contrast to his extended re- 
marks in making the change in the appointment of two 
commissioners two years before, as quoted from at length 
in Chapter IV of this history. Moreover, this change 
involved the displacement of a commissioner who had served 
continuously from the time of the appointment of the first 
commission in June, 1894. The judge said: 

"I have the appointment to make of a park commissioner, 
to take the place of ilr. Kelsey. I appoint George W. 
Bramhall, whom I regard as capable and efficient. He has 
served as a temporary commissioner and is much interested 
in the work. As regards the situation now I consider the 
appointment a judicious one." 


The Newark Sunday Call, in editorially commenting 
upon the appointment, referred to it as appearing to do 
"some injustice to Commissioner Kelsey, whose place is 
taken and who was chosen originally in preference to Mr. 
Bramhall. Mr. Kelsey's services have been satisfactory to 
the public, but it is gratifying that his successor is known 
as a man of taste, experience in business affairs and of spe- 
cial knowledge in this work." This sentiment was quite 
generally expressed throughout the county. The commen- 
dations of various county papers, and the letters and other 
personal expressions of appreciation and approval of my 


course as commissioner were gratifying. la The Daily 
Advertiser, the same day of Mr. Bramhall's appointment, 
the following statements appeared in an interview with 
Commissioners Shepard and Peck at the Park Board rooms 
that afternoon of April 31 : "Mr. Shepard said that Mr. 
Kelsey had been a faithful member of the commission ; that 
he had attended almost every meeting, and that he was an 
enthusiastic worker." 

"Mr. Peck here added a few words in praise of Mr. Kel- 
sey, saying that the retiring member had been keenly alive 
to his duties." 

My non-appointment was, however, to myself a great 
relief. For nearly three years I had given a large 
part of my time and interest to the inception and for- 
mulative plans of the enterprise. The first year with the 
preliminary or original Park Commission, as may be in- 
ferred from the first three chapters of this volume, the work, 
though arduous, and at times confining, was treated as re- 
creation, and was for the most part a pleasure. The two 
years' service in the second commission were indeed stren- 
uous years, filled with forebodings, doubts and uncertain- 
ties, and, as one who reads these records of the events as 
they occurred at the time, can readily appreciate, were years 
of conflict in my earnest endeavor to hold on the lines of its 
original conception, to the best of my ability, this great 
enterprise, founded as it was upon an ideal of what a park 
enterprise should be, and for which I was willing to devote 
every effort and time to have carried out to the best practi- 
cal result. If this were possible, I believed that the de- 
velopment of this ideal would be a constant pleasure, benefit 
and growing delight to the people of Essex County ; and to 
myself an unfailing source of satisfaction in the results ob- 
tained. It was only after my retirement from the active 
work of the commission in 1897 that I better appreciated 
these conditions and what the effort had been. 

But almost immediately, and continuing as it were from 
the very day of the expiration of my term of office, and 
growing out of the conditions then existing, arose another 


or a part of the same question, viz : Whether the plan of 
parkways for connecting the larger parks as then estab- 
lished, into a park system, and as repeatedly promised the 
people, should or should not be carried out. 



A full record of all that has occurred in connection with 
the parkways for the Essex County parks would fill volumes. 
The correspondence, the official communications, the public 
conferences, the private confabs, the petitions and the liti- 
gation for the parkways, the protests against destroying 
them, the resolutions of various civic associations, the pub- 
lie hearings, the massmeetings, the action of special com- 
mittees — would each, if given complete, require a chapter 
or a volume. A chapter, too, might well be devoted to the 
different phases of the situation during the various changes 
in this interesting question. 

How, on the announcement of the parkway plans by the 
Park Commission in November, 1896, the traction company 
began at once to scheme after the manner of public utility 
corporations for the defeat of those plans, and to be the 
first to obtain possession of one or both of the principal 
avenues that were designated for parkways. How, as this 
contest went on, with the people and, at the outset, the Park 
Commission on the one side, and the allied powerful corpor- 
ate and political forces working through the "organization" 
machine as dictated by the party boss, on the other side, the 
proceedings in the county and local governing boards, in 
dealing with the question, were for years a continuous per- 
formance of the play of battledore and shuttlecock. 

How shrewd attorneys and the interested politicians, 
working for the corporations, continued the policy of creat- 
ing realistic phantoms and legal hobgoblins for the purpose 
of befogging the public mind and confusing honest officials, 
in order that the result of preventing the parkways and 












securing the franchises might obtain. How the effort was 
made to use both the press, and even forged postal card 
ballots to accomplish these ends. How such representative 
organizations as the New England Society, the Woman's 
Club, the Road Horse Association, and other civic and good 
government associations joined the parkway forces and en- 
tered into the fray, where they remained to the finish. 

A volume might also be written on the action of certain 
officials and the majority members in the Board of Free- 
holders, and of the municipal authorities in East Orange 
and Orange, who for years were seemingly so anxious to 
serve "the organization" (alias, in this instance, the cor- 
porations), that their official acts resembled those of toy 
officials and toy boards, where each, in time of emergency, 
sprang to rescue the situation for their superiors, and 
against the parkways and their constituents, as moves a 
jumping- jack when the strings are pulled by the man in 
power behind the scenes. 

A chapter might also be of interest accurately describing 
the shifting of position of some of these officials ; first upon 
the one side, and then upon the other of the same identical 
question, when their opinions and services were needed to 
comply with the needs and exigencies of the corporations aa 
from time to time these requirements developed. 


Much might also be written of the changed attitude of 
the Park Commission, clothed as it was, and is, by its char- 
ter, with all authority and full power, from its original 
position of active interest toward securing the two principal 
parkways for a time after their announcement in Novem- 
ber, 1896, to a somnambulistic condition of non-activity and 
seeming impotence, and an apparent indifference as to what 
became of its own plans, and as to whether the board should 
secure the parkways as it had planned, and had repeatedly 
promised the public, or should give them over, through the 



assistance later of the commission's own counsel, to the 
corporations for private uses. 

Then, too, an extended account of the evolution of the 
parkway question into the agitation for limited franchises, 
which has since become such a live State issue, would fill 
much space : How the persistent determination of the trac- 
tion companies' managers to defeat the parkway plans, 
and, regardless of consequences, secure the long-sought 
franchises, led to an investigation as to the reasons why 
the men responsible, who were accredited with having some 
public spirit in other matters, were on this subject deaf and 
blind to all appeals ; how, when the indisputable facts were 
ascertained and recognized by the public as to "the mil- 
lions" literally "in" such franchises, there was at once a 
response ajid popular uprising that has alteady found ex- 
pression in the platforms of both the leading political par- 
ties — an uprising followed, as since, by the widespread pop- 
ular demand for improved utility franchise conditions by 
the people: And how the majority of the Legislature of 
1905, under the direction of the "corporation leader" of the 
House, juggled with this franchise legislation. 

These might all be topics worthy of full description, 
and perhaps of interest, to the readers of this history of 
the parks. Space, however, does not permit. Nor is it 
intended that this history of the Essex County parks will 
do more than give a consistent, continuous, and truthful 
account of the more important facts, which record shall 
mirror the events of the past as they have occurred, and 
possibly throw some light on the situation of park affairs 
that may be helpful in the solution of this great problem 
for the present or for the future. 

The general plan for the parkways, as agreed upon by 
the first Park Commission in 1894-5, was outlined with 
three distinct and objective points in view: 

First — Convenience and accessibility to the great ma- 
jority of the people of the county. 

Second — Economy in the use of Park and Central ave- 
nues, inasmuch as these were the two parallel and broad 


avenues, between the proposed larger parks, well adapted 
for pai'kway purposes, and already laid out and constructed 
at county expense; and 

Third — Availability. As these parkways, with Park ave- 
nue on the north and Central avenue on the south of the 
populous portions of the county between the Passaic Eiver 
and the Orange Mountain would, with the Branch Brook 
Park on the east and the mountain parkway and parks on 
the crest of the first mountain, constitute a compact, and, 
to that extent, complete "park system" in the heart of the 
county, readily and directly reached from any of the four 
sides of the elongated square of parks and parkways that 
would be thus formed. 


In order to utilize the more accessible and important 
of these parkways. Central Avenue — important as being 
by far the most convenient to the people of both Newark 
and the Oranges — and to avoid the expense of new and 
costly construction, or the removal of the railway tracks 
then on the avenue in Newark, as far as the East Orange 
line, the plan from the southern division of the Branch 
Brook Park included the use of Sussex and Ninth ave- 
nues and Grove street, or Sixteenth street, for the direct 
connection with the park as the eastern terminus, and a 
direct extension by a zig-zag, easy-grade Swiss road up 
the mountain to the mountain parkway, for the western 
park connection of the system. 

The advisability and practicability of this method of 
establishing a convenient and economical county park sys- 
tem — one that could be promptly and at comparatively 
small cost carried out, and at the same time constitute the 
basic framework for the future park and parkway develop- 
ment within the county — strongly appealed to the mem- 
bers of the first commission. I am not aware that any 
doubt ever existed as to the practical execution of the plan 
on the lines indicated. For years the steep grades and "old- 
fashioned" straight up and down roads of the Orange 


Mountain had acted as a barrier to the growing popula- 
tion of the whole county below the easterly slope. The 
construction of the parkway of sufficient width to permit 
of the easiest grades, to practically overcome this barrier, 
would, it was believed, be much appreciated by the people, 
make the mountain section of the Central parkway a novel 
and attractive feature, and tend to open up the whole moun- 
tain section from the object lesson such a piece of park- 
way construction would furnish. Then, too, the crest boule- 
vard or parkway, it was intended, should extend from 
Bloomfield avenue on the north, to possibly South Orange 
avenue or the end of the Mountain at Millbum on the 
south, and would, it was thought, provide a never-ending 
source of beautiful views and appreciable enjoyment to the 
people ind'efinitely, and constitute one of the most attrac- 
tive and unique features of mountain parkway development 
in the country. 

The first commission also contemplated, as a part of the 
general plan of the parkways, the connecting links in any 
future chain of parks. As the growth of population and 
financial resource of the county developed, the park ex- 
perts recommended, and the commission then favorably 
considered, the future enlargement of their plan, so as to 
include, if possible, a parkway from a connection with the 
Newark park along the Passaic River road or via Fredonia 
avenue, north of Branch Brook, directly connecting with 
the Second Eiver, thence by the most available route or 
routes, through Belleville, Bloomfield and Montclair, thus 
connecting again with the mountain crest parkway on the 

Connecting lines were also favorably considered from 
the Second Eiver near the Soho Railway station, to the 
Third Eiver, a most beautiful section; and thence through 
Bloomfield, Montclair and the mountain, through territory 
still further north. In the southern part of the county it 
was thought in time a parkway should be laid out, extend- 
ing from the southern or extreme southwestern portion of 
Newark, through Clinton, Irvington, near Vailsburgh, 


South Orange to the foot of Bear lane at the Eidgewood 
road, and thence to the South Mountain reservation as a 
western terminus, and with the mountain crest parkway 

While these designs for the future parkways were in- 
formally approved hy the first commission, the whole sub- 
ject was tentatively considered with the view that the fu- 
ture, and the future alone, could determine what portion 
of the extensive plans should be finally adopted, and indi- 
cate the opportune time for carrying them out. 


What the commission of 1894 did, however, intend should 
materialize, and be put into practical form at the earliest 
possible date, was the plan for the parks and the parlcways, 
as outlined — "a system of parks in its entirety," as prom- 
ised in the commission's 'formal report in 1895, already 
referred to. It was for this purpose that the liberal charter 
for the second commission was prepared; and had all the 
members of the first commission in 1895 been reappointed 
on that board, and the personnel and policy of the com- 
mission remained unchanged, I have now no more doubt 
that these plans would have been carried out and promises 
fulfilled, than. I have of any future event which is consid- 
ered a certainty, yet not having transpired. 

What did occur regarding the policy of the first com- 

-mission as to the parks has been indicated in the preceding 

chapters. What results, in turn, followed regarding the 

parkways, I shall endeavor in this and succeeding chapters 

to correctly but briefly state. 

As the second commission, immediately after complet- 
ing its organization, proceeded vigorously with the selec- 
tion of park sites to the exclusion of any consideration of 
plans for a park system as a whole, the question of park- 
ways was hardly broached for jnonths. Indeed, under the 
local or piecemeal sectional policy of locating parks, why 
should it be? 


In the discussions, however, favoring the reverse policy, 
the parkway subject was occasionally mentioned; but it was 
not until the summer of 1896, after the commission had 
been in existence more than a year, that the question came 
up officially and directly before the board. At the meet- 
ing, June 4, Commissioner Shepard brought up the East 
Orange boulevard, or parkway project. A delegation from 
East Orange had appeared on December 19 previous, and 
urged that a local park or "speedway" be laid out within 
the limits of that city. No action was then taken. 

August 85, 1896, I wrote Commissioner Peck that, com- 
pared with the natural reservations of the (Massachusetts) 
Metropolitan Park system, "We have still greater oppor- 
tunities in Essex. A crest boulevard or parkway, as origi- 
nally suggested by Mr. Haskell, with the mountain acquire- 
ments already outlined, will give a fea;ture of mountain 
park attractions not excelled, if equaled, in any other large 
parkway system so accessible to a great center of 

On October 19 Commissioner Meeker introduced the 
resolution which the parkway-avenue controversy has since 
made historic. All the commissioners not being present, 
the resolution was entered upon the minutes for future ac- 
tion. On November 12 following, at a meeting held at 
Commissioner Murphy's residence, the resolution was sec- 
onded by Mr. Shepard, and was then, by unanimous vote, 
passed. It was as follows : 

"Whereas, It appears to the Park Commission to be de- 
sirable that the avenues hereinafter named should be under 
the control of the commission as part of the system of parks 
and parkways, 

"Resolved, That the counsel be directed to obtain, if pos- 
sible, from the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the county 
of Essex a transfer of the care, custody and control of 
the avenues as hereinafter designated, to the Essex County 
Park Commission; as also from the other municipal cor- 
porations in the county a transfer of the same, so far as 
may be necessary, under the statute. The avenues now de- 


sired are as follows : Park avenue in Newark, East Orange, 
Orange and West Orange ; Central avenue in East Orange, 
Orange and West Orange; South Orange avenue, from its 
intersection with Ridgewood avenue, westerly to Cherry 

It was also agreed that a copy of the resolution "should 
be transmitted to the Board of Chosen Freeholders, and to 
each of the municipal governing bodies directly interested, 
viz. : East Orange, Orange, West Orange and South 


At this time the parkway question, as applied to Park 
and Central avenues, had been well considered. The neces- 
sity of using both avenues for parkways, if any creditable 
park system should be established, was recognized and so 
stated by each of the commissioners. The action was taken 
after mature deliberation; and, as already indicated, was 
in entire accord with the recommendations of all the park 
experts and the recorded action of the first commission on 
that subject. Nor was there any reason to then doubt what 
the attitude of the traction company's managers would be. 
The matter had been under public discussion for some 
time. Petitions from Orange and East Orange to the Park 
Board, as already quoted, had favored early action to se- 
cure these parkways. 

The trolley management had laid lines to counteract any 
such result. James B. Dill had been employed. The in- 
fluences were actively at work. Within thirty days after 
the introduction in the Park Board of the parkway resolu- 
tion as above, viz., November 9, 1896, application was made 
to the East Orange Township Committee by the Consoli- 
dated Traction Company for a railway franchise on Cen- 
tral avenue. This was the picket gun of a battle that was 
raged with unceasing vigor and aggressiveness for eight 
years. The firing became general and soon extended all 
along the line. Both sides were in a measure prepared. 


The Park Commission had the law and pnhlic opinion in 
its favor. The traction company, grown greedy and arro- 
gant from former franchise spoil, had the power of con- 
centrated wealth, and the party machine, with the resource 
and influence of a domineering party hoss to do its hidding. 
For years the corporate interest, then demanding the sacri- 
fice of the parkway for the coveted franchise, had had full 
sway. The old Essex County Eoad Board, before it was 
abolished years previous by a reform Eepublican Legisla- 
ture, was their willing tool. The succeeding Board of Free- 
holders, in control of the county roads, although riding 
into power on the popular wave which in 1893 and 1894 
engulfed the race-track, coal-combine, corporation-ridden 
State-and-County-Democracy was equally subservient. 
From those unsavory legislative days of 1890, '93 
and '93, the street railway companies had readily 
passed their own bills, both at Trenton and in 
Esses County, as they desired, and in their own 
way. The law permitting a traction company to prac- 
tically pre-empt a street or avenue by merely filing a map 
and certificate of intention with the Secretary of State, and 
the payment of a small fee, had, prior to 1896, been availed 
of, and both Park and Central avenues were "on the map" 
of the traction company's routes as prescribed. 

The Storrs bill of 1894 was intended to curb this hydra- 
headed giant of financial and political power by requiring 
the filing of consents of the owners of a majority of the 
street frontage before any road could be constructed under 
this "pre-emption lav." As introduced, the bill exempted 
all non-taxable property from consideration in the matter 
of these consents. But, under this clause, the Cemetery of 
the Holy Sepulchre property, with its 966 feet of front- 
age in East Orange, would have prevented the company 
from procuring the necessary "consents" for appropriating 
Central avenue there, so the "reform" Legislature followed 
the example of its predecessors by amending the bill and 
striking out the objectionable clause as the corporations 



The change in control of the county avenues from the 
Essex Eoad Board to the Board of Freeholders was, as re- 
gards the manipulation by the corporations, a change in 
name and party shadow only. The substance of corporate 
dictation remained the same. In October, 1894, the Free- 
holders granted to the Consolidated Traction Company a 
perpetual blanket franchise for Park avenue in Newark, 
East Orange, and Orange, Bloomfield avenue, and Freling- 
huysen avenue. The Call, in its next issue, characterized 
this action as completing "the surrender of the Eoad Board 
highways to the street railroads." The prodigal liberality 
of that "surrender" to the traction company of that most 
valuable grant of public property was, and is, amazing. 
The scheme was defeated on a technicality in the courts the 
same year, 1894. 

In like manner, the East Orange Township Committee 
had, on May 1, 1891, given the Rapid Transit Street 
Hallway Company an equally favorable perpetual fran- 
chise for Central avenue from the Newark terminus 
to the Orange line. This was before the coinpany's 
lines were constructed in Newark; hence, prior to 
ihe leasing of that short line to the Consolidated Traction 
■Company, as was afterward done, at a clear profit to the 
promoters and owners of "a round million of dollars." The 
Rapid Transit finances were not then — 1891 — in very flush 
condition. It was largely a paper company, organized to 
build and equip the road from the sale of bonds, and with- 
out the investment of much money in promotion or con- 
struction. The company was advised that the franchise 
could be extended, or a new franchise had "at any time," 
in East Orange, and Thomas Nevins promised the same 
result in Orange. The company for once failed to recog- 
nize the uncertainty -of (franchise) human events, or to 
appreciate "a go««i thing when they had it," and the fran- 
chise was, ih«refee, allowed to lapse, and the rails, which 


had been distributed as far as Harrison street, were after- 
ward removed from the avenue. 

Locally the party organization in East Orange in 1896 
was yet so overwhelmingly on the Eepubliean side that 
little doubt as to the authorities again lining up on the 
franchise-granting corporation side was entertained by the 
traction people or their attorney there. And they were 
right. After exhaustive public hearings by the Township 
Committee on November 30, and at three public meetings 
in Commonwealth Hall in December, 1896, when the whole 
situation as to the needed parkways had been fully out- 
lined by many representative citizens, and in a way ex- 
plained by the Park Commission, the new ordinance fran- 
chise for a railroad on Central avenue was passed on first 
reading January 18, 1897. In the meantime, at the meet- 
ing of the previous week, January 11, the request of the 
Park Commission for the transfer of the avenues had been, 
by unanimous vote, declined. Tliis declination was' based, 
as was then stated, upon "the reticence of the commis- 
sioners as to what they proposed doing with the avenues 
if they secured them." Whatever the cause, w^hen the rail- 
road franchise 'was passed the town woke up. 

The awakening had been accelerated by the methods em- 
ployed by the traction company. The property owners' 
consents filed with the authorities, were found to be those 
obtained for the Rapid Transit Company several years be- 
fore; and, owing to the favorable sentiment for the park- 
ways, new consents were unobtainable — owners of two- 
thirds of the feet frontage, and of three-fourths of the 
property value on the avenue, having petitioned for the 

The morning after one of the public meetings. Counsel 
J. B. Dill stated that "a resolution would be passed by 
the Park Board granting the trolley people, whom he rep- 
resented, a franchise'for Central avenue, as soon as the 
avenue came in possession of that board." 

Not long afterward Eev. H. P. Fleming, of St. John's 
parish, Orange, informed me that a well-known lawyer. 


living in East Orange, had come to talk with him about 
the parkways, and had said, during the conversation, that, 
should the Park Commissioners be given control of Cen- 
tral and Park avenues, they would 'Tiave gates put up so 
as to keep the poor people out," when they thought it ad- 
visable or desired to do so. 

These specioiis and misleading statements were quite in 
keeping with methods which were rapidly arousing an 
adverse public sentiment. New consents were finally se- 
cured and filed by the traction company, February 7, 1897. 


The comments and rumors current did not tend to 
smooth the fighting ground of the traction contingent- 
There had been lively discussion and some warm words 
at the three well-attended meetings of the Township Com- 
mittee, December 8, 14, and 21, held in Commonwealth 
Hall, as also at the citizens' meeting in the athletic club 
rooms, January 26. At these meetings the parkway claims 
were well presented. The friends of the parkways had 
not been idle. Committees having the subject in charge 
had sent out appeals. Meetings were held, and Commis- 
sioner's Shepard's co-operation invited. In January, 1897, 
after Orange had declined to make the transfer, he wrote, 
unofficially, "as a citizen," expressing "regret that the 
Town Committee should take abrupt and final action con- 
cerning the request of the Park Commission for the care 
of the avenues," adding : 

"The commission made this request, believing it was 
for the benefit of every citizen of the county that it should 
be granted, and supported in this view by a written com- 
munication signed by a large number of the citizens of 
East Orange. 

"If the Town Committee declines to co-operate, in all 
reasonable ways, with the Park Commission, it will pre- 
vent many things being done which will beautify the towri 
and add greatly to the pleasure of living in it. That resi- 
dence or business streets can be made attractive as park- 


■ways is proved, in many cities, notably in Chicago, Detroit 
and Buffalo, where some of the finest streets are in the 
care of the park boards, and where there is no interruption 
at all of the necessities of daily life." 

At the Township Committee meeting of December 14, 
1896, I was present, and in response to an inquiry, stated 
the position of the commission as then agreed upon regard- 
ing the parkways. Counsel Munn also elucidated some of the 
points as to the intended treatment of the avenues, should 
the transfer be effected, "the status of the avenues to re- 
main practically unchanged, but with parkway embellish- 
ments, footpaths, bicycle ways and bridle-paths added." 

But, as the town was awakened, the franchise-acquiring 
forces were also active, and the trolley ordinance made 
steady progress. At the regular January meeting of the 
Township Committee in 1897, with David Young and 
Counsel Dill representing the traction company, various 
amendments to the ordinance were agreed to. As the popu- 
lar tide for the parkways was rapidly rising, Mr. Dill 
stated to the committee that "the company was willing to 
agree that the avenue should be considered first as a park- 
way, and secondly as a trolley route, and, in the event of 
the avenue's being widened the traction company to be 
considered as a tenant, to pay one-third the cost, and one- 
third the cost of any other necessary improvements." 


The leverage which, in this country and under our form 
of government, will invariably call to an accounting and 
reverse the action of any legislative body — ^the power of 
public opinion — was now being actively focalized. At the 
very time the traction company's counsel and the members 
of the Township Committee were "fixing up" the trolley 
ordinance so as to make it satisfactory to all parties, a call 
was being sent out for a massmeeting in Commonwealth 
Hall for the evening of February 7. That call was signed 
by more than one hundred and twenty of the most repre- 
sentative citizens of East Orange, regardless of party or 


other local affiliations. The object of the meeting, the call 
stated, was to secure "intimate co-operation with the Essex 
County Park Commission, to the end that Park and Cen- 
tral avenues be placed in their charge as parkways, and 
the construction of the projected north and south boule- 
vard be insured." Henry H. Hall acted as chairman, with 
a list of thirty or mora vice-presidents. 

The speeches by Messrs. H. H. Hall, A. P. Boiler, H. G. 
Atwater, G. R. Howe, G. S. Hulbert, W. H. Baker, G. F. 
Seward and Hamilton Wallis were digniiied, forceful and 
to the point. A letter from Mr. Shepard was read, in 
which he stated: "If Central and Park avenues cannot be 
included in the park system, then new east and west park- 
ways could not be constructed through East Orange, be- 
cause of the great cost of the land. This would compel 
their construction through cheaper vacant land at the north 
and south of East Orange." 


The hall was filled. Enthusiasm prevailed. The effect 
of the meeting was instantaneous. The members of the 
Township Committee who had so readily declined the park 
commission's application but three or four weeks before, 
and were seemingly so willing to pass the traction com- 
pany's ordinance for one of the avenues, soon saw new 
light. The proceedings of the meeting, with quotations 
from the Park Commission's reports, and the official map 
showing the avenue parkways for connecting the mountain 
and Newark parks, was printed in pamphlet form and gen- 
erally distributed. 

On February 15, 1897, the commission received a re- 
quest from the Township Committee for "a conference as 
to the proposed parkways." This was held February 26. 

In the meanwhile the reader may wish to know what 
had been going on in the Park Board rooms. There was 
i: early as much activity over the question there as in East 
Orange. When the traction company showed its hands — 


or at least one hand— in November, 1896, differences at 
once arose as to the attitude oi the commission, and what 
position should be indicated to the East Orange authori- 
ties and the public. 

Commissioners Shepard and Murphy were disposed to 
deal very lightly with the subject, and to appear non-com- 
mittal as to any very clearly defined position on the real 
issue, which all recognized was whether we should stand 
independently and firmly for the parkways, or climb the 
neutral fence, trusting the settlement to the localities where 
the contest with the traction interests was actively in pro- 
gress. Commissioner Meeker and myself favored a dif- 
ferent policy. It was my conviction and contention that 
we should clearly and explicitly define our position, as a 
duty both to our charter and the people of the whole county, 
which duty I believed transcended any and all local inter- 
ests. Commissioner Peck was, so far as we could discover, 
already on neutral ground. On November 13, before the 
adoption of the resolution above quoted, requesting the 
avenues' transfer, I proposed a substitute preamble and 
resolution on the lines of my conviction just mentioned. 
I believed a more explicit statement from the commission 
to the freeholders and governing boards, alike due them 
and desirable. May 15 previous (1896), in writing Com- 
missioner Murphy regarding the general policy of the park- 
ways, and regarding Elizabeth avenue, where the same 
parkway-trolley question was involved, I said: "The mat- 
ter of parkway approaches to our larger county parks is 
so vitally important I believe we should now take the 
initiative and clearly define our position to the local gov- 
erning bodies and to the public. Having accepted the 
trust to locate, acquire, and develop the parks, it appears 
just as incumbent that we take the leadership in defining 
the approaches. Without such approaches and connective 
parkways from the centers of population, the county park 
system will be most defective and always open to criticism." 

After referring to the plans of the first commission, that 
*'new parkway construction in the built-up portions of tlxe 


county wotild be prohibitory, even were our appropriation 
double what it is," I added : 

"The situation in the Newark Board of Works brings 
this question to the fore, whether we will or no. We have 
either to meet it, or evade it. A hesitating policy will, I 
believe, place our board in a secondary position, alike ob- 
jectionable and disadvantageous. An uncertain position 
before the Newark local board, or elsewhere, will neither 
command respect for our opinions nor help public confi- 
dence in our official action. 

"For these reasons I am in favor of prompt and de- 
cisive action on this question. I would make such action 
broad, comprehensive, yet definite and concise. 

"Such a resolution as the form enclosed, will settle the 
question as to the attitude of our board on a very impor- 
tant matter, in which the people of the whole county are 
interested. The people have confidence in the commission ; 
they are anticipating a creditable system of parks and 
parkways, and will stand by the commission if we show 
by our acts that we are competent to execute the trust in 
laying out the park system." 


When I ascertained the actual situation in East Orange, 
in December, 1896, I took up the matter again, both at 
the Park Board meetings and personally with my col- 
leagues. January 3, 1897, I wrote each of the members 
as follows : "The matters referred to in the Stanley letter 
are so direct and important that our reply, it seems to 
me, should be equally explicit, if we are to retain the con- 
fidence of our friends and the public generally in dealing 
with the questions under consideration. The form of let- 
ter suggested by Mr. Munn will not, in my Judgment, an- 
swer the inquiries or allay the agitation in the public mind 
on the matters referred to." 

On January 16, 1897, I again wrote Mr. Murphy: "The 
governing bodies, press and public throughout the Oranges 
all appear to demand a clearer statement as to the atti- 


tude of the Park Commission on the points raised in the 
Stanley letter. 

"It has been, as you know, my conviction from the first, 
as stated at the meetings and as indicated in my letters 
to you and to my colleagues, that we should meet these 
important public questions promptly, fully and explicitly; 
and it is still my firm conviction that this is our only 
course if we are to avoid unjust suspicion and prejudice, 
and retain the confidence of the public — so vital to the 
present and future welfare of a great public undertaking." 

On January 26 I wrote Commissioner Shepard: "It 
seems to me that every day's delay in our defining clearly 
to the public the relations between the Park Commission 
and the local boards is resulting in serious detriment to 
the commission." And on February 10, "I am impressed 
that the action of the Township Committee last evening 
throws upon us an additional burden of responsibility as 
to our position toward that committee and the public on 
the matters we have recently been considering. 

"If our action in asking for the transfer of the avenues^ 
for parkways was right, should we not openly so state to our 
Township Committee friends our position on all the ques- 
tions involved, as a matter of mutual interest affecting the 
same constituency ? It seems to mie this cours is now incum- 
bent ; indeed, can we take any other ?" 

Again, March 6, 1897, I wrote Mr. Shepard: "I feel 
very anxious about the affairs of the commission, both as 
to our financial situation compared with the commitments 
and needs of the department ; and also as to the persistent 
effort that is being made to use the commission by acqui- 
escence in carrying out the schemes of the traction specu- 
lators and their allied politicians to the injury of the park 
system. The articles in the Newark papers of to-day, while 
no doubt inspired by the same influences that have all 
along been creating distrust and injury to the commission, 
yet assume a degree of assurance which maizes it appear as 
though the commission were favorable to the sacrifice of 
one of tlie parkways at the behest of the trolley interests." 


The Stanley letter, so-called, was received by the com- 
mission December 34, 1896. It was a long official letter 
from Edward 0. Stanley, then chairman of the Committee 
on Parks of the East Orange Township Committee. The 
letter asked many questions, but bore the imprint of sin- 
cerity and desire on the part of the writer, to have brushed 
aside the cobwebs of misapprehension which then existed 
in the minds of the committee and throughout East Orange 
as the outgrowth of the seeds of prejudice poison that had 
been scattered by the traction company's representatives 
there against the parkways and the Park Commission, since 
the latter had openly favored the avenues for another pur- 
pose than their surrender for private uses. 

The committee wished to know how the commission pro- 
posed to improve the avenues ; whether, should the transfer 
be made, a trolley lihe should be run there ; whether open- 
ings could be made by the township authorities for repair- 
ing gas mains, water pipes, etc., and made the request 
for a section plan of the avenues as they would appear 
when beautified and completed by the commission. 

In the Park Board these questions precipitated the sub- 
ject for a reply. It was evident that the platitudinous gen- 
eralities in the previous communications from the commis- 
sion were not sufficient to enable the parkway advocates to 
overcome the counter claims and assertions of the opposing 
corporation agents and representatives. 


On December 31, 1896, the landscape architects and engi- 
neers of the department made a report strongly reiterating 
their former "recommendations for extending Central ave- 
nue to connept with the larger mountain reservation," add- 
ing, "we have indicated upon the map an extension of this 
avenue from its present terminus at the Valley road to a 
point in Northfield avenue, and thence through Northfield 
avenue to the South Mountain Keservation. This exten- 
sion makes use of a depression in the mountain slope which 
will enable a parkway to be constructed upon an easy grade 


and will give a desirable and useful approach to the 

This report was in entire accord with the former reports 
of all the park-making specialists of both the first and 
second commissions. Frederick Law Olmsted who, prior 
to his retirement in 1897, and death in 1903, was accred- 
ited one of the greatest public park specialists known, had, 
in his firm's report of January, 1895, referred to Central 
and Park avenues as follows : 

"Essex County is already provided with streets generally 
called avenues, that are essentially parkways of a formal 
character leading to the foot of Orange Mountain. To 
make them all that is desirable for your purpose it is only 
necessary that suitable building lines should be established 
on their borders; that roads should extend from them on 
easy grades up the mountain, and that certain improve- 
ments of detail should be made in them"— a concise and 
axiomatic statement, the correctness of which, as applied 
to the avenue-parkway situation in Essex County, no one 
has ever attempted to refute or even question? 

At the Park Board meetings January 7 and 11, 1897, 
the reply to Chairman Stanley's letter was under consider- 
ation. Mr. Shepard presented and moved the adoption 
of a draft of letter in reply, which it was understood had 
been formulated or suggested by Counsel Munn. It con- 
tained these statements : 

"As the larger parks must be oiitside of thickly settled 
districts, the commission favors every reasonable plan for 
reaching these, in parkways or otherwise, quickly and at 
the lowest cost, and without interference with the busi- 
ness or occupation of citizens. 

"They recognize the fact that electricity is the coming 
power for the transportation of people in cities and su- 
burban places. They would like to see methods in opera- 
tion by which people could leave Newark and reach the 
Orange Mountain parks in fifteen minutes, and at a cost 
of three or not exceeding five cents. These same methods 
would, of course, enable people living in the country to 


reach their business or employment in JSTewark day by day 
in the same short time and at the same low cost." 

As these were almost the identical "arguments" that 
were then being used to secure a franchise by the traction 
company's representatives in East Orange, and as used 
before the freeholders, two years before, for the same pur- 
pose, and as it seemed as though any person in reading 
such a statement might have — as of some of the utterances 
on the same subject by the commission later — some doubt 
as to whether the commission really wanted the parkways, 
in preference to having the trolley on the avenues, there 
was immediate objection. Even Commissioner Murphy 
thought the statement needed modification. As I was de- 
cided that such a reply would increase the feeling of in- 
definite uncertainty as to the attitude of the commission, 
rather than alleviate it, I there wrote out and presented 
the following: 

"Eesolved, That a full and explanatory statement of 
the position of this board relative to the care, custody, and 
control of Central and Park avenues be transmitted to 
the governing bodies directly interested." 

Commissioners Murphy and Shepard at once objected 
to the resolution. Finally, after a lengthy informal dis- 
cussion, the following reply, as a compromise answer to 
the Stanley committee's inquiries, was agreed upon, and 
it was promptly sent to Chairman Stanley. 


"The object of the Park Commission in asking for the 
care, custody, and control of Central and Park avenues 
was to incorporate them in a system of public parks, and 
avoid the necessity of creating new and costly parkways 
to reach the mountain parks. They recognize the fact 
that these avenues are already great public thoroughfares, 
and they do not propose to interfere with the existing 
rights of property owners and municipal governments, but 
to put the avenues on a more decided parkway footing 
than can be done as long as they may be outside of the 


control of the Park Commission. They would prefer that 
rapid transit ways and parkways should be kept separate, 
but they will not oppose the wish of the majority of the 
property owners and municipal governments in this mat- 
ter. If rapid transit tracks are to be put on Central ave- 
nue, the question should be decided at once; but it is not 
the part of the Park Commission to make this decision 
under existing conditions. It is, however, in our opinion, 
inconsistent to attempt to operate a trolley road on a park- 
way only one hundred feet wide. 

"In response to the request for section plan and detail, 
it seems to be unnecessary for the Park Commission to 
take up that question until the local governing body de- 
cides the main proposition. If these avenues are not to 
become parkways, further details will not be required." 

The effect of this communication was distinctly unfavor- 
able. The resulting action of the Township Committee 
was, as already stated, a prompt declination of the com- 
mission's request. Some of the leading papers were out- 
spoken in their criticism of the Park Board's position. 
The day following, January 12, 1897, the Newark News, 
under an editorial caption, "The Eeticent Park Board," 
in referring to the Stanley letter and the commission's 
reply, said: 

"These were fair and reasonable questions. They were 
not answered; they were even treated with scant courtesy 
by the sending of a reply that the commissioners' pro- 
posed to construct parkways. The reasons for secrecy which 
existed in regard to the purchase of lands and locations 
of parks certainly do not apply to the extension or improve- 
ment of public highways." And again, February 4, "That 
the application of the Park Commission was refused was 
partly due, no doubt, to the manner in which that body 
chose to preserve its air of dignified silence." 

These and similar expressions were in marked contrast 
to the almost unanimous sentiment of the press favorable 
to the avenues' transfer, when the plan and resolution of 
the commission were made public the previous November. 


An aroused public sentiment in East Orange was, however, 
doing its work. When the conference between the com- 
mission and the Township Committee as arranged for Feb- 
ruary 26, 1897, already alluded to, was held, it was ap- 
parent that something of a change had come over each 
board. The commissioners had a meeting an hour before 
the appointed time. All the members then recognized that 
something more was demanded than the previous glitter- 
ing platitudes as to the parkways. 

Commissioner Shepard was delegated to speak for the 
board, and did so. A formal statement was agreed upon. 
It answered directly most of the questions that had been 
asked by the committee. Sketches were shown of the pros- 
pective treatment of the parkways. There was to be no 
obstacle to the construction or repair by the local authori- 
ties of gas or water pipes. Sprinkling would be consid- 
ered a part of the maintenance. The transfer "could not 
in any way interfere with vested rights," either of tjje 
property owners or of the municipality. The question as 
to trolley roads on the avenues "should be decided by the 
property owners and the municipal authorities before the 
proposed transfer," for, with the present width of the ave- 
nues, "it would not be expedient for the Park Commission 
to accept the care of the remaining part, with the attend- 
ing expense, as it is too narrow to admit of parkway treat- 
ment, and the expense attending the care would not be a 
proper use of park funds." Willingness on the part of 
the commission "to do everything in its power to add to 
the existing attractions in East Orange" was expressed, 
and a general spirit of co-operation on the part of the 
board was extended. 


The Township Committee conferees were also to all ap- 
pearances in a friendly and receptive mood. The whole 
situation was quite fully gone over. The question of widen- 
ing the avenues was adversely considered, owing to the 
prohibitory cost. The policeing and lighting matters were 


satisfactorily disposed of ; likewise the details as to surface 
embellishment. And the opinion was expressed by the 
commission, that after the transfer "the trolley people 
would find it necessary to have the consent of the Park 
Commission, in addition to that of the municipality, the 
Board of Freeholders and the property owners, as now." 
Then Committeeman Crippen put this poser of a question : 

"Now, I want to ask if the Park Commission proposes 
to bring the trolley if it gets possession of the avenues?" 

The reply must have been a surprise to some of those 
who had relied upon the statements and insinuations of 
the traction company's agents and attorneys, for Commis- 
sioner Shepard promptly declared that "the trolley had 
never even been considered." 

Finally the understanding was reached that the town's 
disposal works would, if transferred to the commission, be 
accepted for a park, and that if the avenues were trans- 
ferred, the commission would promptly proceed with the 
work of improving them into parkways. The conference 
was then closed. 

When the Township Committee members met the com- 
mission face to face, and ascertained that there was no in- 
tention of running away with the avenues, or of proceed- 
ing at once to place trolleys upon them, or of "keeping 
out the poor people" by the closed gates process ; then there 
was, with the irresistible public sentiment of their East 
Orange constituents behind the transfer movement, no 
longer any delay or question as to the result. On March 
15, 1897, the Township Committee, by a unanimous vote, 
passed the ordinance, as prepared by the Park Committee, 
transferring both Park and Central avenues in East Orange 
to the Park Commission for parkways, and, by the same 
vote at the same meeting, the "trolley ordinance" for Cen- 
tral avenue, then on second reading, was killed. At an- 
other conference soon afterward between the commission 
and the Township Committee all the details of transfer 
were finally agreed upon. 

The popular verdict had won, and the curtain had been 


rung down on the first act in this great play of the cor- 
porations against the people. 

While the contest was being waged, one of the local com- 
mittees, in order to test the sentiment of all the people 
of East Orange, obtained, through a return postal card 
vote, an expression on the question, which declared a pref- 
erence, by a majority of more than fhree to one, in favor 
of the parkway for Central avenue to the exclusion of the 
trolley there, by a direct vote of more than one-half of 
the entire electorate of the township. 

Soon after the transfer ordinance was passed the Park 
Commission, on April 20, 1897, on receipt of a certified 
copy of the ordinance, formally accepted the avenues as 
transferred. The matter was thus considered closed by 
the people, who had confidence in the commission, except- 
ing, perhaps, all of those who knew of the determination 
and resource of the traction company, and recognized that 
the transfer proposition had still to run the gauntlet of 
both the Board of Freeholders and the city authorities of 
Orange, in both of which boards the corporation interests 
were, as was then currently understood, well entrenched. 

Again the scene of activity had shifted — ^not now to the 
court, nor for the parks, but to destroy the contemplated 
parkways, and to secure, if possible, regardless of cost or 
effort, another almost priceless county road franchise. 



As an army, in taking every possible advantage of its 
opponent, uses pickets, scouts and spies in its preliminary 
operations; so a great and opulent corporation, bent upon 
securing from the public valuable franchises, not infre- 
quently uses cunning attorneys and not over-scrupulous 
politicians, both in and out of office; and, by liberal con- 
tributions to both political parties, secures the service of 
the party boss ; who, prior to the public awakening for better 
civic conditions in November, 1905, and through the apathy 
of good citizens generally, had become such a legislative fac- 
tor in State, county and local affairs. 

While this kind of self-interest, masquerading under the 
name of any party, constitutes a condition which is neither 
Eepubliean, Democratic, Populistic nor Socialistic, but is 
essentially oligarchic — the poison germ, which soon forms 
the rotten core in any free government; yet this is, never- 
theless, a situation that must" continue to be recognized and 
appreciated by the people, if an adequate remedy is to be 

At the time the incidents related in the preceding chap- 
ter were formulating, in December,' 1896, the traction com- 
pany made application also for a Central avenue franchise 
in Orange. In the southern part of the city, as in East 
Orange, there was a contingent of the population which 
needed, and honestly favored, better east and west transit 
facilities to and from Newark. The large majority of the 
people earnestly and heartily favored the parkways and 
the locations of the lines of trolley extension in streets 
south of, and parallel with, Central avenue, where the 
facilities were needed. The corporate interests and in- 



fluences referred to determined that the result should be 

IN A committee's HANDS. 

The application to the Orange Common Council from 
the Park Commission for the transfer of the avenue was, 
on its receipt, promptly referred to the Street Committee. 
The chairman was Henry Stetson, who was one of the few 
men in Orange who had, with Mayor Seymour and others 
in Newark, strongly objected from the first to an appointive 
commission. "It's all wrong," Mr. Stetson said to me, 
when the plans for the first Park Commission were under 
way. He then assured me, as afterward, that he opposed 
that plan on principle. That he was emphatic in his ob- 
jections no one who knew him, I think, had any reason to 
doubt. His views were not in the least modified when, in 
1895, the second commission was appointed and the con- 
trol of that board and its large appropriation was made 
politically Eepublican. Like the Massachusetts Democrat 
in that far-famed home of Eepublicanism during the ex- 
citing 1860-65 war times, he was thereafter, in parkway 
matters, unceasingly, and it seemed almost intuitively, 
"agin" the prevailing order of things. 

The possession of the two ordinances, in January, 1897, 
apparently gave Mr. Stetson and his followers their oppor- 
tunity. They were not slow in availing themselves of it. 
Theretofore the rule of procedure in the City Council had 
been that when the owners of a majority frontage on an 
avenue or street petitioned for an improvement, unless 
some legal or financial obstacle were in the way, the request 
would be granted. There had then just been presented to 
the Mayor and City Council petitions from the property 
owners on both avenues in favor of the parkways and 
"against the granting of any and all franchises on Cen- 
tral avenue for any purpose whatever, as such action on 
your part would embarrass the action of the Park Com- 

This petition for Central avenue bore the signature of 


every resident on the avenue in Orange, and represented a 
frontage ownership of 8,106, out of a total of 9,213 feet. 
The Park avenue petition was still nearer unanimous of 
all the property owners there. All of the local civic or- 
ganizations, without a dissenting vote, took the same po- 
sition. The local papers were outspoken and emphatic on 
similar lines. 


The plans of the Park Commission, with the official maps 
showing the location of the two Avenue parkways, were be- 
fore the public. During the first six months of 1897 con- 
stant appeals were made to the City Council and to the 
members there to pass the transfer ordinance. Some of the 
council members joined in the request that the transfer 
ordinance, without further delay, be favorably reported. 
But it was "in committee," and there it was held, until 
at the council meeting, July 13, 1897, it was reported — 
and then adversely. The report was a rambling present- 
ment, criticizing the Park Commission; claiming the com- 
mittee could not obtain from that board information it 
desired and had sought at a conference held at the commis- 
sion's rooms a short time before ; that "Orange had not been 
liberally treated" in the commission's plans; and was un- 
friendly in tone throughout. The principal excuse, as 
given in the report, was that the committee had in reality 
not been able to procure satisfactory replies from the com- 
mission. This view was apparently coincided in by some of 
the papers. 

On June 20, 1897, when the conference with the com- 
mission alluded to was reported, the Newark Call made this 
editorial comment: "The Essex County Park Commission 
still maintains a discreet silence as to its intentions in 
regard to Central avenue, and all the attempts of the dif- 
ferent municipalities to find out the treatment the avenue 
is to receive are met with glittering generalities." 

Most of the county papers took the other view, and the 
Orange papers were up in arms directly the action of the 


City Council was known. The Newark News editorial the 
day following on "The Inconsistency of the Orange Coun- 
cil" said: "It is difficult to understand, on any ground of 
public spirit or public policy, the refusal of the Orange 
City Council to assent to the transfer of Central and Park 
avenues to the care and control of the Park Commission," 
and, after answering at length the claims of the Street 
Committee, added: "It would be easy to show the clumsy 
inconsistency of the report and resolutions. It (the Street 
Committee) proclaims that it knows no good reason why 
those avenues should continue to be special wards of the 
county, and just below expresses its satisfaction with their 
maintenance at the general county expense by the free- 

The Orange Chronicle said that the opposition had been 
centered on Central avenue, "the latter being a possible 
plum for a trolley line"; adding, "Will some one who be- 
lieves that the council did right please explain? The 
action was taken without a single word of open debate, 
and in the face of eloquent and able pleas by prominent 
citizens. In language, the report of the Street Committee 
is verbose, ambiguous, and involved in pessimistically im- 
pugning the Park Commission." 

The Journal also commented at length upon the coun- 
cil's action, and said, among other things : "The Common 
Council has thus placed the city in a false and embarrass- 
ing position, which would be repudiated by its citizens if 
they had the opportunity to express themselves on the sub- 
ject at the polls." 

Counsel J. L. Munn, in a statement July 13, the day 
after the council's refusal to make the transfer, no doubt 
struck the keynote of the whole situation, from his stand- 
point, in saying, as reported in the News: "The root of 
the matter is that the trolley company desires a franchise 
on Central avenue, and there are many who favor it. Per- 
haps, under the circumstances, it would not be best to 
transfer Central avenue into a boulevard^for pleasure ve- 
hicles or bicycles. But that is simply one phase of th? 


question." Events, as they afterward transpired, duly em- 
phasized this statement. 

In D'ecember, 1897, through the active interest of lead- 
ing citizens of Orange, in co-operation with some of the 
members of the Common Council who had become earn- 
estly favorable to the passage of the transfer ordinance, the 
matter was again taken up. An effort was made to fore- 
stall and answer the objections that had been raised against 
the previous transfer ordinance. The opposition had be- 
come extremely solicitous (?) for fear the property owners 
in and adjacent to the avenues might be assessed for spe- 
cial benefits, although none of the property owners resid- 
ing on or owning property there had made that objection. 
A clause was, therefore, inserted in the new ordinance, 
"that the Park Commission shall not institute proceedings 
that will result in the condemnation of rights of property 
owners in their land, or levy any assessment for any im- 
provements made to the avenues." Thomas A. Davis was 
then the city counsel. He advised that the proviso was 
sufficiently clear and explicit. Thus it seemed to the aver- 
age reader and those favorable to the parkways; and, at 
the Orange council meeting January 3, 1898, the new 
ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote of 16 to 0. But 
the anxiety of the opposition for the safety of the property 
owners from assessments was not appeased. A new flank 
movement was conceived. This is the way it was executed. 


At the Park Board meeting January 11, a communica- 
tion was received from the Street Committee of the 
City Council advising that there was to be a meeting of 
the committee that same evening to consider the avenue 
transfer question. It was decided that Counsel Munn 
should attend. He was present. He was accompanied by 
Engineer Cole to meet the city conferees of the Street Com- 
mittee, President Snyder of the council and Counsel Davis. 
The reader must draw his own inferences as to vs^hat oc- 
curred in that meeting, for the reports were then, as since, 


conflicting as to the facts. One of the city officials who 
was present at the conference stated for publication the 
next morning: "You can take this as inspired prophecy — 
that Central avenue will never be made a parkway, but 
the commissioners want it to turn over to the trolley com- 
panies for roads to the mountain parks; while Park ave- 
nue will be widened and the entire cost of making it a 
parkway will be borne by owners of abutting property, un- 
less a decided and united stand is taken now by those 
interests, and the commissioners are compelled to take the 
public into their confidence and tell them what they intend 

This and similar public comments were looked upon un- 
favorably as regards the Park Commission. Intimations 
of bad faith were, by the doubting ones, freely expressed. 
The counsel and, by the statements accredited to him, the 
commission itself, were both placed on the defensive. Coun- 
sel Munn soon afterward made a lengthy report of the 
meeting to the commission. 

The gist of it was that he had previously replied to 
the inquiries of Counsel T. A. Davis as to widening the 
avenues: First, that a transfer made under Section 18 of 
the park act did "not alter the status of such avenues as 
existing public highways" ; second, did not confer upon the 
Essex County Park Commission the power to widen said 
avenues; or, third, the right to make assessments. That 
"no revolutionary subversion of these avenues has been 
thought possible by the Park Commission," but, "if at 
any future time it shall be deemed necessary or advisable 
to widen these avenues at any point or place, new and 
different proceedings will have to be instituted under the 
other powers of the park act, and the whole matter will 
then proceed as if 'this present contemplated action had 
not been taken." 

The conference, the report stated, was of "a pleasant and 
agreeable character"; also stated that the ordinance pend- 
ing before the Common Council "was unobjectionable in 
form, except for one clause therein" — the restrictive clause 


"not to institute proceedings at any time for the purpose of 
widening such avenues" or for "making any assessments," 
etc. This clause, the counsel reported he said to the com- 
mittee, "was probably against public policy and void, and 
the Park Commission might decide not to accept the care, 
custody, and control of the avenues with such a provision 
inserted"; and further stated that he had advised that 
"there was no such reason for hasty action as to require a 
decision upon the question by the Orange Common Council 
at its next meeting." 

The publication of this so-called report brought out a 
vigorous rejoinder of even greater length from Council- 
man Stetson, as published in the Call of January 30, 1898. 
In this reply, after reference to the erroneous "inference 
that the letter of Mr. Munn was perfectly lucid and cleaj 
in its replies to City Counsel Davis' letter of inquiries," 
Mr. Stetson contended that it "was not deemed so by a 
majority of the members of the Orange council" ; that "it 
was not until the conference held on the eleventh instant 
that Mr. Munn gave information which might be deemed 
adequate"; that "Mr. Munn stated over and over again 
to the committee that the Park Commission had not the 
power to levy an assessment; but it did not follow from 
that that no assessment would be levied. The Park Com- 
mission can go to the courts and ask for the appointment 
of a commission to levy assessments. So you see the Park 
Commission really wouldn't levy assessments, but there is 
a way, all right, by which the assessments can, and doubt- 
less would, be collected. Mr. Munn admitted this frankly, 
and he did not say that the Park Commission would not 
take that course." 

The letter then reiterates the position of objection as 
from one "who voted to refuse the request" of the com- 
mission for the transfer of the avenue; adding, "I have 
not as yet seen any good reason for changing the opinion 
then held," and proceeds to again score a point unfavor- 
able to an appointive commission. 

Among the City Council members who at that time were 


actively in favor of the avenue's transfer, was the president, 
Edward H. Snyder. On January 15, 1898, three days 
after the conference referred to, Mr. Snyder came to my 
office in New York and confirmed what Councilman Stet- 
son afterward publicly stated, as above quoted. Mr. Snyder 
then made quite a full statement of what occurred on 
January 11, which was written out by my stenographer at 
the time.- In that statenient, now before me, is the fol- 
lowing : 

"Colonel Snyder says that Mr. Munn stated in the con- 
ference at the outset, that the ordinance would not be 
satisfactory to the Park Commission and that, if it was 
passed in its present form and thus accepted by the com- 
mission, he should advise going into court to have the 
restriction relative to levying assessments nullified. Stated 
further that assessments could not be levied unless the 
avenue was widened. Looking toward Mr. Stetson, he 
remarked that 'you want the trolley on Central ^ avenue,' 
adding that if the avenues were transferred and not wid- 
ened there ould be no trolley on Central avenue; but if 
they were widened, assessments could be levied and ar- 
rangements made for the trolley. Further stated that there 
was no hurry about the transfer ; that the commission could 
not improve the avenues at present, and stated that the 
ordinance had better remain as it was for two or three 

"Colonel Snyder says that he was greatly surprised at 
Munn's statements, and that after the conference Mr. Stet- 
son said to him (Colonel Snyder) that he did not know 
what to make of what Munn had said. 

"Colonel Snyder also said that he did not know how 
much I knew about what was going on, but that he was 
satisfied, and almost knew, that some scheme was going 
on with the Park Commission to get the trolley on Central 

"He also stated that, at the close of the conference, Mr. 
Stetson asked him to repeat to Mayor Gill what took place 
at the conference, which he did, quoting the same state- 


ments as he has to me, and said that the Mayor thereupon 
appeared greatly surprised at Munn's position. 

"Munn inquired how the question as to the avenues 
came to be brought up at this time — no one could answer." 


In attending the City Council meeting two days later, 
January 17, 1898, I asked Mr. Stetson regarding this con- 
ference, and told him the substance of Colonel Snyder's 
statement to me. He replied that the statement was cor- 
rect; that Munn said "that, if the avenues were widened, 
the trolley could be arranged for, and we were given to 
understand that the commission favored a trolley on Cen- 
tral avenue," and that he (Stetson) thought "the com- 
mission wanted the avenue for the franchise." This con- 
versation was brief, but Colonel Snyder had gone over the 
subject fully. His bearing was unassuming and earnest; 
his manner and conversation straightforward, and evi- 
dently sincere. The statements troubled me, and I knew 
meant trouble for the Park Commission^ and the more 
from what had gone before. 

After the contest over the parkways had begun in East 
Orange, in November, 1896, and during the early part 
of 1897, as described in the preceding chapter, a number 
of friends in Bast Orange, some of them neighbors of Coun- 
sel Munn, had come to me, or in conversation regarding the 
parkways had warned me to "look out for Munn," stating 
that they believed, regardless of whatever he might say or 
do before the Park Commission, that he secretly favored, 
and would work for, the trolley company "every chance he 
could get." My answer to these charges was in each in- 
stance in substance the same, viz. : "While thus far Munn's 
conduct as counsel had 'not been satisfactory,' I had not 
yet discovered any evidence that he was not carrying out 
the instructions of the commission regarding the park- 



"Do you expect to catch a weasel asleep?" replied one 
■who had spoken to me on the subject. "Do you think the 
counsel would go around with a brass band, and a traction 
placard on his back, if he were really doing this business ?" 
said another. I admitted that no such expectations could 
be reasonably entertained; but these were not, under the 
circumstances, pleasant reflections. I was aware of Coun- 
sel Munn's action in revoking his former consent to the 
traction company, during the height of the excitement in 
East Orange, in January, 1897. His letter, canceling the 
consent for a railroad he had previously given for more 
than three hundred feet frontage on Central avenue, was 
an autograph letter as follows: 

"To the Township Committee, Township of East Orange: 
"If there is any attempt to use the consent given by 
me several years ago to the application on behalf of the 
Eapid Transit Company for a franchise for its street rail- 
way on Central avenue — as a consent to a new application 
or to any application for such purpose at this time by any 
organization, I hereby give notice of my protest against 
such use. 

"And I hereby withdraw, revoke and annul any and all 
consents heretofore given by me, or by Mary P. Munn, 
whose sole heir at law I am, for the location or building 
of any street railway on Central avenue in East Orange. 

"Joseph L. Munn. 
"January 9, 1897." 

This revocation was, however, a year prior to the con- 
ference with the Street Committee in Orange, and to the 
"inspired prophecy" just quoted, and of the current rumors 
of Counsel Munn's real purpose in January, 1898. While 
my term as commissioner had expired in April, 1897, I 
had known much of what was going on in the Park Board 
rooms, and was forced to the conviction that the state- 


ments and the constantly recurring reports and insinua- 
tions against the counsel demanded attention. That 
the traction people were much encouraged by the 
"Orange conference" was indicated by the formal ap- 
plication directly afterward, on January 19, 1898, of the 
Consolidated Traction Company to the Board of Freehold- 
ers for a franchise and permission to locate tracks on Park 
avenue and on Central avenue through Orange and East 
Orange, and by a statement from Manager David Young 
before the Ampere Improvement Association of Newark on 
February 10 following. 


After then explaining how "we came here, trying to get 
Central avenue, but the people kicked us out, and wouldn't 
have anything to do with us, but we are coming again some 
of these days," Mr. Young made this prognosticating state- 
ment : "The way in which residents in this beautiful town- 
ship are to reach their homes is to have the trolley on the 
avenues. Park and Central, and then get off at the cross 
streets and go to their homes. You cannot have a park- 
way on a one hundred-foot roadway. It is out of all 
reason, never has been done, and never will be." 

When it is remembered that it was on March 15, 1897, 
less than eleven months previous, that the East Orange 
authorities had, in response to the emphatic mandate of 
public opinion, and without a dissenting vote, passed the 
parkway ordinance and rejected the Consolidated Traction 
Company's application, and that these statements were 
made within thirty days after the parkways conference in 
Orange, and the new application for the avenues above men- 
tioned, the coincidence was indeed significant. 

Whatever may have been the intention of the Park 
Board's counsel and the opposition to the parkways, or, 
perhaps, more correctly speaking, the forces working for the 
trolley interests, the practical result of befuddling the whole 
question, was, apparently to those favoring that course, 
most gratifying. Some of the members of the Orange 

Contest for parkways continued 307 

Common Council at the time, stated that it had been the 
intention to pass the transfer ordinance on third and final 
reading at the meeting, February 7, 1898. Public senti- 
ment and the press were as unitedly in favor of that action 
as had been the people in East Orange the year before. 
Excepting for the objection raised by the commission's own 
counsel and the local Orange objectors referred to, there 
was not a discordant note unfavorable to the parkways or to 
the action. Once the conference controversy became public, 
the conditions favorable to early and unanimous action by 
the City Council, as had obtained in January, were changed 
to those of uncertainty. The Newark papers elaborated on 
the points. "Abutting property to bear the cost of widening 
county roads;" "Orange residents up in arms against the 
scheme;" "Little probability that the Orange Common 
Council will agree to transfer Park and Central avenues," 
These were some of the heavy type captions of the articles 
giving an account of the Orange conference in the Newark 
papers of January 36, 1898. 


Having an appreciation of these conditions, and not then 
being a member of the Park Board, I wrote the commission 
February 10, 1898 : "The situation here is assuming such 
proportions in the undercurrents of public opinion that I 
feel it a duty I owe to the park enterprise, and to you as the 
present responsible representatives, to call your attention to 
the matter. The statements made by Counsel Munn to the 
Street Committee of the Common Council here at the con- 
ference on the eleventh ultimo, are likely to give rise to com- 
plications that may seriously endanger park interests ;" and 
"the vital difficulty is the vantage ground given the oppo- 
nents of the commission and of the park undertaking, from 
the alleged statements made by Mr. Munn at the conference. 
The presentment, coming as it did directly from him, as 
counsel to your board, is accepted by many as official and 
representing the majority of the commission. 


"I believe the conviction is almost universally shared in 
by the public that it is not only the province, but quite 
within the limits of duty, for the counsel of a public board, 
to defend the charter creating it — not to attack or assail it, 
either as to what it contains or what it was clearly intended 
it should not contain. 

"If the alleged statements are correct, the counsel of the 
commission came before the official representatives of the 
second city of the county, and gave those gentlemen, to un- 
derstand confidentially — 'not for the reporters' — ^that if the 
copditions (against widening the avenues and of assess- 
ment for benefits) are left in the ordinance in entire accord 
with the acknowledged limitations of the charter, and like- 
wise in strict accord with what has repeatedly been an- 
nounced as the definite plan and purpose of the commission, 
that such restriction might be deemed as 'against public 
policy and void,' and perhaps hereafter a court asked to 
nullify a condition which it was never intended should be 
other than restrictive, in so far as it applied to existing 
avenues or streets that might be transferred under the 18th 
section of the present park law ;" that "this has placed the 
friends of the commission in all this portion of the county 
on the defensive, to explain, and, if not officially corrected, 
will be likely to unfavorably affect the additional park ap- 
propriation bill at the polls when the question is submitted 
to the electorate at the coming spring election." 

Similar views were expressed personally and officially to 
the commissioners by others. On March 2, 1898, John D. 
Everett wrote Commissioner P. M. Shepard, and, after ex- 
pressing the doubts in his own mind, referred to the park- 
way situation in these words: "There were, and are, no 
doubts in the minds of the good people of Orange since the 
conference of the Street Committee of the Orange Common 
Council with Mr. Munn and some one else representing the 
Park Commission on January 11 last. 

"It is publicly reported and generally believed in Orange, 
by both Eepublicans and Democrats, that Mr. Munn stated 
to the Street Committee that the ordinance, which had 


passed one reading, was unsatisfactory to the Park Commis- 
sion, and that if passed and- accepted in its present form, 
he would advise the commission to go into court to have 
certain restrictions relative to assessment and widening 
nullified as contrary to public policy. That he turned to 
Mr. Stetson and said : 'You want a trolley on Central ave- 
nue, well, there can't be a trolley there without widening 
the avenue, and we cannot widen the avenue without an 
Although under the resolution of the Park Commission of 
assessment.' " 

November 12, 1896, requesting the transfer of the avenues, 
for parkways, it was specifically made the duty of "the 
counsel to obtain, if possible," such transfer from the free- 
holders and local governing bodies, no action on these and 
similar communications was taken by the commission. In- 
quiries and appeals were being continuously sent to ascer- 
tain just what the attitude of that board would be in view 
of the conflicting statements then current. Finally, at the 
Park Board meeting of March 4, 1898, a letter was received 
from Colonel E. H. Snyder, as president of the Orange City 
Council, asking the direct question as to the intention of 
the commission regarding the avenues. The following reply 
and authorized statement was the same day made public : 

PAEK commission's EEPLT. 

"The Park Commission does not intend to widen Park 
or Central avenue in the city of Orange, and is advised that 
the transfer of the care, custody, and control of those ave- 
nues does not confer upon the commission the power to 
widen them. It follows, therefore, that the Park Commis- 
sion cannot make assessment on abutting property." 

To many of the active supporters of the park movement 
and those having confidence in the commissioners rather 
than in the confusing and contradictory statements to the 
contrary accredited their own counsel, this concise promise 
of intention was accepted as made in good faith and ap- 
peared to settle the question on the points indicated. To 


the opposition and all tliose under corporation influences 
favoring a railroad on one or both of the avenues, the state- 
ment had Just the reverse effect. The experience in East 
Orange the year before w&s in many respects repeated. The 
method of Manager David Young and the tactics of Coun- 
sel James B. Dill there, in sowing the seed of doubt and 
suspicion as to the commission's intention, were again ac- 
tively though quietly promulgated. The contention that 
Central avenue at least "would never be made a parkway" 
"was continuously and with increasing aggressiveness re- 
peated, notwithstanding the promises held out in the second 
annual report of the commission for 1897, issued early in 
1898, and as quoted in Chapter IX. This report 
confirmed the official map made public early in 1897, indi- 
cating both avenues as parkways, by the statement that "a 
system of parkways has been determined upon which forms 
the final feature of park development." This was also ac- 
ceptable to many as conclusive that the commission could be 
relied upon to defend its own plans, especially as in this 
same report, in asking for another appropriation of $1,500,- 
000, this statement (page 18 of the report) was made : "But 
for the more perfect development of the parks, for the ac- 
quirement of some further lands to improve the outlines of 
these parks, and especially for the expense of parkways, the 
need of which becomes more obvious as the system is de- 
veloped and appreciated, the commission estimates that a 
further sum of $1,500,000 is needed. And this sum is, in 
the estimation of the commission, all that ought to be ex- 
pended for acquirement and development of the system as 
laid out and designated." 


These implied promises, following those theretofore made 
regarding the parkways, were considered a definite pledge of 
the commission, and the bill authorizing the additional ap- 
propriation having been passed by the Legislature and 
approved February 31, 1898, was favorably voted on by the 


electorate of the county at the spring election, April 31 

The same report, of 1897, in referring to the parkways 
(page 15), also contained a clause which was at once con- 
strued by many as a sop to the traction interests. It was 
thus treated by the opposition as another evidence that the 
Park Commission was not, after all, averse to a "trolley on 
the avenue," when it officially there stated : "The location 
of the county parks will induce, no doubt, the rapid transit 
company to seek ways of approach thereto, and the commis- 
sion will aid this endeavor so far as, in its judgment, is con- 
sistent with park treatment and use. Parks must be made 
accessible to the people, and any reasonable plan for rapid 
transit will be favored by the commission. In fact, almost 
all the parks are now accessible and by different routes." 

This feature of the commission's report in inserting a 
"but," an "and" or an "if," became a marked characteristic 
of its later utterances on the parkway question; and, in- 
deed, to an extent that was as bewildering to its most loyal 
friends and supporters as it was encouraging to the opposi- 
tion, which was steadily and unceasingly making the most 
of every opportunity to take advantage, either of dissension 
or uncertainty, to advance the scheme of appropriation of 
the avenues for railroad uses. This was distinctly the effect 
in Orange. Councilman Stetson had, at the spring election 
in 1898, been chosen Mayor. It was currently reported, and 
not to my knowledge ever denied, that the traction company 
made an exceedingly liberal contribution then, as afterward, 
to his "campaign expenses." His prestige as Mayor in op- 
posing the avenues' transfer was proportionately increased, 
for now he had the veto power, which, under the system of 
government in this country, whether with the President, 
the Governor of a State, or the Mayor of a city, is a 
powerful leverage. 

The transfer ordinance continued to slumber in posses- 
sion of the Street Committee. The pleadings by press and 
public urging further action by the Park Commission con- 
tinued, On July 27, 1898, Maj^or Stetson sent a special 


message to the City Council beginning: "At this time, 
when you have before you for consideration the ordinances 
in relation to the transfer of Park and Central avenues to 
the Essex County Park Commission, I would respectfully 
call your attention to the following : 

"Now that the courts have decided legal the proposed 
issue of park bonds by the Park Commission, and the same 
are about to be sold, and the work suspended by the com- 
mission on account of the lack of funds will no doubt be 
pushed, it would seem to be an opportune time to direct the 
attention of the Park Commission to the desirability of the 
establishment of a park, centrally located, within the limits 
of the city of Orange. There are at the present time several 
desirable sites which could be purchased at moderate cost, 
upon which there are few, if any, buildings." 

The appointment of a committee is then recommended 
"to confer with the Park Commission with this end in 
view," and the message closes with a commendation of the 
Street Committee "for the good work the street department 
is doing on the streets." 


Excepting the opening paragraph quoted, not a word was 
mentioned regarding the real question then before the coun- 
cil — the disposition of the avenues transfer ordinance, 
which was then "put over." The Orange park was at that 
time well under improvement, and the Mayor knew, when he 
wrote that message, the difficulty and objection in the com- 
mission to locating even that favorable site for an Orange 
park. The practical effect of the message was to show the 
intention of the opposition to still further create discussion 
and issue over the main question. It had this effect on some 
of the members of the City Council. The document had, 
Jiowever, with the other influences referred to, the effect on 
the Park Commission of inducing that board to give out an- 
other statement. This was presented by Commissioner 
Bramhall at the meeting of the Orange Common Council 
July 8, 1898. There were also present Commissioners Shep- 


ard and Peck, and Counsel Munn of the park department. 
George Lethbridge, president of the council, presided. 

The statement was conciliatory and explanatory, and be- 
gan: "If there are any differences between the boards in 
conference here to-night, I am sure they are due to a mis- 
understanding and not to cross purposes. Both are public 
bodies seeking public good, and the action we desire the 
council to take is, we thinlc, decidedly for the welfare of 
the city, as much as for the welfare of the county. Indeed, 
our request seems so little for you to grant that we are sur- 
prised that the necessity for it should arise.' 

Assurances were then given that the commission "does 
not desire you to lessen one particle the municipal control 
you now exercise" or "to abridge in the slightest the rights 
of the property holders. We merely wish to be substituted 
for the Board of Chosen Freeholders, because the Park 
Commission is the only county board that has authority to 
beautify these thoroughfares and raise them above the level 
of ordinary streets. We ask you simply the privilege of 
adorning the streets of your city at county expense, and 
therefore I say it is surprising that any reluctance on your 
part should exist." 

Then the commission's previous official statement, as to 
the non-intention to widen the avenues or attempt to assess 
benefits, was reiterated. Answer was also made to the claims 
of the traction company's representatives that the transfer 
would give the commission the right to at once permit trol- 
leys on the avenues, in these words : "It has been asserted 
that we could turn over the parkways to the trolley. On 
the contrary, the consent of the council and of the property 
owners would be necessary as now, and our action is 
final only in matters relating entirely to decorative 

An informal exchange of views followed. Commissioner 
Shepard said that "small parks were more in the nature of 
play-grounds than they were of parks, and that, as such, 
they came unde? the control of the municipalities and could 
jRot be indude^ in a general scheme of the entire county," 



After Counsel Miuui had given a somewhat confusing 
reply to the widening and assessment question, the transfer 
ordinance was talcen up. The commission then peremptor- 
ily declined to accept the ordinance as it stood, particularly 
the section binding its successors never to apply "to any 
court or other power" for the right to levy assessments for 
the improvement of the avenues. This, notwithstanding 
the first section of the charter, in creating "such Board of 
Park Commissioners and their successors a body politic," 
then, as now, gives the commissioners ample authority to 
act for their successors, as, indeed, in most practical affairs, 
they had theretofore always done, and, from the necessities 
of the case, must continue to do, so long as the commission, 
under its present charter, exists. This right and prerogative 
has been, from the first transaction, unequivocally estab- 
lished, and is constantly exercised in the acquirement of 
land for parks and parlcways ; in the unquestioned right to 
make rules and regulations governing the parks, and in 
many other ways ; and why the line should have been thus 
drawn on the advice of the board's counsel, on this particu- 
lar occasion, I must leave to the reader to determine; for, 
•unless it was for the purpose of continuing to confuse and 
befog the transfer question, I have never been able to ac- 
count for it. The fair purport and clear logic of the state- 
ment of the commission's intention was, however, favorably 
received. To that extent it had an excellent effect. 

Efforts to have the objectionable feature of the ordinance 
amended were then made. The pressure of public opinion 
to have some action taken by the City Council was con- 
tinued, and accelerated by the passage of resolutions by a 
number of representative and public-spirited organizations. 
Among others, the Woman's Club, cLrly in October, 1898, 
adopted a resolution, as follows : 

, "Eesolved, That we women of the Oranges, represented 
by the Woman's Club, of Orange, earnestly favor the early 
transfer of Park and C^'ntral avenues to the Park Gommis* 


slon, to be improved and beautified for parkways, that the 
people may receive the benefit of such action. 

"Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be sent to the 
Common Council of Orange, the Board of Chosen Free- 
holders, and the Essex County Park Commission, and the 
local press." 

About this time, October 6, 1898, the City Council 
adopted a resolution, stipulating that the avenues, in the 
event of transfer, "should not be widened or any assessment 
for their improvement levied upon abutting property own- 
ers, this being in consonance with the views of the present 
commission." The resolution further suggested that "the 
clause referring to prospective park commissions be stricken 
out," as was done. A clause was then added "reserving 
police jurisdiction and control of franchises ;" also a stipu- 
lation that "the ordinance must be accepted within sixty 
days," but should be "inoperative until the regulations em- 
braced in the ordinance are adopted and ratified by the 
council and the commission." This resolution was sent to 
the Park Commission. 

The reply of October 17, 1898, stated that "your pream- 
ble and resolution, so far as they relate to this board, are in 
consonance with its views and purposes ; so far as they relate 
to our successors, we are powerless to act. If your resolu- 
tion can be amended by the omission of the words 'now or at 
any time hereafter' and a simple resolution substituted in 
place of that clause in the ordinance, the transfer will be 
acceptable to the board." 

The ordinance was, by the City Council, amended in ac- 
cordance with this request, the objectionable clause was 
stricken out, and on October 18, 1898, more than a year 
after its introduction, was finally and unanimously passed, 
This action met with general approval. But those who had 
hoped that the controversy was at last ended misjudged 
alike the reserve power of the traction company and the 
evident determination of the Mayor and his friends to de-^ 
feat the parkways' plan. 

In e-Q interview in the Newark News of October 33, 


Counsel Munn came to the rescue by increasing the pending 
uncertainty in the accredited statement: "The question 
whether these avenues will ever become parkways is still 
open. No action has ever been taken by the Board of Free- 
holders, whose consent is necessary to establish the control 
of the Park Commission." He was then, as since, the coun- 
sel of that board. 


The activities of the corporation agents and attorneys 
continued. They were not in the least abashed or their 
efforts abated, and at the November meeting of the Orange 
Council, Mayor Stetson's veto of the transfer ordinance was 
presented. It was a remarkable document. He thought 
"it unwise for the city to part with its control of the ave- 
nues until it is definitely settled in what manner they are 
to be treated," and "unwise to strike out of the ordinance 
the words now or at any time thereafter," also "unwise to 
approve the ordinance until the regulations are agreed upon 
between the Common Council and the Park Conamission, 
and until action on the proposed transfer is taken by the 
Board of Chosen Freeholders." 

A long and rambling statement then followed, but the 
gist of the alleged reasons for the veto is given in the quo- 
tations just noted. These "reasons" were promptly analyzed 
and their speciousness shown in both the editorial and news 
columns of the daily papers. Commissioner Bramhall had 
clearly defined to the councilmen themselves what the use of 
the avenues as parkways would be. It was "a waste of 
words," as The Chronicle expressed it, "to dwell upon the 
now or hereafter" clause objection. The very point the 
freeholders had ostensibly, all along contended for was that 
the municipalities directly affected should first express their 
preference in the matter of transfer. 

The Journal contended "that the Park Commission on 
one side and the Mayor and Common Geuacil on the other" 
were both "to blame for the result/' 


PAEK board's attitude. 

Commissioner Franklin Murphy, in a published interview 
November 18, 1898, again sounded the keynote of uncer- 
tainty as to the future attitude of the Park Commission in 
the statement : " I feel as though we had gone as far as we 
should go in this matter. We have no desire to take the 
avenues if the municipality does not want us to have them. 
It is not likely that we shall take any action in the matter 
until the commission has progressed further with its work, 
and until the avenues become valuable as connecting links 
of the park system." 

The reports regarding Counsel Munn's extreme friendli- 
ness to the trolley interests, and efforts in opposition to the 
parkways, notwithstanding the statements of the Park Com- 
mission, were becoming more and more frequent. The com- 
missioners were fully aware of these reports current. In a 
statement in the Orange Chronicle of November 26, 1898, 
Commissioner Bramhall, among other things, said : 

"Mr. Munn has been represented, or misrepresented, as 
saying much that is not so in relation to the transfer of 
Park and Central avenues. The truth is that the commis- 
sion has spoken for itself directly and officially in this 

But the dissensions and differences were increased, in- 
stead of being allayed or diminished. The fact that the 
commission was saying one thing, and that the sayings of its 
duly authorized and retained counsel were being construed 
as meaning directly the opposite thing, gave the opposition 
and the franchise lobbyists just the opportunity desired. 
When, therefore, the Mayor's veto message of the avenue 
transfer ordinance came before the Orange City Council for 
action on November 31, 1898, it occasioned the knowing 
ones no surprise that the veto was sustained and the ordi- 
nance thus defeated by a tie vote of 7 to 7 in the council. 
And this directly in face of the evident fact, as stated in 
one of the leading papers at the time, "That the proposed 
improvement was favored by more than nine-tenths of the 


people;" that the action of the seven members who voted 
to sustain the Mayor's objections was "an affront to the 
people by whom they were elected to office ;" and that, "by 
some mysterious influences," these men had "experienced a 
change of heart and literally stultified themselves by facing 
about without giving a single reason for so doing." 

But the action had been taken. The parkways ordinance 
was dead. The curtain had been again rung down; now 
with the corrupting forces representing private gain and 
corporate greed, at the expense of the people and of the 
park system, for the second time triumphant. 



East Orange having completed the parkways' transfer, 
the Park Commission having formally accepted both ave- 
nues there, and the city of Orange having twice failed to 
complete the transfer ordinance, the parkway situation, 
early in 1899, might be compared to a well-equipped, safely 
ballasted, strong coach with a balking team. Every facility 
was at hand for the commission to mount the driver's seat 
of that coach, to quietly and firmly take the reins, and with- 
out resort to force, not even to the lash, to guide the load of 
obligations and pledges, which the board had already made 
to the public regarding the avenue parkways, to a safe and 
successful destination. 

Not only did the Park Board possess ample power and 
full authority for accomplishing this result, but it had the 
press and the great majority of the people of the Oranges 
and of the county then in its favor, to approve and support 
any and every measure or action taken for the good and the 
protection of the parks and parkways which the commis- 
sioners were especially entrusted in their charter, by the 
people, to create and defend. One of the leading papers on 
January 7, 1899, voiced public sentiment in contending, 
editorially : "It is probable that nine-tenths of the voters 
of Orange are in favor of having Park and Central avenues 
receive parkway treatment." 


Similar sentiments were at that time so frequently ex- 
pressed that there could be no reasonable doubt as to the 
attitude of the public generally upon this question. Instead 



of the Park Commission taking any advantage of its op- 
portunities at this critical juncture of its parkway affairs, 
it was content to sit in secret session, month after month, 
for several years, and give out statements or promulgate 
manifestoes, restating its position that it had "not changed" 
its attitude regarding the parkways; and at last, "declined 
to take a partisan stand" on this matter, upon which the 
board itself had taken the initial action in preparing and 
publishing its plans, and had even secured appropriations 
with the promise and understanding that the avenues were 
to be made parkways. And this question as to whether 
these results should be secured, or the collusive corporate 
interests should appropriate one or both of the proposed 
parkways for private gain, was no more a "partisan" ques- 
tion than was the action of the Legislature in passing the 
Park Commission's charter, or were the innumerable official 
acts of the commission in locating the parks and parkways, 
or in acquiring the requisite land, or in formulating rules 
and regulations for the administration of the park 

But while the commission was for years resting upon its 
declared intentions as to the two principal parkways, the 
traction company, before the close of 1898, had its scheme 
for securing at least one of the parkway avenues well in 
hand. And, at the time indicated, it was in possession of 
both the reins and lash of the parkways' coach. This con- 
dition had been, in the meantime, very materially strength- 
ened by Counsel J. L. Munn, by his assistance in keeping 
actively alive the controversy, not only in Orange, but also 
with the Board of Fteeholders. 

In this board, some action was usually taken about the 
time the Park Commission would issue another statement 
of good intention, which would in effect nullify the com- 
missioners' claim that they wanted the parkways, by creat- 
ing still farther obstacles in the way of the avenues' transfer 
being completed. 

After the parkway-avenue resolution of the Park Board 
of JSTovember, 1896, had been sent to the Board of Freehold- 


ers, nothing was heard of it. While the contest between the 
parkway forces and the trolley syndicate was being actively 
waged in 1898, efforts were made by committees of various 
civic associations to ascertain, if possible, why the free- 
holders were non-responsive and why such an important 
request as that of the Park Board remained pigeonholed all 
that time. 


Finally, on May 20, 1898, the Eoad Committee of the 
freeholders gave a hearing on the commission's application. 
The local committees were well represented. Mayor John 
Gill, of Orange, and other well known officials and citizens, 
were present. The reasons why the avenues should be used 
as parkways were well presented. The petitions, signed by 
nearly all the property owners on both of the avenues, favor- 
ing the transfer, were read, as also the resolutions of various 
civic bodies. The former official and unanimous proceed- 
ings of the Orange and East Orange authorities, favorable 
to action being taken, were noted. 

The opposing corporation agents now offered a new line 
of obstructive tactics. The Park Commission would, by 
inaugurating new regulations after transfer at once "re- 
strict ordinary traffic." The parkways were at best a local 
question, they said : "The freeholders elected by, and the 
direct representatives of, the people, should not surrender 
control of these great highways and thus prevent the free 
use of them as originally intended." 

Although it was clearly shown that, under the transfer, 
or eighteenth clause of the park law, the commission would 
have no such right of restriction, and that the parkways, in 
extending park treatment through the various municipali- 
ties by directly connecting the larger parks of the whole 
county, could no more be considered a local question than 
could the park system itself, yet the freeholders adopted the 
opposition views and nothing was done. On October 25 
following (1898) another "hearing" was given by the same 


freeholders' committee. Frank H. Scott, F. W. Baldwin, 
A. P. Boiler, G. R. Howe and others made earnest and able 
pleas, urging early action. But the listening freeholders ap- 
peared deaf to the appeals, and the conditions of persistent 
inactivity were continued as before; although Chairman 
iT. B. Bray assured the petitioners "that a simple resolution 
passed by the committee would not be sufficient to complete 
the transfer" — a fact that waB gradually beginnir^ to dawn 
on the minds of those who had heretofore believed that the 
logic of the situation and merit of the transfer proposition 
might be a ^potential factor in the proceedings before the 

While the powerful hand of the Consolidated Traction 
Company was clearly visible back of this inconsistent and 
continuous inactivity, still it was a condition, not a theory 
of ofScial inactivity, which confronted the parkways move- 
ment. Attention was then again turned to the Park Com- 
mission. Here much the same uncertainty existed. What- 
ever may have been the cause, the wabbling attitude of that 
board, aside from its executive session statements, was an 
indisputable factor of large proportions in still farther ex- 
tending the uncertainty of the conditions. 

The commission was appealed to. The board was im- 
plored to galvanize some life into its repeated claims of 
intention. It was asked to show by its acts, as well as by its 
words, what it meant ; and was reminded that, "after the re- 
peated reiteration of its plans and purposes as regards these 
avenues, both the friends and most of the opponents of the 
county park undertaking had formerly accepted that ac- 
tion as final," and that it was now being currently reported 
"that the commission did not want the avenues, and that it 
had never intended to make them parkways." 

From the records it appears that the elements of uncer- 
tainty as to these parkways were also acutely active 
within the Park Board rooms by or before the summer of 
1899. At the meeting of August 1 of that year. Commis- 
sioner Shepard's motion was adopted requesting the land- 
scape architects "to make a special report on the proper 


location of an east and west parkway from Newark to the 
Orange Mountain, in the central part of the county." 

The landscape architects of the department at this time 
were the Olmsted Brothers, who had succeeded landscape 
architects and engineers Barrett and Bogart, the Septem- 
ber previous. In December, 1898, following their appoint- 
ment, the Messrs. Olmsted had submitted two elaborate re- 
ports on the parkway subject — one December 24, the other 
December 31 — of twenty-four pages of typewritten matter, 
and apparently covering most of the county. These reports 
were furnished in response to a resolution of the board of 
November 16, 1898, calling for "a report on parkways in 
general," and were, in outline, similar to the parkway feat- 
ures of the other tentative reports of the original five park 
specialists (their own report among the number) made to 
the first Park Commission in 1894 and early in 1895. These 
elaborate reports of 1898, however, although they treated of 
widely extended possible parkway locations, recommended 
special legislation for the acquirement of the requisite land ; 
favored the establishment of building lines on future park- 
ways, and desirable traffic restrictions, and the limiting of 
height of buildings. They also advocated "the extension of 
the East Orange parkway on to Weequahic," also to "the 
disposal works and to Eagle Eock," etc. Yet they made no 
reference whatever to the two great east and west avenue 
parkways already constructed, and which, as elaborated 
upon in that firm's own report of January 16, 1895, were 
then described as being "essentially parkways of a formal 
character," "on which, to make them all that is desirable 
for your purpose, it is only necessary" that "certain im- 
provements of detail should be made." 


No reference or suggestion was made in any of the earlier 
expert reports as to "the needs-of -ordinary-traffic" objection 
to the avenues being improved as parkways; but, after the 
traction company's franchise promoters had systematically 
exploited this claim, it soon entered into the parkway side of 


the discussion. In the Olmsted report of December 31, 
1898, the heavy traffic "on Park avenue from the East 
Orange parkway to Branch Brook Park" is noted as an 
"objection" which it is "impracticable to exclude," though 
"the inconvenience might be less and less as time goes on." 
The report concludes "that the large proposition of park- 
ways for Essex County is sure to lead to endless discussion." 

Their special report of August 2, 1899, in response to the 
Park Board resolution, as above quoted, would, I think, 
have surprised the people of Essex County had it been made 
public at that time, or at any time during the five years fol- 
lowing while the contest over the parkways was in progress. 
This report, according to instructions, was to have "regard 
for the various available routes, and to the financial limita- 
tions" of the commission. After noting that "no entirely 
new east and west parkway appears to be practicable, except 
at the north end of East Orange, through Clinton and 
South Orange," or possibly "from the northern end of 
Branch Brook Park westward to the mountain through the 
southern parts of Bloomfield and Montclair," etc., the re- 
port refers to Park and Central avenues as follows : 

"As the board has not yet put this policy — of taking con- 
trol of the avenues — into effect, there is still opportunity to 
reconsider the matter and to leave out of the parkway sys- 
tem either or both of these avenues. After a careful study 
of the existing conditions of the territory through which 
these two avenues run, it appears to us that the greater good 
to the greatest number of the citizens of the county directly 
interested, demands that Central avenue be left out of the 
parkway system, so as to be available for ordinary business 


The reasons as then stated for this conclusion — surpris- 
ing in comparison with that firm's prior report quoted, and 
in view of the fact that this statement was directly in line 
with the "points" which the trolley franchise agents and 
promoters had been for months actively circulating — were 


that "serious inconvenience and hardship to the business 
and personal interests of the people" would result. The 
commission's "financial limitations" would, according to 
this report, make "the expense of developing and maintain- 
ing both Park and Central avenues unwarrantable." 

"It would be impracticable," continued the report, "to 
extend Central avenue with a width of 100 feet to the south 
end of Branch Brook Park, as would certainly be desirable, 
even necessary, if it is to be used as a parkway." It was 
also stated, that "the western part of Central avenue has 
four right-angled turns in it, which are so extremely un- 
graceful and inconvenient as to almost condemn it," and 
"it is already encumbered on both ends with street railway 

When it is borne in mind that every one of the condi- 
tions referred to as "reasons," were, in 1895, when the 
Olmsted's first report was made, precisely the same as when 
this report was submitted — excepting that at the latter time 
the corporations were using their power to secure the avenue 
franchise, and thus prevent the parkway — both the text and 
tenor of this last report seems the more surprising. In 
other respects there had been, during the four intervening 
years, no change. The "serious inconvenience and hardship 
to the business and personal interests" were, in 1895, just 
as apparent, save the pecuniary interest of the traction com- 
pany in the coveted franchise, as in 1899. The "financial 
limitations" of the commission were not so strained, with 
its new $1,500,000 appropriation, but that new and costly 
parkways, like the one in East Orange — which would have 
its southern parkway connection at Central avenue perma- 
nently destroyed by the abandonment of that avenue to the 
trolley interests — could, as recommended in the report, be 
extended. The plan "to extend Central avenue to the south 
end of Branch Brook Park" had never been officially con- 
sidered ; nor, so far as I know, had it ever been suggested in 
the plans for making Central avenue a parkway. Nor had 
the "ungraceful turns" or the short stretch of trolley tracks 
at the western part of the avenue ever before been deemed of 


serious importance, or matters that could not be readily, 
and with comparatively small expense, adequately and 
satisfactorily treated. 

This Olmsted report was received and was before the Park 
Board for consideration on August 8, 1899. I am not aware 
that its contents have before this ever been made public. 
Soon after the report was received, and remained in secret 
in the Park Board archives, one of the traction company's 
representatives, with a smiling countenance, stated to me 
that the Park Commission had "an expert's report, which 
was decidedly against Central avenue." That the com- 
mission for some reason concluded it was not desirable 
to give out the report appears from the board's official 
action. At the meeting of March 5, 1901, in passing upon 
the matter for the annual report, it was agreed "that the 
Olmsted Brothers' report in regard to Park and Central 
avenues," should be included; and then, at the meeting of 
March 19, on motion of Commissioner Shepard, seconded 
by Mr. Murphy, the "motion of March 5, which included in 
the annual report the report of Olmsted Brothers in regard 
to Park and Central avenues," was rescinded, and a motion 
of Mr. Shepard, that that report be omitted, was then 


When, during the latter part of 1899, and early in 1900, 
it was found that the Board of Freeholders was, on the 
parkway subject, immovable, an effort was made to secure 
from that board, if possible, its official approval of the 
transfer made by the East Orange authorities March 15, 
1897, and thus have the full control of the East Orange 
portion of each of the avenues vested in the Park Commis- 
sion. The Park Board gave a hearing, March 1, 1900, on 
this question. A large and representative delegation was 
present. The commission was reminded of "what were con- 
sidered the promises to the East Orange committee three 
years before," and of "the condition of unrest that was 
growing out of the delay, in the absence of some action or 


earnest of its intention." This, it was urged, should obtain 
in a request to the freeholders to complete the East Orange 
transfer, so that that portion of the avenues could be im- 
proved. The commission complied, and, on March 30, 1900, 
adopted a suitable resolution toward carrying the desired 
object into effect. 

On May 22 following, the Eoad Committee of the Board 
of Freeholders gave a hearing on the commissioners' re- 
quest. About fifty persons were present. Able present- 
ments for the parkways were made by Messrs. E. 0. Stanley, 
A. P. Boiler, F. H. Scott, H. Wallis, C. G. Kidder, G. F. 
Seward and others. W. Whittlesey and one other speaker 
openly favored a trolley on Central avenue. The opposition 
was, for the most part, however, under the usual cover. One 
of the speakers declared "there was nothing to show that 
the paxk commissioners were not willing for a trolley line to 
be constmicted, should they take the avenue for a park- 
way." Another opponent was most solicitous about "ordi- 
nary traffic matters." 


The sequence of the meeting was, that the Eoad Com- 
mittee, on the advice of Counsel Joseph L. Munn, reported 
to the full board adversely, and against granting the Park 
Board's application, notwithstanding the fact that a con- 
ference between that committee and the commission had 
been held with the object of coming to an understanding 
in the matter. Counsel Munn's opinion, as quoted by the 
committee, was that, "under the law, thc' Board of Free- 
holders had no right to make such a transfer ;" but, "by the 
consent of all the municipalities through which the avenues 
ran, the board might make the transfer without leaving 
itself liable." The committee in turn gave as its reason for 
adverse action that the authority of the board "under the 
provisions of the park act, to take the action now requested 
is so far doubtful that such action should not be taken under 
the conditions referred to." 

As the policy of that same freeholder's board had all 


along been to obstruct the transfer aad thus, to all appear- 
ances, serve the corporate interests desiring that object, the 
action of the full board at the July meeting, in sustaining 
the Road Conmiittee's recommendation, caused little sur- 
prise. It was only another indication of the tenacious con- 
trol the traction interests held over the proceedings of that 
board. The ostensible reasons for the action then taken 
were, as usual in such cases, specious and misleading. For 
four years the position of the freeholders in not taking any 
action favorable as to the parkways had been, that the 
municipal authorities should act first; while, for all that 
time, both in law and in fact, the entire control of, and 
jurisdiction over those county avenues, with the exception 
of very minor rights in the cross streets, were vested abso- 
lutely in that board. What logic or justification, therefore, 
could there be in the announced excuse for persistent inac- 
tivity, that the local boards, holding only these insignificant 
right, "must first make the transfer ?" : Then, years after 
East Orange had thus acted, in adding the farther excuse 
that "it was not good policy on the part of the Board of 
Freeholders at any time to relinquish control of a limited 
•section of a county avenue" — ^which was the additional 
"reason" included in the report of this latter refusal of the 
Park Board's request. 

The inconsistency of the other alleged reason, as to trans- 
fer, "that such avenues shall be permanently maintained 
in at least as good condition as heretofore," when the dis- 
tinct object of the transfer was to improve them as park- 
ways, is apparent. The Newark News of May 34, 1900, 
editorially gave the gist of the matter in a few words in 
commenting upon the hearing referred to, as follows : "It 
is not difficult to discern corporation influences behind the 
opposition to parkway development through the Oranges, 
that was manifested at the hearing before the Board of 
Freeholders' Eoad Committee on Monday." 

In December, 1900, there was introduced into the Orange 
Common Council, for the third time, an avenues transfer 
ordinance. This document was carefully drawn with the 


view of removing every tangible objection that could be 
made against it. It provided that the commission should 
not restrict the ordinary uses of the avenues, or debar exist- 
ing privileges ; and that the avenues should not be widened, 
without consent being first obtained from the City Council 
of Orange. 

On March 5, 1901, a copy of the ordinance was sent to 
the Park Commission by the city clerk with the inquiry as 
to whether that board "approved the ordinance." Under 
date of March 19, 1901, the board, on motion of Commis- 
sioner Shepard, replied: 

"Since the request of the Essex County Park Commis- 
sion for the transfer of those avenues was made to the Com- 
mon Council of the city of Orange on Kovember 13, 1896, 
circumstances have very greatly changed. 

"The Park Commission, on the failure of their request, 
took up other work, and have expended and appropriated 
the funds at their command to such an extent that it is 
now impossible to undertake any improvement of said 

"The Park Commission is giving very serious considera- 
tion to the question of completing the work already under 
contract and definitely planned, with means remaining at 
its disposal. 

"It should, therefore, be understood that this commission 
cannot take up any improvement upon these avenues, and 
if they should be transferred to the commission they would 
necessarily remain in their present condition until funds 
shoidd hereafter be provided by the Legislature for their 
improvement and maintenance. 

"The ordinance, known as the Cuddy ordinance, is ac- 
ceptable to the commission." 


Meanwhile, the traction company had becoijie so much en- 
couraged and emboldened by its success with the freehold- 
ers and the corporation's representatives in the Oranges, 


and the absence of any action by the Park Commission 
toward defending the parkways, that, on January 
14, 1901, it iiled a new application for a Central ave- 
nue franchise in East Orange. The application was 
received, as stated at the time, "with the under- 
standing that it was done simply to permit of a conference 
between the city authorities and the railroad representa- 
tives with the view of learning just what would be de- 
manded on the one side, and what would be conceded on the 
other." No new property owners' consents were filed. 
James B. Dill and David Young were, as in 1896-7, the 
active sponsors for the new application. 

Concurrently with its appearance were persistent rumors 
that the Park Commission had decided to abandon Central 
avenue for a parkway, and that the question of a railroad on 
the avenue was, therefore, before the East Orange authori- 
ties on its merits. On May 13, 1901, the City Council 
adopted the report of the railroad committee, favoring the 
drafting of a franchise ordinance. 

At one of the meetings of this committee Counsel Munn 
was present. When he was asked if the Park Commission 
wanted Central avenue for a parkway he replied: "Not 
that I know of. Do what you please with the avenue." 

By October the reports in regard to the Park Commission 
had become so unfavorable that an East Orange neighbor of 
Commissioner Shepard's wrote him on the subject, and, 
under date of October 14, 1901, received this answer: 

"In reply to your favor of the 10th inst. The report that 
has come to you, viz., 'that the Essex County Park Com- 
mission were hoping to get rid of Central avenue by turning 
it over to the Consolidated Traction Company, and that 
possibly Park avenue might follow in time, in which ease 
the crosstown parkway would be abandoned, except that por- 
tion nearly completed,' is untrue, and there is no shadow of 
a foundation for such a report. The Park Commission, act- 
ing on their adopted plans, and in accordance with the ex- 
pression of the opinion of large delegations of citizens from 
the Oranges, asked from the freeholders and the authorities 


of jSTewark and the Oranges, for the care, custody, and con- 
trol of Park avenue and a portion of Central avenue. 


"The authorities of East Orange and West Orange 
granted this request, but the freeholders»and the authorities 
of Orange and Newark have not yet granted this request, 
and until they take such action the Park Commission can 
do nothing further. 

"In the matter of the East Orange Parkway, from Cen- 
tral avenue north to Watsessing Park, the Park Commis- 
sion is waiting for the report of the Appraisal Commission, 
which was appointed by the court last spring, and which 
has been at work ever since. We are informed that they will 
probably present it to the court in November. 

"I beg you will make public use of this letter, as it cor- 
rectly states the present condition of the matter." 

Directly this letter was made public the opposition set up 
the contention that it was a personal, not an official, com- 
munication, and hence of no effect as a binding document 
from the commission; that it was intended as a personal 
letter ; that the board had not shown any very great anxiety 
over securing the parkway, and that, as Counsel Munn, in 
Ms official capacity, represented all the commissioners, his 
statements and representations should have precedence over 
those of any single commissioner. 

At the meeting of the East Orange City Council, October 
30, 1901, held in Commonwealth Hall, the new trolley 
franchise application was the special order of business. The 
hall was filled. Excitement at times ran high. J. B. Dill, 
with David Young, were the principal speakers for the 
street railway corporation. Henry G. Atwater, and other 
representative citizens, contended for the parkways. 

The Park Commission was conspicuous by its absence. 
The chairman. Councilman William Cardwell, in 
opening the meeting, said: "At the request of 
the counsel the speeches will be limited to five 
minutes." Mr. Atwater said that he had made no 


such request. The rule was not enforced. All the 
old paints in the controversy were gone over; a few new 
new'ones were brought out. Mr. Atwater protested against 
the consideration of the ordinance on the ground "that the 
statutory number of consents of property owners fronting 
on the avenue had not been filed." H. H. Hall, in address- 
ing the City Council with much earnestness, said that it 
made his "blood boil, as a citizen of this town, to see. the 
representatives of that corporation stand up here and snap 
the whip over you." The proceedings of the traction com- 
pany are "a disgrace to the Christian State of New Jersey," 
he declared, and he said that he would "rather continue to 
walk twelve minutes to Main street, than to barter away the 
sacred rights of this city, and give away a perpetual fran- 
chise which, when your children read of your action, will 
make them hide their faces in shame." G. E. Howe said : 
"There is no possibility of parkways if we surrender the 
only two avenues left." 


Counsel James B. Dill held that "the gentlemen inter- 
ested have had five years to build a parkway, but up to the 
present time we have only a verbal parkway." He denied 
that the perpetual franchise applied for was perpetual, or 
that there was anything properly in the way of using the 
old "consents." Arthur Baldwin, a lawyer. Joined in this 
demagogic argument for class distinction, and, with much 
vehemence, asked: "Who is going to use these parlcways? 
Will those who are away three months in the summer? 
How is the man who is compelled to stay at home to get the 
benefit of the parks ? He must walk," — thus perverting the 
fact that parkways, like the parks, are for all the people, 
the great majority of whom, remaining at home, all the 
more require such places for recreation. 

No action was taken by the City Council that evening, 
but it was freely predicted that the members had, before the 
hearing, become fully converted to the interested corpora- 


tion's way of thinking, both as to the "verbal parkway" and 
as to the early needs of a railroad on the avenue instead. 
The following letter is self-explanatory : 

"East Orange, Nov. 18, 1901. 
"Essex County Park Commission, Newark, N. J. : 

"Gentlemen — "We are advised that some members of the 
East Orange City Council understand that your counsel, 
j\Ir. ilunn, has stated that the Park Board is really indif- 
ferent to the proposed use of Central avenue as a parkway. 
This belief on their part is doing much harm. 

"We do not pretend to say what you may be disposed to 
do under these circumstances, but, if it is possible, we think 
it would be useful for you to give to us, or to the City Coun- 
cil, soon, a statement from Mr. Munn which would set at 
rest the report in question. 

"Mr. Munn must feel precluded by his duty as your 
counsel from saying anything which tends to discredit the 
good faith of your honorable body, and we cannot think 
that he will in any way object to maki^jg it clear that he has 
not intentionally said anything which, if properly under- 
stood, could mean what has been asserted. 
"Eespectfiilly and truly yours, 
"George F. Seward, Frank H. Scott, Frederick W. 

Kelsey, Henry W. Bulkley, Joel F. Freeman, William H. 

Baker, Henry M. Ward, Executive Committee of the 

Avenue Association." 

PARK board's reply. 

At the Park Board meeting the day following, November 
19, on motion of Commissioner F. M. Shepard, the follow- 
ing reply was authorized transmitted by the secretary : 

"The Park Commission holds that its attitude should be 
judged by its official acts, and not by the expression of indi- 
vidual opinions of its individual members, or its officers. 
The commission thinkTit has, from the beginning, made its 
attitude clear, and that it should not be asked to respond to 
every suggestion or rumor or understanding that may be 


found in circulation. The commission farther holds that 
the question now agitating the public in Bast Orange, 
should be decided by those immediately interested and re- 
siding in the locality affected. The counsel of the commis- 
sion asserts that he has not undertaken to represent the 
views of the Park Commission or to speak for it, excepting 
when directed to appear in its behalf, and has at no time 
undertaken to express on behalf of the Park Commission 
any views differing from those set forth in its official acts." 
The effect of this communication, even on the minds of 
the most loyal friends of the commission, was confusing. 
According to the board's own statement, its conception of 
the trust reposed in it by the Legislature, and by the peo- 
ple of the whole county, to make and execute its park and 
parkway plans, and create a great park system, was lowered 
behind the screen of the acts of another, and local board, 
which, at best, represented but a very limited part of the 
larger constituency, and which board, from the very circum- 
stances of the case, was known to be especially susceptible to 
the enticing wiles of the corporate and combined political 
influences, which were being continuously exerted, through 
every possible channel and effort, to defeat the commis- 
sion's own plans for the parkways. The difficulty in the 
practicable application of the commission's statement to the 
then existing conditions in the East Orange City Council 
was, that its own counsel, J. L. Munn, had preceded the let- 
ter, and the council members were so well satisfied to accept 
his interpretation of the commission's attitude, as to make, 
at the outset, any efforts for the parkways in that direction, 
hopelessly fruitless. 


The whole parkway subject was then taken up by the 
Joint Committee on Parkways. This committee was or- 
ganized from three committees, one from the New England 
Society, one from the Avenue Association of the Oranges, 
and one from the East Orange Improvement Society. Each 


of these organizations had, in November or December, 1901, 
adopted resolutions favoring the parkways, and authorizing 
the appointment of special committees to co-operate with 
other organizations having a similar object in view. The 
following were the committees: From the New England 
Society, E. 0. Stanley, Archer Brown, G. H. Austen, Will- 
iam J. Baer, H. G. Atwater, P. W. Baldwin, J. D. Everett, 
C. W. Baldwin, Ira A. Kip, Jr. ; from the Avenue Associa- 
tion, P. W. Kelsey, D. S. Walton, P. H. Scott, J. P. Free- 
man, H. T. Ambrose, G. P. Seward, W. H. Baker, H. H. 
Ward; from the Town Improvement Society, H. H. Hall, 
G. E. Howe, Hugh Lamb, Alden Freeman, J. S. Kichards. 
There were but few changes made in the committee other 
than the loss by death two or three years later of Archer 
Brown, Henry G. Atwater, John S. Eichards, and Hugh 
Lamb. In March, 1904, W. H. Burges, G. W. Portmeyer, 
B. P. Jones, A. C. Smith and T. A. Davis were added to the 
New England Society's committee. 

Prom the time of its organization in 1901, the joint com- 
mittee took an active and earnest interest in parkway af- 
fairs. Its direct purposes were to secure, if possible, the 
preservation of the parkways. It favored the lines of trolley 
extension west to the Orange Mountain, but contended that 
the routes should be located on parallel streets or through 
private property, if need be, outside the parkways. Tha 
committee was optimistic. It held, not only that a commis- 
sion created by law with unusual powers and then solely 
entrusted with the expenditure of $4,000,000 of public 
funds, should have the ability for leadership and decisive 
action requisite with the great resource at its command ; but 
also that such a board would or should respond to any co- 
operative effort toward -completing the park system from 
an organization of the probity and standing of the commit- 
tee. In conformity with this view the committee, early in 
March, 1902, wrote the commission : 

"For some time past reports have been current through 
the Oranges that your board was indifferent to the present 
parkway situation and to the use of Central avenue as the 


great central parkway of the county accessible to the mass 
of people; indeed, it has been freely claimed by some that 
you are ready to abandon that feature of the parkway plans, 
and that the avenue should be given over to commercial 
traffic — in other words, to the trolley." 

The letter then refers to the frequency and persistency 
of these reports ; of the embarrassment of "the friends of the 
parks;" to how "the public at large, and, indeed, every one 
(excepting possibly the trolley managers)," had long before 
considered the parkway question "definitely settled;" and 
adding that as "representing a large constituency" the com- 
mittee wished "to know at the earliest possible moment, 
whether there has been any change in your board on this 
question, and what position in the future interest of the 
parks and parkways should, under the circumstances, be 
taken;" also adding: 

"We are quite aware that the board has now no money 
to use on the parkways. We equally appreciate the proposi- 
tion that the park and parkway developments are of concern 
now, and will be in all the future. We are content with ten- 
tative steps. You will get further appropriations, and the 
plans already desired may be carried later. The avenues 
can be held indefinitely if your position remains firm in. 
your adhesion to your own plans. 

"We have stated to you briefly the conditions, and write 
thus frankly as we consider that you should know the facts, 
and have confidence that you will meet the situation in a 
way to warrant the continued support of all, who, like the 
undersigned and the organizations we represent, have been 
loyal to the county park and parkway project from its 

"Should one of your board, especially Mr. Shepard, ap- 
pear before the East Orange City Council, reaffirming the 
position of the commission as to parkways, and thus set at . 
rest the rumors and reports that are sapping public confi- 
dence in the movement, it would have a most excellent 

The following, under date of April 3, 1903, was the reply : 


"At the meeting of the Park Commission held to-day the 
following resolution was passed : 

'Eesolved, That the secretary be instructed to inform the 
East Orange committee that the Park Commission has 
never taken any action looking to a withdrawal from its 
original position of desiring Park and Central avenues as 
parkways.' " 

In commenting upon this statement. The Chronicle of 
April 12, 1902, said: "If the Park Commission, after all 
these official utterances, does not mean what it says, it can- 
not expect to retain either public confidence or support." 


Notwithstanding these assurances, progress with the rail- 
road ordinance for Central avenue in East Orange was be- 
ing constantly made. The City Council had, very accommo- 
datingly to the traction company, held the application over 
for weeks in order to enable the company to obtain, if possi- 
ble, the requisite property owners' consents. At the meet- 
ing of February 34, 1902, Councilman Thomas W. Jackson 
announced that "the trolley company had been too busy" to 
procure these consents. And that "Mr. Young had prom- 
ised him that they would either file the additional consents 
at the next meeting, or withdraw the application." 

The matter came up for action at the meeting of March 
29. The council chamber was crowded. The atmosphere was 
surcharged with corporation influence. It was manifest that 
any discussion on the merits of the parkway or trolley prop- 
osition would be a waste of time. H. G. Atwater, who then 
appeared as counsel for some of the interested property own- 
ers, brought out the fact that the company did not have the 
necessary consents, hence, he said, the council was powerless 
to act. Councilman Jackson expressed his thanks "for the 
advice," and said that he was "tired of the business ;" that 
it was not the duty of the council to act as a court ; and sug- 
gested that "those opposed to the franchise should take the 
matter into the courts." 

The Park Commission was not represented in any way at 


the meeting. In view of the circumstances outlined in the 
joint committee's letter, above quoted, and the courteous 
suggestion there made as to clearing up the parkway situa- 
tion before the East'Orange authorities, the non-appearance 
of the commission, or of any one representing it, occasioned 
unfavorable comment. As the reply of April 3 had not then 
been received, no reference to the attitude of the Park 
Board at that time could be officially made. After a long 
and heated discussion the railroad ordinance was finally 
passed on first reading. 

The public had not, however, long to wait before hearing 
further from at least one of the Park Commission's officials. 
On April 11, 1902, Counsel J. L. Munn's formal consent 
for a railroad on Central avenue was filed with the city 
clerk. It was for 337 28-100 feet frontage on the avenue in 
East Orange. At last the mask was thrown off. The trac- 
tion company's representatives and lobbyists significantly 
referred to the "new consent" as unmistable evidence as to' 
where the Park Board in reality stood on the parkway- 
railroad question. 

"Actions speak plainer than words," they said, and "if 
that act doesn't represent what a majority of that board 
really want, why has Munn been retained all this time, when 
everybody knew, who knew anything, the interests he really 
represented in this matter ?" And surely enough, why ? 

The publication almost concurrently, in April, 1902, of 
the "new statement" and of the "new consent" produced 
still further confusion and uncertainty. 

The joint committee decided to go right forward, taking 
the commission at its word, and leaving the opposition and 
the coming events to demonstrate whether that confidence 
was justified by the facts. The avenue association com- 
mittee acted as an executive body. On the passage of the 
railroad ordinance in East Orange, E. V. Lindabury was 
retained to test the case in the courts. The previous De- 
cember (1901), the Court of Errors and Appeals had ren- 
dered a decision in the "Currie vs. Atlantic City" case, 
which, in effect, invalidated property owners' consents when 


once used by a governing body in considering a street rail- 
road application, and determined that such "consents can- 
not be the basis of further municipal action upon a second 


These conditions were directly applicable to the East 
Orange franchise. The traction company decided that it 
would take its chances and have its completed ordinance in 
East Orange "delivered." It was accordingly gone over and 
some amendments were agreed upon at the council meeting 
April 14, 1903. On March 24 a committee, consisting of 
D. S. Walton, H. W. Bulkley, J. F. Freeman, H. H. Ward, 
Gr. F. Seward and W. H. Baker, had made a written request 
of the Mayor and Common Council "for a hearing, before 
any ordinance be introduced for locating a railroad on Cen- 
tral avenue to the permanent prevention of parkway im- 
provement there." This request was denied. A similar re- 
quest from the joint committee, April 14, fared the same 
fate. When these and many other well known citizens de- 
sired to speak at the meeting referred to, Councilman 
Jerome D. Gedney exclaimed: "If these gentlemen come 
here to oppose the trolley, I, for one, will listen to them with 
deaf ears." It was then announced that any "proposition 
or suggestions should be submitted in writing." 

The council meeting for completing the franchise deliv- 
ery to the traction company was held April 28, 1902. A 
great crowd, much excitement, and, at times, worse confu- 
sion were the features. Eequests for a hearing by those 
favoring the parkways were again refused. "I think it only 
fair to all that the council hear nothing further," was the 
way Thomas W. Jackson, chairman of the Railroad Commit- 
tee, put that decision before the meeting. Protests were 
drowned in the general hubbub that followed. 

"I ask if the taxpayers have no rights here !" W. E. Scar- 
rett in a loud voice demanded. 

"The majority of the council object to hearing further a 


discussion of the subject," replied Chairman William 

"The members of -this City Council are our servants," was 
Mr. Scarrett's answer. 

"Yes, you have rights," said Mr. Cardwell. 

"Then you decline to receive our protests. Are we not 
permitted to speak ?" again inquired Mr. Scarrett. 

"It has been decided by a majority of the council that 
you cannot," was the chairman's response. The city clerk, 
in an almost inaudible, monotonous voice, then read the 
written "suggestions" formulated by the full joint commit- 
tee on parkways. 


The communication cited the various official statements 
of the Park Board regarding the parkways ; referred to the 
fact that a railroad on either of the avenues "would at once 
and permanently prevent the eighteen acres of parkway im- 
provements on that side of the city; would effectually de- 
stroy the continuous features of the crosstown parkway, 
thereby preventing nearly one-half of all the park and park- 
way improvements possible in East Orange; and would dis- 
integrate the park system past recovery. Whereas a trolley 
road farther south would be a desirable improvement and 
furnish convenient communication between that section and 
Newark, and give us direct access to the parks." 

Attention was also called to the ordinance before the 
council as being "surprisingly defective in not properly safe- 
guarding the interests of the city." It was also pointed out 
that neither public opinion, nor the test of the future, nor 
your unbiased judgment upon a fuller understanding of the 
facts, can approve of the terms as now proposed in the fran- 
chise grant of any important street." 

The facts as to the fabulous profits made out of the South 
Orange avenue line (a parallel avenue) were then stated. 
It was also shown how, on that perpetual franchise, and for 
less than five miles of double track, $21,000,000 of securities 
of the North Jersey Street Eailway Company had been 


issued, of a then selling or market value of $9,000,000; 
how this vast sum represented to the railway promoters and 
owners a clear profit of nearly $8,000,000, or an amount 
equal to about one-half of the entire real and personal rata- 
bles of East Orange. 

The accuracy of these facts was not questioned or the 
correctness of the figures denied. They were elaborated 
upon by Milo E. Maltbie, the street railway expert, who of- 
fered indisputable evidence in support of the value of such 

But the die was cast. It was evident that it had been 
cast for passing the ordinance before the meeting had con- 
vened. Facts and arguments were alike unavailing. The 
whip of the corporation, through the party machine, had 
been snapped. All the combined elements of good citizen- 
ship were there helpless. The roll was called. Down went 
the gavel. Again the curtain, with the lobbyists jubilant, 
the Park Commission unseen in the dim distance, and the 
forces that make for destruction in the cities of this coun- 
try, for the third time, in the ascendency. 



With the influences for the traction company in control 
of the freeholders and of the Bast Orange and Orange gov- 
erning bodies, and the Park Conmiission as to the parkways 
nowhere in live evidence, those who had believed in and 
worked for practical parkway results, found themselves be- 
tween the Scylla of doubt and the Charybdis of adverse con- 
dition. The decision, not to turn back, was soon rendered. 
On the morning of May 3, 1 903, directly after the passage 
of the railroad ordinance in East Orange, William J. Baer, 
as secretary of the Joint Committee on Parkways, sent a 
written request to Mayor E. E. Bruen asking if he would 
"kindly indicate the time and place" for the conference, 
"agreeable to your conversation with Mr. D. S. Walton." 

The Mayor had stated that he should take the full time 
allowed by law in acting on the measure. No reply was re- 
ceived. On May 6 the committee learned that the Mayor 
had gone to Boston the day, or day but one, following the 
passage of the ordinance, and that he had signed it before 
leaving East Orange. 

There was public indignation. Charges of improper in- 
fluences in the City Council were openly made in the local 
papers. The proceedings were referred to as "the gift of 
the Central avenue franchise," and much more vigorous lan- 
guage was freely used. A well known citizen who was pres- 
ent when the ordinance was "jammed through" declared: 
"It was the most disgraceful proceeding I ever witnessed, 
and worse than Tammany Hall." 

The Park Commission was also severely criticised. "We 
should simply say, we don't propose to trust you any 



farther. We have had your promises and they don't pan 
out," — was the way one East Orange resident paid his 
compliments to that board. 

Other criticisms were aimed at the appointive commis- 
sion, one that is "responsible to nobody and can do as it 
pleases." The East Orange parkway was referred as as a 
way "which begins nowhere and ends nowhere, and, for this, 
$175,000 has been expended." 

The East Orange railroad ordinance for Central avenue 
came before the Board of Freeholders for action June 13, 
1903. The announcement had been made that there would 
be a hearing by the board on the question. A large delega- 
tion of citizens and representatives of various organizations 
were present. Director Thomas McGowan said the meet- 
ing would be open only "for brief remarks." There was evi- 
dently no desire that any one should be heard. W. Oughel- 
tree, chairman of the Road Committee, gave the cue to the 
proceedings by reporting the railroad franchise resolution 
favorably, with the statement that "it had always been the 
custom to concur in matters of this kind in the action of 
any municipality in the county, and the resolution for that 
reason should pass." This was stated with a sober counte- 
nance, notwithstanding the fact that precisely the reverse 
policy had been adopted, and for more than five years per- 
sistently followed by his own committee, and by that same 
board in refusing to concur in the action March 15, 1897, 
of East Orange, in the passage of the ordinance by unani- 
mous vote of the representatives of that municipality trans- 
ferring both of the avenues to the Park Commission. 


H. M. Barrett, a lawyer, then announced that the trolley 
ordinance as passed in East Orange, relative to "the terms 
and conditions, was satisfactory to both sides." William 
J. Baer made an earnest plea for the parkways, and then 
read a letter from Commissioner Frederick M. Shepard con- 
taining some general expressions, and adding : "I am con- 
fident the Park Commission would be glad to carry out the 


original plan if the avenues and the money were put in their 
hands to do it. * * * I think that I have already done 
all that I can do to urge this result." A. P. Boiler said that 
"future generations will call us blessed if we do our duty" 
in respect to the parkways. Archer Brown, Hugh Lamb, 
W. H. Baker and W. E. Kastendike all spoke in a similar 
vein. David Young, of the traction company, was present, 
but said little. It was perfectly evident that there was no 
need for him to urge favorable action for the company. 

I had been requested as chairman of the Joint Committee 
to speak for that organization. There was immediate ob- 
jection by Freeholder Wallace Ougheltree — "because he 
lives in Orange." Just why a resident of the second city of 
the county should be debarred from the "hearing^' did not 
appear. The real reason soon became manifest. Eef erence 
was then made in my remarks to the fact that "the original 
request of the Park Commission, of November, 1896, for 
the avenues was still before the board unacted upon;'' to 
the fact that "the parallelogram of the park system with the 
two avenues for the sides, and Branch Brook Park as the 
Newark terminus, and the mountain parks the other, with a 
railroad on Central avenue, would be forever destroyed;" 
and to the financial reasons, the munificent prospective pro- 
fits, that impelled the corporations to insist on the franchise 
at the expense of the parkways. The favorable results of 
the development of park systems in other urban communi- 
ties were also explained. 

It was a receptive board on that 13th of June, 1903. All 
the members apparently listened to what was said. And 
then they did just what it was apparently understood they 
would do before they came there — passed the railroad fran- 
chise precisely as it was wanted by the traction company. 

Before the vote was taken, a letter was read from the law 
firm of Lindabury, Depue & Faulks, stating that "two writs 
of certiorari had been taken out in the Supreme Court, one 
of them acting as a stay to prevent the carrying on of the 
work until the action of the East Orange Council had been 
reviewed." But what were court proceedings or court stays ? 


The demon of corporate greed was in the saddle, and the 
mandate had gone forth that the franchise should be 
granted. And so it was ; and the ease in the courts went on. 


In the meanwhile the drift of public opinion was re- 
flected in the press. On June 14, 1903, the Newark News, 
editorially, said : "Certainly it was not in response to any 
public sentiment that both the East Orange Council and the 
Board of Freeholders granted a franchise in perpetuity and 
upon the trolley company's own terms;" also, "It is now 
pretty well assured, however, that the park commissioners 
have practically abandoned the idea of embracing Central 
avenue in the park system." 

The Orange Chronicle said: "Had the Essex County 
Board of Freeholders come out flatfooted before its meet- 
ing, last Thursday afternoon, and told the members of the 
Joint Committee on Parkways that it was not going to pay 
the slightest attention, any way, to whatever arguments 
might be brought against its concurrence in the action of 
the East Orange City Council, it would have won at least a 
reputation for honesty, if for nothing else. Happily the 
municipal and county authorities are not the court of last 
resort in this appeal." Individual criticism was even more 
caustic, both in the public prints and in private conversa- 

The Park Board meeting of June 17 was devoted to 
parkways. The "counsel was requested to prepare a proper 
petition to the municipalities requesting the care, custody, 
and control of Park avenue, together with a statement of 
our position." The following day this communication was 
sent to the Board of Freeholders and the authorities of 
Orange : 

"Newark, N. J., June 18, 1903. 
"Gentlemen — The Essex Coimty Park Commission, rec- 
ognizing the ne@d of at least one parkway located in a cen- 
tral part of the county, and running westerly from the city 
of Newari^, reasws its application to be permitted to make 


the avenue known as Park avenue into a parkway. 

"This commission can, with the funds likely to be at its 
disposal for maintenance purposes, undertake the care of 
Park avenue, at least to the extent that it is eared for by the 
Board of Freeholders, and if the Park Commission shall, in 
the future, be provided with further funds, it will undertake 
to develop Park avenue for parkway purposes in a manner 
more commensurate with such purposes. 
"Very respectfully, 

"The Essex Countt Park Commission." 

As now read between the lines and measured at this dis- 
tance of time, this communication seems to indicate clearly 
enough that the commission had quietly succumbed to the 
persuasive wiles of the traction syndicate and had, as pre- 
dicted, "practically abandoned" Central avenue. Such re- 
ports were given wide publicity and were greatly acceler- 
ated by the statements of the trolley agents and attorneys. 
These reports were still more prejudicial to the commission. 
This latter request, for Park avenue only, contrasted with 
the board's prior statement of April 3, as quoted in the 
preceding chapter, was one of the alleged reasons. 

The Chronicle of June 23, 1902, referred to the Park 
avenue request as "a surprising letter," and asked the Park 
Board for an explanation, adding : "Why has it been left 
to citizens to contend for the parkways ? has been a question 
heard on every side with no satisfactory answer. The people 
gave their confidence, their support and vast appropriations 
of money, expecting the commission to be faithful to the 
trust reposed in it and carry out its own plans for the two 
connecting parkways free from political manipulation. 
While their words have been smooth, the best friends of the 
parks and of the commissioners have found it difficult to 
explain their action." 

The Journal concluded that "the application of the Park 
Commission for permission to improve Park avenue as a 
parkway, is a pretty thorough justification of the position 
taken by The Journal that the Essex County Park Commis'- 


sion could not, and would not, develop Central avenue as 
a parkway." 


About this time the false rumors, put in circulation, as to 
the attitude of the public and the current unfavorable re- 
ports as to the Park Commission became so frequent that, 
on June 28, members of the joint committee wrote the com- 
mission as follows : 

"The purpose and intent of those trying to make it ap- 
pear that the people are behind a scheme to appropriate for 
private gain another enormously valuable county road fran- 
chise at the expense of one of the great connective features 
of the park system is becoming well understood, and both 
the conditions and the facts are so clear in this instance they 
cannot long be misconstrued. 

''We have acted in confidence on your reiterated state- 
ments that you have not changed your position in desiring 
both avenues for parkways, and we will be glad either to 
confer with you, or submit further data regarding the 

On July 1, 1902, there was a conference between the New- 
ark Board of Works and the Park Commission at the latter's 
office regarding the Park avenue transfer by the city of 
Newark. Commissioners Eugene Vanderpoel, Eobert F. 
Ballantine, and William A. Brewer were appointed a com- 
mittee on parkways. Commissioner Garrison, of the New- 
ark board, favored the transfer. 

On July 4, 1 went over the parkway situation quite fully 
with Commissioner F. M. Shepard. He assured me that 
"the commission had not changed its position as to the 
avenues" and suggested that I should "see Mr. Brewer." 
The day following I wrote Cyrus Peck as president : 

"The proceedings in the East Orange City Council and 
the ^teeholders, and the way the deal to confiscate the ave- 
nue kaB carried through, have accentuated and materially 


enlarged the whole question to a point where it would seem 
that something must be done by the commission to clear up 
its past record and present attitude as to Central avenue. 

"The counsel not only gives his own consent for a rail- 
road, but both in word and action gives an entirely different 
view and statement from what Mr. Shepard informs me is 
still the attitude of the commission, and some of the county 
papers — clippings enclosed — accept editorially the counsel's 
view as representing the position of the commission." 

A freeholder's statement. 

No reply to this letter was received. On July 15, 1903, 
by request of Commissioner Brewer, I wrote him officially; 
and as a member of the Joint Committee on Parkways, giv- 
ing the statement of one of the freeholders, made to me in 
the presence of a witness in Branch Brook Park the day 
previous. This freeholder, as quoted in that letter, ajnong 
other things, said, he "was favorably impressed by what was 
said in favor of keeping Central avenue for a parkway (the 
afternoon the trolley resolution was passed), and, wishing 
to know the present attitude of the commission before vot- 
ing, went to Counsel Munn and asked him direct, 'Does the 
Park Commission want the avenue for a parkway?' Mr. 
Munn replied, 'No, not that I know of.' A similar inquiry 
was then made of TVally' Ougheltree, of East Orange, the 
chairman of the Road Committee, who replied: 'No. the 
railroad ordinance was before the East Orange City Council 
a long time, and no word of objection was ever received 
from the Park Commission, nor did any one appear there 
from the commission opposing its passage. Had they 
wanted the avenue they would have so stated to the East 
Orange authorities. The commission had made an indefi- 
nite statement some time ago, but their actions had not 
corroborated it.' " 

"The statements quoted from Munn," I added, "are, as 
you will recollect, in entire accord with what members of the 
East Orange City Council positively stated and restated 


Munn had said to them while the trolley ordinance was 
before that body." 

This letter was received by Commissioner William 
Brewer, and a day or two later by the commission; but I 
was never asked for further particulars. Counsel J. L. 
Munn remained ; and matters favorable to the traction com- 
pany's obtaining Central avenue, went on as before. 


The Orange Eepublican City Convention of October 1, 
1903, adopted in its platform a clean-cut and definitely ex- 
pressed clause, declaring for Park and Central avenues for 
parkways. The trend of public opinion was toward demand- 
ing that the City Council should take favorable action on 
the Cuddy transfer ordinance as approved by the Park Com- 
mission months before, and which had been resting with the 
'Street Committee since its introduction on December 3, 
1900. At the council meeting of October 13, 1902, the or- 
dinance, then again offered as a new ordinance and approved 
by the Street Committee, was passed on first reading by a 
unanimous vote. The little discussion which followed was 
all in favor of that action. 

The ordinance (after the customary advertisement) was, 
at the meeting November 10, again, under suspension of 
the rules, in like manner, finally passed. It then went to 
Mayor Henry Stetson for his action. In an interview in the 
Newark papers just prior to this — and a few days before the 
fall election — the Mayor had declared that he had "been 
ready at all times to favor any action by the city authorities 
which would further the parks and parkways," and "that, 
whenever a proper ordinance shall be laid before me, I will 
have no hesitation in approving it." 

As the ordinance, as passed ten days after this statement 
was made public, was drawn expressly to meet all the 
objections the Mayor had made to the two previous transfer 
ordinances, the statement was construed by the uninitiated 
as a favorable omen, and tantamount to a promise of his in- 
tended action on the ordinance then before the council. He 


■was, however, very chary as to making any specific commit- 
ments. On ISTovember 11, 1902, he wrote the Park Com- 
mission to know if, "in the event of the ordinance's becom- 
ing effective, you intend to improve Central avenue west 
from Centre street, it having been rumored that, should the 
avenue be turned over to you, you would not improve it be- 
yond the point mentioned ; also is it your intention to open 
up the avenue, in a line from its present terminus at Valley 
road to the top of the mountain ?" 

The reply was equally elusive, although the commission 
had, in March, 1901, already formally approved a similar 
ordinance containing the same conditions. The substance 
of the response was that "the commission has not seen the 
proposed ordinance, and before making any statements con- 
cerning it would like to have a copy." 


The sources of public opinion continued to reflect the 
general desire for favorable action on the parkway ordi- 
nance. This sentiment was well expressed in a published, 
letter, written on November 2, 1903, by Monsignor 6. H. 
Doane, in which, in referring to the Essex County parks, 
he said: "Little has been done as yet in the direction of 
parkways. We have the parks, but we want to connect 
them ; we have the pearls, but we want to string them, and 
that is what the parkways would do.' 

Mayor Stetson vetoed the ordinance. The message was 
received by the City Council December 1, 1903, This third 
"hold-up" of the action favored by the public, and as passed 
by the City Council, was, according to the veto, based on 
"two facts which became apparent ; one, that your body has 
no power to make the proposed transfer, and, two, that the 
Park Board cannot consent to it. Ideally I think your pro- 
posed action would be very praiseworthy, were it practica- 
ble, but my opinion, as well as that of many other judicious 
people, is, that it is hq-w impossible, for the reasons stated. 


* * * The residents of these broad public avenues are 
entitled to have the most convenient means of access to 
business and church centres." 

Who the "judicious people" were, who concurred in the 
Mayor's pseudo-legal decision, excepting the Park Board's 
counsel, J. L. Munn — who at once came to the rescue in a 
published interview December 4, expressing his "profound 
respect and consideration" for the Mayor's opinion — was 
never, to my knowledge, made public. City Counsel T. A. 
Davis, of Orange, in a written opinion to the Common 
Council of that place, on December 8, 1902, riddled the 
Mayor's legal contentions, and in an exhaustive statement 
cited ample authorities to show that the Mayor's position 
had no foundation in fact. Eev. H. P. Fleming, in a pub- 
lished letter of December 13, treated the veto message even 
more severely. 

"I say that the Mayor is a traitor to the public welfare of 
this whole community, proven to be such by his pharisaical 
utterances," was the forceful way he expressed that view. 
This he did after ridiculing the points in the veto, and then 
appealed to the members of the City Council to override the 

Other criticisms were unsparing, alike of the Mayor's 
feelings and of the shallow pretense of his legal excuse. As 
in the case of the much "counseled counsel," the mask had 
at last been cast aside, and it was soon generally known, as 
some had known before, that the Mayor was for the railroad 
ajid against the parkway first, last, and all the time; and 
that, if one excuse should not avail, another would be 
readily found. Counsel Munn, in the interview referred to, 
endeavored to stem the adverse tide of public comment by 
declaring that "the Executive's view of the matter was radi- 
cally strong, and that it should command the utmost atten- 
tion." "There seems to be no question," said Munn, "that 
the legislation in regard to the avenues has put the scheme 
of transfer in a very perplexing position, for the present at 
least." And this public statement was made after he had 
for years officially, as the Park Board's counsel, advised that 


there was no legal obstacle in the way of the avenues' 


Six members of the Orange City Council were evidently 
converted to the Stetson-Munn railroad side of the ques- 
tion. When the Mayor's veto came up for action before the 
council on December 15, 1902, five weeks after its unani- 
mous passage there, these six new converts (?) voted the 
other way, and in support of the veto. And thus, for the 
third time, the parkway ordinance was killed in the house of 
its supposed friends. At once there were the usual charges 
and recriminations. "Under the eye of public scorn" was 
the caption of a drastic editorial in one of the leading papers 
in referring to the action of these six councilmen, who had 
shifted their votes; and "not a single soul of the group 
could or would explain his astounding action," was the way 
the article went on. And "the insidious influence of the 
trolley interests may, for a time, prevail, but we do not be- 
lieve that those who have lent themselves to this scheme of 
interference, will, in the end, have to give away to a mercen- 
ary corporation a franchise for that which is the people's 
right," was the conclusion. 

The Kews of December 17, said, editorially: "It is won- 
derful the number of obstacles that have been found to de- 
lay the transfer of these avenues to the Park Board. In 
this respect it almost equals the service of the local traction 

December 9, 1902, I wrote the Paxk Commission as 
follows : 

"The time has come for plain speaking and prompt ac- 
tion unless the commission wish to assume the task of car- 
rying a load which will now rapidly become a staggering 
burden, I think, in the minds of all fair-minded men, cer- 
tainly of the men well-informed on park matters throughout 
the Oranges. 

"I want to say to you, in all kindness and with all ear- 
nestness, that the lines axe now drawn, and the Park Com- 


mission, for its own credit and honor, must accept or repu- 
diate the responsibility of an employe now so discredited in 
his own community as to make his retention in the Park 
Board a serious and growing menace." 

And, on December 16, I wrote : "As the action of the 
Orange Council last evening will tend to accelerate rather 
than modify the situation you are placed in by the action of 
your counsel, I deem it just to you and to myself to state 
some of the causes leading up to the situation briefly indi- 
cated in my letter to you of the ninth instant." I then re- 
ferred to the statements made by Counsel Munn to some of 
the members of the East Orange City Council while the rail- 
road ordinance for Central avenue was there pending; 
quoted the statements of the freeholder in Branch Brook 
Park, as above mentioned; referred to the commission's 
"emphatic declarations" regarding the avenues for park- 
ways, and to "their own counsel, whose statements and acts" 
had for months contradicted those declarations; and en- 
closed a copy of the statement of E. H. Snyder, of January 
15, 1897, as quoted from at length in Chapter XII. 


I was advised on December 24 that the communications 
"had been received and placed on file." And the plans of 
the traction company for appropriating the parkway con- 
tinued to move directly forward, as before. 

It may here be of interest to note, with what facility and 
readiness existing public highways, avenues, or streets may 
be transferred, and have been transferred under the Essex 
County Park Commission's charter, when such contem- 
plated action on the part of the interested governing bodies 
is not subject to the demoralizing influences, which delayed 
for years and finally prevented the transfer of one of the 
two vitally important parkway avenues. Within ten days 
after the passage of the parkways resolution by the Park 
Board in November, 1896, H. H. Hart, then president of 
the South Orange Village Board of Trustees, called a spe- 
cial meeting of that board to act upon the question, and at 


the meeting of November 25, by unanimous vote, South 
Orange avenue, "from the westerly line of Ridgewood road, 
westerly to the western boundary of South Orange," was 
transferred to the commission "for the purpose of the park 
act." Owing to a modification of the Park Board plans, the 
avenue was never accepted, but the transfer on the part of 
the authorities was thus promptly effected. 

The ordinance transferring the short end of Park and 
Central avenues in West Orange, was introduced at the 
Township Committee's November meeting, finally passed 
at the next meeting, and officially reported to the Park 
Board on November 20, 1897. 

The application for Brookside avenue was not made until 
May, 1897, but the transfer was promptly made and ac- 
cepted by the Park Commission September 11, 1897. In 
the board's official report for 1897 this reference (page 14) 
occurs : "The Brookside road, which has been transferred 
to the commission by the Millburn authorities, has been im- 
proved and is an excellent example of the way a neglected 
road can at slight expense be converted into a delightful 
pleasure drive. The entire drive of two miles has been 
drained, widened, graded and stoned at a cost of $3,000." 
Thus, from the Park Board's own standpoint this improve- 
ment was used as an illustration, and as an example of how 
existing avenues could be at comparatively slight expense 
converted into parkways. This, if important for a moun- 
tain roadway, how vastly more important was the practical 
application of the same principle to the two great connect- 
ing parkways so vital to the whole park system. ' 

The transfer of Mt. Prospect avenue. West Orange, was 
not requested by the Park Board until March, 1898, but was 
made without delay or objection, the local authorities being 
anxious to co-operate with the Park Commission in securing 
parkway benefits for their localities, rather than opposing 
such improvements for j^ears, under the blighting influence 
of the corporations, as in the case of Park and Central . 

On January 16, 1903, the Supreme Court rendered a de- 


cision sustaining the validity of the railroad ordinance for 
Central avenue as passed in East Orange, April 28, 1902. 
The opinion was rendered by Justice Collins, who, prior to 
his appointment on the bench, was a member of the law firm 
of Collins & Corbin, and whose partner was a stockholder of 
record of the North Jersey Street Railway Company. 
Chandler W. Biker, and P. Woodruff, as also the counsel 
for East Orange, appeared for the traction company, and 
R. V. Lindabury made the argument for the property owner 
plaintiffs. Although it was shown by the testimony that 
Bishop J. J. O'Connor was not the owner of the cemetery 
property on the avenue at the time he gave a written con- 
sent, and that that consent was necessary in order to con- 
stitute a majority of the frontage owners' consents, as 
clearly provided by law, the court decided that, in this case, 
"ecclesiastical polity" of the Catholic Church might be sub- 
stituted for legally recorded ownership, and held that the 
ordinance, based upon such consent, was accordingly valid. 


The ease was at once appealed. The appeal acted in the 
meantime as a stay or injunction against the traction com- 
pany. Mr. Lindabury advised that, in his opinion, the 
Supreme Court decision referred to could not be sustained 
by the higher court. Efforts were then made to obtain from 
the Park Commission some action or earnest of its repeated 
assurances regarding the main parkways. 

On April 9, 1903, the Joint Committee on Parkways had 
adopted a resolution requesting "the Park Commission to 
officially express to the East Orange City Council that 
board's repeatedly expressed desire to secure the care, cus- 
tody, and control of Central avenue,' and appointing a sub- 
committee of three to present the resolution to the com- 
mission. This committee, consisting of H. G. Atwater, J. 
F. Freeman and myself, made the presentment on April 12. 
At that conference, the Park Board gave no suggestion or 
intimation whatever that there had been any change in the 
attitude of the commission respecting the avenue parkways. 


It appears from the records, however, that at that same 
meeting, after the committee had left the board rooms, a 
resolution was, in executive session, offered by Commis- 
sioner John K. Hardin, and, at the next secret meeting of 
the Park Board adopted, that "the landscape architects be 
instructed to prepare, as soon as possible, a scheme of im- 
provement for parkway purposes, of Central avenue from 
the Bast Orange parkway to the Orange line, assuming the 
avenue will not be widened, and that a double-track rail- 
way, with overhead wires, will be placed on the center line 
thereof; roadway twenty feet wide on each side of the 
tracks; lawn treatment, etc., shrubs and trees, and treated 
as a street for both business and pleasure; the landscape 
architects also to furnish estimates of cost." 


The report of Olmsted Brothers, of May 7 and May 
16, following that resolution, advised that "the improve- 
ment in the manner indicated will not be worth the cost" ; 
that it involved "a purely engineering affair without the 
slightest element of beauty or art;" if it should be 
adopted, the avenue should be widened from "the East Or- 
ange Parkway to the Orange line to at least 110 feet, and 
new building lines established." The estimated cost was 
then given at $119,384, with an annual maintenance ac- 
count of $4,389. 

Why this action of the Park Commission, in "assuming" 
as it did in the resolution quoted, that the question of a 
railroad on the avenue was then settled, and calling for a 
report combining a trolley and parkway project— which was 
at direct variance with the board's announced policy for 
years theretofore, in contending that a parkway and trolley 
way could not be properly made on a 100 feet wide highway 
— was kept secret and from the joint committee and the 
public, is to me now, as I make this record, in view of all 
the circumstances, unaccountable ; and I pass from the sub- 
ject without comment. 

The request of the joint committee referred to, as to send- 


ing a communication to the Bast Orange authorities, was 
not complied with. 

On June 15, 1903, committees of the Eoad Horse Asso- 
ciation, the New England Society, and the Joint Commit- 
tee, presented petitions and resolutions of these organiza- 
tions urging that similar action be taken with Central ave- 
nue as had been recently taken with Park avenue. These 
resolutions referred to "the five hundred tax-paying citizens 
of the Eoad Horse Association" as recognizing "in Central 
avenue the natural parkway by reason of its width, level 
grade, and accessible location," and petitioned the commis- 
sion "to immediately assume control of Central avenue, 
agreeable to the original plan of said commission." It was 
also set forth that this was "in no sense a local question," 
and that "neither are the local officials nor the public in- 
formed as to the need of convenient connecting parkways, 
as are you gentlemen, who have studied this question as 
affecting the whole county." J. B. Dusenberry stated that 
"the population of Ifewark south of Central avenue and 
east of Fourteenth street comprised seven-eighths of the 
total inhabitants, and there was no avenue directly connect- 
ing the mountain reservation and Orange parks possible for 
a parkway excepting that avenue." 

Eev. Henry Eose, C. F. Lawrence, Alden Freeman, C. 
A. Dickson, W. J. Baer, and others were present and spoke. 
The commission was non-committal as to any future action. 
The reception of the delegates was not, however, enthusias- 
tically cordial. The Newark News, in commenting upon 
the conference, said, on June 21, 1903 : "Four influential 
organizations appeared, by their representatives, before the 
Park Commission last week and presented reasons why Cen- 
tral avenue should be made a parkway. The arguments 
they urged are incontrovertible." 

The Daily Advertiser editorial of June 16 said : 

"The Board of Freeholders cannot disregard this power- 
ful sentiment at the behest of private corporate interests 
that have already been granted nearly all of the public 
highways ; especially 'in view of the fact that the trolley ex- 


tension can be built over another route which will just as 
well serve the public convenience. By utilizing existing 
avenues as parkways the cost of improvement is moderate." 
The Orange Chronicle asked: "Why, then, should the 
Park Commissioners now remain silent in the matter of 
carrying out their own plans? Why should they not now, 
by their action, show a creditable desire to have the park 
system carried forward to a creditable completion ?" 

THE public's position. 

Another press comment was : " The absolute inertia of this 
'better class' board has resulted in taxpayers going to great 
expense to contest the trolley grab ; and, still worse, the very 
people who have been the stanchest supporters of the Park 
Commission find themselves obliged to organize in commit- 
tees, and to almost demand of the Park Commission that 
its latest pre-election pledges be carried out." 

Appeals were also made direct to the new management of 
the traction company. The Public Service Corporation had 
been organized, and had absorbed, by exchange of its stock 
and otherwise, all the leading traction, electric light, and 
gas companies of Northern New Jersey. Although the cor- 
poration was purely a "business" company, it consolidated 
and combined into one ownership the direct control of all 
the various financial pyramids that had been created with 
fictitiously watered capital, for the purpose of absorbing and 
retaining in the hands of the stockholders the millions of 
clear profits made out of the free franchises that had been 
mulcted from the county and local governing bodies. This 
scheme enabled a few men to thus concentrate vast financial 
and political power, to perpetuate, and, as far as might be 
possible, in the future, to control and hold the vast public 
privileges obtained, and to become an important, if not a 
controlling factor in shaping State and local legislation 

But the new ownership control was, under the new man- 
agement, largely in the hands of Essex County institutions, 
and of men who, it was thought, could not be entirely 


blinded to a situation so vitally affecting the Park Board 
plans and so directly affecting, for all the future, the people 
of the county. 


With this view the joint committee on parkways on June 
17, 1903, wrote President T. N. McCarter, referring to the 
"drastic measures taken by the former management of the 
traction interests to avoid insolvency," made necessary by 
the unrestricted over-capitalization, get-rich-quick policy of 
the various companies, and to the disposition theretofore 
"to destroy the parkways" — a policy, the committee believed 
"the continuation of which would not appear favorable," 
or appeal "to yourself and associates in the new manage- 
ment, either in the interest of your corporation or in the 
public interest you now have the opportunity to serve ac- 

The reply, as editorially interpreted by the News, was: 
"Very beautiful and touching is the solicitude of the Public 
Service Corporation for the good of the dear public. Mr. 
McCarter is a firm believer in parkways so long as they do 
not interfere with the plans 'of that corporation,' " — which 
quotation gives, in a few words, the gist of the whole letter. 
The attitude of the company was indicated in the conclud- 
ing paragraph of this letter, as follows: "If the right of 
the railway to extend its tracks on Central avenue be sus- 
tained, -the question will then have to be determined by the 
real needs of the people, to whom the duty of Public Ser- 
vice is paramount." 

The East Orange railway ordinance case was yet before 
the higher court, and the next move on the chessboard of 
parkway affairs was the reintroduction, on October 5, 1903, 
of the transfer ordinance in the Orange Common Council. 
Since the action of the Eepublican City Committee the year 
previous, and the continued public agitation in favor of the 
parkways, the sentiment, outside of the limited circle of the 
opposing Mayor and those especially friendly to the traction 
company, appeared to consist of a general demand for favor- 


able action by the authorities. The ordinance, -which was 
a copy of the "Cuddy ordinance," passed November 10, 
1902, and previously approved by the Park Commission, 
was, without opposition, passed on first reading at the coun- 
cil meeting October 5, and finally passed by a vote of 9 to 
4 on November 9, 1903. 

About this time a sufficient number of votes in the City 
Council were unequivocally pledged to pass the ordinance 
over the Mayor's veto, should the usual tactics of the execu- 
tive be adopted in his aption on this measure. The Mayor, 
presumably having a knowledge of what was going on, had 
previously begun to hedge and fence for position, so to 
speak. On May 15, 1903, he had written the Park Com- 
mission again, asking, in the event of the transfer ordi- 
nance becoming effective, did the board "intend to improve 
Central avenue west from Centre street." 

The commission's reply of May 30, 1903, was as follows: 

"Dear Sir — Your letter with regard to Park and Central 
avenues was laid before the commission at its meeting yes- 
terday, and I was directed to say that the questions con- 
cerning Central avenue were thoroughly discussed in the 
last annual report of the commission, a copy of which I 
transmit under separate cover. Since that time questions 
relating to Central avenue have been and are now before 
the courts awaiting adjudication. The commission, there- 
fore, has given no further consideration to that subject." 

On November 10, the Mayor again wrote that he had 
before him "for approval or disapproval an ordinance pro- 
viding for ihe transfer of Park and Central avenues" ; that 
he enclosed a copy of the document, adding : 

"Before acting upon the ordinance I desire to obtain 
the views of the Park Commission upon it, as to its ac- 
ceptability in its present form, etc. I am also desirous of 
learning whether, in the event of the ordinances going into 
effect, the commission would improve Central avenue in 
this city west of Centre street." 

The letter also asked for an early reply. 

The Park Board's reply of November 13, after referring 


to the enclosure of copies of the commission's letters of 
June 18 and June 30, 1903, stated : 

"The freeholders, acting under Chapter 234 of the laws 
of 1903, have transferred to this commission the care, cus- 
tody and control of Park avenue throughout its entire 
length. Our views concerning Park avenue are fully ex- 
pressed in our letter of June 18, 1903, and concerning 
Central avenue in our letter of May 20, 1903." 

To this communication the Mayor on November 14 made 
answer : 

"Gentlemen — I beg to acknowledge the receipt of yours 
of the twelfth instant. Your letter does not give me all 
that I requested. I would like to know whether the ordi- 
nance in relation to Park and Central avenues, of which 
you have a copy, is acceptable to you in its present shape." 

On November 24, 1903, the commission replied that "the 
meeting that day was the first held since the receipt" of his 
letter, and then this followed : 

"The attitude of the Park Commission in regard to Park 
and Central avenues is fully stated in the report of the 
commission for 1901 on pages 15 et seq., as we have here- 
tofore stated to your honor. 

"It is unnecessary to discuss the form of the ordinance 
transmitted to us by your honor, as we observe by the public 
prints that your honor has vetoed it." 

Mayor Stetson's veto was announced November 23, the 
day previous. The alleged reasons, as stated in the message, 
were, as before, that the Common Council had "no author- 
ity" to make the transfer ; that the replies of the Park Com- 
mission to his inquiries had been "evasive and unsatisfac- 
tory"; that "it seems to me, so far as Central avenue is 
concerned, the Park Commission does not particularly de- 
sire the care, custody, and control of the thoroughfore ; and 
that, in any event, it is not advisable to make a parkway 
of Central avenue" on account of the heavy traffic there, etc. 

It required two-thirds, or eleven of the sixteen votes, of 
the City Council members to override the veto. The veto 
message came before the council for action December 7, 


1903. The eleven necessary votes were pledged. On roll call 
Councilman F. C. Read, who had each time voted for the 
ordinance on its passage, and had agreed to again vote for 
it, voted no. Two of his colleagues, Councilmen Frank 
Coughtry and E. S. Perry, stated that he had repledged 
each of them again after the council meeting was in session 
that same evening, to vote aye. Alderman Ira Williams, 
who had also previously voted for the ordinance, and had 
promised to vote for it on final passage, as suddenly 
"flopped," and voted with the minority of six to support 
the Mayor. Fo public reasons were ever given why those 
two votes were so suddenly changed. This action broke 
the requisite two-thirds line by one vote, and killed the 
parkway ordinance. 


Thus, for the fourth time, the evil influences of cor- 
porate aggrandizement, following the courses and methods 
that morally irresponsible corporations know so well how, 
in legislative bodies, to use to best accomplish their pur- 
poses had prevailed, and again was the revolving wheel of 
parkway progress clogged. Both the Park Commission and 
the corporation representatives were publicly and privately 
severely criticized. The former was openly charged with 
"half-hearted" action, "and the impression has gained 
ground that the commission repents of its early stand and 
wishes to get rid of the problem lately grown out of the 
parkway business. Can the commission tell why it is that 
it does not want Central avenue now?" On every side 
were heard adverse comments over the traction company's 
proceedings. There were the usual castigations, where, as 
in many an American city, good citizenship finds, that, for 
the time being, it is bound hand and foot by an insidious 
lurking power, which robs the community of its birthright 
and good name at the same time that it sequestrates and 
appropriates to itself, as with perpetual utility franchises, 
the property of the citizens unto the farthest generations 
of those who shall come after. 


But the agitation had been productive of good. It had 
stripped off the mask of more of those who had oflacially 
or personally masqueraded as standing for what they al- 
leged was for the public good. It had aroused the public 
conscience. It formed the incubator, and later became the 
mainspring of the movement for limited franchises — which 
issue, each of the leading poHtical parties have since ar- V 
dently and assiduously claimed as their own. The irresist- 
ible power of public opinion, growing out of the parkways' 
discussion, had forced the corporations to abandon the 
scheme for appropriating also Park avenue. And while 
the Park Commission remained in silent inactivity, as 
though stricken with official paralysis, or put to sleep by 
corporate hypnotism, or led by the pernicious imp of pro- 
crastination, the causes that were to create an awakening 
of the people were, by the parkways' contest, well grounded, 
and have since been rapidly extending. And if the apathy 
of the good citizens of Essex County, and of the State — 
the great lodestone of the present political and legislative 
situation — can, through this or other agitations, be changed 
to an active participation in public affairs, a repe- 
tition of the perpetual franchise-acquiring evils and the 
corrupting, boss-ridden, and demoralizing conditions wit- 
nessed in ihe eight years' contest over the parkways, will 
be impossible, and ample reward will have been made for 
all the time, money, and effort thus expended. 


The surrender of Park avenue by the trolley interests 
was decided upon early in June, 1903. No sooner had the 
decision to allow the county and local governing boards to 
transfer that avenue for a parkway been made, than those in 
authority, apparently most anxious to do the corporation's 
bidding, with alacrity responded. Although, as before 
stated, the special request of the Park Commission for Park 
avenue alone, when that board "recognized the need of at 
least one parkway," after contending for nearly seven years 
that two were necessary, was made June 19, 1903, that re- 


quest had been allowed to rest in the pigeon-hole archives 
of both the Board of Freeholders and of the Orange City 
Council, without either report or favorable action all that 

When, however, the Public Service Corporation managers 
recognized that, with the rising tide of public sentiment, 
should they continue to contend for both avenues, they 
"might fall backward and lose both," the yielding of one — 
the least valuable for either parkway or trolley way — was 
reluctantly agreed upon. Presto ! The precedent of the 
freeholders, which, since 1896, had been promulgated as a 
principle, almost too sacred or too important to be waved 
or broken, viz., that the board should not, and could not, 
act on the avenue transfer question until after the local 
governing boards directly interested had taken action, was 
at once cast to the winds. The Orange authorities had not 
only failed to act favorably on Park avenue, but had then, 
three times, expressly declined to make the transfer of both 
avenues. Notwithstanding this action and the "precedent" 
mentioned, the Board of Freeholders promptly and form- 
ally transferred Park avenue June 11, 1903, and the formal 
acceptance "with thanks of the Park Commission" soon 

These acts and facts proved more clearly than words, that 
really nothing had stood in the way of the prompt transfer 
and parkway use of both avenues for years, excepting the 
baneful, hidden hand of the corporate giant, which was 
continuously pulling the strings behind the scenes, and ma- 
nipulating the toy ofBcials to do its bidding in thus thwart- 
ing the will of the people, and depriving them of both their 
parkways and franchise possessions. 



The parkways movement cialminated in 1904, as did 
likewise the plans for completing the remnants of the 
Essex County park system. On February 29 the Court of 
Errors and Appeals handed down a decision in the East 
Orange Central avenue trolley ordinance case. The de- 
cisions reversed the findings of the Supreme Court and de- 
clared the ordinance invalid. The case for the property 
owners and the Avenue Association was argued with great 
ability by their counsel, E. V. Lindabury. 

The decision was reported as unanimous. It turned 
mainly on the point as to the validity of Bishop J. J. 
O'Connor's consent. The court was evidently convinced 
that ecclesiastical orders, or the internal regulations of a 
religious organization, could not be substituted for the well- 
established laws and precedents for determining realty own- 
ership — ^the principle involved in the Supreme Court's de- 
cision of the same question. The action of the higher court 
cleared the parkways atmosphere. 

Appeals were at once made to the Park Commission and 
to the Public Service Corporation. The former was re- 
minded that "non-action by the Park Board is literally faith 
without works;" that "earnest, vigorous action would at 
once enlist the active support of press and public all over 
the county," and it was asked : "Will the Park Commission, 
with its great power, opportunities, and present privileges, 
lead or follow the movement?" It was also pointed out 
that "should one of your number appear before the free- 
holders, to state and explain to them your position and 
wishes, all doubts and misgivings on this question would 



speedily disappear." One of the leading papers, on March. 
5, 1904, editorially reminded the commissioners that "the 
time for standing upon their dignity and maintaining an 
exasperating silence has, for the members of that body, 
gone by." The New England Society, on the same date, 
adopted by unanimous vote a resolution "unequivocally re- 
affirming its indorsement of the report of the special com- 
mittee on parkways reported and unanimously approved 
April, 1902," and authorizing "the appointment of five 
additional members to act with the Joint Committee on 
Parkways toward completing the transfer and improvement 
of Central and Park avenues into parkways." 

The commission announced on March 9, 1904, that it was 
considering the parkway problem "very carefully, and when 
they came to a conclusion on the matter" it would be com- 
municated, and "they would use every effort to come to a 
conclusion satisfactory to the citizens of the Oranges." A 
legislative bill, prepared under the direction of the com- 
mission, was introduced at Trenton about this time by As- 
semblyman B. D. DufBeld (Assembly 317), authorizing 
county boards to transfer streets or avenues, in whole or 
in part. The announcement was soon made that this bill 
"would go through." A hearing was given upon it by the 
Municipal Corporations Committee March 17. Notice of 
the hearing was given in the Newark papers on March 16, 
and the Joint Committee on Parkways received a special 
notification. A number of citizens from Essex County were 
in attendance and spoke for the bill. J. L. Munn and 
others opposing the measure for the traction company were 
present, but (publicly) said nothing. The Park Commis- 
sion was in no way represented there. This caused much 
unfavorable comment, and it was at once reported about 
the State House that that board was indifferent as to the 
fate of the bill. The lobby prevailed. 


One of the Assembly committeeman said he would do 
nothing that would prevent the traction company from 


extending its lines on Central avenue. The bill was pigeon- 
holed. It was never heard of again. The Park Board's 
secretary, Alonzo Church, afterward stated that he did not 
know of the hearing on the bill. His partner, J. L. Munn, 
was, however, present when the matter came up before the 

The question as to whether the trolley extension should 
be on Central avenue or by another route, and thus save the 
parkway, was fully covered in the conferences and corre- 
spondence between the Public Service Corporation presi- 
dent and the joint committee, and extended over some 
months. The situation was also quite fully presented to 
Senator John F. DTyden in April, 1904. As one largely 
interested in the Public Service and allied corporations, 
and having advanced more than $300,000 for the organiza- 
tion and early financing of the North Jersey Street Rail- 
way Company, which company had at that time become, 
by exchange of its securities, one of the important con- 
stituent parts of the Public Service Corporation, and hav- 
ing become active also in political and public aifairs, it 
was thought that Mr. Dryden's counsel and advice might 
tend to prevent "the irreparable injury to this great county 
improvement which means so much in cost and future wel- 
fare to all the people of the county, should the past policy 
of the traction company be insisted upon by the present 
management." The "responsibility and solution are alike 
simplified from the fact that your company can select an- 
other route that will conserve all public requirements and 
thus preserve the integrity of the park system, and thereby 
end this controversy and the consequent antagonisms that 
must continue to grow to larger proportions, now that the 
underlying conditions are becoming better understood." 

Mr. Dryden declined to exercise his good offices in the 
direction indicated, advising that his "participation in the 
management of the company does not extend to matters 
of that kind." The practical response, or the result of the 
correspondence with the Public Service Corporation, was, 
on March 14, 1904, a new application from the Consolidated 


Traction Company to the East Orange City Council for 
another Central avenue franchise. 


The former defect in the "consents" had beeri made good 
by Bishop O'Connor's having signed a new consent for 
more than 900 feet of cemetery property fronting on the 
avenue, the deed of the property having in the meantime 
been transferred to him. This new railroad application 
brought the question squarely to an issue. It was generally 
believed, as indicated by public utterances and by the press, 
that much depended upon the attitude of the Park Com- 
mission, and that, if that board should enter an emphatic 
protest, the East Orange authorities would not again re- 
spond to the behest of the traction company, even under a 
repetition of the former methods of exercising its persuasion 
through the party "organization." 

The pressure upon the Park Board to do something was 
continually being strengthened. On March 22 the commis- 
sion issued a lengthy statement to the public, and a copy 
was sent to the freeholders. It was also published in full — 
pages 23 to 27 of the eighth annual report of the depart- 
ment, issued in August, 1904. The statement recited the 
"constant effort" that had been made "to obtain the ave- 
nue for a parkway" ; that "whatever the commission could 
do in a proper and dignified manner" to that end "has been 
done"; that the action of the courts in setting aside the 
trolley grant in East Orange "does not alter the attitude 
of this board" ; that it "was bound to respect the action of 
the Common Council and the Board of Chosen Freeholders" 
as "the direct representatives of the people" ; and that "the 
Park Commission must decline to tal^e a partisan stand" 
on the trolley question, although "it desires to obtain the 
avenue as a parkway, and has repeatedly said so, and its 
requests for the transfer are now on file with the East Or- 
ange Common Council." 

The statement then refers to the Duffield bill, above men- 
tioned, "introduced into the present Legislature to cure the 


new trouble," that "the board has been informed that it can- 
not pass," and again "positively declines, as it has repeat- 
edly done before, to be drawn into a partisan quarrel be- 
tween two factions of citizens, each of whom it represents, 
and for the interests of all of whom it is earnestly working." 

As the two factions of citizens at "issue" on this par- 
ticular question were, in reality, the general public, and 
supposedly the Park Commission on the one side, and the 
avaricious corporation octopus, with its widely extended 
tentacles on the other; and as the two interests were in 
this instance in direct and unavoidable opposition to each 
other, this statement tended to make the matter of the Park 
Board's previous uncertain attitude still more uncertain; 
and to enlarge, rather than curtail, the confusion that this 
"new straddle" occasioned. 

The effect of the statement upon the Board of Freehold- 
ers was also, to all appearances, unfavorable. When the 
communication was read at the meeting of that board on 
April 14, 1904, Freeholder W. Ougheltree, referring to the 
condition of Park avenue, since its transfer, expressed his 
"surprise at the 'cheek' of the Park Commission in suggest- 
ing such a thing" as the transfer of another avenue. The 
Park Board's communication was then "placed on file." 

The situation was also made interesting about this time 
by an informal conference between one of the former Park 
Commissioners and the Park Board over the avenue ques- 
tion. Four of the commissioners were present. They were 
appealed to to state definitely and conclusively: First, if 
they still believed that Central avenue should be secured as 
a parkway; and, second, did they "consider it a necessity" 
in properly carrying out their plans? Each of the four 
commissioners gave an affirmative response to each of these 
questions. On March 23 this ex-commissioner wrote the 
commission at length on the subject, concluding the letter 
as follows : 


"To offset the adverse influence now applied at Trenton, 
in the councils of Orange and East Orange, and in the 


Board of Freeholders, a plain, unmistakable public expres- 
sion of their desires by the Park Commissioners will be 
effective, and will certainly bring good cheer to those public- 
minded citizens who have been, and axe, contributing their 
efforts, as they believe, in furthering the purposes of the 
Park Commission." 

In furtherance of this conference and correspondence, the 
sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Parkways at- 
tended the Park Board meeting of April 13, 1904. This 
committee consisted, as at the previous conference meeting 
with the board, of H. G-. Atwater, J. F. Freeman, and my- 
self, as chairman of the committee. As the commission 
had informally given the assurances as above quoted pri- 
vately, the committee went to this meeting to petition and 
request that a representative of the commission should go 
before the City Council of East Orange, or in such other 
manner as the board might deem best, by or before the 
following Monday night, when the new franchise applica- 
tion was to be considered, and make a similar, unqualified 
statement as to the position of the commission regarding 
the Central avenue parkway. The committee urged that 
the commission could, in its opinion, "as trustees of the 
people of the county, consistently, and very properly, de- 
fend both the parks and the parkways" ; that "many be- 
lieved this to be an obligation under the trust imposed and 
accepted by the commission under the law for establish- 
ing the park system," and under their oath of office, which 
prescribed that they were to "preserve and care for, lay out 
and improve, any such parks and places," as provided in 
their charter; "and that the appropriations voted by the 
people had been made with the expectation that the com- 
mission would preserve as well as create the desired parks 
and designated parkways." 

The commission was, as it had been theretofore, wholly 
non-committal. No assurance was given the committee, 
other than that the request would have "due consideration." 

The following day the published reports of the confer- 
ence were so entirely misleading — putting words in the 


mouths of both the commissioners and members of the com- 
mittee that had never been uttered, and placing the whole 
subject in such a false light — that the committee at once 
wrote the president of the commission referring to the facts^ 
and adding : "Whatever views yourself and your associatea 
may entertain on those matters, the giving out for publica- 
tion of such a misleading statement as the one in question 
would seem to call for prompt action and correction, due 
alike to the public, to you, to the conferees, the joint com- 
mittee and the organizations they represent. Both the 
tone and erroneous statements of the article make mani- 
fest a purpose for giving out such a statement, the tone 
and meaning of which should be gratifying to those oppos- 
ing Central avenue for a parkway and making special ef- 
forts to obtain the use of the avenue for commercial 

committee's lettee ignored. 

No acknowledgment or reply to that communication was 
received by the committee, although the commission's at- 
tention was again called to the matter April 25, in which 
letter of inquiry was added: "You no doubt noticed the 
response of those interests to whom the boquet referred 
to was thrown, viz. : in the billingsgate of abuse of the 
commission from the Public Service attorney, at the meet- 
ing in East Orange last Monday evening." 

The correction of the false report referred to was never 
made. No representative of the commission appeared be- 
fore the East Orange City Council., No communica- 
tion from the Park Board was received when, at the meet- 
ing April 18, 1904, the new trolley ordinance came up for 
action there. That meeting was a lively one. For nearly 
four hours the contest over the avenue was waged. Matters 
were at high tension. Preparations for the struggle had 
been going on for weeks. The meeting was in- Common- 
wealth Hall. Lawyers A. J. Baldwin, F. W. Fort and L. 
D, H. Gilmour represented the traction company. G. S. 


Hulbert, Gardiner Colby and other representative citizens, 
with Attorney F. H. Sommer, spoke for the parkways. 
These arguments covered the usual wide range, including a 
suggestion by Mr. Hulbert for the appointment of a "com- 
mission to investigate the whole subject and report." The 
corporation attorneys made the usual meaningless promises 
and defined "curbing the gutters, laying brick pavements, 
paving the roadway as desired, planting grass between the 
rails, keeping it watered and cut," as "parkway treatment." 

The usual tactics of the traction company's representa- 
tives were followed, when Lawyer A. J. Baldwin exclaimed : 
"The Essex County Park Commission never kept a promise 
made to East Orange, and never made a promise !" 

The final struggle over the franchise was postponed. On 
May 16 the limited franchise question was officially injected 
into the situation on Councilman Parnham Yardley's mo- 
tion to limit the terms of that ordinance to twenty years. 
This was unanimously agreed to. The public was excluded. 
The executive sessions doors of the Council Chamber were 
opened just wide enough to admit E. W. Hine and Attorney 
Baldwin, of the traction company. This gave the interested 
corporation the "secret session" secrets and the opportunity 
of watching and "checking up" their own representatives 
at that important juncture of their franchise affairs. 

The trolley agents said the company would not accept a 
limited franchise; would not allow the city more than 
$1,000 a year compensation; or make any more favorable 
terms than the perpetual franchise adjustable at the end 
of fifty years, the same as the franchise of two years be- 
fore. That settled the question, apparently to the satis- 
faction of six of the councilmen, who continued to espouse 
the trolley company's cause to the last. 

The test came at the council meeting May 23. The ordi- 
nance was then passed on first reading. Every amendment 
offered by Councilmen Lloyd, Brownell and Yardley for the 
protection of the city, was, by "the six," voted down. The 
matter of transfers, limit of franchise, even of decent com- 
pensation and other important restrictions, all went by the 


board as fast as the votes could be taken, and against the 
earnest protests of the minority members. They openly 
charged that the ordinance had been drawn by, and for, 
and in the interests of the traction company. The charge 
was not denied. It also transpired that the Railroad Com- 
mittee, Councilman T. W. Jackson chairman, had, "with- 
out any right or authority"' from the council, eliminated 
the twenty-year term limit to the franchise previously 
agreed upon. 

On June 13, 1904, the ordinance was before the East 
Orange City Council for final action. The council room 
was packed to suffocation. The exciting scenes of the pre- 
vious meeting were repeated. It was a repetition of the 
old, old story of the conflict between popular rights and 
the exercise of mercenary corporate power wielded by the 
few. For six hours, until nearly two o'clock in the morn- 
ing, the struggle went on. Neither the logic of facts, en- 
treaty nor appeal to protect the city availed. When the 
committee of 100 found it useless to consider the parlcways 
matter, and that every indication pointed to an agreement 
having been made before the meeting to pass the ordinance 
on the corporation's own terms, G. S. Hulbert, in speaking 
for the committee, after reminding the council that not 
a single organization representing public opinion had fa- 
vored the railroad, while the reverse was true as to the 
parkway, urged that the experience of other cities, in lim- 
iting franchises and securing fair compensation,, be con- 
sidered before action be taken. The official records, showing 
the suicidal policy of giving away a perpetual franchise, 
such as the one under consideration, were quoted from at 
length. Expert estimates were also given as to the present 
cash value of the Central avenue franchise, which a ma- 
jority of the city representatives (?) then evidently pro- 
posed to grant for the insignificant (compared with its 
value) sum of $1,000 per year. "Solemn protests" were en- 
tered by a number of citizens. About midnight a motion 
to postpone consideration of the subject until June 27 was 
defeated. The majority were manifestly determined to 


deliver the franchise that night — or, rather, before daylight 
the next morning. 


The "six" had evidently come to the meeting invisibly 
tagged, and mentally labeled, by the same power and in- 
fluences that had insidiously and surreptitiously "held up" 
the parkways and advanced the railroad interest in de- 
fiance of public opinion for the preceding eight years. The 
"deal" was to be put through then. As a legislative pro- 
ceeding the whole meeting was therefore a travesty, both 
upon parliamentary rules and deliberate assembly pro- 
cedure. The rules were, under the ruling of Chairman 
William Cardwell, finally suspended, and against the pro- 
test of the minority, the ordinance, long after mid- 
night, was passed. The excitement was intense: And 
out of this meeting, and the franchise agitation 
that had grown out of this struggle over the Cen- 
tral avenue parkway, rapidly grew the agitation for 
limiting utility franchises. This movement, locally, 
had its culmination in Orange a few months later, 
when the traction company, under the usual methods, made 
another attempt to secure a perpetual franchise there. The 
public conscience was by this time thoroughly aroused, and, 
as expressed in a massmeeting of citizens of all shades of 
opinion (December, 1904), swept everything before it. 

Two days after the passage of the railroad ordinance in 
East Orange, June 16, 1904, G. S. Hulbert, H. G. Atwater, 

A. P. Boiler and J. Colter, as a sub-committee on behalf 
of the committee of 100, had a conference with Mayor E. 

B. Bruen. The committee submitted in writing the eon- 
cessions it was deemed imperative that the city should se- 
cure before any such valuable franchise could be properly 
granted. Mr. Boiler said that, should the Mayor sign the 
ordinance, "he would betray a public trust." 

"This is not a defensible franchise, either before the pub- 
lic, on the platform, or before the people at the polls," 
declared Mr. Atwater. The Mayor argued at length for the 


traction company. It was expected that he would sign th3 
ordinance. It was currently reported that he had agreed 
to do so weeks before its passage. His signature was soon 
attached to that document. 

The goal of the traction company for Central avenue 
in East Orange was now reached, save for the approval of 
the franchise grant from the freeholders. The pro-corpora- 
tion proclivities of a majority of that board were well 
known. So well, indeed, was this condition understood, 
that none of the civic organizations which had been deeply 
interested in the parkway-trolley question deemed it worth 
while to attend the August meeting, when the matter was 
to come up before the freeholders for action. This under- 
standing of the board's position grew out of its previous 
adverse action at various meetings, as already described, in 
acting on the parkways in the interest of the traction com- 
pany ; and the indifference or contempt with which Director 
Thomas McGowan and a majority of the board had treated 
the citizens at the previous "hearing," as though present- 
ments favoring the parkways and protesting against the en- 
croachment of the corporations on the parkway reservations 
were not worthy of the slightest consideration. 


The traction company's officials had also boasted of their 
power over the county and local governing boards. When 
the attention of one of the head officials of the Public Ser- 
vice Corporation was called to the possibility of trouble 
growing out of the agitation over the parkway-trolley con- 
test in the Oranges, his reply, in referring to the franchise, 
in language more forcible than polite, was : "We've already 
got it; it's all set to music to go through." This view 
was evidently shared by the corporation managers generally, 
for early in August, 1904, before the application for Cen- 
tral avenue in Orange had even been considered by the City 
Council, and before any action had been taken by the free- 
holders on the East Orange ordinance, the company dis- 


tributed rails for quite a distance on both sides of the ave- 
nue in Orange. 

These events cast their shadows before, and no surprise 
was therefore occasioned when, on August 11, 1904, the 
Board of Freeholders danced to the "organization" music 
and put through, without a hitch, the Central avenue fran- 
chise just as had been done in East Orange — on the cor- 
poration's own terms. 

Before the passage of the ordinance a communication, 
which, on behalf of the Joint Committee on Parkways, I 
had prepared, was read. This letter called attention to the 
inconsistent position of the board in now doing for the 
trolley company — in ignoring the non-action of the Orange 
authorities^just what for years they had declined to do 
for the Park Commission and the public; referred to the 
vast sums being expended in other growing urban communi- 
ties for parkways to unify their park systems, instead of 
destroying the available parkways, as would result in grant- 
ing the avenue franchise; and cited numerous instances 
showing these conditions; also the favorable results of re- 
strictive franchises, and the inimical effects to the public 
of such a franchise as that formerly granted for South 
Orange avenue. In the letter it was also pointed out that 
the passage of the Central avenue franchise "under its pres- 
ent terms, will, if not otherwise prevented, destroy the 
parkway and hand over to the traction company at least 
hundreds of thousands of dollars — ^the property of the 
people of the county, as much as the courthouse, the hos- 
pitals, asylums, or any other county property." 

Soon after the freeholders had passed the franchise the 
case was again taken into court. The property-owning 
plaintiffs were handicapped from the outset by the care 
exercised by the corporation attorneys in avoiding legal 
defects, as a result of the failure of the previous ordinance ; 
but more from the fact that they found nearly every con- 
spicuous lawyer in the State retained, or in some other way 
imder the direction of, or indirect obligation to, the Public 
Service, or its allied corporations. R. V. Lindabury, hav- 


ing been retained by the Public Service Corporation on 
the announcement of the Court of Errors and Appeals' de- 
cision in the East Orange case the year before, was unable 
to continue as counsel. 

Alan Strong and F. H. Sommer made the argument be- 
fore Judge W. S. Grummere on the application for a suit for 
certiorari to review the proceedings. Frank Bergen and 
E. H. McCarter represented the company. Judge Gummere, 
on apparently the merest technicalities, denied the appli- 
cation. The case was ended. The final scene of the last act 
in the "Public Service" ( ?) parkways drama was over. The 
corporation had won; — though a very costly victory it has 
been. The power conferred by the people, to be used for 
their benefit and to protect and preserve their interests, had 
been, by their own representatives and through the manipu- 
lation of special interests and the party "machine," turned 
against them. The experience, as it has been in Philadel- 
phia and other cities, was costly — the object lesson most 
valuable. And out of the loss of that parkway there may 
continue to grow a spirit of civic pride, of interest and de- 
votion to local. State, and public affairs, that will make a 
repetition of such an experience in the future impossible, 
and the lesson in civic and political affairs well worth all 
it has cost. 


The improvement of the East Orange parkway, extending 
only from Park avenue to Central avenue, has dragged 
along for years. Even now (December, 1905) it is in a 
■chaotic and unfinished condition for about half the dis- 
tance — the portion south of Main street. Although a "cross- 
town boulevard or speedway" in East Orange was one of 
the first matters brought to the attention of the Park Board 
in 1895-6, and from the first persistently advocated by Com- 
missioner P. M, Shepard, it was not until April 13, 1897, 
that tentative ,pians and estimates of cost between Bloom- 
field avenue aarS Central avenue were from the landscape 
a«;liitects and i®gineers authorized. This report, covering 


the section between Park and Central avenues only, was 
submitted, and land options authorized, on May 18 fol- 
lowing. During 1898-9 the crossing of the Delaware, Lack- 
awanna and Western Eailroad tracks and of Main street 
were, for many months, undetermined problems. 

The expense of the costly stone bridge for elevating the 
railroad over the parkway was borne by the commission. 
As a suitable subway under Main street and the trolley 
tracks there, as favored by Commissioner Shepard, was esti- 
mated to cost $93,271, the grade crossing at Main street 
was finally determined upon. By these matters, together 
with the complications over condemnation proceedings in 
acquiring some of the land for the parkway, and the con- 
troversy between the commission and the city authorities 
over the drainage, this shortest and smallest of all the ac- 
quirements now in the control of the Park Commission, has 
been proportionately the most expensive, and the time in 
making the improvements the longest drawn out. This, 
notwithstanding, deeds for much of the land were given to 
the commission. The larger owners, whose lands were lo- 
cated on the line of, and mostly on both sides of the park- 
way, and their frontage there were respectively as follows : 

Frederick M. Shepard, 3,361 feet; Eockwell estate, 531 
feet; Randall estate 454 feet; David S. Walton, 1,463 feet. 

The contest over the drainage matter is yet unsettled, 
although the commission on June 18, 1901, paid $11,000 
toward the expense of drainage for the short portion of the 
parkway north of Main street. The contract for the first 
construction, amounting to $34,018, was not let until No- 
vember 13, 1900, and for the section between Park avenue 
and William street not until the autumn of 1903. 

Owing to the uncompleted condition of this parkway, its 
short length, And the fact that within this small distance 
it crosses one double tirolley trunk line at Main street, and 
that, since Central aveiiue has been given over to the trol- 
ley, the southern terminus is directly On another double 
track railroad there, the jparkway is but little used. It is 
thus a constant reminder of the landscape arehiteet's re- 


port, already quoted, which advised that if Central avenue 
could not be used to form a continuous parkway "this East 
Orange parkway will hardly be worth to the people what 
it will cost." 

The land for the East Orange parkway, outside of that 
donated, has cost about $100,000, and the improvements, 
including the bridge for changing the grade of the Lacka- 
wanna tracks, completed some years ago, nearly as much 
more. What the cost would have been had this parkway 
been extended from Bloomfield avenue to Weequahic, or to 
the West Side Park, and from Watsessing Park to Irving- 
ton, as was at one time proposed, it would now be difficult 
to estimate. 

Why there should, have been for years such apathy and 
official indifference as to securing the two great east and 
west parkways, which, save surface embellishment, were 
mainly ready for use, and this, too, on the lines connecting 
the most important by far of the country parks, and in the 
direction of the greatest tide of travel ; and at the same time 
a new, costly and untried cross section parkway was prefer- 
ably sought, connecting only a parkway at one end and 
now a railroad at the other end — is a question, which, as 
time goes on, and the more it is studied, the more difficult 
a sufficient or satisfactory answer will appear. It is a 
policy which, to say the least, is not in conformity with the 
plan and policy upon which the Essex County Park Com- 
mission was originally established and approved by the 


The question finally arises, what have the people of the 
county obtained for the five millions of dollars contributed, 
and has the Park Commission accomplished all that could 
have been done to make the park system a great success? 
It is manifestly evident that the park system is incomplete, 
because the Park Commission has failed to secure a system 
of parkways to connect the existing parks. 

Wfole the parks themselves have been, for the most part, 


well selected, also good work done in securing park lands, 
snd the parks made beautiful and satisfactory to the peo- 
ple, yet there has been no system of parkways established 
to connect the several parks, and the commission has failed 
to improve its opportunity in accomplishing this result. 

In every extended park system in the country one of the 
first duties of the commissioners has been to secure the 
requisite parkways. The impotent and ineffectual action 
of the Essex County Park Board, for years, after asking 
for the control of Central, Park, and other avenues for park- 
ways, appears from* every standpoint unjustifiable. If the 
commission had followed up the application for the main 
parkways, with earnest work, as have other park commis- 
sions, and made the fact appear that without them no real 
park system could be established, the commission would, 
without doubt, have been successful. 

As a result of this non-action and of these adverse influ- 
ences, the Central Avenue Parkway was forever lost, with 
no possible avenue to take its place, as the great cost of 
land for such a parkway makes it prohibitory. 

Park avenue will, when improved, make an excellent 
parkway, although lacking in accessibility to the people of 
the county in the convenient and central location and easy 
grades of Central avenue. 



There are but few matters remaining for reference or 
record in this volume. Although it has been my purpose in 
compiling this history of park events, to omit trivial or 
minor incidents, and note only the potential facts, it has 
already transcended the space intended. Only a brief ac- 
count or mention of other topics will, in conclusion, be 

One of the interesting events which occurred after the 
second commission was organized in 1895 was the action 
of the old I^ewark Park Commission of 1867, in turning 
over to the new County Park Board all the maps, plans and 
other papers in the possession of the survivors of the former 
commission. At a meeting held in Mayor J. A. Leb- 
kuecher's office, N"ewark, in June, 1895, Messrs. D. F. 
Tompkins, W. A. Righter, T. T. Kinney, W. H. Burnet, 
Francis Mackin, D. Meyers and Thomas Sealy, former com- 
missioners, were present, and formal resolutions authoriz- 
ing the transfer of the papers, etc., to be held by the new 
commission, "for the public," were passed. Before final 
adjournment there was an informal conference, and pleas- 
ant reminiscences were exchanged between members of the 
two boards at a meeting held at the commission's rooms, 
800 Broad street, Newark. 

Another interesting event, was the inspection of the Bos- 
ton and metropolitan park systems by the commission, land- 
scape architects, counsel and secretary August 5 and 6, 
1896. While many features of interest were noted 'and 
others commended in those extended park and reservation 



grounds, it was found that there was little, in the various 
kinds of improvements there, that appeared to be applica- 
ble to the park problem in Essex. 

Reference has already been made in the preceding chap- 
ters to the petitions of citizens, and hearings given by the 
Park Board to numerous delegations from various parts of 
the county. Perhaps one of the most interesting and com- 
mendable communications was the circular letter of the 
South Orange citizens' committee of December 6, 1895. 
The committee proposed "a plan of self-assessment" of 
from forty cents to one dollar per front foot on property 
fronting on the streets more especially affected by the local 
park, which "it was desired should be established, extending 
from the Orange Triangle Park, by and including the 
Montrose tennis grounds, to South Orange avenue." This 
letter, or petition, I had before me, or in mind, when at 
the Park Board meeting March 2, 1896, I offered the reso- 
lution authorizing the preparation by the landscape archi- 
tects and engineers of an official "map of a connecting 
parkway along, or adjacent to, Mosswood avenue, from 
Warwick avenue via Tremont avenue to the triangle tract," 
as mentioned in Chapter VIII. 

AVith Central avenue as a parkway, as planned at that 
time, this extension by the tennis grounds to South Orange, 
would, in time, have made a park and parkway route direct 
from Branch Brook Park, Sussex avenue, Ninth avenue, 
Grove street or Sixteenth street. Central avenue and the 
Orange Park, one of the most attractive park system fea- 
tures to be found in this country. 

On May 6, 1898, the landscape architects and engineers, 
Messrs. Barrett and Bogart, made a report to the commis- 
sion on the subject of a parkway on the lines of Mosswood 
avenue, the plan to include a proposed gift of land just 
previously offered by Sidney M. Colgate. No action, how- 
ever, was taken. 

August 26, 1898, a delegation of citizens from Belleville 
petitioned for a parkway from the Second River northerly 
to the county line. The district was deemed too sparsely 


populated, and too lacking in objective and connective 
points to warrant favorable consideration. 


The largest petition for any one improvement which I 
think was ever received by the commission was that urging 
a parkway location along the Passaic River. Attached to 
this document were more than 3,000 names, and with it was 
also presented a resolution from the Newark Board of 
Trade of similar purport. While the first park commission 
had looked with favor upon the west bank of the river as a 
desirable parkway for the future, the condition of the 
stream has, from that time to the present, precluded favor- 
able consideration for any kind of park treatment there. 

On May 29, 1900, a delegation of Eoseville citizens advo- 
cated the acquirement from the Newark city authorities 
and the extension and improvement of Second avenue as a 
parkway from Branch Brook Park to the East Orange 
parkway. Other delegations from Bloomfield, Montclair, 
the Oranges and the various wards of Newark have at dif- 
ferent times waited upon the commission to urge park or 
parkway improvements in their locality. On April 4, 1905, 
a committee representing the South Orange Improvement 
Society — Messrs. H. S. Underhill, Ira Kip, Jr., Spencer 
Miller, S. M. Colgate and E. E. Clapp — appeared to again 
urge parkway improvement from the Orange Park to South 
Orange avenue, and offering to donate the entire right of 
way. On June 19, 1905, a committee from Montclair — ^W. 
B. Dickson, E. 0. Bradley and D. M. Sawyer — advocated 
more small parks for that locality. Likewise on the same 
day delegations of Newark citizens from the Fifth and 
Twelfth wards urged that a small park be established in 
the northern section of the "Down Neck" part, or "Iron- 
bound District" of the city. 

The chief engineer formally called the attention of the 
commission on December 13, 1899, to the fact that "the 
sidewalks fronting the parks were in many instances dis- 
figured by trolley, telegraph and telephone poles." These 


polfis had been in some instances erected without permis- 
sion or a shadow of authority. The special attention of the 
Park Board was also called to this fact. The poles still 


On June 2, 1903, about the time of the transfer of Park 
avenue by the freeholders to the commission, a delegation 
from the citizens' committee of Eoseville was given a 
hearing. The committee protested against the execution of 
the plans for the proposed Park avenue bridge over the 
Lackawanna tracks at Thirteenth street, which, it was de- 
clared, would "disfigure an approach to Branch Brook Park 
and would prove dangerous to drivers and pedestrians." 
The bridge as then planned was to narrow the roadway 
down to a width of only forty feet. A conference with the 
railroad officials was, by the commission, requested. The 
company at once took the ground that as the specifications 
with the freeholders and the Newark and East Orange 
authorities had been agreed upon, the charge in widening 
the bridge to the requisite width must be borne by the 

In the seventh annual report of the Park Department, 
reference is made to the "negotiations with the railroad 
authorities in the endeavor to have the bridge, which is to 
cross the tracks, as much in conformity with park design 
as possible," but, as the railroad had "secured the proper 
consents, whatever is done toward altering them (the 
plans) must be at the expense of the county." 

As early as Pebruary 24, 1902, the Newark Board of 
Works had asked for a conference with the East Orange 
authorities regarding this bridge. At the time, in 1903, 
the specifications were agreed to, it was well known to those 
interested that the traction company had capitulated as to 
surrendering Park avenue — as evidenced by the expressed 
willingness of the freeholders to transfer that avenue to the 
Park Commission — and that it was to be a parkway. 

Why, therefore, no attention was given to the requisite 


width of the bridge before the specifications were agreed td 
by the freeholders, or what the "much-counseled" counsel 
was doing, entrusted as he was with the legal matters of^ 
and-drawing a salary from, both the Board of Freeholders 
and the Park Board, in approving those specifications, 
which were sure to throw upon the taxpayers of the county 
the entire fifteen or twenty thousand dollars' expense for 
making the necessary changes afterward, is a matter re- 
garding which I do not think any satisfactory explajiation 
has ever been attempted. 


Besides the parks now under the control of the Park 
Board and already referred to, there were two small areas, 
transferred by local authorities, which have received pajk 
treatment, or are in process of improvement by the com- 
mission. Early in 1898 the -authorities of East Orange de- 
cided to turn over to the permanent care of the commission 
the land comprising about fifteen acres on the border line 
of Bloomfleld, which tract had been formerly used in con- 
nection with the local sewerage system as disposal works. 
The proposition was to transfer the land without cost to 
the county on condition that it should be made a park. The 
matter was afterward submitted to a vote of the city elec- 
torate and approved by a liberal majority. The tender was 
accepted by the commission December 10. On October 23, 
1900, $5,000 was appropriated for improvements. The 
grounds have been laid out and planted and now constitute 
Watsessing Park. 

It was also at the same time proposed to transfer the 
small unimproved tract in the southern part of East 
Orange, known as Elmwood Park, and an ordinance was 
drawn for that purpose. The commission, however, did not 
accept it. 

At the Park Board meeting of August 15, 1902, the com- 
mission voted to accept the thirteen acres of park land 
which had been presented to Montelair Township by C. W. 
Anderson, and which, in turn, had been offered the com- 


mission on condition that the tract be improved and main- 
tained as one of the county parks. The formal transfer 
was made June 23, 1903. This tract, like the Watsessing 
Park, is isolated from the other and larger parks and both 
must remain in future, as now, local parks, outside of any 
connective features of the county park system. 


One of the local attractions in Branch Brook Park is the 
fountain in the old city reservoir. Its construction was 
authorized June 30, 1903, "Not to cost more than $2,000." 
The water is supplied from the Newark supply mains with- 
out charge. The four-inch centre pipe throws the water 
about fifty feet in height, and the circular outlets fill the 
sides and diameter to a corresponding height and width. 
The fountain in summer is always a most attractive fea- 
ture. The same may be said of the boating in that park, of 
the flower shows during the season, of the skating in winter; 
and of the band concerts in all the Newark parks and the 
Orange Park during July and August, which have become 
an established and popular feature each year. 

On May 23, 1904, an interesting event occurred in 
Branch Brook Park in the unveiling of a bronze bust of 
Mendelssohn, a gift from the United Singers of Newark. 

In 1902 two very important matters, vitally affecting the 
parks, were disposed of — the question of a maintenance 
fund, and another millionrdollaT appropriation "for com- 
pleting the parks." Up to that time there had been no 
separate provision for maintenance, the cost having been 
provided out of the available funds derived from the sale 
of "park bonds." Three times — January 15, September 11 
and November 26, 1901 — the commission had ordered pre- 
pared by the counsel, for introduction into the Legislature, 
a maintenance bill, but, with the usual delay and want of 
attention, the matter was not attended to and it was Feb- 
ruary, 1902, before the bill made its appearance in the 
Senate at Trenton. 

The bill provided for a mandatory insertion by the free- 


holders, in the county tax levy each year, of "not less than 
one-half of one mill on the dollar, nor more than three- 
fourths of a mill on the dollar, of the assessed valuation of 
the taxable property and ratables of the said county," the 
"amount to be paid over to and expended by the commis- 
sion ;" unless the "Park Commission shall certify to the 
Board of Chosen Freeholders that a less amount is needed 
for the maintenance of the park system during that year," 
etc. The measure met with active opposition. The Eepub- 
lican county organization was up in arms directly. Carl 
Lentz, at the Lincoln Day dinner in East Orange, the 
evening of February 12, 1903, took advantage of the oppor- 
tunity accorded him of speaking by giving a tedious argu- 
ment against the bill, interspersed with the usual specious 
plea of home rule. Some of the newspapers lined up with 
"the organization" in disfavoring the bill. 

The measure passed the Legislature, was approved, and 
thus became the law, on March 38, 1902. The act con- 
tained a referendum clause and was submitted to the voters 
of the country at the fall election, November 3. Only 
28,467 votes were cast— 16,379 for and 13,088 against the 
bill, making the majority but 4,391 for the entire county. 
In November, 1903, the Park Board made a requisition 
for $100,000 for maintenance accoimt, under the pro- 
visions of this law. The amount provided for maintenance 
for the current year (1905) is $118,586.25. 


Long before 1902 it was known to the commissioners 
that additional funds would be asked, by another issue of 
park bonds, notwithstanding the pledges made in 1898, 
when the last $1,500,000 were called for, that that amount 
would "be sufficient to leave the county in possession of a 
park system, properly connected with parkways, second to 
none in the country," as previously quoted. At the board 
meeting of November 36, 1901, the commissioners had the 
subject of, and estimates for, another appropriation for- 


mally before them. The question at that time was whether 
they should ask for one, one and a half, or two millions 
of dollars. On March 18, 1903, Senator J. H. Bacheller 
introduced in the Senate a bill of similar text to the pre- 
vious appropriation act, but fixing the amount of bonds to 
be issued at $1,000,000. The bill was rushed through two 
readings in the Senate the same day. The Park Commis- 
sion, the New England Society, and, I believe, one or two 
other civic organizations, favored the bill. The general 
public sentiment, as it appeared reflected in the press, was 
mainly unfavorable. 

The objections to an appointive commission were again 
forcibly brought out. There were few, if any, arguments 
put forward in the bill's favor. It contained, as had the 
previous bills, a referendum clause. Before the November 
election there was much outspoken comment and severe 
criticism. The Newark News of October 16, 1903, said, 
editorially : "±\s to increasing the bonded debt of the county 
another million of dollars for the improvement of the 
parks, the News believes the decision of the voters will be, 
and should be, in the negative." The Call said : "Give the 
people a rest." The Daily Advertiser, while the bill was 
before the Legislature, March 31, paid its respects to the 
proposed law in these words: "The most audacious de- 
mand made recently upon the people of this community 
is that of the Park Commission for $1,000,000, with which 
to complete its park system." Reference is then made in 
the article to the first commission's "promise to complete 
for $3,500,000, when the commission was instituted sev- 
eral years ago." Later the commission came before the 
people and said, in effect : "We have spent all of your 
money in such a manner that it will be necessary to spend 
$1,500,000 more for you to get any good out of a large 
part of the park system." 

The bill passed the Legislature, and was also approved 
March 28, 1908. The comparatively small majority and 
the large adverse vote on November 3 reflected the lack of 
sympathy and support of the people of the county in the 


undertaking. There were only 15,888 votes cast for the 
bill, and 12,248 against it, or a total majority of only 3,640. 

The question as to the constitutionality of the law as 
related to the appointive commission feature was brought 
forward by the refusal of Judge John A. Blair, of Hudson 
County, to appoint a park commission for that county 
under a law similar to the Essex County park act, and 
applicable to Hudson County, having been passed by the 
Legislature about this time. The Hudson County act, how- 
ever, provided for the appointment of the commissioners by 
the presiding judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and 
divided the party participation in the management, 
by making the number of commissioners four — two to be 
chosen from each of the leading political parties. 

Both the Supreme Court, and later, the Court of Errors 
and Appeals, June 15, 1903, upheld the appointive feature 
of the park charters as being constitutional. 

On October 1, 1903, $500,000 of the four per cent gold 
bonds, authorized by the last appropriation law, were sold 
by the freeholders to the Mutual Benefit life Insurance 
Company at the (to the company) favorable price of a 103 
per cent basis. On October 12 the proceeds and the small 
premium received for the bonds were paid over to the Park 
Commission. On January 31, 1905, a requisition was made 
for the balance of the $1,000,000 appropriated, and, on 
February 3, the remaining $500,000 of bonds were sold to 
J. D. Everett & Co. and Parson, Leach & Co. on their joint 
bid of $107,273. The $536,375 proceeds were soon after- 
ward received by the commission. 

On March 28 the commission took up the consideration 
of estimates and data, as previously prepared, for the ex- 
penditure of this last $500,000. The matter is still under 
consideration. On July 1, 1905, there was in round num- 
bers about $700,000 on hand, but against this amount 
there were liabilities and commitments to quite an amount, 
and more being from time to time determined. 



Since this history of the Essex County parks was begun, 
I have received various inquiries and requests, if I would 
not, in a concluding chapter, indicate, from my intimate 
knowledge of park affairs, such changes as might be made, 
in the interest of the public and for the good of the parks. 

As this record deals principally with the past, and the 
line is therefore drawn on the course of events mainly to 
the present, I will make here but a brief reference to the 
points covered in these inquiries. I do not, however, hesi- 
tate to express the conviction that there are changes which 
I believe most important, which demand early attention, 
and that should soon be made. 

First; — Eestrictions and further safeguards by statute 
should, in my judgment, be thrown around the present 
method of selecting park commissioners. When the present 
plan of leaving the appointment of commissioners entirely 
to the presiding justice of the Supreme Court was adopted, 
it was confidently expected that the selections from year to 
year to fill this responsible position would be made for 
reasons of special "fitness," and that other influences in 
the determination of that question would be thus effectually 

That a different result has obtained, and that this method 
of creating park commissions has been, in its practical 
workings in Essex County, a disappointment to the public, 
is not, I believe, a question of the slightest doubt in the 
mind of any well-informed person on the subject. 

The manifest tendency of the present system, where the 



absolute power of appointment is conferred upon one court 
ofReial, and an appointive official at that, has been to create 
conditions akin to those of a close corporation. This result 
was never intended nor contemplated by those who origi- 
nally suggested this plan. Under the usages of this 
system a park commissioner may be repeatedly chosen from 
reasons of personal or political favoritism, or by the desire 
of corporate or special interests to perpetuate appointments 
and conditions inimical to the public interests, and thus 
tend to continue in authority those neither competent nor 
well quaKfied to fill the position, and to nullify the original 
intent, and to undermine the fundamental structure upon 
which this plan of creating and continuing county park 
boards was based. 

The plan was cordially approved by the people and by 
the Legislature in 1894-5, because the objects sought 
strongly appealed to the press, the electorate and the public 
generally. Were the questions involved, in the light of 
experience, again submitted to the Legislature and to the 
people of Essex County, there can be little doubt that the 
verdict would be emphatically against the continuation of 
the present system. 

Experience in all such matters is an excellent teacher, 
and it may be of interest to note here the methods of 
selecting park commissioners and the result in other places 
where large public park undertakings are well established. 


In most instances the control of the parks is treated as 
a municipal function, similar to other city departments, 
with commissioners either appointed by the Mayor or the 
City Council, or elected the same as other officials at the 
regular elections. Some of the States, like Massachusetts, 
have a general park act, providing for the selection and 
appointment of park commissioners by the mayors in cities, 
Eiiid for their election in the usual manner in the towns. 


The Metropolitan Park Commission of that State consists 
of three members, appointed by. the Governor, "by and 
with the consent of the Council." In this combined State 
and municipal great park enterprise the plan appears to 
have worked out thus far very well. The Park Board of 
Boston has also three members appointed by the Mayor, 
"with the approval of the City Council." As Boston has 
usually had good mayors, the appointments and work of 
the commission there have been generally acceptable to the 

In New York the charter for the greater city provides 
for a Park Commission of three members. The appoint- 
ments are made by the Mayor. No confirmation by the 
Aldermen is required. Each of the Commissioners have 
administrative jurisdiction in the boroughs of Manhattan 
and Eichmond, the Bronx, and in Brookljra and Queens, 
respectively. While the members meet weekly as a board 
for the whole city, in practical workings there is a single- 
headed commission for each of the three boroughs men- 
tioned. As New York has had a varied experience in the 
kind of mayors chosen, and political influences not infre- 
quently form an important factor in the selection of Park 
Commissioners there, the personnel of that board has usu- 
ally reflected the predominating qualities of the chief ex- 
ecutive and the conditions determining the appointments. 
Since the location of Central and Prospect parks and the 
park system of the Bronx, many years ago, there have been 
many excellent and public-spirited men who have served 
as Commissioners there. 

The Fairmount Park Commission of Philadelphia is 
composed of sixteen members: Five are appointed by the 
District Court, five by the Court of Common Pleas, and 
six members of the city government — ^the Mayor, presidents 
of the Select and Common Councils, Commissioner of City 
Property, the Chief Engineer and the Chief "Water Works 
Engineer — are members ex-officio. While the appointees 
have usually been prominent citizens, there has been ad-' 
V(»rs« critidam from the partisan character of the boaxd, 


and the number of complex elements in the Commission 
have apparently made it difficult to carr3r out a progressive 
park policy for the city as a whole. 

In Chicago the five Commissioners in control of the 
South Park system are chosen by the several Circuit Court 
judges of that district. Since the acquirement of the first 
South Side parks, in 1869, these court officials have agreed 
upon appointments which have been free from political in- 
terference, and the appointees being men of standing, and 
devoted to the parks, they have retained the confidence and 
support of the public to a marked degree. 

The North Side, or Lincoln Park Board, and the Com- 
mission in charge of the West Side park system of that 
city, are both appointed by the Governor. There have been 
good men from time to time appointed on each board, but 
each in turn has for years, under different administrations, 
been subject to partisan uses, or under the influence of 
practical politics. 

The Park Commissions of Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincin- 
nati, New Orleans, Omaha, Providence, San Francisco, St. 
Louis and St. Paul, are parts of the city governments, re- 
spectively, either appointed by the Mayor or elected by the 
City Council. 

In Washington the comprehensive plan for the capital 
as prepared in 1791 by the great landscape architect and 
city builder, Peter C. L'Enfant, has been only partially 
carried out. The city parks and squares are now under the 
control of a local officer of the War Department ; the effec- 
"tively planted avenues and streets, of the Parking Commis- 
sion; and Rock Creek Park of still another commission, 
composed of District officials or officers of the general gov- 

Cleveland and Detroit are both experimenting with sin- 
gle-headed commissions, the former park boards having 
been abolished by the general city charter legislation of 
Ohio a few yeats ago, and the so-called "ripper" bills of 
Michigan in 1^1. In both instances the Park Department 
is a bra(&oh -of ^.le city government. 



Prom the time of the establishment of the Minneapolis 
parks, in 1887-9, the Park Board has been an elective body, 
and perhaps one of the most successful and satisfactory 
commissions in the country. There are fifteen members 
of the board, twelve of whom are elected the same as other 
city officials. Pour of these members are elected every two 
years, to serve for a term of six years. The Mayor, and 
the chairman of the Committee on Public Grounds, and of 
Eoads and Bridges, are members ex-of&cio. While Minne- 
apolis does not claim the distinction of having always chosen 
ideal mayors, good men for the Park Board have almost 
invariably been elected, and that system has apparently 
given excellent satisfaction to the people of the city. Mr. 
C. M. Loring, one of the original Commissioners, now a 
member of the Commission, and one of the most earnest 
public park exponents, states that "in twenty-two years 
there have been but three adjournments for want of a 
quorum." With the divided responsibility and diversified 
interests of such a board of fifteen members — a number 
many municipal experts deem unwieldy — ^this record alone 
indicates the care with which the selection of candidates 
for the office has been made. 

Another Commission which was organized and has since 
continued on somewhat different lines, but with results 
which have proven most satisfactory, is the one at Hart- 
ford, Conn. Under that plan the Park Commission itself 
makes the nomination for the new member, one vacancy 
occurring by expiration of the term of office each year. The 
Mayor is an ex-officio member and presides at the meetings 
when a nomination is to be made. The ten original Com- 
missioners were named in the charter. The nomination to 
fill the place of a retiring member is subject to the ap- 
proval or rejection of the Board of Aldermen. If rejected, 
the Commission then nominates another candidate, and so 
continues until the nomination is confirmed. This method 
bf attaching a direct responsibility both upon the Commis« 


sioners and the chosen representatives of the people has 
given that city a "model" Park Board, and a park system, 
for its size, perhaps second to none. Both in Minneapolis 
and Hartford the comparatively large Commissions were 
evidently created with the view that in numbers there is 
safety, and with the belief that the combined judgment of 
many is preferable in such important matters to the de- 
cision of the few. 

In most of the instances above cited, as in most American 
and foreign cities, the office and position of park commis- 
sioner is an honorary one, the members serving during their 
term of office without compensation. The notable excep- 
tions are the single-headed commissions, where, as a rule, 
a salary is paid in conformity with the scale of salaries in 
the other city departments. In New York the three Com- 
missioners are paid $5,000 per year each. 


In response to the direct inquiry as to my conviction 
or recommendation as to changes in the law affecting Essex 
County park matters : I favor an elective commission. I 
believe, as I did when the amendments to the park charter 
were under consideration in 1896 (as described in Chapter 
III), that "the people can be trusted on the issue." The 
recent popular uprising, here as elsewhere, all over the 
country for better municipal and legislative condi- 
tions, again vindicates the sound principle upon which our 
elective system is founded, and creates a new condition 
favorable to enlarged opportunities for the selection of 
such officials directly by the electorate, without the inter- 
vention or assistance of the courts. Under an elective sys- 
tem, the taxpayers, who foot the bills for public parks, have 
the opportunity of directly expressing their confidence in 
the men who are to spend their money. In the appointive 
system, as now in force in Essex County, no such oppor- 
tunity exists, and to establish official responsibility to the' 
peopl© IS a roundabout course, and an uncertain determina- 
tion oi eonelusion te reach, If the court appointive plan 


is to continue, I should favor the substitution of at least 
three judges for the one now exercising that authority, as 
under the present system. The addition of the judges of 
the Circuit Court, and of the Court of Common Pleas, to 
the present appointing power, the Supreme Court justice, 
and making the concurrence of two of those judges as to 
any selection for a park commissioner imperative, would 
be an added safeguard and remove the one-man-power ob- 
jection, and condition heretofore exercised and still exist- 
ing. Such a change, however, would be merely in method 
— collateral, not fundamental. The people contribute di- 
rectly in their taxes practically all of the money for the 
parks; why should they not be entrusted to elect the men 
to care for and maintain their pleasure grounds, the same 
as they select their other executive and legislative repre- 

The more the comparison between the appointive and 
elective systems are studied, the more decided, I believe, 
will be the conclusion averse to the appointive plan, and 
that at least in Essex County this method should soon be 
a thing of the past. 


The second change it seems in every way desirable should 
be made is ; — 

That all regular meetings of the Park Board should be 
held in open session, and that all public records and docu- 
ments in the possession of the Commission should at all 
times be open to examination by any taxpayer and repu- 
table citizen of the county. I believe a law should be passed 
by the next Legislature making this principle of transact- 
ing public business compulsory on every board expending 
public funds throughout the State. 

The executive-session-close-corporation method which has 
for years been in vogue here is not congenial to. American 
ideals, and I believe should have no place in any republic, 
nor should it find lodgment, eontifluaBce or ^eeuragement 


in any State, county, municipality or the smallest borough 
or hamlet, concurrently with republican institutions. 

Such conditions of continuous secret sessions in exercis- 
ing the control and expenditure of vast amounts of public 
funds and the transaction of public business generally, are, 
to my mind, not only un-American and contrary to the 
principle upon which our system of government rests, but 
they constitute a wrong upon every citizen and taxpayer, 
who is entitled to the services of the best men who can be 
selected for filling important positions of public trust, and 
who should have the unquestioned right at all times to 
know how the business for which he is contributing both 
the cash capital and the power conferred is being conducted. 

Perhaps one of the most effective remedies for correcting 
errors or defects in such matters is publicity; and for con- 
tinued star chamber proceedings of public boards, more 


Third; — In return for the millions of dollars in free 
franchises heretofore granted in Essex County, a plan 
might well be enacted into law, which would, by a sufficient 
tax on gross receipts, provide for the entire cost of the care 
and maintenance of the parks. 

In Baltimore the charters of the street railway com- 
panies originally provided for a six-cent fare, one cent of 
which was paid over to the city for park funds. On reduc- 
tion of the fare to five cents the proportion to be paid to 
the city was reduced to nine per cent of the gross receipts. 
This payment is rapidly increasing and now amounts to 
about $400,000 per year. The city has excellent street-car 
service, and the franchises have proven enormously prof- 
itable to the companies. 

A similar law applicable to Essex and Hudson counties 
would not only provide for the entire cost of maintenance 
of all the public parks, but the revenue would be constantly 
increasing, and provide funds for the enlarged acquirement 
of land and for needed improvement*. 


This suggestion will, of course, be promptly met by the 
interested corporations, and perhaps others, with the plea 
that, as many of the most valuable franchises have already 
been granted, and the .New Jersey courts having rendered 
decisions against municipalities recovering rights and 
added compensation for privileges heretofore granted, such 
a law is not practicable, nor would its legality be sustained. 

Perhaps the best answer to this contention, may be found 
in the decisions of the United States Supreme Court defin- 
ing the rights of municipalities in dealing with franchise 
values ; also of several of the State courts, not only in ren- 
dering similar decisions, but, in some instances, declaring 
emphatically against the right of any municipal grants for 
the use of the public streets, as public property, in per- 
petuity. The recent popular movement for limited utility 
franchises is merely the advance step in a forward move- 
ment by which, through the regularly constituted channels, 
the people will again come into the possession, by tax or 
otherwise, of at least a fair portion of their own; and some 
of the great values wrongfully taken from them by this 
perpetual franchise process restored. 

If the courts have not yet discovered a way that this 
can be done under the present law, new legislation and 
other courts may discern a new light to that result, as the 
recent illumination of the franchise value question has 
already opened new avenues of action toward better things, 
both in State, County and Mimicipal affairs. 


Fourth ; — As public parks are created and maintained by, 
and for, all the people, there should be enlarged opportuni- 
ties and extended conveniences for their enjoyment by the 
general public. These pleasure grounds should not only 
be attractive to the eye in their natural and aesthetic adorn- 
ment, but should also provide every possible feature for 
rest, recreation and benefit, that is consistent with public 
administration. The plan recently adopted by the South 
Park Commisaion, Chicago, in introducing in ten of the 


fifteen new parks of that system "Neighborhood-Center 
Buildings," or "field houses/' is, I believe, most commend- 
able and a practical move in the right direction. 

In these recreation houses are assembly halls, for district 
meetings, lectures, etc. ; a branch of the public library, club- 
rooms, refectories, gymnasiums, swimming pools, etc. All 
have running tracks, and an outdoor gymnasium for addi- 
tional service in summer, wading pools and sand pits for 
children, swings, giant strides, and other athletic para- 
phernalia, all under the supervision of a gymnasium direc- 
tor, and all free to any person conducting himself or her- 
self properly. 

Although these field houses were opened for the first 
time in the past summer (1905), they have been patronized 
by hundreds of thousands of people, and beyond the expec- 
tations of those advocating their construction in the parks. 
The "Public thus receives a continuous and ample return 
on its investment — daily dividends in health, happiness 
and progress." 

While this plan for the enlarged use of public parks 
is something of an innovation, it combines, with the "park 
beautiful," the park practical, and vastly increases for the 
mass of people the usefulness of their pleasure grounds 
throughout the year. That the present trend of activity 
and agitation for more playgrounds in all centers of popu- 
lation will gradually develop into some such enlarged use 
of the parks, is, I believe, inevitable. And the sooner the 
people of Essex County are enabled to enjoy increased 
benefits and extended opportunity for recreation, in return 
for their generous appropriations for the parks here, the 
better. While the park system has been irretrievably in- 
jured by the loss of one of the vitally important parkways, 
the parks are susceptible of great possibilities for the fu- 
ture. The 3,600 acres of park lands are forever dedicated 
to park uses. A portion of this area is already embellished 
with the best of modern park improvements. Other at- 
tractive features and utilitarian conveniences will from 
time to time be added, . 


When it is remembered that the public parks of to-day 
have all had their inception and development within the 
past fifty years, what is in store for the future and for 
the coining generations of the rapidly growing population 
of this country, with the proper care and management of 
the parks, it is difficult now to predict. 

When the Essex County parks shall provide the greatest 
beneficent opportunities possible, concurrently with their 
aesthetical adornment, they will best serve the purpose for 
which they have been created. 


5feui forkx 

nnU C^nlbgE of JVgriralture 

At (5or«eU Iniuetflita 
Strata, N. ^. 





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