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ClK Tiiiprovement of 
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The Improvement of 
Boulder Colorado 



REPORT TO THE CITY IMPROVEMENT 

ASSOCIATION 
BY FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. 
CHARLES ELIOT PROFESSOR OF 
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE 
IN HARVARD UNIVERSITY 

March 1910 



City W^ 

The Boulder, City ' .r 
Improvement Association 

Founded February 1903 



OFFICERS 1909-10 

JUNIUS HENDERSON, President 

E. G. FINE, Vice-President 

FRED WHITE, Treasurer 

WILLIAM J. BAIRD, Secretary 



Chairmen of Standing Committees 

Streets, Alleys, Sidewalks 
A. R. COUZENS 

Sanitation, Drainage, Sewerage, Water 
O. M. GILBERT, M. D. 

Tree Planting, Tree Culture, Street Parking 
D. M. ANDREWS 

Education, Floral Culture, Schools, Window Gardening 

Play Grounds 

MAUD GARDINER-ODELL 

Parks, Lawns, Floral Culture 
(Vacancy) 



^ 



CITY A^'^ ffi^*- 



CONTENTS 



Page 

INTRODUCTORY: Purpose of this Report 1 

BEAUTIFICATION AND COMMON SENSE 3 

Beauty, like Economy, to be Aimed at in all Municipal Work.. . 4 

THE NET PRACTICAL RESULT TO BE AIMED AT 4 

What Boulder is Not 4 

Boulder's Opportunity 5 

A City of Homes 6 

Industrial Enterprise •> 

Suburban Farming '' 

THE FEATI'RES TO BE CONSIDERED S 

Public Control of Private Improvements 9 

Police Power 9 

Influence of Taxation 10 

STREETS 12 

Reasons for Wide Streets 12 

Streets in New Additions 13 

Percentage of Area in Streets 13 

Misfit Streets 14 

Advantages of Rectangular Blocks 15 

"V\'liere Rectangular Blocks Make Trouble 15 

Rectangular Platting and tlie Real Estate Promoter 15 

Who is Responsible for the City's Interest in Street Platting?. . 16 

The New York Gridiron 16 

CITY PLANNING IS 

Advance in the Art of City Planning Ifi 

Enforcement of City Plan by Early Acquisition of Streets 17 

Establishment of City Plan by Proclamation 17 

The System of Official Bluff and Special Privilege IS 

Unconstitutional Efforts to Establish City Plans 19 

American Backv.-ardness in City Planning 19 

What Can Be Done 19 

NEED OF A PERMANENT ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER IN 

CHARGE OF CITY PLAN 20 

Objection to Temporary Special Commission 20 

Need of Appropriations 21 

Official Backing 21 

The Financial End 21 



£»iS3444S- 



CONTENTS. 



Pa 



SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS AS TO STREET IMPROVEMENTS. 



Broadway 

To the Southwest 

Flagstaff Mountain Road 

Special Problems 

To the Northwest 

Fourth or Fifth Street 

Policy as to Street Railway Location.s 

Twelfth Street 

Twentieth Street 

Twenty-Fourth Street 

To the Northeast 

To the East 

Twenty-Eighth Street 27 

From Seventeentli Street South and Southeast 27 



A FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE IN CITY PLANNING: DISTINC- 
TION BETWEEN MAIN THOROUGHFARES AND LOCAL 

STREETS 2S 

Effect of Such Planning on Real Estate Values 29 

DETAILED IMPROVEMENT OF STREETS 29 

Roadway Width 3n 

Form of Gutters; Storm Water Drainage 31 

Kinds of Pavement 31 

The Point of View in Choosing Pavements 31 

Extravagant Pavements; the Real Measure of Cost 33 

Asphalt 33 

Modern Wood Blocks 33 

Bitulithic 34 

Brick 34 

Block Pavements 34 

Gravel 34 

Crushed Stone 35 

Objections to Macadam 35 

Bituminous Binders 36 

The Cause of Success and Failure With Bituminous Binders.... 36 

Oil Treatment 37 

Summary as to Paveinents 37 

SIDEWALKS 37 

Sidewalk Edges 38 

STREET TREES 39 

Silver Maples and Tree Butchery 39 

Systematic Pruning 39 

Close Planting 40 

Kinds of Trees 40 

Controlling Purpose of Tree Planting 41 

Types of Tree Planting 42 

Overarching Avenues 42 

Open Avenue 42 

Avenues Decorated by Small Trees 43 



CONTENTS. 



Uniform Trees in Strui.^lU Streets 44 

Varied Trees on Pietnres(nu' Sti'eets 45 

Tjot'ation of Trees 4r) 

Irrigation of Street Trees 4 

Bare Earth Surfaces 4 7 

Paved Sidewalks over Tree Roots 47 

Summary as to Siiade Trees 4,S 

STREET FIXTURES 50 

Underground Wires 50 

Tlie Great Harm in Overliead Wires and Poles 51 

Street Ligliting 52 

Arc vs. Incandescent Lighting 52 

Lamp Posts 52 

ARTISTIC DESIGN OF MUNICIPAL CONSTRUCTION 53 

The Employment of Special Expert Designers 54 

WATERWAYS AND RELATED PARK OPPORTUNITIES 56 

Floods 56 

Encroachments on Flood Plain 56 

How Boston Paid for Neglecting its Little Flood Problem 57 

The Results of Neglecting Boulder Creek 57 

How to Deal with the Flood Problem 57 

Types of Treatment 5S 

Incidental Value of Broad Flood Channel Margins 59 

A Boulder Creek Park 59 

FUNDAMENTALS OF PARK DESIGN FOR BOULDER 50 

The Outlook from Shade to Sun 60 

The Sunny Sheltered Corner 60 

A Special Type of Recreation Ground Proper for Boulder 61 

The Design of the Boulder Creek Reservation 61 

OUTLINE OP PROPOSED PUBLIC HOLDINGS ALONG BOULDER 

CREEK 62 

River Drive 6.3 

Play Field 63 

Upla.nd Drive and View 64 

River Drive and Large Athletic Field 65 

The Cost of Delay 65 

SEWAGE DISPOSAL PLANT 65 

Sewage Farms 66 

Reasons for a City Sewage Farm 67 

BOULDER CREEK ABOVE TWELFTH STREET 68 

SUNSHINE CANON CREEK 70 

THE REAL ESTATE VALUE OF PERMANENT VIEWS 71 

A Special Opportunity 71 

RED ROCKS 72 

MOUNTAIN AVENUE 72 



CONTENTS. 



Page 
TREATMENT OF FARMERS' DITCH 73 

Pleasant Improvements now Existing along the Farmers' 

Ditch T i 

OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED BY THE IRRIGATING DITCHES 74 

An Aesthetic Predicament 75 

How to Get Park Value from the Ditches 76 

Beasley Ditch 79 

County Road Boulevard 79 

NEEDS OF EASTERN PART OF CITY SO 

PARKS AND OTHER PUBLIC OPEN SPACES 81 

The People and the City Plan SI 

Back Yards vs. Parks SI 

Deep Lots and no Parks S2 

Shallow Lots plus Parks 82 

Lots are Getting Shallower S3 

But no Parks are Made from the Savings S3 

Who Benefits from Illiberal Sub-Divisions 84 

How the Present System Works 84 

An Uncontrolled Monopoly S5 

Land Speculation a Fair Game for the Players So 

But the Public Suffers in the End S6 

The Public Must Protect itself and the Liberal Landowners by 

Controlling the Character of Sub-Divisions 86 

SELECTION OF LOCAL PARK AREAS 87 

Extent of Local Park Areas 88 

Specific Parl< Sites 88 

Lovers' Hill 89 

Valley in Newland's Addition 92 

Chautauqua Grounds 93 

The City Forest 97 

PUBLIC BUILDINGS 103 

CONTROL OVER PRIVATE PROPERTY 105 

The Billboard Nuisance 105 

CONCLUSION 106 



The purpose of this report is to offer lielpful siiggestions, 
drawn from experience and observation in many other cities and 
from a brief and limited though eager study of Boulder, Ijearing 
upon one of the broad fundamental questions at the base of all 
mmiicipal activities, namely: What physical improvements with- 
in the reach of the city will help to make it increasingly con- 
venient, agreeable and generally satisfactory as a place in wliich 
to live and work? 



"Beautification" and Common Sense 



AYhcther knowingly or not. cxt'i'vonc is iifrcclcd l»y the ap- 
pearance of his -surronndings, and one of the iiii[)<ii'tant faetors 
to 1)0 taken into acconnt in all iuunici[)al iinprovenu'iits is llie in- 
flnence which their appearance has npon the n\ental and ncrNous 
condition of the people. As with the foodi we eat and tiie air we 
breathe, so the sights hal)itnally before our eyes ]ilay an immense 
])art in determining whether we feel cheerfnk etficient and fit 
for life, or the contrary. 

The attempt to secure in the appearance of our surroundings 
those qualities which make for good may he called "beaut ilica- 
tion," but the maximum effects in this direction are never to be 
secured by means of things done purely for the sake of decora- 
tion; they are to be secured only by constant, intelligent, sensi- 
tive regard for the quality of the appearance of things when- 
ever any physical change and improvement is undertaken rt>r any 
practical purpose whatsoever. 

AVhen the ])hilosophers discuss the fine arts and the sense of 
beauty they tell us that at the root of it all is Order: sometimes 
subtle, complex, intricate and picturesque to .a point that defies 
analysis, but always so far as analysis can carry ns Beauty is 
Order, is deiiendent on the avoiding of the inii)ression of dis- 
order, although that is only the ilrst step and it must be much 
more besides. 

When it comes to the practical problem now before us of 
making the appearance of munici])al surroundings such as to 
contribute to a healthy, cheerful, ])rogressive state of nund we 
can. subscribe heartily to the words of one of these ])bih)si)]iliic 
analysts: "1 object to the word Nk'coration" as commonly used 
by designers, because it implies that additions are likely to be 
im])rovenients. * ='' * * As designers * * * we mike additions, in- 
deed, to achieve the greater simplicity of Order, and for no other 
reason. Our object in all cases is to achieve Order, if possible a 

3 



ROULDER CITY IMPROVE^IENT ASSOCIATION 

supreme instance of Order Avliich will be beautii'ul. We aim at 
Order and hope for Beauty.'"' * 

AMtli this preparatory statement to indicate that regard for 

bettering the appearance of a city is not a matter to be delegated 

to a special department of municipal 
BEAUTY, LIKE ECONOMY, . ./ , , . ^^ ,., ,\ 

TO BE AIMED AT IN ALL activity, but IS a matter, like the 

MUNICIPAL WORK economy and durability of public 

works, to be kept constantly in mind in every department, we 
will take up a consideration of the opportunities and needs for 
municipal improvements that most impressed us at Boulder. 



The Net Practical Result to Be Aimed At 

The first thing to be sought in taking up any practical 
problem, especially when it is big, vaguei and ramified, is a clear 
conception of the ends to be attained. 

Here are some ten thousand people who, for their own bene- 
fit and that of their children, their successors and others whom 
any of them may see fit to admit to the community by selling 
or leasing additional places of abode, choose to obtain by joint 
action numerous advantages which are either impossible or at 
least difficult and extravagant of attainment by individual enter- 
prise. The things they may wdsely undertake so to provide and the 
manner of providing them will depend upon the needs, desires and 
means of the individual citizens present and future. 

There are places which people endure merely because they 

find there opportunity for economic gain, and are thus enabled 

to save up monev on which to enjov 
WHAT BOULDER IS NOT ... . t / , ^. '' ' 

^^ lite elsewhere at a later tmie or to 
attain certain of the comforts and advantages of increased income 
Bufficient in their minds to offset the loeal disadvantages. In such 
places conditions making for comfort and happiness of living, 
however important for mitigating the drawbacks of the locality, 
must be regarded as entirely secondary to conditions that make 



* Denman W. Ross: Theory of pure design. 

4 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REl'ORT 

for increased economic productiveness. ]f Ly slaiuliiig a little 
more discomfort and dirt and ngiiiiess and noit^e and worry witli- 
ont actually breaking down, a man can sliorlen the period of 
stay in such a place that may be necessary for making the money 
he thinks he needs in order to lead a comfortable and happy life 
elsewhere, why he is probably right to endure them. 

Boulder is plainly not such a place, and the main lookout of 
the citizens is not how to make money as quickly as possible so as 
to go somewhere else to enjoy life, but how to get as much satis- 
faction out of life as they can in a very agreeable locality with- 
out the expenditure of more money than they arc able to com- 
mand while continuing to lead a satisfactory life. 

Stretching away from Boulder to the Allegheny mountains 
extends an enormous region of fertile productive land, the seat 

BOULDER'S OPPOR- "^^ '^ ^^^^^>' growing population of 

TUNITY hard-working, money-making people. 

"With all its advantages for production this great region has 
certain obvious drawbacks as a place for the enjoyment of life, 
drawbacks of climate, for example, and the drawback of relative 
monotony of scenery. Out of this region are coming in steadily 
increasing numbers of people of two classes in search of places where 
they may find rest and enjoyment of life. First, there are those 
who have decided, like many of the present citizens of Boulder, 
either because of the threat of ill-health or because their eyes are 
opened to a "wiser philosophy of life, to shift their permanent 
home, with what savings they may have, to a place where con- 
ditions are more favorable for enjoying life as it passes. Second, 
there are those, of whom comparatively few have yet sought 
Boulder, who will continue to maintain their chief place of resi- 
dence where their productive Avork is done, but with their famil- 
ies will seek rest and recreation for some weeks or months of every 
year amid different and more refreshing surroundings. These 
last are not the class called tourists, who hastily pass through a 
place which attracts them, leaving a few nickels behind or per- 
haps paying a liberal tribute for the services and materials they 
demand, but taking not the slightest interest in the welfare of 



P.OULDER CITY IMPROVEMEXT ASSOCIATION 

the communit}'- and often conducting themselves so as to interfere 
seriously Avith the comfort and welfare of those of the permanent 
residents not immediatel}^ dependent upon them for financial 
profit. We refer rather to those that stay long enough each sea- 
son to become identified in a measure with the community, who 
intend to return again and become in many instances householders 
and taxpayers, ready to do their share toward making the place 
still more convenient, agreeable, and economical as a pkice of 
residence. 

The manufacture of the best possible city of agreeable homes 
attainable with the means at its command and with the physical 

opportunities and limitations of the 
A CITY OF HOMES locality is, then, tlie ])rincipal busi- 

ness which the community has before it. Boulder will have a 
gradually increasing importance as a local distributing center for 
the necessities and comforts of life to a tributary area of farm- 
ing and mining country of limited extent, and first rate facilities 
for carrying on this business need to be kept in view, parallel 
with the problem of a perfect city of homes as such. The pres- 
ence of the State University means that Boulder will always have 
a large body of students, of teachers and of scholar! v people not 
directly engaged in teaching, all occupied with intellectual pur- 
suits and supported, like most of those who Avill seek Boulder for 
health or pleasure, wholly or largely by funds accumulated else- 
Avhere or by others. The meeting of the needs of all these people, 
in the way of food, shelter, merchandise of all sorts, professional 
and personal service, transportation and entertainment, will 
occupy and support a great number of others; but all the facilities 
for business of this sort are of course an essential part of a good 
city of homes. 

What other things need to be taken into account? What 
other occupations need to be reckoned Math and provided for on 

a serious scale? Xothing, we believe, 
INDUSTRIAL ENTERPRISE ^^.^^-^^ ^^.^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^ ^|^^^^ incidental 

to a city of homes ; nothing which woidd be inconsistent there- 
with or detract from the excellence thereof. Such manufacturing 



THE FRKD'ERICK EAW OEMSTED JR. REJ'ORT 

as may l)e carried on without the sligiitest drawhack in the way 
of noise, dirt, disorder, or annoyance to tliose not connected witli 
it woukl be very well, because it would support a certain nundjer 
of people and enable them to liavc the advantage of lixiiig in 
Boulder instead of being compelled to live elsewhere; but any 
manufacturing or other business which is not free from such 
drawbacks would l)e a positive injury to the main business of the 
city with no corresponding advantage to the city at large, only 
a private advantage to a few persons. It would be a taking from 
all for the sake of a few, and developments in that direction, 
however speciously they may be presented and boomed by financi- 
ally interested promoters, ought steadily to be resisted by public 
opinion. 

In considering public improvements, therefore, no regard 
need be paid to the possible requirements of general manufactur- 
ing or other business inconsistent with the noiiiial requirements 
of a city of homes. 

Any manufacturing, however, such as brick making, or any 
other business no matter how unsightly or unattractive, such as 
swill collection and disposal, that may be required economically 
to meet the needs of a city of homes must be provided for, and 
so far as public action can affect them at all should be provided 
for in such a way that the business may be carried on as cheaply 
and as well as possible, keeping the objectionable features reduc- 
ed always to a minimum. 

Without discussing others, there is one kind of primary pro- 
ductive business not in the least inconsistent with a community 

of pleasant homes, a consideral)le de- 
SUBURBAN FARMING vclopment of which may perhaps be 

looked forward to in the outskirts of Boulder. Irrigation farming 
is only at its beginning as yet in Colorado, and those who practice 
it have carried over into it tradition's of farming under quite 
other conditions. The limit of the irrigable area is in sight and 
with the limitation of the area, under the favorable conditions of 
soil and climate about Boulder, more intensive cultivation is 
bound to develop, which means larger cro])s, more labor, and 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

smaller farms. It means rather market gardens than farms in the 
old sense, and a closer gathering together of the farmers' or gar- 
deners' houses, making possible, if the opportunity is wisely 
utilized, many of the advantages of town or suburban life. Most 
cities of rapid and isolated growth — and Boulder for its size is an 
example of that class — show no t3^pical suburban development. As 
in other such cities, there is at most points on the outskirts of 
Boulder a sharp distinction between the city lot, a closely stan- 
dardized article as to size, and the undivided farm land of the 
country. There is, to be sure, a margin around the occupied city 
where houses are a good deal scattered, but they generally stand 
on small lots with vacant lots between them that are generally 
unproductive and uncared for. Only in certain regions, developed 
for the most part at a period when Boulder was growing very 
slowly and adjusted itself more perfectly to the conditions for 
the time being, is there much of that truly and typically suburban 
character that affords such admirable conditions for the kind of 
home life which it seems to be the main business of Boulder to 
provide for — homes with land enough, under irrigation, for really 
useful and productive gardens that are not only a pleasure but a 
source of substantial saving or even profit, with land enough for 
a measure of privacy and real home life outside the walls of the 
house in the gracious Colorado climate, and yet close-set enough 
to bring neighbors and school and church and stores and the other 
advantages of community life within convenient reach. 



The Features To Be Considered 

The most conspicuous features in the physical equipment of 
the city fchat come more or less completely and directly under 
public control arc (1) the streets, devoted primarily to the passage 
of persons and vehicles including street cars, with incidental use 
as places of exercise and recreation; (2) the water ways, includ- 
ing the natural and artificial channels for the discharge of storm 
water and the main irrigating ditches; (3) public open spaces de- 
voted mainly to ^Durposes of recreation or education, but also to 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

various special functions; and (4) public and quasi-public build- 
ings. 

The equipments for the suppl}^ of water, gas and various 
forms of electric service and for the removal and disposal of 
sewage and other wastes are of course of the utmost importance, 
though less conspicuous; they form a special province of munici- 
pal equipment and management with which this report will not 
deal except insofar as they bear upon the four subjects first 
enumerated. 

One other subject, which is of course the finally determining 
factor in regard to the general excellence of a city, is the char- 

PUBLIC CONTROL OF PRI- ^'^^^^ °^ development and maintenance 
VATE IMPROVEMENTS that takes place on the private lands 
to which all the public improvements are ancillary. The spirit 
and principles of democracy, of personal freedom and individual 
responsibility, with which we dare not tamper if we hope to make 
well-grounded and permanent adv^ance, preclude any ]iublic au- 
thority from minutely directing this development; yet the pub- 
lic cannot avoid influencing it in two specific ways, apart from 
the influence of public sentiment as such. 

1. It does so directly and in a negative or prohibitory way 
through the police power, by exercise of which it is bound to pre- 
POLICE POWER vent such use of private lands as 

would unreasonably injure or jeopardize the safety, the health or 
the comfort of others. The final arbiter for determining what 
constitutes a reasonable standard of public safety, health and 
comfort, with which individual property owners are not allowed by 
the courts to interfere for the sake of their private pleasure or pri- 
vate gain, is nothing but sustained public opinion. "With every 
century, with every decade, in progressive countries the standard 
is raised. 

Indeed one means of measuring the civilization of any com- 
munity is to be found in the effectiveness with which the build- 
ing ordinances, the regulations of the Boards of Health and the 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEAIEXT ASSOCIATION 

other applications of the police power })revent the individual 
from seriously endangering or discomforting others without need- 
lessly hampering his freedom of enterprise in harmless or bene- 
ficial directions. 

2. The public also influences the develojDment of private 

property in a positive though indirect manner through its 

method of distributing the burden of 
INFLUENCE OF TAXATION ^, .^. t^ t • 

tlie public expenditures. License fees, 

franchise taxes, fees for special services, special assessments for the 
installation of special public works or for their maintenance and 
operation, and other special sources of public revenue, all tend ac- 
cording to their amount and the factors which are made to de- 
termine how much of them must be paid by any given property 
o^vaier, to make certain courses of action in the development or 
neglect of his property more profitable or less profitable, as the 
case ma}' be. The total amount remaining to be raised by direct 
taxation of real and personal estate and the wide range of choice 
exercised in practice by assessors either deliberately or uncon- 
sciously in shifting its burden more or less heavily upon personal 
property, upon land in various conditions of use and neglect, and 
upon buildings and other improvements, still further infiuence 
in a very marked way the action which the property owmer is 
likely to take. Some municipalities have used the control over the 
jDOwer of taxation deliberately and specifically to induce a desired 
class of improvements on private property by ofl^ering exemption 
for a term of years from certain controllable taxes upon improve- 
ments of the class desired. Not infrequently a tax is applied with 
a distinct view to the discouragement of certain classes of private 
undertakings as compared Avith others, as in the familiar high 
license fees for the sale of intoxicating liquors and the less fa- 
miliar but growing practice of taxing bill-boards. The subject is 
a very complex one and surrounded with legal and political pit- 
falls, but it cannot be ignored. Anyone whose voice has an in- 
fluence in controlling or modifying at any point the incidence of 
the burden of taxation and who has a regard for the physical 
characteristics of his town is bound to consider with the utmost 

10 



THE FRED'ERTCK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

care what sort of thing a possible change in the taxes will tend 
to make the taxpayer do with his property. 

Leaving these more complicated issues, we shall take up in 
detail the four elements in the physical equipment of the city 
first above mentioned, beginning with streets. 



Streets 

In a town laid out as the fully developed central portion of 
Boulder is laid out, with 80-foot streets, 20-foot alleys and blocks 
300 feet square, about 40 per cent of the total area is under pub- 
lic control in the streets. The ordinary amount of travel passing 
along the streets could, as a problem in transportation engineer- 
ing, be carried without change in the character of the vehicles 
or the proportion of foot-passengers, and without changing the 
size of the lots, upon gangways so much narrower than the streets 
as laid out that this proportion could be reduced to 10 per cent. In 
the busiest part of the City of Havana, where there is more 
travel of all kinds than Boulder is likely to see during the next 
century, the proportion is below 10 per cent. What is the balance 
good for? 

1. The extra width is valuable as the only feasible insur- 
ance against delays, inconveniences and expenses in case the 

REASONS FOR WIDE fi'avel should at any time in the fu- 
STREETS ture largely outgrow its present 

volume. 2. It is valuable in order to provide conveniences acces- 
sory to mere transportation, such as the right to stop and to load 
and unload vehicles in the street instead of being compelled to do 
all such business on private property by means of interior court 
yards such as are customary in Spanish countries. 3. In order to 
avoid the necessity for the strict regulation of traffic movement 
that would be required if the travel were to be carried expedi- 
tiously upon ways of the minimum width. 4. In order to afford 
freer access of light and air to all the abutting property than 
would otherwise be possible. 5. Finally, in order to permit the 
streets to serve in some measure purposes of public enjoyment by 
means of their agreeable spaciousness of appearance and by 
means of trees and other decorations which the greater width 
makes possible. 

These are sound, strong reasons and the people who made 
the original layout of Boulder appear to have made an intelligent 

12 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

and reasonable choice in determining tlie proportion of street area 
to lot area, avoiding an extravagantly and inconveniently large 
proportion on the one hand and a mean and sliort-siiihtt'dly small 
proportion on the other. Their plan is open to some criticism in 
other respects, as will be noted later, — what human plan is free 
from faults? — but in this regard it was an excellent start. 

Under the system of "additions" platted by real estate own- 
ers upon their own initiative and without control, the newer 

g . Kjc\iu parts of the city have been laid out, 

ADDITIONS naturally enough, with a less liberal 

regard for the interests of the general public. These "additions" 
are not laid out as charitable enterprises and there is no reason 
to expect those who lay them out to be influenced by other mo- 
tives than those Avhich appear to govern them. It is their busi- 
ness to get as many lots out of each subdivision as they can and 
to devote as small a percentage as they can to street area without 
spoiling the sale of the lots by making things too conspicuously 
mean. The demands of purchasers keep the standard from sink- 
ing indefinitely, but they are not free to express their preference 
effectively in this matter. It is often for them only a choice be- 
tween evils, and other factors generally seem much more im- 
portant to the individual buyer than liberal street width; he 
wants to be near his friends, or in a fashionable quarter, or on 
high ground, or near a car line, or he wants easy terms, or some- 
thing which makes him ready to put up with narrow streets. 
Seller and purchaser have their own proper personal and tem- 
porary ends to serve and it is not the business of either of them 
to look out for the general interests. And as a result, roughly 
speaking, the more Boulder grows, the narrower its streets get. 

In the original town of Boulder the area occupied by streets 

and alleys was equal to 43 per cent of the area of building lots, 

PER CENTAGE OF AREA ^'''^ including Court House Square 

IN STREETS with the streets tlu"" total area under 

pul)]ie control is equal to 44 per cent of the area in building lots. 

In the Chautauqua Heights Addition the area in streets is 
equal to 32 per cent of the area in lots. In the jSTewIand Addition 



HOl'LDl-.R CTTV IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

the area in streets is equal to 3G per eent of tlie area in lots; 
East Bonkler, 4"^ ])er cent; Mapleton, 35 per eent; Floral Park, 
35 ]jer cent: Mawveirs Addition, 3J per cent; Interurban Park, 
30 ])er cc]it. 

In none of these additions are there any areas except the 
streets left under public control. 

The tendency is natural and inevitable unless it is made 
somebody's business to look after the public interest in this mat- 
ter, and although the tendency has not gone far enough as yet 
to lead to any very striking results, it is time that some positive 
measures were taken to check it and at least hold to the stand- 
ards with which the city started. 

AVe speak of this matter first because it is a simi)le and posi- 
tive question of quantity, easy to state and plain to see, but 

there are questions of quality really 
MISFIT STREETS ^^ ^^^^^^1^ greater importance. East of 

Fifteenth Street, for over half a mile, as far, that is to say as any 
subdivisions have been platted, not a single street goes through 
from Pearl Street to Arapahoe Avenue without one or more 
kinks or angles in it and a sharp contraction in width. At the 
limit of the plattings 24th Streets runs through straight because 
it was an old country highway, but it is narrow and even it stops 
at Pearl Street without any connection to the north. Again, Wal- 
nut vStreet offsets nearly half its width when it Jerks across the 
line into the East Boulder subdivision; Pine Street does the same 
thing and shrinks in width very perceptibly when it passes into 
Tourtellot and Squires Addition; Broadway, which as the south- 
ern continuation of 12th Street forms part of one of the most 
important thoroughfares in the city, shrinks from 100 feet in 
Avidth to 80 feet on passing into the University Place Addition, 
and a little further on makes an angle and shrinks again to 60 
feet wide. 

Another difficulty arising out of the system of leaving the lay- 
out of permanent public thoroughfares to private parties who 

14 



THE I"R1-,D'RRICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

ADVANTAGES OF '''^^'^' ^'^^^^ temporary niul special m- 

RECTANGULAR BLOCK tcrest in the result is beginning to 
be seen where the growth of Boulder is encroaching on the steep 
and irregular slopes of the mesas. A flat ])iece of paper of a given 
size can be subdivided into a larger number of standard sized 
fragments with less trouble l)y a rectangular system of cutting up 
than in any other way, and other things being equal a rectangular 
house lot is apt to be more convenient and usable, foot for foot, 
than one of any other shape. These are the principle reasons for 
rectangular subdivisions, and very good reasons they are. Even 
WHERE RECTANGULAR when the flat paper is the convention- 
BLOCKS MAKE TROUBLE ^1 representation of a piece of ground 
that is far from flat, the advantages remain equally strong for 
the dealer in lots, who alone is responsil)le for the method of 
subdividing as things now stand; but in such a case certain dif- 
ficulties are introduced for which others have to foot the bill in 
years to come. Steep grades needlessly . burden the community 
with the triple tax of inconvenient and costly transportation, of 
endless successive expenditures for making improvements in the 
grade when the inconvenience becomes intoleral)le, improvements 
that involve not only the cost of grading and of tearing up a 
street in actual use, but also more or less serious grade damages 
to improved property along the line, and finally the tax of a seri- 
ously increased cost of maintenance. On the other hand, the the- 
oretical advantages of precisely rectangular lots, although they 
may attract the inexperienced ])urchaser. are a])t to l)e counter- 
balanced by sharp differences in grade between one corner and 
another that have to be overcome by costly construction, so that 
the only man who gets much advantage out of the rigidly rect- 
angular system thus applied is the real estate promoter, to whose 
uncontrolled discretion the choice of a plan is left. 

Why should he not stick to the rectangular system regard- 
less of future results? As before mentioned, he is not subdividing 
RECTANGULAR PLATTING the land as a charitable enterprise or 

^^^'^PR^OMOTER^"^^'^^ "^^^^^>' f"^ *^^ "^'i^' impi-"vement of 
Boulder. In some cases the owner is doubtless a non-resident or 

15 



BOULDER CITY lAIPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

a temporary resident whose ^nirpose is to sell out at as good a 
price as he can with the least possible extra investment for sur- 
veys, plans and improvements, and then get out. Why should he 
be expected to give elaborate consideration in laying out the 
Ptreets, as a well-managed railroad company does in laying out 
its right-of-way, to questions of grade, of cost of operation and 
maintenance, and of promoting the permanent prosperity of the 
section? 

And yet under the present system, if the real estate pro- 
moter does not happen by some stretch of altruism or by mere 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR luck to provide for these permanent 
THE CITY'S INTEREST IN ir • + + •+ • + • 4.1 j. 

STREET PLATTING? public interests it IS certain that no- 

body else will, because under the present system in Boulder no- 
body else has anything to say about it. 

It is just a hundred and one years since a committeeman of 
Xew York City, standing beside a building in course of construc- 

THE NEW YORK ^^^^^ ^"^^ looking out over the farm 

GRIDIRON lands, swamps and woods that stretch- 

ed in 'New York City from Bleecker Street to the Harlem Eiver, 
picked up a mason's sieve that was lying near at hand and laid it 
down \\]um the map of Manhattan Island, saying "there, gentle- 
men. Avhat l)etter plan could you have than that?" and because 
nobody proposed, anything better, the mason's sieve plan was 
adopted, with a single diagonal line angling up across it con- 
sistiug of the old country highway that men call today Broadway; 
it was an ill-considered, bad plan; and thereafter no one was al- 
lowed to open any street except upon the lines of the sieve. 

N'ot a little experimenting has been done m the years since 
then, both on the question of how to lay out streets for the best 
ADVANCE IN THE ART OF pc'rmanent interests of a city and on 

CITY PLANNING tl>e question of how legally to enforce 

the public will without unfairness to landowners and without an 
undue burden of expense upon the community. Today it is pos- 
sible to speak more definitely upon the former question than on 
the latter, for at least the principles governing the physical de- 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

sign of cities are well fixed, liko those governing the design of 
any piece of efficient machinery or any work of fine art, but the 
legal question lias been complicated by arbitrary ililferences in 
state constitutions, by local and temporary peculiarities of 
statute law, and by the gradually altering precedents of the courts. 

Broadly speaking, two principal legal methods have been 

used to secure conformity in street layout to plans adopted in 

ENFORCEMENT OF CITY advance by city authorities. The first 

'^'"quirement\)F^' ^^ ^°^ *^^° P^^^^^^^ authorities to lay 

STREETS out and acquire the rights in at least 

the main tlioroughfares and often in the whole street sj'stem of 
a given section, some 3^ears in advance of the physical need for 
the streets, leaving the construction to be done from time to time 
as required. This method involves the assessment and payment 
of damages at the time of the original taking. 

This system accomplishes the purpose; but it is sometimes 
rather hard on the public treasury, especially if political favorit- 
ism comes into play. Certain individuals are bound to be paid 
cash down for the right to run streets through their farm lands 
many years in advance of the need for constructing the streets, 
and until the construction takes place they can go on using the 
land for farm or other purposes almost as though no action had 
been taken. We have seen streets laid out in this -ray in Brooklyn, 
iSTew York, which not only were cultivated during many years by 
the abutters as market gardens but which served an additional 
corrupt purpose through a contract for street lighting. Being 
public streets, even though not open to travel, gas mains were 
laid in them, and at the standard price per light the municipal 
lighing contractor sent his men night and morning through the 
rows of cabbages to light and extinguish the gas lamps. 

The other principal method of procedure after planning a 
proposed system of streets is to publish it and announce that no 
ESTABLISHMENT OF CITY ^^^^eets Avill thereafter be accepted by 
PLAN BY PROCLAMATION the city which do not conform to the 
plan. In theory this is sound, but in practice the results are wide- 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

ly various. Usually the city officials have not the necessaiy back- 
bone to stand up for their plan, and a persistent and cheeky 
promoter, even without corruption, can not infrequently induce 
the city to accept a platting which differs more or less radically 
from the established plan. Sometimes the promoter simply goes 
ahead regardless of the city plan, rough-grades his own inade- 
quate streets as private ways and sells off the lots to more or less 
unsuspecting citizens and leaves THEM to fight it out with the 
city. Thev will have built houses, possilily in ignorant good faith, on 
the promoter's so-called streets, and when they come ^\dth a de- 
mand for curbing, sewering, lighting, etc., it is too much of a 
straiiT on the easy-going, good nature of American city officials to 
tell them that it was their own fault for building on streets im- 
properly laid out and that they must therefore improve the 
streets themselves as private ways i and maintain them as such for- 
ever at their own risk and expense. If city officials had the back- 
bone to enforce such harsh and impersonal justice, and stick to 
their announced plan in spite of baby-talk, a few such unpleasant 
episodes would soon establish respect for tlie adopted ])lan and 

THE SYSTEM OF OFFICIAL it would be followed without more 
BLUFF AND SPECIAL -, -r^ , ., , , n , ■ -, 

PRIVILEGE ado. Bin it appears to be a Iciet with 

which it is necessary to reckon that in the mind of the average 
American official any general rule of policy and almost any ordi- 
nance or statute law is more or less of a bluff. If anybody of 
good standing in the community calls the bluff, he is apt to think 
more of keeping peace in the family and avoiding harsh feelings 
than of hewing to the line in the execution of his presumptive 
dnty. If he disregards statute law in this loose, good-natured way, 
some reforming busy-body may get after him in the courts; but 
where it is merely a matter of general policy concerning which 
his office must possess discretionary power in order to make the 
system workable, his temperament plays havoc with the general 
rule, resulting in special favors for the more aggressive and self- 
seeking disregarders of the public interest. 

A great many laws have been put upon the statute books of 

18 



THE FRKD'ERICK LAW OEM S'll-:i) JR. REI'ORT 

various states authorizing cities tlirougii special machinery creat- 

UNCONSTITUTIONAL ocT for the purpose to establisli street 

Ef'''ORTS_^TO JSTABLISH j,|^,^,^ ^,, ^^.,,i,.,, ^|,^, ,,i„,1_,„,,hts n,ust 

conform under various penalties; as for example the Board of 
Survey Law in Massachusetts, which provided that if any huihl- 
ing or other improvement was constructed within the limits of 
any of the proposed streets after they had been deiined by the 
Board of Survey the owner should not be able to collect damages 
on account of such building or improvement at the time wlien 
the street is actually taken over by the city. But the courts have 
repeatedly held such laws to be unconstitutional unless provision 
IS made by wliirli the land-owner may receive payment for tlic 
encumbrance thus placed upon his freedom to do what he wills 
with his land. Such laws, therefore, when they accomplish any- 
thing, merely serve for a time to strengthen the bluff which the 
city puts up when it says the established street plan must be fol- 
lowed under severe penalties: which deter the average citizen but 
v.hich the professional knows cannot be or will not be enforced if 
he boldly persists in disregarding the plan. 

It is easv to see that the diffi- 

AMERICAN BACKWARDNESS ^.^,,^^. j^ intimatelv linked with one 

IN CITY PLANNING ■, , ^ ,• "x j^ ^ ^ 

ot tlu' \veakest leatures of our whole 

American ]~)olitical and administrative system, and it is therefore 
no wonder that the situation is rather discouraging and that the 
street lavout of American cities has been floundering for a cen- 
tury without appreciable improvenuMit while a whole science of 
street ])lanning has been developing and is showing its 
results in Euro])ean cities that have been growing at the 
same rate as our own. It is a discouraging situation 
but success in it is immensely importa]"it to the fu- 
ture welfare of every city, and the practical question faces ns 
"TAKIXG THE FACTS AS ^\E FIXD THEM WHAT CAX 
EEALLY BE DOXE ABOVT IT?" 

In the first place the eity, as 
WHAT CAN BE DONE represented in the political' of- 

ficials responsible for its policies, the Mayor and Council, must 

19 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

be convinced that it is desirable and practicable to look ahead in 
tlie matter of street extensions and to safeguard the interests of 
the city therein, and that such insurance is worth paying some- 
thing for. The policy having been accepted as a sound one, the 
necessary authority and funds must be voted to enable a perma- 
nent administrative officer of the necessary technical ability to 
develop a street system plan, with or without special expert as- 
sistance as may appear advisable. 

"We sav "permanent admin istra- 

NEED OF A PERMANENT live official" with rcasou. Even 
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER , . .,. . , 

IN CHARGE OF CITY PLAN American cities are coming to rec- 
ognize that tolerable efficiency in 
the board of directors, composed of changing political officers re- 
sponsible for the city's ])o]icy, is supplemented l)y an adminitra- 
tive and executive staff of experts more or less permanent in their 
tenure. It has come to bo generally recognized, for example, that 
an officer Avho performs duties of such a highly technical nature 
and depending to such a high degree upon continuous personal 
knowledge of technical details as those of a city engineer, or 
his principal assistants, can only be properly performed if they 
are in the hands of an expert, non-political, administrative of- 
ficer, holding office practically during good behavior; as distin- 
guished from the political or representative officers, whose duty 
it is to control the general policy and the rate of expenditure of 
the administration in accordance with the popular will and who 
must therefore change with more or less frequency in order fairly 
to reflect that will. 

It is not, in our opinion, desirable that the making of a gen- 
eral plan for street extensions or improvements should be en- 
OBJECTION TO TEMPO- trusted to a special, temporary com- 
MISSION " mission or officer, because in the na- 

ture of things it is not possible that such a plan should be 
brought to a definite finish, like plans for a building. It is a mat- 
ter of continuous growth and of a certain amount of continuous 
revision and the duty of creating the plan and keeping it not 
merely "up to date" but at least a few years ahead of up to date 

20 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLALSTED JR. REPORT 

should therefore be intrusted to a ''permanent administratire of- 
ficer."' In a city of tlie size of Boulder such a duty naturally falls 
to the city engineer, in a larger city to a special department, but 
in either case the assignment of the duty must be accompanied 
by vote of funds for the necessary assistance in doing the work. 
NEED OF ^^ ^'^ ^ matter that requires initiative 

APPROPRIATIONS and time for careful investigation, 

and simply to assign the duty to a busy city engineer's depart- 
ment whose resources are habitually taxed to keep up with the 
pressure of routine duties amounts to nothing Avithout a special 
fund available for pushing this particular matter. 

Having got so far, the Council ought to pass an ordinance to 

the effect that no street will thereafter be accepted by the city 

except upon certificate of its approval 

OFFICIAL BACKING i ., rv- • i . .i , . 

b}'' the otricer m charge ot the street 

plan. Of course this cannot prevent a subsequent Coimcil from 
eating its words and accepting any kind of a street regardless of 
the plan; but it at least strengthens the bluff, and will enable 
future weak-kneed but well-intentioned Councilmen to escape 
pressure from personal or political friends who may want the 
plan disregarded, b}^ hiding behind the permanent official. The 
latter is better able to stand the pressure than a political offi- 
cial, if he has even a half-hearted and tacit backing in the Coun- 
cil, and he is helped by the ]u-ide of authorship to pla}^ the part 
of the hard-heartod partner with a better grace. 

Finally the city has got to come to the point of actually ac- 
quiring locations for a few wide, main tlioroughfares forming 

essential features of the gradually ex- 
THE FINANCIAL END pnnding plan far enough in advance 

to make sure that they Avill not be blocked or seriously narrowed 
or deflected by private improvements or rising land values; and 
for these few. good, main thoroughfares the cost, which is after all 
only the margin by which the damages exceed the betterments, 
must simply be paid with as good a grace as possible, like an in- 
surance premium or the price of grain sowed in the fall for next 
year's harvest. Even at that the money may be raised on a long 

21 



r.OULDER CTTV niPROVliMEXT ASSOCIATION 

term boiul issue with more reason than tlie average expenditure 
i'oi- niunicijjal improvements, most of which give tlieir highest 
values when they are new and are wearing out when the bonds 
fall due, whereas proper street locations of course increase in use- 
fulness with every year's growth of the city. 

The above appears to be a practical programme which is 
within the discretion of the city without having to go to the 
legislature for any special authority. We presume there is nothing 
to prevent the city from making surveys and plans relating to 
land outside its boundaries which may at some future time come 
in. since it is permitted to own and operate water works and a 
park outside of the city boundaries. It might be convenient, how- 
ever, to secure some additional authority from the legislature: 
that is a matter for the lawyers. 

If any legislation is to be secured it would be well for the 
lawyers to consider the following device for diminishing the dam- 
ages due to taking street locations for future development. We 
are not aware that the device has ever been employed, but it does 
not a])])ear to be open to the fundamental constitutional objections 
that lie against most of the special laws upon this subject. When 
a street location is not utilized for street purposes for a number 
of years after its acquisition by the city the usufruct of the land 
remains in the hands of the owner, hut his tenure of the usufruct 
being uncertain and terminable by the city at will this fact can- 
not reduce the amount of damages at the time of taking very 
materially. Also this element of uncertainty of tenure, being de- 
pendent upon the discretion of city officials, tends to introduce 
opportunities for favoritism or at best for charges of favoritism. 
Our suggestion is that the practice should he to take hy con- 
demnation the right of entering upon the street location at a 
definite future time, say ten years or twenty-five years in ad- 
vance, leaving in the hands of the owner a perfectly definite 
tenure of the land, the capitalized value of which can he taken 
into account in assessing the damages of the taking. If it should 
become necessary to enter upon the street for construction hefore 
the end of the fixed period it will normally be because the owner 

22 



THE FRKD'F.RICK LAW" OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

is anxious to liave the improvement made and is ready to waive 
his right to the continued nse of the land for other purposes in 
order to have the street opened promptly, l)ut if he is not willing 
so to waive his rights they can he extinguished at any time hy 
condemnation upon payment of the fair value of the unexpired 
term. 

So much for the legal and administrative aspect of street 

])lanning. As for the actual laying out of a plan we can do no 

m(n'e than cite a few instances of the 
SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS ,,.,.,, -, n -i 

AS TO STREET IM- ^OTX ot thing that needs to be done 

PROVEMENTS and discuss a few general principles. 

To do more on the basis of our brief study of the situation would 

be as if a tailor were to look once or twice at a man passing in 

the street and then go home and cut a suit of clothes to fit him. 

We have spoken of the successive narrowings of Broadway. It 
is plain that there ought to be an ample and convenient main 

thoroughfare taking up with the 
BROADWAY 100-foot portion of Broadway and 

extending inckfinitely into the territory that lies between the 
Colorado Southern Eailway and the base of the high mesas, prob- 
ably between the railway and the corner (^f the new cemetery. To 
get a good line, to say nothing of a ])roper width, would involve 
some disturbance of the streets and lots of the subdivision called 
"Tnterurban Park" and the sooner a decision is reached the better 
it will be for all parties. 

It will become highly important at some time in the future, 
as Boulder attracts people who are able and willing to pay for 

more or less detached residences per- 
TO THE SOUTHWEST manentlv commanding fine views, such 
as are to be found by the thousand in first-class sulnirbs and 
summer resorts in the east, to develop the magnificent possibili- 
ties of the great mesas to the south of Chautauqua Park; and to 
this end a first-class thoroughfare on good grades ought to be 
planned leading up and into that section. It is a difficult problem 
from every point of view and it is highl}^ important that it should 

23 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

be ^vorked out before the land to the east ,and northeast of 
Chautanqua becomes so fully occupied as to leave no flexibility in 
choosing the point of departure and improving the layout and 
grades of the approach. If the best line of approach proves to be 
Twelfth street, as seems not unlikel}^, it would seem important 
to consider whether some improvement ought not to be made in 
the present means of connection between the comer of Broadway 
and University Avenue and the beheaded southern portion of 
Twelfth Street. 

Some more direct and better graded line of approach should 

certainly be provided to connect the central, the western and the 

FLAGSTAFF MOUNTAIN "orthem parts of the city with the 

ROAD Flagstaff Mountain road where it 

crosses Gregory Canon Creek. 

Lines of travel along Boulder Creek will be discussed in con- 
nection with storm water channels and park opportunities below; 

as will also the problem of hand- 
SPECIAL PROBLEMS 5,,^^ ^|,^. ^.,,„„^ ^^.^^^,,^ ^^ Sunshine 

Canon and securing a proper connection for a thoroughfare in that 
canon with the center of the city. A perplexing problem involving 
an opportunity for securing excellent results and a more than 
equal chance of making an extravagant and wasteful botch is to 
-be found in the development of the lower end of Sunshine Canon 
and the slopes below Bed Eock. The best results for all parties 
can only be secured here by a frank, intelligent, and far-sighted 
co-operation of the city in the layout of streets and parks with 
the land-owners in the layout of building lots. 

Perhaps a thoroughfare having somewhat the character of a 
parkway or pleasure drive, but serving also to give access to scat- 
tered house sites of great picturesque 
TO THE NORTHWEST ^^j^^^ ^^^^^ relatively high cost of de- 
velopment, Avill be justified after the lapse of some years, branch- 
ing ofi^ from the Sunshine Canon Eoad and Mapleton Avenue 
at a point west of the Sanitarium, rising through the valley west 
of the Hogback and passing out on to the east face of the Hog- 

24 



THE FRI'DERICK T.AW OE^ISTED JR. REPORT 

back a little above the level of the Silver Lake Ditcli, at a point 
a few hundred feet north of the place where the ditcli crosses on 
to the east face. Thence it would work northward on a nearly level 
line commanding wonderful views to the eastward. The ])ark 
aspect of this possible thoroughfare will be discussed more fully 
below. 

A good main north and south thoroughfare wide enough for 
car tracks is needed about where Fourth Street or Fifth Street is 

FOURTH OR FIFTH ^^^^'^ "*^^'^^^ "^' ^^^^-^^^'^^^ ^^^'^"^''^^- 

STREET Fifth Street would give consider- 

ably better grades than Fourth Street and is probably preferable, 
but whichever street is adopted the city ought to insist upon its 
being widened and graded to a much improved profile as a pre- 
liminary to its adoption as a main thoroughfare and the laying 
of tracks in it. Both Fourth Street and Fifth Street "break 
joints" to some extent in passing from the "Mountain Heights" 
subdivision to the "IsTeAvland Addition" and there should be a suf- 
ficient enlargement or square at the junction to overcome its 
awkwardness unless the general widening of the street can be 
made to accomplish the same purpose. In the !N"ewland Addition 
any widening of a north and south street would curtail the depth 
of lots, but the widening should be done Avithout cost to the city 
at large because 100-foot lots on a wide street with car tracks are 
worth more than deeper lots on a narrow street without car 
tracks. And the city will be entirely within its rights and entirely 
POLICY AS TO STREET j^istificd in taking the position that it 
RAILWAY LOCATIONS Avill never authorize the location of car 
tracks except in wide thoroughfares properly adapted for such 
use. To widen Fourth Street or Fifth Street through "Maxwell's" 
and "Mountain Heights" subdivision will involve wiping out a 
certain number of lots, but again the cost of doing so will be fully 
justified and may reasonably be assessed in whole or in part upon 
the adjacent property benefited by the widening and by the car 
line contingent thereon. 

Twelfth Street beyond the angle near Portland Place ought 

25 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVKMEXT ASSOCIATION 

to 1)0 laid out wide enough to serve in the future all the i)urposes 

of a great main thoroughfare for 
TWELFTH STREET traffic and car lines Avith ample side- 

walks, shade trees, etc., for an indefinite distance to the north. 

East of Twelfth Street for a distance of a mile a high steep- 
sided ridge, called Lovers' Hill, blocks all north and south travel 

except at a single pass opposite Twen- 
TWENTIETH STREET ^j^^i^ Street, and the only important 
future thoroughfares in this section are therefore the two country 
roads which extend north through this gap and past the east end 
of the ridge. These should hoth he laid out of ample width. In 
this connection it is to he noted that T\ventieth Street, which will 
he of considerable importance through its connection to the north, 
now comes to a dead end at Walnut Street and it is seriously to 
be considered whether it ought not to be extended south to Goss 
Street between which street and Arapahoe Avenue it has already 
been o]icned, although at a reduced width. Also, as T)efore men- 
TWENTY FOURTH tioned, Twenty-fourtli Street, which 

STREET has a fairly important connection to 

the south and which is on the same line asi the road which leads 
to the north past the east end of Lovers' Hill, is at present laid 
out as a narrow street and comes to a dead end at Pearl Street. It 
certainly ought to be extended north to complete the connection 
at a respectable width. Its extension would include about a quar- 
ter of a mile of the Beasley Canal and could he made to have a 
rather striking and valuable character as a parkwav or boulevard 
in a manner discussed below under the proper head. 

From this proposed widening and extension of Twenty- 
fourth Street at its intersection with Hill Street a wide, main 

thoroughfare ought to be laid out on 
TO THE NORTHEAST .^ ^.^^;^^^ ^-^^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^^^.^^^ ^^^^^ p^^f_ 

erably following the line of the Beasley Canal in Avhole or in part 
for a considerable distance. 

Either Pine Street or Spruce Street ought to be extended 

26 



TIIF. KRl':n'FRICK LAW OLMSTRD JR. REPORT 

as a wide, main thoroughfaro ])arall('l to the D. & B. V. \l. Ii., and 

a new east and west tliorouglil'are 
TO THE EAST tappini-' the iraftK- of hotli Tearl and 

AValnut Streets sh(ndd lie laid out to the eastward of "^^th Street 
on a line not immediately next the railroad. This proposed new 
thoroughfare wtnild ])rol)al)ly fork ahout half a mile east of •24th 
Street, one hraneh entering the distriet l)etween the T). S: "B. V. 
E. E. and the arm of the (*. lV' S. Eailway wliile the other hraneh 
would keep entirely to the south of the latter. 

Twenty-eig'hth Street is a eross-town thoronghfare of some 
future importance and should prohaldy he widened and extended, 

TWENTY-EIGHTH '^^^'^ certainly an ample cross-town 

STREET line shonld he laid oat just w^est of the 

"Wye. which offers a permanent ol)stacle to street travel of con- 
siderahle extent. 

South of Bonlder Creek again and hetween it and the ^Nfar- 
shall Branch of the C. & S. some improved lines of commnnica- 
FROM SEVENTEENTH cation will he much needed. From the 
^'^^Ioutheast'^^^ Seventeenth Street hridge in addition 

to a connection nnder the railroad to University Avennc and 
throngh the University gronnds to the sonth. a road onght to he 
laid ont on a good grade rising up the face of the hluff north of 
the Hospital (in place of the present precipitous road that runs 
hetween the Hos])ital and the Eailroad). The proposed road would 
rise gradually to the edge of the level ground south of the Hos- 
pital and extend along near the edge of the declivity so as to tap 
the various roads leading southward while commanding a fine 
view of the city with Boulder Creek in the foreground. The park 
value of such a road would he very large and it will be discussed 
in more detail under that head, hut it is certainly desirahle as a 
mere means of communication. T^ltimately, descending again to 
the low^er level at or near Twenty-eighth Street, it would presum- 
ably extend off to the southeast through Section 32. 

It is not to he supposed either that the above is an exhaus- 

27 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

tive statement of the thoroughfares that it would he wel] to pro- 

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE ^i^'^' i'"^' «^ ^liat all of the lines men- 
IN CITY STREET PLANNING: tioncd are equally important to lay 

MA^'thorcSghfZrTs'and <-^ - ^^•'^■^"^^■e of the actual o.,owth 
LOCAL STREETS. of the city; hut it may serve as the 

hasis for a programme of work and it may help to make 
clear a fundamental principle too little recognized in most of the 
city planning that has been done in this country. That principle 
is to make sure of a limited number of main thoroughfares, first; 
to get these laid out of the most ample width, so as to be sure 
that the contingencies of the future Avill not overcrowd them, and 
on reasonably direct and continuous lines and Avith no bad gradi- 
ents; to do this regardless of local and individual objections and 
opjiosition and even -at considerable expense in order that the 
general transportation interests of all other localities and individ- 
uals may bo proi)orly provided for: and then in laying out the 
secondary or intermediate streets to considt local wishes and in- 
dividual preferences and minor economies of land and construc- 
tion to a marked degree. Systematic adherence to this principle 
not only results in a street system that serves the practical re- 
quirements of transportation adequately, but it is as a whole, more 
economical of land and construction than one in which the dis- 
tinction between main and secondary streets is not so clearly made, 
and finally it tends to make a far more interesting and agreeable 
city than one in which all the streets approximate an even uni- 
formity of width and character regardless of the purposes for 
Avhich they are used. For residential purposes there is a coziness 
and quiet attractiveness about a street of moderate length and 
moderate width through which no heavy traffic has inducement 
to flow, that is in marked and pleasant contrast with the inter- 
minable vistas of streets that go on indefinitely in an unbroken 
straight line, especially if their grades be such as to attract con- 
siderable amount of general teaming; while on the other hand for 
the sort of occupation that naturally seeks the main lines of 
travel, such as stores, etc., the advantage of thus concentrating 

28 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

the through travel on certain streets is ver^y considerable. Wliat- 

EFFECT OF SUCH PLAN- ever tends to staMlitv in the distinct 
NING ON REAL ESTATE .^^.„„., + - ,• T,r " ^ i -f 

VALUES se^-egation ol dilrerent chisses oi oc- 

cnjDane}' of conilicting or incongruons character tends to stability 
of real estate valnes and to a higher average range of valnes. The 
more certain a man can feel that the character of a given street 
is prett}^ well fixed the more he is willing to pay for the privilege 
of having a lot on the kind of street that he Avants. The sharp 
differentiation in width and character of treatment between the 
main tlioronghfare and the ordinary streets is a step in tliis di- 
rection as well as a practical economy in dealing with the transpor- 
tation problem. To discnss at this point the next step, which con- 
cerns district building laws and other localized restrictions in- 
tended to safeguard the class of occupation in given districts 
would take us too far afield. 

The detailed improvement of existing and future streets in 
]ioint of practical utility, economy of maintenance and a}ipearauce 

DETAILED IMPROVEMENT ^'' ^^^^ .^^^^^ ^a*^^^' *^ ^'^ considered; 
OF STREETS the main elements being roadway 

]iavement. surface-water drainage, sidewalks, street trees, street 
fixtures and incidental features, but the most important thing of 
all is the general effect of all these features considered as a whole. 
It is jnst as well to point out at the beginning that there is no 
single best type of treatment even for streets of a given width and. 
of the same general character of occupancy. Nothing is more des- 
perately uninteresting and unattractive than the monotonous 
repetition of the same type of street. It is conceivable that a 
committee of ladies might come to a concensus of opinion as to 
which was the best looking dress in town but what a depressing 
thing it Avould be if they all took to Avearing it! Yet we may ven- 
ture some general recommendations as to Boulder streets without 
much risk that they will be so literally folloM-ed as to lend to 
monotony of appearance. 

A good roadway well maintained is a rather costly article 
and the Avidcr the roadwav in anv street the longer it will take 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 



to bring it up to a good standard and 
ROADWAY WIDTH ^j^^ hjirdcr ]t Will be to keep it there. 

Moreover every nnnecessary square yard of roadway is an un^ 
necessary source of dnst and glare. If a street be laid out wide 
enough between property lines to provide for future contingencies 
it is a simple matter to widen its roadway Avhenever it proves 
desirable to do so, and the saving in cost of maintenance and in 
interest charges due to building a roadway narrow at first and 
widening it some years later is usually more than enough to pay 
for the extra cost of doing the work in two or more operations. 
Except on the streets carrying a large volume of traffic we be- 
lieve that most of the Boulder streets have a Avider traveled way 
than is economically desirable and that they would be distinctly 
improved in appearance if the traveled way were narrowed. Ex- 
cept on main thoroughfares a roadway about 24 feet wide will 
serve all practical purposes and generally look better than a 
greater width. This is sufficient for ordinary vehicles to turn in 
without serious inconvenience and permit vehicles to come to a 
stop on both sides of the road without blocking passage. On minor 
and suburban streets a width as narrow as 16 feet has been 
recommended hx a distinguished authority for the city of Chicago 
and there are cases in Boulder where we should endorse this 
recommendation, but in such cases it should ordinarily be pos- 
sible for vehicles to turn off over the edge of the road on emer- 
gency; in other words the curb, if any is used, should be set back 
some distance from the edge of the road, the intervening space 
being occupied by grass, or by rmpaved earth, or possibly by some 
inferior form of pavement of low annual cost when subjected only 
to light and occasional use. A central pavement about 16 feet 
Avide of first-class smooth pavement flanked by borders eight feet 
wide paved with cobblestones and graded so as to act as gutters, 
while at the same time providing standing space for vehicles at 
the side of the road and turning space Avhen required, makes a 
form of street pavement relatively inexpensive to construct and 
maintain and having some distinct advantages where grades are 
steep and Avhere a macadam pavement is subject to washing and 
any smooth pavement is liable to be slippery on occasion. But 

30 



THE FRKD'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

ordinarily a good smooth pavement al)Out 2-1 feet wide clear of 
the gutters is a reasonable design for ordinary residential streets. 
FORM OF GUTTERS: >^^eept ill those streets where an irri- 

STORM WATER DRAINAGE gating channel serves at the same 
time as a gutter for carrying otf the surface water, the gutters, 
as a matter of convenience and appearance, ought not to be like 
ditches sharply separating the sidewalks from the roadway. But 
to avoid deep big ditches requires that the storm water should 
be removed from the gutters at frequent intervals into a system 
of storm-water sewers connecting ultimately with the open na- 
tural channels of storm-water discharge. In the long run this is 
a large and costly undertaking and one that needs to be planned 
in a comprehensive and systematic way if a good deal of money 
is not to be wasted on it; but it is an item th:it every well-organiz- 
ed city has to face sooner or later. 

As to the kind of pavement, there is no single kind of pave- 
ment to which a city can turn as the best solution of the problem, 

neither asphalt, nor brick, nor creo- 
KINDS OF PAVEMENT ^^^^^^ ^^^^j^^^ ^^^^ bitulithic nor maca- 
dam nor stone. In any given city each street, or each class of 
streets, according to their grades, the volume and character of the 
traffic, and the character of the abutting property presents a 
separate problem: and the first step in reaching a satisfactory re- 
sult is for the city engineer or other proper administrative de- 
]iartment to classify the streets carefully and scientifically accord- 
ing to the above factors, and then to deal with each class by it- 
self. 

Most progressive American cities have dealt with the street 

improvement problem much after the fashion in which a well 

-TLJiT o/^iM-r ^c- x/itrxA, iM regulated household of moderate but 

THE POINT OF VIEW IN '^ 

CHOOSING PAVEMENTS increasing resources deals with the 

question of household furniture. An intelligent family having an 

equipment with which it can get along after a fashion, invests 

from time to time in pieces of good, durable, beautiful furniture 

of immediate use and permanent value, being spurred to each 

purchase by growing requirements and a high standard of living 

31 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

and b}' the sense of financial ability, knowing that if it can af- 
ford the immediate expense the gain in comfort and pleasure will 
be real and permanent with a very slight added burden of care. 
It is a form of saving, really, almost like putting money in the 
bank if the purchases are intelligently made, for really first-class 
furniture in the hands of a good housekeeper does not seriously 
deteriorate. And cities, looking upon good pavement as a kind of 
municipal furniture, have been apt, when they have faced the 
problem at all seriously and progressively, to proceed in the same 
way; under the spur of expanding needs and rising standards, 
they have liought for one street after another a first-class pave- 
ment, asking the engineers to give them a real good durable ar- 
ticle. To meet the demand for durability the engineers worked 
out the granite block pavement on a concrete foundation. This 
was somewhat as if the furniture men offered to our typical 
householder clumsy cast-iron furniture : the first cost is very high 
and comfort and appropriate grace of appearance are sacrificed 
for the sake of durability. 

Many other types of pavement have been experimented with, 
less durable than granite blocks; but even granite block pave- 
ment wears out faster than good and well-cared-for tables or 
chairs, and pavements have come to be regarded more in the way 
carpets are. — as things to be bought of as good quality as the 
purse will afford, to be used and swept and cleaned until they 
are worn out, and finally when they are no longer usable to be 
completely replaced. That is the common idea. But it would be a 
great deal fairer to compare many forms of street paving with a 
wooden house, which will last indefinitely if it is reshingled and 
repainted and otherwise repaired at sufficiently frequent intervals 
and at just the time when the repair begins to be needed, but 
Avhich if the weather is permitted to make inroads upon it will 
rot and collapse within a few years after the roof ceases to keep 
out the rain and snow. 

The undoubtedly bad and extravagantly costly pavements of 
the average American city are due to the prevailing weakness of 

32 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

the ]K'i'iii;iiu'ii( adininistrativc staff 

EXTRAVAGANT PAVEMENTS and lo the Inct that it is easier 
-THE REAL MEASURE . , ., , 

OF COST ^^' iiuluco a city couiicu to ap- 

propriate a hii;- rouiid sum for a 
comi^lete new improvement than to A'ote funds for the unspec- 
tacular routine Avork of keeping the improvements alread}^ made 
from going to pieces h}- neglect. It is probably necessary to reck- 
on with this common attitude of mind in Boulder as elsewhere, 
but surely it is worth the effort to jiresent constantly and forcibly 
in connection with street pavements as with other improvement 
problems, the question of ^ET ANNUAL COST after allowing 
for depreciation and maintenance and interest charges AS THE 
PEOPEE MEASUEE OF THE COST OF EVEEY IMPEOVE- 
MEXT Avhether its first cost be high or low. 

Sheet asphalt is the standard smooth, clean, first-class pave- 
ment in American cities and there is often a tendency to adopt 

it as the ideal and use it regardless 
of circumstances. It is as a matter of 
fact open to serious objections for certain classes of streets; for 
example, it is very slippery and for that reason unfitted for any 
streets that are not nearly level; its volatile components are sub- 
ject to evaporation and under light travel "it rots" out long 
before it wears out, so that the deterioration rate is abnormally 
high on streets of light traffic; its first cost is high and the 
method of repairing requires special apparatus and special tech- 
nical experience, making its use relatively more costly and less 
satisfactory for small cities than for large cities, through putting 
the latter more at the mercy of the asphalt contractors. 

Creosoted wood block pavement on a concrete foundation is 
a close competitor of sheet asphalt. It is less noisy, rather pleas- 

anter to drive on, more slippery nn- 
MODERN WOOD BLOCKS ^j^^. ^^^^^ conditions and a trifle less 

slippery under others, almost equally cleanly, much more easily 
and simply repaired, probably much more durable under light 
traffic, and rather higher in first cost. 

Another competitor now pushing asphalt rather hard is the 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

Itatculcd uiatcrial calUMl '■Ijitulithif." It is less slipjiorv tlian as- 

])lialt. ahont cMjnally cleanly, is claim- 
BITULITHIC g^-i ^^ ^^g ^^^Q^.g (;]^^j.^^i3ie, though it has 

not been in use long enough to demonstrate this positively^ and 
its first cost is not far different. 

Paving hrick makes a hard smooth surface, about as slip- 
pery as asphalt under some circumstances and much less so under 

others; it is harder and more noisy; 
^"^ it is not quite so easily cleaned, es- 

pecially when it becomes worn; it wears out faster under heavy 
traffic: and it costs, usually, considerably less. 

A^arious special types of composition block pavements have 
been tried but have not established a standard position for them- 
selves. 

The various forms of stone block pavement need hardly be con- 
sidered, for their advantages apply mainly to streets carrying a 

traffic heavier than anv that the city 
BLOCK PAVEMENTS ^^ Boulder has to deal with at present 

or seems likely to have in the immediate future. 

There remain to consider gravel and crushed stone roads. 
ATith the former Boulder has had a good deal of experience: they 

are known to be cheap in first cost 
GRAVEL ^^^^ ^|. ^i-^gj^j, ]3gg|-^ under light trav- 

el, to be very agreeable. They wear out rapidly and are apt to be 
dusty and muddy and otherwise dirty. It is probably fair to say, 
however, that if the construction of gravel roads were more scien- 
tifically done than it has been in Boulder in the past, and if they 
were more systematically repaired and maintained it would be pos- 
sible on streets of light travel to have gravel roads that Avould 
be far more satisfactory than the article to which Boulder citizens 
have become accustomed and at an additional annual cost which 
would be trifling compared with that of any of the pavements 
discussed above. 

As to crushed stone roads, it is probable that most of the 
citizens and officials of Boulder who have not happened to travel 

34 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

much in Europe or in t-erlaiii very 
CRUSHED STONE limited districts iu tliis country, are 

under a serious misapprehension on this suhjeet. The things call- 
ed macadamized roads in a great many jiarts of this country are 
neither built in accordance with the principles which Macadam 
laid down nor are they maintained in sucli a manner as to get 
tolerably good results out of the construction, such as it is. We 
believe it to be a fact that imder a proper system of systematic 
maintenance and repair any street in Boulder, with the possible 
exception of a few main thoroughfares, could be paved with a 
first-class crushed stone pavement and kept permanently smooth 
and in satisfactory condition for a small part of the annual cost 
of sheet asphalt or other high-priced pavement, and that the sav- 
ing could be more i^rofitably expended in other directions. 

The chief objections to a macadam pavement for most of 
the streets of Boulder are that the wear is more rapid than when 

OBJECTIONS TO ^^"^ mineral particles are tirmly bond- 

MACADAM ed together as in asphalt or bitulithic, 

that more dust is therefore produced, and that as it is difficult to 
clean off the dust and mud thoroughly without further injury to 
the pavement they are allowed to accimiulate. The objection of 
the comparatively rapid wearing away of the surface and conse- 
quent roughness of pavement almost disappears under proper 
care and simply goes into the cost of maintenance. Proper clean- 
ing and watering reduce the objection on the score of dust and 
mud to a reasonable minimum, adding still further to the main- 
tenance cost. A crushed stone pavement merely put down and 
then almost neglected is a pretty poor investment, more so than 
a pavement of asphalt or brick, but one well laid and thoroughly 
well kept ^vill give results on most of your streets of which the 
city can be proud and the annual cost of which, maintenance and 
all, will not be unreasonable. 

It is true that the relatively dry climate of Colorado is less 
favorable to macadam than a moister one, tending to more dust 
and more rapid wear because the bond of the surface particles is 
more or less dependent upon moisture. For this reason it will 

35 



BOUI.DER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

probaLl}' be advisable, especially on steep grades where the tend- 

ciicv to "ravel" duriny- rainstorms is 
BITUMINOUS BINDERS ^^^^ marked, and npon any streets 

^Yhere automobiles come to be common with their notable disin- 
tegrating effect upon the road surface, to utilize some of the 
special binding materials introduced of late years for dust laying 
and i)rotection against di>^ integrating action, such as asphaltic oil 
and the special coal tar preparations like "Tarvia," On streets 
ol light traffic- a good macadam, treated annually Avith a surfacing 
of Tarvia and stone-dust offers a surface having many of the 
advantages of a bitulithic or asphalt pavement at a very much 
lower cost. In our opinion, especially under the dryer climatic 
conditions of Colorado, it would be advisable to use a heavier ap- 
plication of Tarvia at the time of first construction than has been 
customary. The first cost is thereby slightly increased but the re- 
sults should he enoiTgh better to justify the difference. This 
method of impregnating the road for a depth of an inch or more 
with Tarvia is really a long step in the direction of a bitulithic 
(or asphalt) pavement, in which the WHOLE mass of broken 
stone (or of sand) is impregnated with a bituminous binder in- 
stead of only a thin top layer. 

In any experiments that may be tried in the iTse of Tarvia 
or similar coal tar preparations or asphalt it should be borne in 

mind that- apparently very slight 

THE CAUSE OF SUCCESS differences in method will change 
AND FAILURE WITH Bl- ,,■,,, , ,, 

TUMINOUS BINDERS ihe resuslts from success to utter 

failure. Success depends. first, 
upon getting the bituminous material of exactly the right 
composition, for which, practically speaking, reliance must be 
placed upon the knowledge and good faith of some concern that 
has had an extended and successful experience in producing ma- 
terial for just these uses; second, upon having the road metal in 
the right mechanical condition and thoroughly dry and sun- 
warmed, conditions easily obtained in Colorado; and third, upon 
heating the tar or asphalt to exactly the right temperature be- 
fore applying it. It is not at all difficult to secure these con- 
ditions by the exercise of some intelligent painstaking care, but 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

the margin between success and complete failure will be quickly 
crossed by the least carelessness or neglect. 

The asphaltic oils, from Texas or California, require less pre- 
cision in nsc to get good results, whether applied straight or, as 

we believe to be better, in the form 

OIL TREATMENT ^^ ^^^ cmulsioii with water. But there 

is no question, apart from practical advantages one way or the 
other, that the oil is in all respects much dirtier and less agree- 
able in its results. It is in fact quite offensive in appearance and 
often so in smell, and the particles of oily dust when they do get 
on to clothing or vehicles are a serious nuisance. 

To sum up as to improved street pavements, we are inclined, 
for ]nost localities in Boulder, to advise the use of macadam 

SUMMARY AS TO properly built and properly maintain- 

PAVEMENTS ed, with systematic cleaning and re- 

pairs and either systematic watering or the use of Tarvia for 
bonding the surface. "Where Tarvia is not used the watering 
should always be done by the City and not left to the discretion 
of the abutters, for it must be regarded not primarily as a method 
of mitigating the dust nuisance but as a means of preserving the 
bond of the road surface and prolonging the life of the road. 

In the matter of sidewalks the standard generally adopted in 
Boulder is a line of slabs either of stone or cement, from four to 
six feet wide, laid in the turf between the property line and the 
street trees which follow the curb. The standard is a good one 
and we have little to offer by way of suggestion. There appears 

at present to be a prejudice in favor 
SIDEWALKS ^_j? ^i^g cement slabs based in part upon 

a popular misconception, to Avhich it may be well to call atten- 
tion. The preference for the cement is based upon the idea that 
the cement walks are ipso facto smoother and less liable to hold 
puddles of water and to offer irregular joints on which to stumble. 
A somewhat careful examination of the Boulder sidewalks after 
a rainstorm confirmed what has been our observation elsewhere 
that so far as cement walks of the SAME AGE as the stone walks 
do possess these advantages it is not due to the fact that they are 

37 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVE^IENT ASSOCIATION 

made of cement but to the fact that they are laid on proper 
foundation of well-drained stone, cinders, sand or other firm 
porous material. Most of the Boulder flagstones are sufficiently 
smooth, individually, not to hold puddles except where a stone 
has settled below its neighbor or has been cracked on account of 
the settlement of the foundation. Poorly laid cement walks after 
a few years develop just the same defects and are somewhat more 
liable to fracture under the same conditions. We regard the choice 
between stone and cement when equally well laid as an aesthetic 
rather than a practical one. Personally we find the texture of the 
stone the more agreeable, but it is a matter that turns on local 
surroundings more than upon any general considerations. 

Another detail about the sidewalks is perhaps worth men- 
tioning. It appears to be a common though not universal practice, 

in order to prevent the flooding of the 

SIDEWALK EDGES sidewalks and the stone paths leading 

up to the doors liy the Avater used to irrigate the lawns, to dig 
little ditches about four inches wide and two or three inches deep 
m the turf along each side of the flagging. The appearance of 
these little gashes is certainly far from agreeable; it is indeed 
quite painful to the unaccustomed stranger; and assuming the 
practice to have resulted from a real practical need we have 
wondered if some better way could not be found for meeting the 
difficulty. In the case of cement walks it would be a simple mat- 
ter at the time of construction to form a groove or narrow gutter 
in the cement close to its edge, like a border line. In the case of 
the flagstone Avalks a narrow piece of flagging set on edge like a 
curb, coming to the same level as the walk or a trifle above it but 
removed about two inches from its edge would form a similar 
little gutter. It would be neat and orderly and instead of being 
separated from the grass by the frequently renewed raw and 
ragged edge of the little dirt ditch the stone would be in pretty 
contact with the overhanging blades of grass. 

Boulder is properly proud among Colorado towns on ac- 
count of its numerous and large street trees. Thev are an ex- 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

ample of the iniiueuse effect upon a 

STREET TREES town's appearance that may rapidly 

result from a popular custom once set agoing. The result is surely 
pleasing, yet as our function is not praise l)ut suggestion we must 
point out how much better it might have been had the popular 
tree planting habit been better guided, and how much it can still 
SILVER MAPLES AND ^"' "'^^^''^ved for the future. Everyone 

TREE BUTCHERY must admit that the planting of silver 

maples and cottonwoods has been overdone. The reasons why it 
was overdone are not far to seek, but overdone it was. The silver 
maple is one of the most brittle of trees and short-lived at that. 
It is as little adapted as almost any tree could be to withstand 
the pressure of late and early snows upon its brittle branches, and 
the practice of tree-butchery frequently resorted to as a precau- 
tion against snow-breakage is ugly in the extreme. 

Systematic annual pruning of a tree, even pruning so severe 
as to reduce the tree to a formal or geometrical outline, may be 

justifiable and proper under certain 
SYSTEMATIC PRUNING 'onaitions. and it will result in a 

character of twig and branch formation which, although quite 
different from that of the tree under favorable natural con- 
ditions, yet has a certain orderliness, is indeed the natural re- 
sponse of the tree to a new force systematically applied to it, just 
as a certain other twig and branch formation is its natural and 
characteristic response to the conditions of a constantly windswept 
situation. In other words such a systematically primed tree has a 
distinct and self-consistent character Avith a certain beauty of its 
own. which, we may or may not think appropriate under certain 
circumstances, but which we must recognize as being good of its 
kind. But a tree which is unsystenmtically and unsympathetically 
lopped off at irregular intervals and places and is permitted to 
grow without restraint or care in the interval, is apt to look like 
nothing but a miserable cripple. It would be a great deal better 
either to let the silver maple alone and prune the broken branches 
after each storm or else to lop it off once for all level with the 
ground and put in some tougher and more permanent tree. 

Another common defect of management in the Boulder 

39 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

street trees is that they were phinted close when they were small 

trees in order to secure a good im- 
CLOSE PLANTING mediate effect, and, as often hap- 

pens where this is done, they were seldom thinned out when 
they began to crowd each other. Consequently in most of the 
streets the continuous foliage canopy has about twice as many 
trunks holding it up as is really necessary and the trees are less 
vigorous and healthy than they should be. In some cases it is 
just as well to accept the condition imtil the trees begin to fail 
seriously and then to make a new start with better trees; in 
others it Avould pay to thin out| even now. It is a matter for 
close personal judgment by a competent man going over all the 
trees, block by block. 

As to the kinds of trees suitable for street planting in 
Boulder it would be presumptuous for us to offer any positive 

advice when you have at Boulder a 
KINDS OF TREES thoroughly competent arboricultur- 

ist who has studied the subject for years. We refer to Mr. 
D. M. Andrews. AVe insert here a report from him upon the 
subject : 

Street trees in general should be: 

1st. Enduring; that is, reaching prime of life at a great 
age, of strong and vigorous but not necessarily rapid growth, 

2nd. Of pleasing proportions. 

3rd. Bequiring a minimum amount of pruning or other 
attention. 

4th. Free from insect pests or disease. 

Street trees for Boulder in addition should be: 

1st. Capable of sustaining or of shedding from the branches 
without injury a heavy Aveight of snow. 

2nd. Able to make a symmetrical growth Avithout tend- 
ency to lean or groAV one-sided Avhen exposed to prevailing Avest- 
ej'ly Avinds. 

In the opinion of the Avriter the folloAving named trees, 

40 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

approximately in the order in which they are named, host meet 
the requirements stated above. Several other oaks may be sub- 
stituted, or these intei'chaiiged to meet special re([uir('ineiits or 
personal preference. All the other trees named are selected for 
individual characters, and for which other related sorts cannot 
be well substituted, with the exception of the Scotcli elm, instead 
of which certain horticultural forms of English elm, or certain 
types of American elm might be used if obtainable. 

1. Thorulcss Honey Locust, Cleditsohia triacanthes inermis. 

2. Red Oak, Quercus rubra. 

3. White Oak, Quercus alba. 

4. Horsechestnut, Aesculus Hippocastaneum. 

5. Sugar Maple, Acer saccharum. 

G. Western Catalpa, Catalpa speciosa (must be true). 

7. American Ash, Fraxinus Americana. 

8. European Linden, Tilia Europaea. 

9. Pin Oak, Quercus palustris. 

10. Scotch Elm, Ulmus scabra. 

11. Xorway Maple, Acer platanoides. 

12. Kentucky Coffee Tree, Gymnocladus canadensis. 

In using anv of the trees in the above list or in experi- 
menting with others or guiding the development of any of the 
CONTROLLING PURPOSE ^'-^i^^^^S street trees, the controlling 
OF TREE PLANTING fact sho\dd always be borne in mind 

that the street does not exist for the purpose of growing 
arboricultural specimens but that the trees are grown for the 
purpose of contributing to the excelleiice of the street. A good 
general effect is the thing to aim at — one that shall be appro- 
priate to the conditions and circumstances of a given street. The 
suitable general effect should be decided on first and then the 
t]-ees so chosen, so planted, and so managed, Avhether by tliin- 
ning or leaving thick, whether by pruning or letting alone, as 
to accomplish that result. 

The kinds of effect that can be secured are infinitely va- 

41 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVE^IENT ASSOCIATION 



rifd. lia])iii]v einiTigh, but there are certain distinct types, and 
TYPES OF TREE ^""^"^ reference to tliem will make 

PLANTING clearer what we mean when we sa}^ 

that a o-iven effect onght to be chosen and then kept steadily 
in view in making every subsequent decision of detail, as to kinds 
of trees, spacing in the rows, location of rows,, method and ex- 
tent of prunino- up the lower branches, pruning or non-pruning 
of sides and tops, etc., etc. 

There are three marked types of tree-planting in use on 
straight, formal avenues and streets. The first is the over-arch- 
OVER-ARCHING "^8' ^JV^, in which the trees grow 

AVENUES to such size and form that their 

branches meet or nearly meet across the street, forming an um- 
brageous tunnel or vaulting, which may be lofty and pointed in 
its form, as often with elms and old cottonwoods, or may be low 
and flat, as often with maples. In this type of avenue the com- 
monest defect, especially where the straight vista is a long one. 
is inadequate height. Practically as well as aesthetically the 
systematic ])runing up of the lower branches, not all at once 
but gradually, as the tree grows taller, is very important in order 
to provide free circulation of air and to make it possible to 
illuminate the strtet properly at night, as well as in order to 
give height reasonably well proportioned to the length of the 
vista and to give an impression of pleasant spaciousness. This 
type is and must remain the commonest type on streets of 
ordinary width, and the need of systematic pruning of the 
growing trees in order to develop tall, clean, healthy trunks and 
high crowns is one of the strong arguments for public control 
of the street trees. A few low-branched, crooked trees allowed 
to grow in a form quite different from the general run of trees 
on a street will interrupt the vista and spoil the general effect 
no matter how much pains may be taken \nth the rest. 

The second type is the avenue which is open to tlie sky 
above but runs between high walls of foliage on either side. 

This is adapted onlv to avenues 
OPEN AVENUE ^^.^^^.^.^ .j^^ ^^^^^^^ between the rows 

of trees cun be consideral.il c. ]\Iost of our large-growing trees 

42 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

will spread in time twenty-l'ivc to forty feet or so on each 
side of the tfiiiik ii' tliey have spaee for full development, and 
elms -will spread even further, so that in oi'der to leave a clear 
space of respectable Avidth between flanking masses of t;ill. free- 
growing foliage the trees must ordinarily be planted a hundred 
feet apart or thereabouts. But by choosing trees of tall and 
narrow form, as in the extreme case of the Lombardy Poplar, 
or by annual trimming of the side branches in the same way 
that a hedge is trimmed it is often possible to secure this type 
of avenue in a much more limited space; and of course in its 
3'oungcr stages an avenue of the over-arching type generally 
takes on for a few years this second form. For an avenue of 
impressive length, especially for one that has any splendid ob- 
ject at the end of the vista, this second type is often preferable 
to the first, There are many streets in Boulder that lead toward 
wonderful views of the monntains, but which are so completel)' 
over-arched by trees that they might just as well be in a suburb 
of Chicago for all that anyone can see when he travels on them. 
This second type of avenue cannot be classed as superior to the 
first, or as inferior; it is merely different, and therefore pref- 
erable under certain conditions. Often it would be a toss-up 
which to choose, but choice must be exercised and when the 
choice is made the necessary steps must be taken to make it 
effective by selecting the species of tree with discretion, and by 
discretion in placing the rows, spacing the trees in the rows, an-l 
guiding the growth of the trees thereafter. 

A third type of avenue is one in which the trees instead 
of o\er-arching or enwalling the vista are mere decorative 
AVENUES DECORATED BY ^cln^^t'ts, the sides of the avenue 
SMALL TREES being really formed by the buildings. 

This means comparatively small trees, and is a type most appro- 
priate in busy city boulevards wdiere stores and tall buildings 
closely line the avenue, where large trees would l)e rather in 
the way and would cut off too nnich light from the windows. 
The type is common in French cities and would be here if our 
cities took more heed of the appearance of their streets. What 
we generally do in this country ^\•hen a street becomes so thoi-- 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 



oiiglilv urban that the big trees arc out of ph^ce and in the way 
is to kill them ofE one by one and put nothing in their place. 
The French set out small trees that ornament and shade the 
sidewalks without bothering anybod3^ In part they use trees 
of species that by nature remain small and in part they accom- 
]ilish the result by persistent trimming of top and side branches 
so as to make a series of semi-formal leafy umbrellas. This type 
is Avell adapted to certain situations in Boulder where any higli 
trecs along the sides of the street would cut off fine views of 
the foothills that are well worth keeping open. Looking west- 
ward on Pearl Street from Twelfth, although the buildings 
along the sides of the street are far from lovely and although 
the Avhole foreground has a rather shabby, dusty, untidy appear- 
ance which the presence of trees would do much to obscure and 
palliate, yet a traveler in search of the beautiful is really grate- 
ful that the trees are out of the way as his eye sweeps up to 
the broad sunset sky above the serried foothills and the notch of 
Boulder Canon. It would be a pity to have this scene obscured 
by over-arching elms or cottonwoods, to say nothing of their pos- 
sible interference with the shopping trade; but imagine the effect 
of lining each sidewalk with a row of handsome little trees grow- 
ing no more than about twenty feet in height, masking the crude 
appearance of the buildings, giving shade to pedestrians, and 
forming a verdant, flanking foreground for the distant view 
without encroaching on it. 

It is needless to go on to a discussion of variants of these 
types, because these Avill serve to make clear the principle that 
i]i street tree planting and in street tree maintenance, if you 
want to get good results you have got to make up your mind 
exactly what you want and then see that all the necessary steps 
are taken to produce just that particular thing — and not just 
'•'any old thing." 

It may be well, however, to point out that all of the above 
types refer to straight streets, of which the most striking feature 

UNIFORM TREES IN ^^ ^^^^ '^'^'^ ^^'^^^^^^ ^'^^^^ presents; and 

STRAIGHT STREETS that in all of those types a certain 

uniformity of treatment is essential from end to end of every 



44 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

vista. Speeii'ieally, one kind of tree and one nietliod of treat- 
ment only should be adopted for each vista thus to be seen as 
a unit. When wc come to crooked or curving streets, of which 
Boulder is bound to see more as houses push on to crookeder 
ground, the case is radically altered. On a street that follows 

a gentle, sweeping curve, especially 

VARIED TREES ON u' the street be broad and dignified. 

PICTURESQUE STREETS ^.,. , -, ■ ^ -, ^ x • 

It still may be desirable to maintain 

a dignified uniformity of trees, at least for considerable distances; 
but on streets and roads that are distinctly picturesque in type, 
v/h ether built on a series of angles or on a series of curves, espe- 
cially if they be comparatively narrow, as with mountain roads 
or private drivcAvays, or mau}^ park drives, then uniformity of 
kind and size and shape and spacing in the trees that shade them 
ceases to be a \irtue and becomes a discordant note, totally out 
of keeping with the character of the way itself. Here, as always 
in matters of art, it is not what you do, but how and where 
you do it that counts. 

In most of the Boulder streets the straight alignment and 
limited width point definitely toward the use of a single 

kind of tree for each, so planted as 
LOCATION OF TREES ^^ over-arch the street. Ordinarily 
the best location is the usual one, between the curb and the 
sidewalk; but sometimes it would be better to plant the trees 
between the sidewalk and the property line. This gives a greater 
distance between the two opposite rows of trees, which is some- 
times desirable, even when an ultimate over-arching effect is 
aimed at. and is generally desirable "when a vista permanently 
open to the sky is wanted. But it has also two practical advan- 
tages to commend it in all residential sections, where the build- 
ings are set back from the street line. These advantages are, 
first, that the trees are much safer from injury by horses (a 
jn-olific cause of disease, decay and decrepitude in street trees); 
and second, that the tree roots are enabled to spread under the 
adjacent lawn and get much more moisture and nourishment than 
they are apt to get in the narrow strip between the paved road- 
way and the paved sidewalk. 

45 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

This brings up the question of irrigation of street trees. 
Even in regions of much larger rainfall than Colorado it often 
IRRIGATION 'OF STREET I'tH-onics neoessarv to provide artifi- 
TREES cial irrigation for street trees if 

they arc to flourish successfully under the very unnatural con- 
ditions of city highways. Two principal methods are employed, 
sejDarately or in combination. One is to provide some system 
of sub-surface irrigation by laying tiles or blind drains in the 
soil at the time the tree is planted^ connecting witli one or more 
small boxes 6v drain pipes rising to the surface of the ground, 
through which in the dry season a large dose of water can be 
quickly run into the ground around the roots of the tree either 
by the use of a large hose connected with the regular street 
hydrants and moved quickly along from tree to tree, or by turn- 
ing in a surface stream from an irrigating ditch in the usual 
manner. In Berlin and many German cities such sub-surface irri- 
gation is customary, the Avatering hole of each tree being covered 
in some cases by a loose brick in the pavement of the sidewalk. 

The alternative method is much simpler and cheaper to 
install but is troublesome and laborious in operation and pre- 
cludes the maintenance of turf under the trees. It is to send 
a gang of men around once a month or so during the dry season 
to spade up and cultivate a patch of ground a few square yards 
in extent over the roots of each tree. When the soil is thus 
loosened a little dike is formed around the cultivated space and 
the area is flooded with water. The flooding is repeated once 
or twice if necessary and the ground is then smoothed over. 
This method is practically the same as that employed in orange 
groves and for other fruit trees in irrigation districts. l)ut wo 
have seen it employed on one of the fashionable avenues in the 
City of Berlin, and in most soils it is probably the more effica- 
cious method because the loosening and cultivation of the surface 
soil is as valual)le for a street tree as for a farm crop. 

With a moderately clean soil which does not get too muddy 
^\•hen it is wet or form impalpable dust when dry, there is much 



THE FRED*ER1CK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

less (ihjcct ion to cK'nii, tidv, well- 
BARE EARTH SURFACES ,^^,p. ,;,j.^. ,^.^,^ ,,^. ,^^,^.^^ ^^^^^^ ^1,,,, 

popular prejudice in America is apt to suppose, especially where 
such surfaces are well shaded by trees. Colorado has ])een settled 
mainly by people from the eastern states, which in turn received 
their traditions from England where, even more than in the 
eastern states, grass flourishes naturally and covers almost all 
nnpaved surfaces that are not kept tinder cultivation or subjected 
to the severest wear and tear or darkened by the densest shade; 
so that most people in Colorado as a matter of habit or tradition 
tend to think of grass as the only proper and pleasing treatment 
for the surface of nnpaved ground. AVe are not here arguing 
for the general substitution of bare earth for grass under the 
street trees: but we do mean to urge that there may be many 
places, especially in the leveler central and eastern parts of the 
city, where the soil is gravelly or sandy, and especially in places 
where the shade is dense or the wear and tear is heavy, in which 
it would bo possible by proper attention to keep a surface of bare 
earth looking a great deal neater and better than an attempt at 
grass could be kept and at a small fraction of the cost, while 
incidentally it would simplify the problem of properly irrigating 
the trees. Only it must first be got into the heads of people 
that the presence of bare earth does not justify neglect and 
that such a surface needs to be raked and swept and kept in 
order lil:e the floor of a house. But it takes less work to 
keep it in neat order than turf does in the Boulder climate. 

In localities where there is a great deal of wear and tear on 
the surface, as in busy shopping districts, it becomes practically 
PAVED SIDEWALKS OVER "ecessary to put down some hard 
TREE ROOTS pavement o\er practically the whole 

surface from curb to property line. Where this is done over 
the roots of established trees they may last a long time after 
the paving, but it is hard upon them and it makes the growth 
of young trees very slow and difficult. Unless some special 
precautions are taken in such cases for the permanent main- 
tenance of the trees they are very apt to go. The best method, 
judging from the experiments of European cities where the 

47 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

most attention lias been given to these matters, is to loAver the 
surface of the soil in which the tree is planted a few inches 
below the finished grade of the sidewalk, say about the level 
of the street gutter, and to lay that part of the sidewalk which 
comes over this soil area in the form of slabs, either of cast 
iron or of stone or reinforced concrete, supported at their edges 
only, with an air space between them and the surface of the 
soil. The sidewalk slabs can be lifted once a year or so and 
the soil cultivated and manured, while irrigating can easily be 
done at any time without disturbing the sidewalk at all. If the 
soil under the slabs is at or slightly below the level of the 
gutter and the curb has occasional openings in it tlie soil 
receives natural irrigation at every rainstorm and artificial irri- 
gation is accomplished merely by turning a stream into the 
gutter when watering is required. A modification of the usual 
sub-surface irrigation system is one in Avhich the holes whicH 
lead into the irrigation pipes or blind wells of the tree pits open 
out of tlie gutter in the same way as the above. But there 
is danger of over-watering by either of these methods except 
where the soil is verv porous and Avell-drained. 

To sum up in regard to street trees: The planting of trees 
in the streets and their maintenance or neglect may be left, and 

SUMMARY AS TO SHADE "^ "^^^^'T eommunities are left, to 
TREES clianee and private initiative. If 

this policy is pursued the inevitable result, with the growth of 
a city, is the gradual disappearance of street trees following a 
long period of raggedness and shabby decline. Half-hearted and 
unsystematic efforts on the part of the municipality may pro- 
long the period of decline, arrest it sporadically, or sporadically 
establish new rows of shade trees; but if satisfactory results are 
to be secured the matter has to be taken up seriously and sys- 
tematically, with a fair counting of the cost, because here as 
elsewhere it is impossible to get something for nothing and 
under the arduous conditions to be found in city streets any 
trees worth the having can be permanently maintained only by 
systematic and somewhat costly care — and that care must be 
directed not so much to immediate conditions and result as to 

48 



THE F'REDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

couditions and results years in tlie future, because the princi- 
pal returns from any expenditures on street trees can be obtained 
only after a long period. It takes about twenty years before 
most planted trees begin to be really fine, and their lifetime 
thereafter, if wise precautions have been taken in planting and 
caring for them, is apt to be anywhere from twenty-five to a 
hundred years or more. The return is an annual one, and it 
is obvious that the biggest returns on any investment in the 
planting and maintenance of street trees are to be secured only 
when steps are taken to secure those returns during a long 
period of years after the time the trees have reached a respect- 
able size. 

The usual methods are such that city street trees begin to 
go to the bad long before they reach the period of their full 
value, and by far the major part of the expected return upon 
the investment is entirely lost. 

In every cii,y there are many streets where it would cost 
more to establish and maintain good and long-lived trees than 
they Avould be worth. In some streets it pays best to main- 
tain cheap, quick-growing trees for a few jeavs at a time, in 
some streets no trees at all, in some streets trees of a compact, 
small-growing habit, in others trees of great height and spread, 
like the American Elm. These questions can be intelligently 
decided only after full consideration of such questions as the 
width of street and sidewalk, the present and prospective char- 
acter of occupancy and amount of travel, the character of the 
sub-soil and' exposure, and the possibility and estimated cost of 
establishing and maintaining successfully certain alternative 
styles of street tree plantations. 

To handle this street tree problem in a businesslike way 
each street or distinct portion of a street ought to be taken 
up on its own merits, in relation to its surroundings and con- 
ditions, and after reasonable inquiry into the facts and con- 
sultation Avith the abutters by hearings or otherwise, it should 
be decided what definite policy it will best pay to adopt in 
regard to trees in that street during the next fifty oi"* seventy- 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

five years, considering the probable results of the proposed 
policy and facing the necessary cost fairly and squarely. 

Xext to the street trees the most conspicuous objects in the 
streets are the various necessary fixtures, such as lamp-posts. 

hydrants, street name signs, mail- 

STREET FIXTURES hoxeii, fire-alarm and police-tele- 

phone boxes, boxes or cans for papers and other waste, etc.. 
and poles for the support of various electric wires, together 
with the wires which they carry. The first principle in regard 
to these fixtures is to combine them as much as possible so as 
to reduce the number of obstructions and of confusing objects 
on the sidewalks; the second principle is to make them as simple 
and as agreeably proportioned as possible, \^dth little ornament, 
but of pleasing outline. As to the poles for the support of 
telephone and telegraph and electric light wires, the ultimate 
ideal is unquestionably their entire removal and the substitu- 
tion of underground conduits, but as an immediate practical 
matter the effort should be to adhere more rigidly to the prin- 
ciple, already somewhat general in Boulder, of confining such 
poles and overhead wires to the alleys. 

It is by no means a UtojDian project, however, to under- 
take the gradual introduction of underground conduits for the 

wire?, beginning with the central 
UNDERGROUND WIRES ^,^^^.^ ^f ^j^^ ^-^^ ^^^^ gradually ex- 

tending. But the thing must be taken up in a conservative, 
businesslike way with the electric service companies concerned 
and a reasonable policy adopted. It is true that in a com- 
munity the size of Boulder the annual cost of an underground 
conduit service, allowing for the interest on the investment, 
would be higher than that of an overhead service, even allow- 
ing for the greater depreciation and repair charges of the latter; 
and added to this extra annual cost is the difficulty of financ- 
ing the first investment for the conduits. But there is no 
doubt on tlie other hand that the gradual elimination of the 
overhead wires will be of very real advantage to the community 
and is worth paying for. The community must pay for it in 
the long run, for no good is to be obtained in the end by trying 

50 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

to beat the electric service corporations out of a fair jjrofit; 
but on the other hand the commimity ought to make sure that 
tlie companies do not screw an unfair profit out of it or give 
it a poorer equipment and service than it is entitled to get 
for the price it is willing to pay. In the matter of putting 
tlic wires underground either one of two policies may 1)e foi- 
lowed: One is for the city to build and own the conduit, 
appropriating to that end a certain amount every year and plan- 
ning the system in conference with the experts of the electric 
service corporations, and then require the companies to put 
their wires into the conduits district by district as tliey are 
completed; the other is to decide after thorough conference 
with the companies upon certain dates within which the wires 
are to be put underground in certain districts by the companies 
in their own conduits, and then hold them to a strict account- 
ability for completing the work in each district on time. In 
either case both the public and the stockholders of the companies 
are entitled to a thorough investigation of costs and the deter- 
mination of rates that shall be a fair compensation for the 
equipment and service provided, neither more nor less. 

Few people realize the great importance of this matter of 
overhead wires as affecting the appearance of the city because 

custom gradually blunts our sensi- 
THE GREAT HARM IN OVER- ])[\[iy to the effect of the wires and 

HEAD WIRES AND POLES , " „,, ,., • -^^.x-.^ 

poles. They are like an irritating, 
little noise to which one gets so accustomed as not to notice it 
at all until it ceases; then one suddenly becomes aware of a 
grateful, refreshing quietness. 

In a city the only thing the eye can rest upon that is not 
necessarily controlled by man, either for good or bad, is the sky; 
and while we are most actively conscious of the objects on or 
near the ground, with which we have immediate practical con 
cern, our feelings of pleasure or depression are largely depend- 
ent upon the sulx-onscious effect of the ever-present sky, whether 
it be bright and soft and beautiful, or overcast with clouds or 
smoke, or obscured with ugly and inharmonious objects of 

51 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

hiuiian lilt L'rjfc lion. Both in the slightness of the impression 
it ordinarily makes on the attention and in its immense real 
effect upon the general sense of pleasure or discomfort, the 
appearance of the sk;y and what is seen against it may be com- 
pared with the purity of the air habitually breathed or with the 
degree of noise or cpiict in habitual surroundings. The nervous 
system can be adjusted to almost any constant surroundings so 
that they cease to be noticeable, no matter how noisy or how 
foul, but the effect of the conditions upon the health of the 
nervous system and upon the general sense of well-being does 
not cease when the attention becomes blunted. 

In the matter of street lighting Bouhler has a capital oppor- 
tunity in the proposed municipal ligiiting plant, to be operated 

by the surplus head of the city 

STREET LIGHTING ^^.,.^^^^, ^^^pp]^- ^^yl^l^ ^^^ g^cess of 

available water power the city should be able to afford the 
luxury of the very best of lighting. iSTow, apart from the ques- 
tion of cost, one of the elements of excellence in street lighting, 
whether from the practical or aesthetic point of Yiew, is the use 
of numerous Avell-distributed small units instead of a more lim- 
ited number of very powerful units. Especially in a city like 

ARC VERSUS INCANDES- I^^^^'^^^'i'- ^hcre the streets are full 
CENT LIGHTING of tToes. powerful arc lights at rela- 

tively infrequent intervals give far less satisfactory results than 
numerous incandescent lights, because the trees are apt to throw 
large parts of the street into black shadows unless the lights are 
set so low as to dazzle and blind the eyes in approaching them, 
whereas the incandescent lights may be set below the foliage 
level without the slightest objection and give a much more uni- 
form as well as a mellower light and more decorative effect. 
It is to be hoped, therefore, that incandescent lighting may be 
adopted as the standard, for the residence streets at all events. 

It is hardly necessary to say that the design of the lamp-posts 
is an important matter, too generally treated with carelessness. 

A good deal of money has to be 

LAMP POSTS 

spent upon them and cast iron costs 
about llie same amount per pound whether it is given the clumsy. 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

uninteresting, or ill-deeoratcd i'onn ot some stock pattei'ii oi' a 
really distino-uishcd and beautiful form specially designed for the 
city by ni\ able artist. A moderate investment in devising a first- 
class pattern for sucli posts is a very good investment.* 

Other objects "witiiin the highway limits, street signs, hy- 
drants, rubbish boxes, catch basin inlets, etc., and especially large 
ARTISTIC DESIGN OF structures, like' bridges, offer in 

MUNICIPAL CONSTRUCTION their location and design an inter- 
minable series of pro])lems, both large and small, calling for the 
joint a])p]ication of teclmical knowledge, artistic skill and good 
common sense. In proportion as these qualities are jointly ap- 
plied to all of such problems the streets of the city will improve 
and in proportion as any or all these qualities are left out ol: 
consideration the streets will suffer. It is only by unusual good 
fortune that a city can fill its service with men Avho are thor- 
ougiily and adequately strong in all three of the requisite cjual- 
ities, and practical!}^ in order to accomplish good results the most 
important thing is that there should be a clear recognition of the 
natural liuman limitations of responsible officials and that they 
should be provided with assistants or Avith consulting advisors 
competent to help them out on their short suits. An official 
may be somewhat short on artistic skill or on technical knowledge 
or even on both provided he has common sense and the desire and 
opportunity to get the co-operation of people who are long Avhere 
he is short, and he will get good results. But somehow or other 
all three of the abo^'e qualities must be brought to bear or the 
results will be relatively unsatisfactory. 

Assuming that the leading responsible officials are reason- 
ably long on common sense and honest desire for excellence and 
efficienc}^ it ought to be possible to secure as assistants, if a 
reasonably ]iermanent tenure could be assured, men having botli 
teclmical and artistic training. But aside from any doubts about 
the above premises, it is very hard to find assistants having a 
technical training in municipal construction work who have any 
artistic training at all. The artistic aspect of construction work 



*For arc lights the form of suoport and lights introduced in the South Park System of 
Chicago and known as the Daniels System of boulevard lighting is worth careful consideration. 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

is so generally ignored in the training of civil engineers, and 
on the other had most architects and architectural draughtsmen 
are so lacking in the particular kind of technical knowledge 
retjnired in namicipal work, that the right combination is very 
hard to find. 3Ien with a sound, professional training as land- 
scape architects might come a little nearer to filling the bill 
than architects, but the number of such men available a.s mu- 
nicipal employees is too small to be Avorth mentioning. Prac- 
tically dependence muist be placed mainly on securing assistants 
whose training has been along engineering lines, leavened if pos- 
sible by a small proportion who have had artistic training in 
landscape architecture, architecture or otherwise, and on supple- 
menting this somewhat one-sided agency by the occasional or 
regular services of a consulting architect and a consulting land- 
scape architect. 

Of course, when it comes to the design of a school house or 
the laying out of a park, or the adoption of a radically new Avater 

THE EMPLOYMENT OF SPEC- ^^^PP^^ °^ Sewerage system, it is cns- 
lAL EXPERT DESIGNERS tomary and proper to select and em- 
ploy for that special undertaking an expert who has 
proved by his work elsewhere that he has special skill 
in dealing with such a problem. But it is neither con- 
venient nor economical nor productive of harmonious results to 
parcel out all the minor constructional problems of a city among 
independent professional men. Up to a certain limit of magni- 
tude and difficulty the problems ought to be dealt with by a de- 
partmental force, the responsible executive head of which is nor- 
mally an engineer. In cities of moderate size there is one such 
department under a City Eugiuccr, and in very large cities sev- 
eral such departments, under independent Chief Engineers. But 
in any case the Avork turned out by such city departments is 
apt to 1)0 of better all-round quality if the responsible execu- 
tive head has the privilege of informal consultation with certain 
other experts, especially on artistic matters. The City of ISTew 
York has recently established the office of Consulting Architect 
to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the holder of 



THE FRED'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

which office is del^arrcd from undertaking any architectural work 
for the city on his own account, hut whose advice as a consultant 
is open to any of the city departments that prepare projects for 
construction to he passed on hy the Board. The principle is a 
sound one and ought to he more generally applied. 



55 



Waterways and Related Park Opportunities 

The prJneip;il waterway in Boulder is Boulder Creek, and its 
principal function, from which there is no escaping, is to carry 

off the storm-water which runs into 
FLOODS -^ j^.j,Q^^^ ^Yie territory which it drains. 

If, lulled by the securit}^ of a few seasons of small storms, the 
community permits the channel to be encroached upon, it will 
inevitably pay the price in destructive floods. So with the chan- 
nel of Sunshine Canon and others of less importance. In the 
case of Boulder C-reek the formation of the ground indicates that 
at one time or another the stream has spread or wandered over 
the whole of the low-lying part of the- city. Its present banks in 
that section arc low and the larger floods have always been re- 
lieved in the past by a great increase in the width of the stream 
whenever it has risen more than a few feet above its normal 
summer level. The fact that the lands nearest to the stream 
channel are so obviously subject to flooding has tended auto- 
matically to retard their occupation and keep them free for the 
passage of floods, but increasing land values are steadily in- 
creasing the inducements offered to the owner of any given 
parcel of these lands to fill it to a level above what he guesses 

ENCROACHMENTS ON ^^'"^ ^^°°^"^S '"^^ ^^^^^^ '^"'^'^ ^0 ^^^^^"^ 

FLOOD PLAIN upon it. It is ol)vious that if this 

process goes on without the exercise of any control for the pur- 
pose of maintaining an adequate channel, the cheap, unoccupied 
low-lands over which the flood-waters now pass harmlessly away 
will all be filled up and occupied; and then Avhen a big flood 
comes, larger than the restricted channel can carry, the flood 
is going to tear through streets and houses, doing immense dam- 
age. Again and again this little piece of history has repeated 
itself on stream after stream, in town after town; and after the 
damage from exceptional floods has come to be enormous the 
community has gone to work at further great expense to widen 
and otherwise increase the capacity of the storm channel, often 

56 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

condeinniug buildings and building land of much value to secure 
the necessary relief. 

It is well to point out in this connection that the City of 
Boston, through neglecting to take action to prevent encroach- 
ment on the channel of Stony 
HOW BOSTON PAID FOR ,, , i ii + 4-1 „„ 

NEGLECTING ITS LITTLE J>i'ook — a much smaller stream tlian 

FLOOD PROBLEM Boulder Creek and much less tor- 

rential ill character — was finally compelled by repeated flooding 
of streets and basements to undertake radical improvements 
which have cost to date upwards of two million dollars. 

Unless some systematic community action is taken for the 

regulation of the stream and its banks and flood channel one 

or the other of two serious economic 
THE RESULTS OF ^ • i i . x i i 

NEGLECTING BOULDER wastes IS T)Ound to take place. 

CREEK Either a good deal of the low land 

near the stream will remain unimproved, idle, and neglected, 
tending to depreciate values near it and involving a serious loss 
of the opportunity afforded by its location near the heart of the 
town; or else this land will be filled and used for private pur- 
poses, thus restricting the flood channel of the stream and 
sooner or later causing calamitous floods. 

This is on its face a plain, straightforward question of hy- 
draulics and municipal common sense. If the people of Boulder 
only have the sense to take warning by the experience of other 
towns they will deal with it now, while it can be dealt with 
cheaply and easily, instead of waiting till a catastrophe forces 
them to remedy their neglect under conditions that will make 
a solution far more costly and less satisfactory. 

AVhat would be a businesslike procedure? First, to form 
a serious and painstaking estimate or forecast of the maximum 

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE ^'^^^^"^ "^ ^^<^"'^ ''"^^'''' '''^^''^^' ^^'^ 
FLOOD PROBLEM creek is likely to have discharged 

into it in the future, based upon a careful compilation and study 

of all the existing records and reports of past floods and upon 

a comparison of the extent and character of the drainage area 

57 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

and the precipitation thereon with those of other comparahle 
streams of wliich tlie flood records have been kept. With this 
estimate it is a relativel_y simple matter for a hydraulic engin- 
eer to figure how mnch of a channel must be left to provide 
free outlet for the expected flood without its being forced to 
tear through the streets. 

It is a complicated technical investigation, but in principal 
it does not differ one whit from the process through which a 
AV'oman goes when she looks at the bowl into which she is about 
to turn a can of peaches and makes up her mind whether it Avill 
hold what is in the can. Either it will or it won't, and she is a 
foolish woman if she gives no heed to the probabilities until the 
peaches slop over on the table. 

AVithout attempting to anticipate the results of a careful 
investigation of the flood jiroblem of Boidder Creek it is safe to 

sav tliis: There are two general 
TYPES OF TREATMENT • ^^:^^^^ ^^^ channel adapted to meet 

such conditions as Boulder Creek presents. One is the relatively 
narrow walled channel of relatively great depth, deep enough or 
high- sided enough io take any expectable increase of flow with- 
out an appreciable widening of the stream. This may be called 
the artificial reproduction or imitation of a canon or gorge. The 
other ]H'ovides a small shallow channel for the ordinary stages of 
the stream but permits the w^ater when it rises above the" level 
of this low-water channel to spread out and occu^jy a much 
broader flood-channel, Avhich can carry it off without forcing it 
to rise much higher. This is of course an adaptation from the 
ordinary form of a natural river channel in lowland country. 
Where land values are very high and land is preoccupied by 
buildings, etc., so that the saving in width will pay for the cost 
of construction of the deep channel with its high, protecting 
walls and numerous incidental expenses, the former is generally 
em2)loyed even in flat ground, but where land values are lower 
the latter is apt to be employed. We are strongly inclined to 
believe that at least below the Twelfth Street bridge the latter 
will prove ihe more economical and satisfactory plan. Under 



THE T^RED'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

sucli a plan, in a city, one great 

INCIDENTAL VALUE OF inpiVlpnt-il viluc attacllGS to the 

FLOOD CHANNEL MARGINS ^""Cientai \aiiu auacncs xo iiit 

iiiai'iiiiis of flat land subject to occa- 
sional flooding Avhieli intervene between the ordinary channel and 
the outer embankments that limit the flood channel. AVitli the 
exception of a few days in the year these "washes," as such 
lands are calli.'d in the English midlands, are dry ground, avail- 
able for any kind of use not inconsistent with the free passage 
of the flood waters when the time comes. To make a "park"' 
of such ground in the sense in which that much abused term is 
often applied, as indicating something very highly polished and 
exquisite with costly flowers and other decorations of a kind that 

would be ruined bv flooding, would 
A BOULDER CREEK "PARK" ^^^ foolishness. But the plan of 

keeping open for public use near the heart of the city a simple 
piece of ])rettv Ijottom-land of the very sort that Boulder Creek 
has l)cen flooding over for countless centuries, of growing a few 
tough old trees on it and a few bushes, and of keeping the main 
part of the ground as a simple, open common, where the chil- 
dren can play and over which the wonderful views of the foot- 
hills can be oljtained at their best from the shaded paths and 
roads along the embankiuent edge — this would give a piece ot 
recreation ground worth a great deal to the people. And at the 
same time it is probably the cheapest Avay of handling the flood 
problem of Boulder Creek. 

Before discussing further the landscape treatment of the 
"washes" of Boulder Creek, in ease of the adoption of the treat- 
ment we suggest for the flood channel, we should like to set 
forth certain considerations that have a general application to 
any parks or pleasure grounds that may be undertaken in the 
city. 

The three great natural advantages attainable within the 

city of Boulder are: First, the climate, supplemented by ample 

water, without which the climate 
FUNDAMENTALS ,, , • , n . 

OF PARK DESIGN FOR woulcL become a curse mstead oi a 

BOULDER blessing; second, the views toward 

the beautiful foothills; third, the eastward views from the higher 

59 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

groiiiK,! ill the wepterii parts of the city out over tlie plains. 

^n a region of brilliant sunshine which at times hecomes 
distiiictl}' too hot for the greatest comfort and at times is sought 

THE OUTLOOK FROM ^''''' '''^ grateful Avarmth by anyone 
SHADE TO SUN who can find a sunny spot that is 

sheltered from the driving wind, two types of situation and of 
landscape become of especial value. One is the densely shaded 
promenade or grove from which one can look out upon the con- 
trasting brilliancy of open sunshine and luminous air, and enjoy 
its lirilliancc the more for the contrast. To stroll or sit on a 
warm day beneath clean-stemmed trees through which the breeze 
may freely draw, to feel their canoj)y overhead protecting the eye 
from the glare of sky and sun, and to look out upon an open 
space batbed in the brilliant sunshine, even if it be but a little 
open courtyard or lawn or a street, is to taste one of the highest 
charms of the wonderful climate with which Boulder is blessed. 
The other type of situation is a nook sheltered from the search- 
THE SUNNY ^^^^ winds by wall or hedge or mass 

SHELTERED CORNER of trees but freely open to the 
sun above. In either case one of the essentials is a certain 
amount of clear open space not obstructed by trees or buildings 
or anything rising much above the surface. 

Again; if one would enjoy the view of the foothills or the 
occasional glimpse of the Arapahoe Peaks looming up over the 
notch of Boulder Canon from any place in the central or eastern 
part of the city he must bear in mind that houses and trees will 
completely shut off those views unless he can find a spot in front 
of which there is open ground in the line of view entirely free 
from such obstructions for a considerable distance. 

Any intelligent effort in the way of providing public recrea- 
tion grounds in Boulder and especially in the flatter eastern part 
thereof cannot fail to be profoundly influenced by the above con- 
siderations. Except where peculiar circumstances dictate some 
other treatment, the problem must be to secure, with whatever 
variation in detail and in expression, certain elements of design 
essential to utilizing the great natural resources of the situation; 

60 



TPfE FREDERICK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

a more or loss dcnsclv shaded 
A SPECIAL TYPE OF RECRE- , ,, ' ,- 

ATION GROUND PROPER iMuiiu'iiade goiUTally surrounding 

FOR BOULDER ;,ii,| always contiguous to an open 

space which shall be preferably free from all obstructions rising 

above the level of the eye, and which sliall Ije of such size and 

shape i]i relation to the height and character of the enclosing 

objects as to afiord permanent views of the foothills from the 

promenade, and preferably from the open space itself, over a 

pleasing foreground. These essentials may be secured again and 

again without any sameness, indeed with infinite variation of 

character if proper skill be used. The shaded promenade may 

be a vine-clad arl»or or a formal and orchard-like grove or a\enue 

of trees; it may be a winding path that picks its way along 

within the margin of the most irregular and pictttresque of varied 

plantations. The open space may be a garden all aglow with 

bloom, or a smooth, irrigated grass plat, or a field of alfalfa ready 

for the scythe, or the smooth, bare surface of a playground, 

or a Avide basin of water where children could Avade and play 

Avith boats or even go in SAvimming, or it may be the rough, 

unkempt but cleanly surface of a pasture. The principle is the 

same in aiiy case, though the execution be indefinitely varied. 

In the Ireatment of the "Avashes"' of Boulder Creek this 
principle points to the concentration of the tree planting mostly 

THE DESIGN OF THE BOUL- '^^""8" ^^'^ ''""'^'^^ ^^"^^^ P'^*^^^ ^^ *^^ 
DER CREEK RESERVATION bordering embankments, the careful 

studying out of the best vieAvs and the limiting of all other tree 
and shrub groAvth to locations that will never interfere Avith 
these views but merely afford them pleasing frames. The treat- 
ment of the remaining surface is something of a problem. Ever}'- 
requirement of landscape enjoyment Avould be met by lajdng it 
doAvn in alfalfa and either cutting it for hay or pasturing it. 
ludced it Avould be a simple and inexpensive Avay of maintaining 
a beautiful piece of park-like landscape to fence off the "washes'" 
from the roads and paths of the enclosing embankment and turn 
cattle in to graze at so much per head. This Avonld not prevent 
those Avho are uuafraid of coavs from strolling along the stream 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

or througli liic fields and it would cerlaiiily tend to form a very 
beautiful type of landscape excellently suited to the circum- 
stances. No one can doulit this who has seen the little hits of 
pastured ground along the creek ahove the railroad, where 
gypsies or oth.er campers have been in the habit of gathering 
and turning loose their animals to graze. If cattle are to be 
excluded from the "washes"'" and if they are opened to general 
trampling by the public, some experimenting will have to be 
done to find the best treatment of the surface; but wdiatever 
hapjiens we hope the city will not be led into the foolish extrav- 
agance of trying to make an artificial clipped lawn of these areas. 
Such a treatment would be far less beautiful and far less appro- 
priate, as well as far more costly, than to treat it as rough 
jiasture or mowing land — just set apart to be seen and enjo^'ed 
from the ample j^aths and roads on its margin during all times 
of year, to serve as a simple open foreground to the lovely dis- 
tant views, and to serve when the floods come down as a vent 
for their rising volume. 

The width as well as the treatment of the proposed public 
holdings along Boidder Creek must be adjusted in detail accord- 
ing to land prices and local avail- 
OUTLINE OF PROPOSED ,*:,. , \ 

PUBLIC HOLDINGS ALONG ability tor park jmrposes as well as 

BOULDER CREEK ]jy hydraulic requirements, but a 

su]ierficial study of the situation suggests the following approxi- 
mate outline. Starting down stream, beginning at the Twelfth 
Street bridge where the land values are high, we advise limit- 
ing the control of the banks to a very narrow strip on each side, 
enough only to provide an adequate channel for the stream, with 
substantial walls to protect its banks in place of the present 
wooden bulkheads whenever their reconstruction is justified, 
with an ample foot-path shaded by a single row of trees along 
the north embankment and with some planting against the 
Twelfth Street, lots on the south embankment. After getting 
Ijeyond Twelfth Street lots the breadth of the embankment could 
be increased at small expense, giving room for more trees and 
for Ijenches, etc. 

62 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

At'ler reaching Anii)alioG Avenue (by means oi' wiiiuk ve- 
hicles can reach the h;inks of the stream from Twelfth Street 

without the necessity of any costly 
RIVER DRIVE ^^^,^^, roadway through expensive 

property) the left !)ank of the creek Avould be bordered by a 
l)ark drive and promenade, overlooking the water and command- 
ing occasional views across it to the foothills. This boundary 
drive or street would be set at a grade Just sufficiently higli to 
protect tlie lands northeast of it from flooding and would ai5 
the same time form a very attractive new street for house front- 
age, thus tending to raise adjacent values considerably, ft 
Avoidd reach IT Hi .Street Jast north of the bi'idge, and would be 
continued east of JTtli Street on a due east line, passing Just 
south of the occupied lot on the southeast corner of l?tli and 
Athens Streets. 

On the south side of the stream below the Arapahoe Avenue 
bridge it would seem expedient to widen boldh^ and include the 

consi{lera1)le tract of vacant level 
PLAYFIELD ^.^^^^l ^^-^^^ between the railroad 

and the creek east of the lots which face on 12th Street. This 
tract would be very useful as a playfield and as an open space 
over which to enjoy the foothill views from the drive and path 
along the north bank already described. Where the houses have 
been built close to the stream bank Just west of the 17th Street 
bridge, of course it would not pay to take any land, except the 
valueless land under water in the bed of the stream itself. The 
reason for accjuiring the latter is to guard effectively against any 
encroachment upon the stream in connection Avith possible fur- 
ther imjn-ovements of this land and to put the city in a position 
to put up an embankment Avail on the Avest sidei of the stream 
if it should at any time seem desirable. But since the city 
could not acquire any holdings above this bank at ])resent Avith- 
out getting into rather heavy damages it is not advisable for the 
city to take over the burden of maintaining the ])rotection of 
the Ijank itself against the Avash of the stream. 

East of 17th Street on the right bank a new street or park- 

63 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

Avav already referred to should, be laid out, starting from 17tli 

" UPLAND DRIVE AND ^^''"^^ ^-*3' ^^ ^'''^''^ ^''^^ ^^uth of 

VIEW the l)ridge, passing south of Mr. 

Paree's house ahout on the line between his lot and that of! the 
University, and rising b}' an easy grade along the steep hillside 
below the Hospital so as to reach the upper level about opposite 
the end of Palmer Street produced. Such a drive running along 
the edge of the bluff would command a superb A'iew of the city 
with the mesas and foothills rising behind it to the north and 
northwest, with the valley of the creek in the foreground. Unless 
some such drive is Imilt, this view, which is one of the most 
characteristic in the city, will be permanently lost to the public. 
The University originally commanded this very view, but the 
location of the railroad and the building up of intervening lots 
have already greatly impaired that outlook, and the process is 
still going on. Soon no one will get the benefit of this situation 
but some of the patients in the back rooms of the Hospital and 
those occupying the back rooms and back yards of a few private 
lots on Universit}^ Avenue. The accompanying sketch shows the 
type of cross section we have had in mind for this drive and 
jDromenade. It is assumed to be taken at a point a little west of 
the line of Palmer Street. At the rear of the Hospital the road 
Avould be wholly in fill; at the vipper end it Avould be perhaps 
wholly in cut. This drive Avould cross the County Eoad at or 
about the corner of University Avenue and continue on to the 
end of the ridge at 28th Street, Avhere it might be expected to 
branch, one branch following along the south side of the creek on 
the low ground and the other extending as a thoroughfare to 
the southeast. 

AYith the exception of the brick yard and a small dwelling 
near the County Road and of Mr. Paree's dwelling just east of 
ITth Street, all of which might be omitted from the purchases, 
the property between this proposed drive and the creek is of very 
little market value and should be secured for park ])urposes very 
cheaply. For park jmrposes it is decidedly valuable as the fore- 
ground to a series of inspiring views from the high level parkway, 

64 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

and as the enclosure and protection of the landscape ol' the creek 
over which the views of the foothills are lo Ije ohlaiiied lYoin the 
low level parkway on the north hank of the creek. 

Returning to the lattei'. there are some large vacant fields 
just Avest of the County Eoad and extending practically u]) to the 

RIVER DRIVE AND LARGE ^'^^"^^ ^^ ^^^^ J.incoln School. This IS 
ATHLETIC FIELD the nearest point to the heart of the 

city and to the principal schools where a good sized field can he 
secured, and the purchase of it at ])]'esent prices is very much to 
he desired. Between the County Road and the outfall of the 
city sewer a much more limited taking woidd suffice to protect 
the stream and afford an agreeahle parkway. Indeed all that is 
needed in tliis whole section from ITth Street eastward is an 
inexpensive gravel road and somie skillful thinning of the trees 
and hrush to make a ])arkway of very remarkahle heauty. It is 
at present such a difficult matter to make one's Ava}^ along the 
creek through fences and thickets and other ohstruetions that 
we venture to guess there are very few citizens of Boulder who 
have any conception of the potential heauty of such a parkway 
as is here suggested. And always it is to be borne in mind that 
sooner or later the problem of controlling and caring for the 
flood waters of the creek will force the city to take control of 

the channel. If action is delayed 
THE COST OF DELAY ^^^ j^^^g. ^j^^ ^^^^^ ^.^^^^^^ ^^^-^^ ^^^ ^ 

costly piece of engineering construction serving no purpose other 
than the prevention of floods; whereas if the matter is taken in 
hand noAv the city will spend less money on the hydraidic im- 
provement and get a beautiful parkwav to boot. 

We have made no examination of the creek banks below the 
sewer outfall, because there is no hurry about that part of the 
improvement, but it Avould seem desirable ultimately to extend the 
parkway indefinitely in the direction of Yalmont and the lakes. 

Just what to do in the neighborhood of the sewer outfall 
is a complicated question about Avhich we have only certain gen- 
eral considerations to put before you. 
SEWAGE DISPOSAL PLANT r^^^^ ^^^.^^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^ permanently suit- 

able method of selvage disposal is one which the City of Boulder 

65 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

Avill sooner or later liave to faee. At present the sewage is dis- 
charged with all its dangerons impurities into Boulder Creek a 
short distance helow the town, and passes in a somewhat diluted 
condition into the several intakes that supply water to various 
localities further down the stream. Experience elsewhere indi- 
cates that considerations of public health will require these condi- 
tions to l)e remedied and that either voluntarily or under legal 
compulsio]\ Boulder will have to assume the burden of disposing 
of its' sewage without menace to the health of other communi- 
ties. 

Of late years under careful scientific study of the problem 
the method most generally adopted for the purification of munic- 
ipal sewage has been the use of "bacterial filtration beds," so- 
called, in some of their inany forms. The same results in trans- 
forming the dangerous organic matter of the sewage into harm- 
less com])ounds have also been obtained, and to' a great extent 
by identical iiatural processes, where the sewage has been applied 
not to bare filter beds but to cultivated and productive sewage 

farms. The chief reasons whv the 
SEWAGE FARMS i,.^^.^ ^.jj^^.,. 1,^,^^^ j^.^^.^ ^^^^,^^ ^^^^^^^ 

in American cities as against the irrigated sewage farm are, we 
believe, first, that the area required to deal with a given amount 
of sewage is smaller in rhe case of the bare beds, and second, 
(bat under ordinary conditions of municipal management, the 
farming is a more comj)licated business than city employees can 
be expected to carry on successfully, even though it might bring 
in enough incoiue if skillfidly handled to pay for a competent 
manager. Another reason is that in the East, where most of the 
development in sewage disposal methods has thus far taken place. 
irrigation farming is an unaccustomed idea and water is generally 
regarded merely as something to be got rid of in the easiest pos- 
sible way. It is hardly necessary to say that the latter condition 
is entirely reversed at Boulder and that every economic reason 
points toward the utilization of the Boulder sewage for irrigation 
purposes. ^Ye have been given to understand that an offer has 
already been made to ]iay the city for the right to use the outflow 
from the sewer for irrigating private lands. 



THE FREDERICK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

There appeni' in he two somid I'casdiis lor ol)jcct iii^i' to this 
method of dealing witli tlie (|iU'>tion and For ])i'( feri'inii- a sewage 

REASON FOR A CITY SEWAGE '''''■"' "^^■"'''' ''>' ^''^' '■'^>- '^^'"' '''^"'^ 
FARM is a sanitary nnv. The pi-iniary 

purpose of the muh'rtaking l)eing to ])roteet tlie public health 
it would he very unwise for tlie city to turn over the handling ol 
this (hmgeroas though useful material to a pri\ate party whose 
main ohjecf wouhl not he to make sure ot its purification, but 
to use it in the handiest way for irrigation. The second reason 
is that owing to the difficidty and cost of frequently changing the 
point ot discharge of the sewage there Avouhl he little if any com- 
petition in l)idding for its use and the city would he more or 
less at the merer of the land o\\'ners with whom the first con- 
tracts were made. On the other hand if tlie sewage were a}t]»lied 
to land owned hy the city the business of growing ero])s on the 
irrigated land, under proper restrictions for insuring the sani- 
tary disposal of the sewage and preventing the use of crops (like 
lettuce, etc.) of a sort that might endanger health through their 
contaniinati<ni hy sewage, could he leased (Uit annuallv or at longer 
intervals to the highest hidder. 

As the citv grows to the eastward it would 1)econie necessary 
at intervals of some years to extend the sewer system, to acquire 
a new sewage farm and to dispose of the old one for other pur- 
poses, in part probably for building land and in part for parks 
and other pai)lic purposes. 

Even while in use for its original purpose a sewage farm 
would have some ])ark value, for if properly conducted it is in 
no way an unsightly or disagreeable spot, and though the general 
public could not he permitted to walk about in the irrigated ai'ea, 
there might very well be a pid)lic drive and ]iromenade along the 
border overlooking the fields and commanding the mountain 
views l)eyond them. The natural place for such a farm would be 
on or near the banks of the creek, its precise location and extent 
being more or less closely determined by engineering considera- 
tions as to grade of outfall and probable volume of sewage to be 
handled. 

67 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

lifiuniiiig now to .the 12tli Street bridge and working up 
stream, it appears impracticable to secure any continuous drive- 
BOULDER CREEK ABOVE ^^'^3' or border street near the creelv. 
TWELFTH STREET It does seeni practicable and desir- 

able, iiowover. to secure a margin of vacant land of varying 
width, most of it subject to occasional overflow. It is desirable 
here as e}sc^\lu're to avoid the complete obstruction of these 
'Svashes"' by filling in right up to the edge of the creek because 
all such constriction of the channel tends inevitably to raise the 
flood level of the creek. If the public controls a comparatively 
narrow margin of the lowland on each side of the creek, and if 
trees are allowed to grow near the propert}^ line as a screen 
against the rather unattractive class of occupancy to be found 
in much of this section, and if too many trees are not permitted 
to grow along the stream banks so as to obstruct the valley, the 
immediate result will be to conserve and greatly enhance the 
views that can be obtained from all of the street bridges in 
crossing the creek. But even here these "washes" can be made 
of direct service for park purposes by means of a low level path 
readied by steps from the bridges and winding along the stream- 
side. This path sho\dd Ije formed of cement or tar concrete and 
should be so designed and built that it Avould offer no obstruc- 
tion to the water when covered by floods and cause no eddies 
that would be likely to start a washout of the adjacent surface. 
Although the head-room would be very limit-d, such a path 
conld pass under the existing bridges and form a continuous park 
})ath that would offer a very attractive stroll when the surround- 
ings are decently cared for. Very likely people in Boulder have 
got so accustomed to thinking of the creek and its banks as a 
place to throw tin cans and rubbish that it may require too great 
a feat of the imagination to conceive of it as a prett}^ shady spot 
with a clean, well-kept park path running beside the murmuring 
Avaters, but as a matter of fact such an ideal is quite easily attain- 
able. Of course every time the creek is flooded the path will 
be put temporarily out of business, but the day after it goes 
down, when the caretaker has had time to sweep off a little mud 
or gravel here and there and pick up and burn the driftwood or 



I 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

rubbish that may have lodged against the liridgc ahutuieuls or the 
trees, it will, all be as good as ever. 

Xext r^th Street the strip of low vacant land between the 
creek and the first building south of it and al)out an equal 
amount on the north ought thus to be acquired, running through 
on these lines to the railroad bridge and the "'paper" location of 
11th Street. West of 11th Street the south bank of the creek 
is occupied (on paper) by a narrow street or alley called Eiversidc 
Street which would be continued through as such to 9th Street. 
On the north side of the creek from 11th to 9th Street the taking 
line would be about parallel with the creek, starting from 11th 
Street on the line of the alley as laid out and meeting 9th 
Street just north of the angle where the latter turns to go over 
the bridge. A row of lots would be left between this taking 
line and the railroad and they would have frontage on the em- 
bankment roadway. 

West of 9th Street on the north bank of the creek only 
a path, at varying levels, can be j^rovided for. It would pass 
between the reduction works and the creek, under tlie railroad 
bridge, along a bulkhead- bet^veen the Boyd mill and the creek 
and so along to the westward. On the south Ijank it is to be 
honied that a street can be put through from 9th to Gth Street, 
passing just north of the Highland School grounds and the old 
house marked "Austin" on the large map, and that all the low 
land covered with interesting vegetation which lies between this 
line and the creek can be included for park purposes. "West of 
Gth Street there is an alley or path for a short distance which 
ought to be extended through as a public path as far as the 
railroad. The creek is here bordered by a fine growth of trees, 
and despite the extreme difficulty of scrambling along the bank 
at present there are signs that it is a good deal used, probably 
for the most part by tramps and small boys. A proper public 
23ath Avhich could be lighted and policed would do away with 
a nuisance here at the same time that it opened a pretty stroll- 
ing place to decent people. At present such a path would dead- 
end against the railroad and anyone going beyond Avould have 

69 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

to iToss the railroad at grade as they do now; hut ultimately 
it would be ])erfectly feasil)le to carry the path down the bank 
and under the railroad bridg-e in the creek bed, where of course 
it would he flooded whenever the creek rose but Avould ordi- 
narily be entirely convenient. AYest of tbe railroad bridge lies 
a strip of land on the south side of the creek which is now en- 
tirely isolated between the stream and tbe railroad. A portion 
of it next tbe creek is prettily wooded and the higher open part 
backing on tbe railroad is good for building purposes if it could 
lie nuide accessible. There is probably no market for it now, 
but is is to be considered wbether it would not be worth while 
to arrange, after a few years, for parking the banks of the stream, 
putting in a park boundary street upon which lots backing oii 
the railroad could face and putting in a bridge across the creek 
to connect with a street leading out to Pearl Street along the 
line of Sunshine Canon Creek. 

This brings us to the ]n-oblem of Sunshine Canon Creek, 

a torrential stream which has already played havoc more than 

once with imin-ovements in its vicin- 
SUNSHINE CANON CREEK . , ^ ^ ^ ^ 

ity because people had not learned 

sufficient respect for its flood volume and had not arranged to 
give it space enough in which to sweep harmlessly down to 
Boulder Creek. AYe did not have time to study the problem 
carefully, as needs to be done, but this much is plain: That 
the city ought to take steps to lay out and put in order a proper 
and well-protected channel extending from the wooden culvert 
to the inverted syphon by which the Farmers' Ditch crosses 
Sunshine Canon Creek down across Pearl Street to Boulder 
Creek, and that when such an open channel is being laid out 
it would be a sensible and pleasing design to provide for a road 
and sidewalk on each side so that the. open space of the channel 
and its banks may count as part of a street or parkway instead 
of being wasted in the back of a block. An incidental advan- 
tage is that such a channel is much more easily policed and kept 
in order if it runs in the midst of a parkway than if there art- 
back yards abutting directly upon it. 

70 



THE FREDERICK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

Boyond the line of tlie Farmers' Ditch and ^loimtain Avenue, 
as the valley of the creek becomes moi'c jjronounced the park 
opportunity wliicli it affords hecomes more s1rikin*i-. The pres- 
ent creek bed and the lo\\' o-round close to it on eitber side are 
a positive burden and drawback to the owners fr(nn tlie ])oint 
of view of sub-division into lots, and they ouglit to be delighted 
to transfer tbem to the city to bold as a park, over wbicli their 
lots on the northeasterly side would command a permanent view 
of the foothills over a most charming foreground. 

It is not going to take the lot-buying public of Boulder very 
much longer to realize that wlien it is attracted to a lot on high 

THE REAL ESTATE VALUE -^'"""'^ ^^^^'^^^^^^ "*' the fine view 
OF PERMANENT VIEWS commanded thereby, the paying of 
anv extra price on account of that view is sheer folly if there is 
another lot just across the street on which the next purchaser is 
certain to put up a house that will absolutely block the view. 
And per contra, those few lots which are so arranged that they 
have permanent command of fine views will fetch constantly 
growing prices with the growth in the number of people who 
appreciate such things and can pay for them. 

Here is a notable case in point. By setting apart f(n' park 
purposes a narrow strij) of steep hillside and a piece of valley 

bottom washed bv the torrential 
A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY ^.^„,^^|^ ^f Sunshine Canon Creek, and 

by laying out a parklike street at the edge of the valley, a 
row of lots can be obtained on the upland which not only will 
have permanent command of a view that will ])ut them in a class 
apart from almost all of the lots with which they come into 
market competition, but will liave a frontage on what would 
probably become one of the fashionable drives. This valley 
parking should certainly extciul up to include the ])icturesque 
Green Eocks and ultimately something more than a narrow road 
ought to come within public control in the further part of 
Sunshine Canon. 

It would be a l)eautiful thing to retain the whole slo|)e from 

71 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

the valk'v pnvkwa}' deserilxnl in the foregoing up to the Red 

Rocks as an open puhlie space. 
RED ROCKS ^^^^^ ^^.^ doubt very much whether 

the city would do wisely to charge itself with the double burden 
of paying out cash for the market value of the land and depriving 
itself of the tax returns which Avould result from the develop- 
ment of most of it iiito house lots. It is a. piece of land which 
is capable of development into a considerable number of resi- 
dence lots, of attractive and valuable kind; but it is equally 
capable of being very badly botched if it is lotted up in a 
thoughtless, commonplace way. If the latter is done the sellers 
of the land will be the losers to some extent, but the chief losers 
will l)e the purchasers and the, city at large through failing to 
get what the opportunity entitles them to. The steep upper part 
of the slope and the Red Rocks themselves, together with the city 
reservoir, ought certainly to become a public park. 

An opportunity almost equal to that ^iresented by the north- 
east side of Suiishine Canon between Mountain Avenue and 

Mapleton Avenue as just described, 

MOUNTAIN AVENUE ^xhted, and is not yet finally lost, in 

the case of Mountain Avenue itself. The splendid views to the 
south and southwest from that street and from the houses on the 
north side of it are entirely at th.3 mercy of the owners of the lots 
which slope steeply down from the opposite side of the Farmers' 
Ditch. These lots have not been .so built upon as to obstruct the 
view thus far, because they are steep, poor lots upon which it 
would be relatively costly to erect houses; but it is only a question 
of time before the demand for lots in this locality will induce 
people to go to the expense of propping up buildings there, and 
then good-bye to the view. If it were only a matter of trans- 
ferring the control and enjoyment of the view from one set of 
house owners to another the public would have no cause to worry 
about it; but the fact is that tliis process if it is allowed to take 
place will mean that the public, which can now enjoy the viev; 
from the street, would also be the loser, and the command of the 
view would be transferred from the fronts of one set of houses to 

72 



THE FREt)ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

the backs of another set. Tlie })ark coimnissio]i oiiglit to buy or 
coiidciiin the hillside lots l)elow the Fanners' Ditch from the point 
where it crosses Sprnce Street to Avhere it crosses Sunshine Canon 
Creek, but the owners of the lots north of ]\Iountain Avenue could 
well afford as a matter of investment to meet the whole cost of 
such a ])ark taking themselves rather tlian let the situation go 
by default. 

In connection with this park taking some intelligent treat- 
ment of the margins of the Farmers' Ditch with a shady path and 

benches would of course be under- 
FARMERS' DITCH taken, and a good deal of skill should 

be utilized to make this a pleasant shady spot for people to stroll 
and sit and enjoy the view, but without allowing any trees to 
interfere unduly with the views from the street and from the 
houses north of it. This means careful study on the spot and the 
limitation of the foliage to exactly the right places. Not im- 
probably it Avould mean, in part, recourse to systematic pruning, 
or to the use of a vine-clad arbor or pergola for shading part of 
the path instead of trees, but it might be possible to accomplish 
the result by selecting small trees of low habit and placing them 
ver}^ carefully. Already there has been some manipulation of the 
natural growth along the ditch by pruning, apparently to improve 
views from houses, on the opposite side of the street, but it has 
neither been systematic nor agreeable in its general effect. 

The presence of the Farmers' Ditch is a very happy feature 
here, as a part of a public promenade. Given sunshine and breeze 
and the wonderful plunging view across the valley to rugged 
mountains bathed in sunlight; given shade from the direct glare 
of the sun and sky, easily to be obtained by planting; the one thing 
M'anted to complete the situation is Avater, and the quiet flowing 
canal on its way to irrigate the fields beyond the city gives the 
very note that is needed. To be sure its banks are here shabby 
and neglected, the vegetation is weedy and an appearance of 
squalor is more or less in evidence, so that a superficial observer 
might turn away without feeling the least interest in the ditch. 
But all the essential elemeiits of the most l)eautiful scenes of Italv 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

arc here, waitinii- only a little patient, t^killful care to unite them 
into a lirtle ])ictnre of paradise. 

Indeed, there is nearby, although without the distant view 

and without the outlook froin shade into sunlit space Avhich is the 

soul of this situation, an example 
PLEASANT IMPROVEMENTS , . , ^ ^, , xi j 

NOW EXISTING ALONG THE ^'''nfli Suggests the charm that can 

FARMERS' DITCH he found in the simple comhination 

of the quiet, flowing water of the irrigating ditch with a little 
well-kept foliage. At several points between Spruce Street and 
the Maple ton School the so-called ditch^ in passing through a 
garden, becomes the central feature of a really charming scene. 
The stiff walling of the banks and the raising of the adjacent 
ground quite high above the water level makes the water count 
for less than it might, and we can call to mind many more lovely 
gardens bordering canals in European countries where the people 
have acquired a greater knack at such things; but here and any- 
where a considerable degree of charm is felt the very moment any- 
one takes care of the borders of such an irrigating stream in an 
appreciative spirit. The hand oi: a good housekeeper is the thing 
most essentially needed, doing away Avith dirt and slatternly neg- 
lect, but not changing everything into a rigid and mechanical 
formalism. 

We are inclined to dwell u])on this |)oint, because not only 
in the Farmers' Ditch hut in the many other irrigating channels 
which traverse the city in so many quarters Boulder has what 
seems to us a veritable treasure of municipal decorations, now for 
the most part neglected and defaced, Init all retaining their essen- 
tial elements unspoiled and ready to shed beauty all about them 
if only given a })roper setting. 

Among those people of every generation and every race who 
have most enjoyed life and the beauty of the world about them, 
OPPORTUNITY PRESENTED ^'"* especially among people dwelling 
BY THE IRRIGATING DITCHES in climates of sunshine, blue skies 
and dry air, the testimony is overwhelming, wliether we look to 
the poets and to literary records of the enjoyment of beauty, or 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

to painters, or to >.;-ar(k'iis tliomsulvcs; tli;i( li\iii,L:,' walci', ,i;iiiiu-ini;' 
in the sunlight and tlie shadow, is ono> oF the most ro freshing', 
cheerful, lovely elements that can he intrcxhiced into any scene. 
AYliether it he spring or jet or fountain, ])ictures(|ne cascade of 
smooth overponring of mill-dam, meandering Iji'ook or ])rim canaT, 
the essential beauty persists tlironghout; and only the signs ol: 
hnman contempt, fonl contamination and slovenly siin'oundings, 
can obscure the natural beauty of water in the o])en air. A 
thing that strikes the easterner unaccustomed to the irrigating 
ditch, is that however neglected and ignored snch a ditch ma}' he 
as to its banks and surroundings there is something about it rad- 
ically different from the ditches he is familiar with at home; a 
something that makes it far more attractive, more suggestive of 
pleasant possibilities. The feeling is hard to analyze, but it 
arises, perhaps, mahdy from two causes. First, the water of the 
ditches is relatively clean and sparkling; and second, it is elevated 
close to the level of the adjacent ground, or even above it, thus 
catching the sunlight and holding the eye, and expressing the 
fact that it is cared for and conveyed as a thing of value destined 
for human use, instead of being sunk in a drainage ditch as far 
below the surface as possible, rejected and considered only as 
something to be got rid of quickly and com])letely. If the in- 
herent beauty of the water of the irrigating channels were sup- 
plemented by such treatment of their immediate borders as would 
remove the unpleasant associations that now in many places attach 
to them, such treatment as would bring out and enhance the 
natural associations of refreshment and abundance that are in- 
separable from them and would re-enforce their intrinsic charm, 
these channels alone would serve to make Boulder a place of high 
civic beauty. 

If only ])eople could be got to realize that while they are 

looking for beauty in things which' have no use except for dec- 

AN AESTHETIC orativc purposes, the highest pos- 

PREDICAMENT sible beauty is to be found nine times 

out of ten in the most utilitarian things when ])erfected and 

treated as worthy of respect and loving care, they would bo saved 

75 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

a vast deal of extravagant and foolish expenditure Avliieh now 
leads to confusion, disharmony and ugliness though made in the 
vain liope of achieving beauty. It is the peculiar difficulty of 
such an awakening to the value of beauty in the scheme of life 
as is now being manifested all over our country, that people whose 
interest has been largely concentrated upon utilitarian things 
from the commercial standpoint are apt, when they do awaken to 
the value of beauty and set to work to get their share of the 
enjoyment of it, to look anywhere else for it rather than in the 
familiar things which they have always regarded as of commercial 
or practical interest only, not at all realizing that the lack of 
beauty or thel positive ugliness of these things is due solely to 
the misshaping of them by their own narrow commercialism and 
that of others like them. 

"We trust the good people of Boulder will pardon us for this 
preachment. The}^ are no worse sinners than most of us in this 
great, prosperous, well-meaning nation, where opportunities are 
so numerous that we spend all our energies trying to grasp more 
of them than we can hold and so have no time left in wliieh really 
to live. It is merely that a person is more vividly struck by 
examples of foolish Avaste of a kind new to him than by those to 
M'liich he has Ijecome accustomed; so when Boulder is visited by 
an eastern stranger who has an eye for beauty and some acquain- 
tance with the use to which water is put in the gardens and cities 
of older countries lie cannot fail to be strikingly impressed with 
the neglect of what seems to him an extraordinary opportunity 
for civic beauty. 

There are several canals in which the city has a shareholder's 
interest in addition to its powers of genera] control, and along 

HOW TO GET PARK VALUE ^^^^ ^'^^^^^^ ^^ "^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ 
FROM THE DITCHES has a right-of-wa}'. Many indeed are 

Avithin the limits of streets or pul:)lic alleys, already adequate in 
width or capable of being widened at slight expense so as to pro- 
vide the essential elements for the public enjoyment of the oppor- 
tunity Avhich the waterway presents. 

What are those essentials? 

76 



THE FRED'ERICK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

First, convenient pro\ision for the ])iil)]i(' to pass or to stop 
\vlio]'e it can enjo^- the opportunit}^ This may mean no more 
than the roadway and sidewalks of a street within wliich the 
waterway occurs, or even a hridge carrying some street over a 
waterway in sncli a manner that those crossing it can get a pleas- 
ant view over a rail or parapet designed to present the view to 
the hest advantage. Or it may mean a special path running along 
near the water Avith occasional benches at the more inviting 
spots; and from tliat anything up to summer-houses and refresh- 
ment booths and concert groves along the banks of waterways, 
with all of the incidental provisions for public comfort and con- 
venience that attend upon public parks. The only vital thing 
in this regard is that convenient, safe and decent provision be 
made in some manner for the coming and going and pausing of 
the people where they can enjoy the beauty that is offered. Civic 
beauty is worthless, even if it can be said to exist at all, where 
it is not seen and enjoyed by the people. 

Second, offensive, foul and ugly things, where they come into 
view, should be done away with, made over, or obscured by foli- 
age or otherwise, so far as possible; a general impression that the 
place is regarded by someone as worth caring for, as expressed by 
the fact that it is always swept and garnished, has a great deal 
to do with the extent to which others will care for it and be able 
to appreciate it. 

Third, agreeable scenes and compositions should be noted 
and enhanced, or created, mainly by such control of light and 
shade and of enclosing and framing masses as can readily be 
effected through conti-olling the disposition of the foliage of trees 
and buslies. Along many of the ditches that run through alleys 
or on private rights-of-way there are many trees and bushes 
already present in combination with the water and the sky very 
pretty scenes and which need only to be supplemented by a good 
path and a few benches and an impression of good order and so- 
licitous appreciation to become ready-made park spots of the 
highest value. In many other places judicious removals and a 
very moderate amount of supplementary planting would soon 

77 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

bring similar results. In otbcr places the foliage element is still 
to be su])])lie(l by planting. 

Fourth, in places a certain amount of manipulation of the 
edges of the channel or of the adjacent surface of the ground may 
be called for in order to harmonize these elements with the gen- 
eral effect of the scene of which they form a part. Fortunately 
the volume of water is comparatively constant and its surface is 
normally but little below the level of the banks, so that the chan- 
nels Just as they now are give that ever-delightful impression of 
brimming abundance and of intimacy of relation Ijetween the sur- 
face of the water and that of the ground. Generally speaking, 
the more closely on a level they can be and the more intimate 
their relation the bappier mil be the result. Where the general 
impression of the scene is one of formality, of conspicuous reg- 
ularity of order in its dominant features, the margin of the water 
may need some rectification to bring it into harmony with this 
impression; where the general effect is notably picturesque and 
informal it may be that some inharmoniously formal lines in the 
canal could be to advantage modified or obscured; not infrequent- 
ly, especially where a path comes next to the ditch, it may be 
desirable to introduce a simple curbing or a piece of wall (mostly 
below the water level) to hold the earth from crumbling or slump- 
ing. But generally speaking it is better to avoid the use of walls 
or banks which would have the effect of depressing the water 
below the adjacent ground l)y more than a very small fraction of 
the width of tlie stream. If this mistake is avoided the water will 
be all right anyhow, and it will bo just as well to do nothing to 
its margin except what is really needed as a practical matter for 
the proper maintenance of the ditch. In the case of the little 
ditches that ruii along in the parking of so many of the streets 
in the easterly part of the town, the boards which form their sides 
rise just to the level of the ground and are generally overhung 
with grass that gets a delightful, fresh richness from the water. 
The effect is charming and it would seem a pity to substitute a 
conspicuous and rigidly formal curbing either of concrete or stone 
and the substitution of a perfectly smooth bottom for one made of 

78 



THE FRED'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

rough nobl)''Jstonc.s takes out an t'lcmcut of interest and heauty Tor 
no sufficient reason, for tlie sparkle and dance of the water as it 
runs over tlie cobbles is ]:)art of its life and c liarni. The boards 
must give w-ax for sonietliing more })ei'niauent, certainly, because 
their maintenance is troublesome and expensive. But why not 
substitute for theni thin slabs of local sandstone of irregulai' 
lengths set at the same lieight as the ])resejit edgings so that 
the grass A^'ill overgrow thein somewhat as it now does the plank? 
And why not use the same old cobble i)avcment for the bottom? 
Of tlie large]- \vater\\-ays the Beasley Ditch was the onlv one 
of which, we nuide a complete examination throughout its length 

within the city. AVith the possible 
BEASLEY DITCH exception of one or two short pas- 

sages we found that it would be possible to convert this ditch and 
its margins into a very attractive public promenade at surprisingly 
small expense. From 12th Street to 19th Street, for example, it 
runs mostly through a public alley not used as a thoroughfare for 
other purposes, and by the acquisition of a few bits of vacant land, 
the opening of a good path, and a small amount of thinning and 
planting, the thing Avould be done; while Just north of 21st 
Street the ditch passes through or borders a piece of land excel- 
lently adapted for local park purposes and can be made to add 
much to its park value if acquired. It is however, useless to dis- 
cuss these possibilities in detail in view of the proposition since 
called to our attention for a great increase in the capacity of the 
Beasley Ditch. This will involve, of course, an entire change of 
conditions all along the route and radical changes in many 
streets. The matter should be taken up by the city and the pro- 
moters of the project in a spirit of intelligent co-operation and 
a well-conceived plan should be adopted that will take into 
account the hydraulic requirements, the result upon the street 
system, and the opportunities for public recreation afforded by 
the banks of the canal if properly utilized. One suggestion which 

we were prepared to offer in any 

COUNTY ROAD BOULEVARD +11 • , 

case a])pears stnl more appropruite 

in view of the probable changes in the Beasley Ditch. It is that 
in widening the County Eoad and extending it north from Pearl 

79 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

street past the east end of Lovers' Hill as a great^ cross-town 
thoroughfare, the Beasley Ditch, so far as it occupies the line of 
the street, be treated as a formal ornamental canal or basin run- 
ning down the center of the boulevard, with a fairly wide border 
of grass on either hand and flanking rows of trees on the edges 
of the two roadways that would border this parking. 

We cannot too urgently point out the facts that on the one 
hand the eastern part of the city is the region where the topog- 

NEEDS OF EASTERN PART ''''^^^y "^^"^^^^^ P^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^'^^^'^^*' 
OF CITY most convenient and most inexpen- 

sive urban development, where transportation facilities by road- 
way and by trolley can be most easily and cheaply perfected and 
extended, and where, by consequence, is likely to occur the prin- 
cipal development of dwelling places for people of small or mod- 
erate means, and that on the other hand the continued attract- 
iveness of this flat region is closely dependent upon the mainte- 
nance of public open spaces, sufficient to preserve the views of 
the mountains and to afford the sunny openings with contrasting 
shady or sheltered promenades which are requisite to the full 
enjoyment of the climate and which are absolutely unattainable 
on fifty-foot lots occupying level ground. The need has not yet 
been strongly felt, partly because there are so many vacant lots 
scattered among those already occupied or at least within easy 
reach, and partly because people have not thought much about the 
basic physical advantages which make Boulder a better place to 
live in than other cities of the same size and tax rate. They must 
think about them and preserve them if they would not kill the 
goose that lays their golden eggs. 

The County Eoad boulevard suggested above and the pro- 
posed parkway along Boulder Creek would be good examples of 
the sort of thing that is needed, but a considerable number of 
local parks and squares ought also to be acquired. 



80 



Parks and Other Public Open Spaces 

Xot only tlie eastern part of tlic cil}' Init all parts ought to 
be provided with local pai'ks, some to be used primarily for play- 
groinids, others mainly or wholly for more sedate recreation, all 
contributing to the agreeableness of the town. 

Every home in the city ought to be within about a quarter 
of a mile of a good pla3'gronnd and of a spot where older people 

THE PEOPLE AND THE ''"^^ ^^'^^^' ^^^''^^' t'-^^'^'^'i^G or their ease 
CITY PLAN in the Open air under pleasant sur- 

roundings and in the preseiice of a fine view or at least of such 
breadth of sunlighted open space as is wholly beyond the means 
of most to attain on their own property. The man who can af- 
ford to o\ni a couple of acres in the outskirts of the city, or one 
of the liniited number of sites on the commanding eminences near 
it and who caii pay for the relatively high cost of the roads or 
streets required to make such sites available, and who can keep 
a carriage or an automobile to take him back and forth, is able 
to look out for himself. If he fails to make intelligent use of the 
opportunities which Boulder jiresents for the enjoyment of life, 
it is due mainly to his own lack of appreciation and initiative. 
But for the majority of people, whose means are limited, who 
have neither the financial strength nor the physical strength and 
mental aggressiveness that Avould enable them to seize for their 
own exclusive use the means of enjoying adequately those precious 
commodities, air and sunlight, and that subtle promoter of health 
and cheerfulness, the sense of spaciousness and freedom — for 
these, the great body of the citizens, a co-operative, democratic 
method of attaining these ends must be sought. 

The standard house lot in Boulder appears to be 50 feet wide 

by about 150 feet deep, although a tendency is apparent through 

the uncontrolled operation of supply 
BACK YARDS VS. PARKS .^^^^^ ^|^^^^^^^^^| ^^ ^.^^^^^^^ ^^^^ ^-^^ ^f 

lots as well as the width of streets. To reduce the depth of the 
lots from 150 to 125 feet would mean, even if there were no cor- 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

responding reduction in width, that l-(i of the usable ground 
after substracting streets woukl he left over. If this amount ot 
space were set apart for joint use in the form of playgrounds, 
sc[uares, and local parks it would mean that every half mile 
square of the city would liave not less than 16 to 20 acres of 
public grounds. Xo one who considers this proposition for a 
moment can doubt that the average householder with a 150-foot 
lot is in no such enviable position, with his extra 25 feet at the 
back end of his back yard, all shut in by other ^^eople's houses, 
as he woukl be Avitb a lot measuring 50 x 125 feet and the use 
of a big, safe playground for his children within less tlian a 
quarter of a mile of his house and the use of pleasant parks and 
squares close at hand on every side of a size sufficient to com- 
mand the beautiful views which he is now unable to see to ad- 
vantage unless he goes entirely outside of the built-up city. 

The point is worth pausing over a moment. A given tract 
of land half a mile square, provided with streets occupying a third 

of tlie total area will subdivide in 
DEEP LOTS AND NO PARKS (-^^c) lots of tlie standard Boulder size 
of 50 X 150 feet. In such a district, when the lots are all occu- 
pied, there will be no playgrounds for the children except the 
streets and the cramped back yards, there will l)e no parks or 
squares or other open ground whatever, no views of mountain or 
plain except an occasional glimpse between the chimney pots. If 
on the same tract, with the same area in streets the same number 

SHALLOWER LOTS PLUS °^' ^^<^"^^« '^'^'^^*^^ ^^^ ^^^^*^*^^ ""'^ '^°^' 
PARKS 50 by 125 feet in size, there would be 

left over 17.7 acres for purposes of public recreation. This 
would be more than enough, if well arranged, to assure for all 
time that every boy and young man who will ever live in that 
district shall have opportunit}' and inducement near his own home 
to play baseball and all the other vigorous outdoor games that 
make for a sound body, a clean mind and a healthy nervous sys- 
tem^ that space could be set apart for a swimming pool to be 
put in operation whenever the neighborhood or the city might feel 
disjiosed to pay for constinicting it and suj^plying the water; that 

82 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

tlio little chiMrcMi could have a slialloAV pool of their own with 
a clean, sandy beach and bottom where thc)' could wade and play 
with toy boats and make sand pies and forts as well as if they 
were to be taken tlunisands of miles to the ocean l)each itself; 
that for all time thc dwellers in that district would have only to 
walk two or three blocks or so to find a pleasant o]ien spot with 
shady jiaths and l)enches for summer nsc, looking out npon a 
cheerful prospect, with sheltered sunny nooks and covered benches 
for the season when cold or driving- wind makes walking in the 
streets unpleasant and tends to keep thc people closely housed. 

Again we say that no sane man can doubt thc advantages of 
the latter method of subdivision, with its slightly smaller lots 
supplemented bv parks, if be will take note of the trifling addi- 
tional use which thc average householder derives from the deeper 
lots of the old part of the town as compared with the shallower 
lots in other localities. That the average householder is reason- 

LOTS ARE GETTING '^^^^-^ ^^^^^ content with the shallower 

SHALLOWER lot, even Avhere he gets no parks at 

all in compensation, is proved by the fact that he does not hesitate 
to buy the shallower lots. He is evidently not seriously influ- 
enced in selecting his abode by the fact that lots in the University 
Terrace Subdivision are nearly 20 per cent, shallower than the 
lots in East Boulder. 

l)ut it the lots ai'c being made shallower why does thc house- 
holder get no benefit of the saving in the form of piddic recrea- 

BUT NO PARKS ARE MADE ^'^^^ grounds? Simply because he 
FROM THE SAVINGS docs not insist that his agent and 

representative, the City Government, shall look out for his obvi- 
ous interests in due season, and make the laying out of a reason- 
able percentage of public recreation groiind as much a matter of 
course in thc acceptance of a new subdivision as the laying out 
of streets. They should both be regarded as conditions precedent 
to the city's furnishing the means for exploiting the land into 
building lots by providing water, sewerage, street lighting, polic- 
ing and other urban advantages. The burden of the cost of set- 
ting apart such local recreation grounds should normally fall 

83 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

upon the districts particularly benefited. It may fairly be placed 
npon the land-owners; who have the option of reeonping them- 
selves for the A'alue of the land thus devoted to neighborhood uses 
either by dividing their remaining land into smaller lots, made 
acceptable by the presence of the parks and playgrounds, or by 
charging higher prices for the standard size of lot, the choice de- 
pending on the demands of the market. 

Under the jiresent system the lots are being made smaller, 
but the space thus saved is used not for parks but only for more 
lots; to the manifest detriment of the conditions of life in the 
city; and to whose benefit? 

Not to the land-owners as a Avliole, certainly; for since the 
condition of the individual householder is plainly less satisfactory 

WHO BENEFITS FROM ''''^^' ^^'^ ^''''^^''' ^""^^ ^^^ ''''^^'''''^ 

ILLIBERAL SUBDIVISIONS? the local parks, it simply means that 

the demand for lots in Boulder will be less keen than would other- 
wise be the case and the value per lot will average lower; which 
is only another way of saying that the land value per family of 
residents will be less, or th.at the total land value of the city per 
thousand of population will be less. Incidentally its growth will 
be slower because of its lesser attractiveness. With a slower 
growth of population and a lower total of land values per thou- 
sand of population it is obvious that the less attractive method of 
development into which Boulder is now drifting tends to retard 
the growth of the total land values in geometric ratio. 

AVho does benefit? 

No process goes on actively under the pressure of uncon- 
trolled commercial motives unless somebody sees a profit in it. 

The immediate and obvious results of curtailing at every 
possible point the amount of city land used per family, in lot and 

HOW THE PRESENT SYSTEM ^^^"^^^ ^^^^^^ P^^'^^ •''^'^ otherwise, is to 

WORKS make a city more compact, to make 

it spread more slowh-, and to concentrate the population, and 

therefore the total land values Avhich arise from the demand for 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

housing spacCj upon a more linulod area. If tlio owner of a tract 
of untie vcloped land on the immediate outskirts of the eit^-'s 
growth; by means of laj'ing out as narrow streets and as small 
lots as he is able to market, and by means of omitting from his 
subdivision aiiy squares or parks or other provision for public 
recreation, can su(rceed in concentrating upon his land say 5 per 
cent, of the city's total growth in population during the succeed- 
ing decade, together Avith a correspondingly large share in the 
city's total increment in land values during the same period, and 
if he can sell out and realize upon this increment, it is obvious 
he is better off. commercially, than if a more enlightened pul)lic 
policy controlling the method of subdivision had led to a 25 per 
cent, greater increase in the city's total land values but prevented 
him from gobbling more than 3 per cent, of it. 

In other words, under tlie present happy-go-lucky method of 
commercial exploitation of the increment in land values, the fev\^ 

AN UNCONTROLLED l^'^^P^^ ^^'^'° happen, by chance or 

MONOPOLY foresight, to be possessed at any 

given time of Die lands on the edge of urban growth are prac- 
tically permitted to establish an undesirable density of urban 
development at their own discretion and for their own immediate 
financial benefit, at the direct expense of all the other land-owners 
in the city, who would of course be the gainers by a more widely 
diffused increment. 

There is nothing essentially unfair in the game of land spec- 
ulation, and the biggest profits in the long run go to the shrewd- 
LAND SPECULATION A FAIR ^^^ and most expert players; the val- 
GAIVIE FOR THE PLAYERS ues of undeveloped land on the out- 
skirts of a city are market values which take into account the 
chances each piece offers for scooping some of the "unearned 
increment;'' so that there is, perhaps, no great need to worry over 
the fact that the present system enables the skillful players to 
make a profit at the expense of those who are so unfortunate as 
to be holding property that lies either outside of the zone of 
sharply rising prices or inside of that zone in the district of 
improved property and relatively stable values. 

85 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

But it is mauii'estly to the disadvantage of tlie coinmunit^v at 
large, to tlie majority of land-owiiers in tlie long run, and 
BUT THE PUBLIC SUFFERS ^^"ipl^'^ticallv to every wage-earner 
IN THE END and every family dependent u})on a 

salary or upon an income derived from ]ion-spectilative invest- 
ments, tliat the player? of the game of land speculation, interesting 
and legitimate though it be, should Ije permitted to inake the city 
less pleasant, convenient and healthful to live in, and of a slower 
growth and smaller total valuation than it can perfectly well be 
made if the community simply insists on such a provision of 
streets and such a ju-ovision of ^lublic recreation grounds and such 
other arrangements as will give the best practicable results from 
the point of view of those who have got to live in the city after 
it is built. ^Ve are not here concerned with any socialistic proj- 
ects for approi^riating the "unearned increment'' tn the people. 
As we have previously pointed out the total land values, and 
therefore tlie total '"unearned increment'' passing into the hands 
of land-owners, v.'ould be larger in case there were an adequate 
allowance of park area than without it. What we are concerned 
THE PUBLIC MUST PROTECT ^^'ith is such action l)y the community 
ITSELF AND THE LIBERAL -ig ^vill result in the invariable set- 
LAND OWNERS BY CONTROL- ^. . ,. ., i • ii 

LING THE CHARACTER OF tmg apart ot the desirable propor- 

SUBDIVISIONS tion of public open spaces as a 

necessaiy incident of the subdivision of land and thus 
remove the pi'essure under which an illiberal and short- 
sighted 2^olic'y is forced, as a ])lain matter of business, 
upon the promoters who now determine the layout of 
subdivisions. It is possible that such action might tend to reduce 
the purely speculative profit in putting lots upon the market, 
and it might be expected to arouse opposition from those who 
are, or who think they are, partienlarly skillful in the speculative 
game: but for the main body of real estate owners as well as for 
all the rest of the community such action Avould be distinctly 
advantageous. 

What does such a public policy involve? Briefly, that in or 
for every neighborhood or district which is subdivided and added 

86 



THE FRED'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

to tlie city a certain inininniin per ccMitagc sliall l)c set apart for 
|ml)lic recreation grounds. What tliis niiniimiiii sliouM l)e we 
will discnss later. The method of setting it apart, in the case of 
a considerable subdivision, or district under a single ownership 
would normally be dedication, as in the case of streets; but in 
the case of a subdivision owned by a number of different parties 
the city might have to purchase or condemn the necessary tracts 
and assess the cost of them upon the whole district benefitted. 
In districts already fully subdivided and largely occupied a sim- 
ilar method may be followed except that since the whole city is 
short of local })arks it would be fair to charge a part or the whole 
of the cost in such cases to the general fund. 

As to the selection of the areas to be set apart for local 
park purposes, it is of prime importance that they should be 
SELECTION OF LOCAL equitaldy distributed, and preferably 
PARK AREAS SO that no neighborhood will be 

more than about a (piarter of a mile from the areas that serve it. 
AVith the exception of certain special sites to l)e mentioned later 
which have peculiar advantages for certain j^ark purposes, the 
chief ]3oints to be considered in selecting land for local parks are 
cheapness, and accessibility to t\w people who Avill use them. 
The best plan, always assuming the necessary funds to be avail- 
able, is first to decide upon the general locality within which the 
local park is needed, to examine carefully the assessed valuations 
of property within the locality and to select (tentatively) one 
or more sites which seem promising as to location and cheapness. 
The second step is for the commission to obtain options on such 
of the lands within the limits of the tentative site or sites as 
can be ]nit under favorable options. The third step is to ask 
publicly for the tender of any lands within the locality for park 
purposes and to hold ])ul)lic hearings thereon; and the final step 
is. in the light ol' all the information thus secured, to select defi- 
nitely the site and boundaries of the park or playgrouiul and 
take the land bv condemnation proceedings. The land taken wiU 
ordinarily consist in whole or in part of tracts upon which the 
commission has obtained options or public tenders of sale at 7'ea- 

87 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

sonable prices and for such lands it can settle at once at the 
agreed price, v.hile the price of other lots required to secure 
proper boundaries Avill be determined under condemnation pro- 
ceedings either l)_y agreement or before a jury. It is far better 
to i^roceed in this Avay than to buy or accept certain pieces of land, 
no matter how favorable the terms may be, and subsequently 
acquire adjacent pieces for the rectification of boundaries or com- 
pletion of the requisite area; because the ver)^ establishment of 
a park renders the adjacent land more valuable at once, and if 
the city buys park land piecemeal it has to pa}^ in the later pur- 
chases an increased price due simply to its having previously 
started to establish a park in the neighborhood. The condem- 
nation process, preceded by obtaining options where possible, 
takes all the land at one and the same instant and at the value 
of land in a district which has no parks. 

As to the proportionate extent of local parks, we have seen 
that the reduction of lot depths from 150 to 125 feet and the use 

^^^^1^.^ QP LOCAL PARK ^^ ^^^*^ ^^^^^"^"^ ^'^^'^ saved out of the lots 
AREAS for parks and squares would give 10 

to 12 per cent, of the total city area in local parks (depending 
upon the ju'oportion of the total area occupied by streets.) Five 
per cent, has been considered a reasonable minimum allowance in 
some large cities^ but no positive rule can be laid doAvn. Perhaps 
as much as Ave can say is that less than 5 per cent, is generally 
inadequate and that much more than 15 per cent, in small local 
parks, except under peculiar circumstances, is apt to imply a need- 
lessly dispersed, and therefore costly, urban development. 

Since in general the selection of local park lands should be 
determined mainly by considerations of price it is inexpedient for 

us to make any definite recommend- 
SPECIFIC PARK SITES ^^^^^^^ except in case of certain sites 
l^ossessing peculiar advantages for park purposes in proportion to 
their apparent market value as real estate. Of these, Ave have 
referred to three pieces in connection with the discussion of 
AA'aterAvays. One is the vacant land on the south side of Boulder 
Creek just east of the 12th Street lots, and another is the vacant 

88 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

meadow lying Letween the creek and tlie Liiieolii School. JJoth 
of these are valuahle for landsea])e j>iirjio.-ch and as playgi-ouiids 
and they are well distributed. 

The third is the west half of the block lying between Nine- 
teenth Street and the line of Twenty-First Street. This piece is 
traversed and bordered by the Beasley Ditch, and the water, with 
the trees that occupy its l)anks in part, gives a good start toward 
making a pleasant little park. If the three inexpensive houses 
on Water Street south of the ditch are acquired it would be pos- 
sible to form an open playground of more than two acres in extent, 
surrounded by a shady walk along the ditch and along the sur- 
rounding streets. Avith an existing grove at the northwest corner 
and a small separate playground for little children in the space 
between the ditch and Nineteenth Street. Even if the house 
lots on Nineteenth and ^Vater Street were omitted the vacant 
land alone would make a good though very limited local park. 
Ajjart from the park value which attaches to the water of the 
Beasley Ditch and to the grove of trees, the chief advantage of 
this tract is that it is the nearest considerable piece of vacant 
land to the High School and the Jefferson School. It is within 
a short couple of blocks of those two schools, which are urgently 
in need of playground space. 

In connection Avith Boulder Creek we have called attention 

to the importance of preserving public access east of Seventeenth 

Street to the edge of the hluff that 
LOVERS' HILL ^-^.^^^j.^ ^1^^ g^^^^l^ ^-^-^^ ^f ^1^^ ^^^^ 

and commands such fine views over the city. North of the valley 
a similar sitmition is presented by Lovers' Hill. This mesa, if it 
is proper so to call it, is divided into a western and an eastern part 
by a notch, through which Twentieth Street makes its twisting 
way. The eastern part has one house upon its southern edge, 
reached by a rather precipitous approach from the south. The 
western part, though platted (on paper) into streets and lots, is 
wholly vacant and is being slowly eaten away from the northwest 
by the brick M'orks situated at its base. 

To those citizens of Boulder who are not familiar with the 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

y'lLW we urgently locommend a stroll, some pleasant Sunday, along 
the top of Lovers" Hill, both parts, from Fourteenth Street to the 
County Eoad iiear Twenty-Fifth Street. The vie\y, especially 
toward sunset time, is one that cannot he matched in man}' thou- 
sand miles of traveling. 

I'he situation is a delightful one for dwellings Avere it not 
for the difficulty of access and the entire absence of trees, which 
renders it bleak and unsheltered both in appearance and in fact 
cxcejit in the ]")leasantc^it of weather. Of the two possible nu^hods 
which have occin-red to us for utilizing the recreative value of this 
hill one ])r()vidcs for developing also the opportunity which it pre- 
sents for building sites. Starting from Thirteenth Street, we 
advise widening High Street on the vacant north side, so as to 
make it at least the equal of the old streets in liberality, and park- 
ing it and planting it with trees. p]ast of Fourteenth High Street 
now A'anislies into nothing up the steep hillside. A parkway in 
continuatio]"! of High Street should be carried through, in a cut, 
on a reasonably easy rising grade, until it reaches the surf^ice of 
the mesa at its southerly edge. It should follow this edge 
api)roxiniately. on a curving line working off in an easterly and 
northeasterly direction at the level of the flat top surface of the 
hill tit a ])oint whence it could descend again by a reasonable 
grade, mainly in cut and crossing to the north side of the ridge, 
soi as to meet the grade of TAventieth Street where the latter goes 
through the saddle between the west and east ]iarts of the hill. 
Thence the parkway would rise again on a line just north of the 
present city lioundary and again woidd skirt the southerly escarp- 
ment of the hill on curving lines to a point from which it could 
descend by an easy grade to join the County Eoad just as it 
crosses the easterly tail of the hill. 

"Wherever it is not encroached upon l)y houses — and those 
points are fortunately few — the steep hillside below this proposed 
parkway should be acquired and kept permanently open to protect 
the view. The market value of the land in question is relatively 
trifling because it is for the most part too steep to Imild on and 
most of it is rather inaccessible. The parkway itself would con- 
sist of a drive of moderate width, say thirty feet, and on the 



THE FRED'ERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

soutlierly side of it. fommaiulinj^- ilio view, a hi'oad pi'oiiKMiade 
or gathering place, with benches, tlie whole beijig shaded by 
rather closely planted trees forming a long and somewliat wind- 
ing or irregnlar grove rather than mere rows as in a street. The 
})ronienade or grove ^wonld yiwy somewhat in widtii. accoj'ding to 
the shape of the hill, from a mininnun of twelve or fifteen feet 
n}» to perhai)s fifty or seventy-five feet aiid wcnild sometimes be 
on the same level as the drive and sometimes a little below it. 
The water rcqnired for in-igation of the trees wonld be delivered 
on each jiai't ol' the hill from a simple fountain which might in 
one case foi-ni the central feature of a concert gro\'e where the 
band could play occasionally on summer evenings, a time when 
this promenade Avould be peculiarly attractive because of catching 
every breeze that stirs across the city. 

The level land of the hilltop north of the parkway might bo 
left in whole or in part available for building sites fronting on 
the parkway. In this case the increased value of the land as a 
result of the opening of such a parkway would offset a respect- 
able share of the cost of land and construction. But it would be 
very much finer if the whole top of the narrow ridge could be 
kept forever open as a place of public recreation, commanding 
the views to the north and northwest as well as those to the south 
and southwest. 

It is to be noted that the northern part of the hill is perhaps 
more valuable at the present time as a source of brick clay than 
for any other purpose, and that it would probably be very costly 
to make an adverse taking which would interfere "with the estab- 
lished brick industry dependent on the use of the hill. If, how- 
ever, the city should decide on the parkway and establish the 
grades thereof an advantageous co-operation Avith the brick works 
might be brought about, permitting them to remove the surplus 
material down to the grade of the parkway where it is in heavy 
cut at the north end with little or no expense to the city, and 
then permitting them to excavate to an indefinite extent along 
the north side of the parlcway, provided enough material were 
left to support it at the established grade. If this were done the 
parkway in this section would be a peculiar and interesting civic 

91 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

feature, a driveway and grove accessible on easy grades but stand- 
ing isolated at a level above the roofs of the city, over which it 
would look both north and south to the mountains. 

It is imjDortant that some decision should be reached soon 
for while it would be equally convenient for the brick works to 
adjust their excavations to the plan of a high level parkway, they 
are not unlikel}', in the absence of such a plan, to excavate that 
portion of the ridge over Avhich the parkway sliould run, thus 
cornj^licating or wholly blocking the project. 

Another point of some topographical interest for park pur- 
poses is the basin-like valley round which the Farmers' Ditch 

VALLEY IN NEWLAND'S ^"'^^^^'"^ '^ ^'^^"8° ^°°P "^ ^^^^ Xcwlauds 

ADDITION Addition. It is true that the soil is 

a wretched, stiff, alkaline shale, very ill-adapted for the growth 
of park vegetation, soggy, wet, cold and undrained, a most un- 
promising field from a horticultural standpoint. Xevertheless 
would we gladly see a park established there, for the form of the 
ground, within the boundaries marked by the Farmers' Ditch and 
Ninth Street and First Avenue, is from the artist's point 
of view most admirable, and the way it lies in relation to the 
views of the foothills gives opportunity for the development of 
a beautiful landscape of a type nowhere else to be found in Boul- 
der and nowhere else in the city possible of creation in so perfect 
a form. 

We should hesitate to cast our opinion against that of Mr. 
Andrews, who has condemned this site for cultural reasons; indeed 
we have admitted that the soil is wretched; but unless the case 
is rendered hopeless by factors of which we are left in ignorance 
by our superficial examination we should think it possible to re- 
deem the soil sufficiently by thorough underdrainage and irri- 
gation. This process might cost, at a guess, say $1,000 an acre. 
For park purposes the land, on account of its topography, is cer- 
tainly more than $1,000 an acre in advance of the value of any 
other vacant land in the northwesterly quarter of the city, and at 
the same time its low, wet situation must make it much less val- 
uable for most other purposes. 

92 



Chautauqua Grounds 

The cit}' has an interesting and valuable institution in tlie 
Chautauqua grounds and buildings and one wliich ouglit to be- 
come increasingly useful as time goes on. It is a sort of insti- 
tution that may be expected both to grow and to alter in char- 
acter a good deal from decade to decade as new conditions and 
new opportunities of usefulness arise, and it seems to us peculiarly 
a case where rigorous adherence to a predetermined plan of devel- 
opment is ahnost out of the question, and where it is wise, con- 
trary to the principle which should ordinarily be followed in public 
works, to treat much of the improvements as frankly temporary, 
making tlie first cost low even at the expense of higher main- 
tenance charges. This has been the policy in regard to much 
of the work done hitherto and we mention the point only because 
this is one of the rare cases in which such a temporizing policy 
has anything to commend it. We do not mean for a moment to 
suggest that it is not desirable or even necessary to have a plan 
cf develo])ment and to work to that plan. Xothing but confu- 
sion and waste can result from proceeding without a programme 
of well defined aims. But we do mean to suggest that this is 
peculiarly a case where a comprehensive plan cannot be drawn up 
once for all and then carried out piece by piece literally and me- 
chanically just as drawn. If this were attempted some new con- 
dition Avould soon turn up for which the plan made no provision 
and something would have to be done contrary to the plan, or at 
least something not provided for therein. After a few such occur- 
rences the plan would appear hopelessl}'^ out of date and would 
soon be disregarded. The only wise procedure is to keep the gen- 
eral plan alive and up to date every year by revising it to meet 
new conditions as fast as they arise. That is to say, wdien there 
appears to be good reason for doing something contrary to the 
]ilan, the conditions ought to be scpiarely faced and an attempt 
made to see just how such a change would affect other features 
of the plan considered as a consistent whole. If the changes 
still seem wise, the plan' should be changed first and the work 
then continued in accordance with the up to date plan. Obvi- 

93 



liOL'LDER CITY niPROVEMEXT ASSOCIATIOX 

misly siu-li c-lumges and adniitationjs can l)o more iinderstaiidingly 
made l)y the man rcsponsiMe for the plan tlian hy anyone else. 

We make these explanations heeause this is an imptn-taur 
question of general policy and also heeause we were consulted 
ahout the desirahility of departing from the general plan pre- 
l)are(| hy ^\v. I'arce. It is a good plan and the work already done 
under it is interesting and very attractive; we strongly advise 
against departing from it; but we do think that ]\[r. Parce and 
the (Commission might consider whether it would ]iot Ije wise to 
modify it at certain points. For one thing it struck us that it 
would be an agreeable addition to ]dant a considerable number of 
trees on the terrace of the Auditorium with a view to providing 
shade and verdure close to the building aiid at the ])oinL com- 
manding the best vieAv. As it is desirable not to blanket the 
Inulding entirely, these trees ought to Ite low and spreading, f(n'm- 
ing a sort of canopy or awning about the base of the building. 
AVe had in mind the treatment often adopted in such sitmitions 
in European countries, where it is common to use sycamore trees 
(Platanus orientalis) for this purpose. They are planted pi'etty 
closely, even as close as 15 or 20 feet apart, their side branches 
are pruned so as to give clean, straight stems about 10 or 12 feet 
tall and at that level the branches are allowed to spread but the 
top of the tree is headed back by persistent annual pruning so 
as to prevent it from getting more than 15 or 18 feet tall alto- 
gether. Often the young branches that push up above the stand- 
ard level are bent down and forced to grow horizontally l>y tying 
them down to light poles extending from tree to tree. With a 
little patience and persistence a living arbor can be formed in this 
way that would give shade without checking the lireeze and 
greatly enhance the attractiveness of such a terrace as that of tlie 
Chautauqua Auditorium. 

Another point to be considered is whether in the long run 
the sacrifice of a good part of the view from this terrace will not 
be too great a price to pay for the advantage of having a grove at 
the particular point below the terrace where trees have been 
planted. 

A third point to be considered is as to the area north of the 

.94 



THE FREDERICK LAW OL^ISTED JR. REPORT 

Dining ]l;ill. In view of ilie necossnvih- 1onl;iti\c ;iiiil cxpci-i- 
niental (levcl()])iiu'iu of llu' grounds we ([iir^liuji whcllicr lln' hii'ge 
oval loiTju-i' lor leunis c'()iirl> is (|iiiU' justiriablr. Il is a rather 
large niulertaking that nul^t liu piii tiii'ough conipU'lelv at one 
operalion if the design is not to loolc very unfinished and con- 
fused, and llie anionnt of grading is I'alliei' lai'ge in jji^oporl ion Id 
ilie niinilier oL' eourts Avliieli can lie acconmiodaled on an area of 
this form. Further, the ])ractical necessity oL' t;ill hack-nets for 
the tennis courts would introduce a very eons|)icuous and iuliar- 
nuinious f(n'nial element, built on a rectangular jilan to fii the 
tennis courts and seriously injuring the effect of the oval witii 
its border of informal shi'uhhery as designed. Bearing in nuud 
this practical re(piirenient of a formal character aiul the fact that 
the straight row of buildings to the west of the S])ace aii'cady 
establishes a souiewhat fmaual treatjucut of that side, and the 
further fact that the tennis courts must Iuinc a dirt surfaci_^ 
instead of a turf surface, we are inclined to thiid\ that it would 
look-more reasonable (and therefore better) to plan for a series of 
terraces rectangular in plan and suhstantially jiarallel with the 
row of buildings, each tei'race being just wide enough for one row 
of courts. The fii-st of these terraces, coming immediately east 
of the road on which the Dining Hall faces, could ])rohahly he de- 
pressed enough Ijelow the level of that road to allow the steei) 
Lank or houhkr wall which would support the latter to serve 
instead of a Ijack-net on the west side, especially if sTipplemented 
by a parapet or closed railing along its upper edge. Tliis avouU 
do awav v\'ith an}' obstruction to the northward view from this 
road and would enable people to stand or sit ou the road terrace 
and look down upon the tennis games as from a grandstand. Of 
course the tennis courts ought to be turned with their long axis 
approximately north and south so that the afternoon sun will not 
be in the eyes of either set of players. The first terrace of such 
a series would accommodate as many courts as the whole oval, 
with a movement of hardly more than half the quantity of ]na- 
terial, and the plan is so simple that it woidd not look unreason- 
able or confused in design to build part of such a terrace, (enough 
say for two or three courts only) at the first go-off and to extend 
it later on when the demand and the funds might justify. I'he 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

number oi' courts miglit subsequently be doubled or trebled by 
adding- otber, lower^ terraces to the eastward. 

As to the plan for cottages facing toward the Dining Hall 
and backing upon Park Avenue (the Base Line Eoad), about 
which we were questioned, we are in some doubt. Unless a 
reserved space of some width is left between the street and the 
backs of the cottages and is well planted out, there is a danger 
that the effect upon the general public and upon those approach- 
ing the grounds by electric car would not be altogether agreeable; 
and further uidess some rather heavy grading were done the cot- 
tages themselves might appear to be rather below the road on 
which they were facing, or at all events too much below the bank 
on the uphill side of it. On the whole we are inclined to think 
it would l)e better to omit this row of cottage sites and use this 
part of the grouiuls ultimately for such general purposes as tennis 
and basketball courts, a little children's playground, and general 
park purposes in which the public entering at the adjacent gate 
is more interested than in the cottages. The best opportunity for 
the institution to expand in case of need is westward, and the land 
belonging to the city in that direction ought to be held with such 
possible expansion in view. 

Up the hill to the southwest beyond the reservoir there is 
a change in the character of the topography and scener}^, and it 
seems to us of the utmost importance to maintain a pronounced 
and sharply defined difference in treatment. The Chautauqua 
grounds ought to be nicelv kept, orderly, trim, thoroughly 
domesticated in character. If they are expanded from time to 
time by taking in additional pieces of land, this character of treat- 
ment should be extended also, but always they should have a w^ell- 
marked boundary and once across that boundary all domestic 
niceness of finish and especially all garden-like planting, or lawn- 
making or decoration — in short all sophistication whatever — 
should be loft behind. 



The City Forest 

In the great tract of unspoiled foot-liill scenery lying above 
and beyond the Chautauqua grounds Boulder has a priceless pos- 
session. It may be that only a comparatively small proportion 
of the citizens have learned to make full use of it. Indeed most 
of it is as yet so ill-provided Avitli means of access that it is very 
difficult to reach it at all. But as paths and well planned roads 
are gradually extended through the tract it will become possible 
for anyone to traverse in the course of two hours' leisurely walk- 
ing or driving, as beautiful, wild and refreshing scenery as any 
that thousands upon thousands of busy, hard-working Americans 
spend largely of their money and time to enjoy by traveling thou- 
sands of miles from home. 

We have little specific advice to offer beyond the caution not 
to spoil what a bountiful nattire has provided. The qttalities 
that make such scenery precious are subtle and difficult to 
analyze. Verdure of a richer quality than these foot-hills have 
to show may be found in every commonplace suburb in the coun- 
try; handsomer trees abound throughout at least three-qttarters 
of the United States; taller and more precipitotts cliffs, deeper 
chasms, are to be found along the canons of Wall Street and 
Broadway and in the business districts of other great centers of 
popttlation throughout the cottntry. But on the foothills of 
Boulder, beside the intrinsic beauty of color and form and tex- 
ture in the wonderfully sculptured surfaces of earth, in the rock 
masses and in the vegetation; beside the impression of spacious- 
ness and freedom derived from the height of the peaks, the depth 
of the valleys and the breadth of sweeping outlook over iniles 
of varied open plain; there is beyond all that, a sense of escape 
from the tiresome evidences of the httman management of cver}'- 
thing in sight Avhich pervades all civilized life and especially life 
in cities. The more higbly civilized our life becomes and tho 
more skillfully and perfectly all our affairs are managed by humnn 
agencies, the more we come to value the means of securing occa- 
sional relief from the insistent pressure of human contact and 

97 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVE^IENT ASSOCIATION 

cdiitrol. Tliorei'ore the one |)rinri])lc before all others that should 
control the management of Boulder's City Forest in the foot-hills, 
is to avoid every single thing that would obtrude the idea of 
human control of the scenery, except insofar as is necessary to 
provide convenient means of making the scenery accessible. 
Eoads and paths, well planned, on easy grades, to lead people 
v.'ithout undue effort to tlie most lovely points of view are cer- 
tainly needed. But they should be so designed as to be as unob- 
trusive as |)ossible and from the very edge of the traveled way, 
if possible, Xature should appear to be in full comniand. Some- 
times to accomplish this end may require more interference with 
nature at the time of constructing the road or path than the 
businesslike engineer woidd regard as lu'cessary. The minimum 
of construction, for example, might leave a raw, stiff, artificial 
bank of earth beside the traveled way some twenty feet in Avidtli, 
of such a character that the jirocesses of nature would not subdue 
it and bring it into harmony with the rest of the hillside for sev- 
eral generations if unassisted, Avhereas by flattening and modelling 
the Ijank and merging its edge with the surface beyond, the way 
might be prepared for nature to repossess the surface in a short 
time, leaving the traveled way itself as the only conspicuous mark 
of dominant Imman interference. But very oftc-n in such rough 
and rocky ground, especially on steep side-hills, a rough wall to 
support the lower side of the road leaves the least conspicuous 
mark of luim;in interference beyond the traveled way. and has the 
great advantage of stopping sharply and not "dril:)bling"" out over 
the landscape. Other human structures may be needed here and 
there in time, bridges and shelters for example. But any such 
things should have two invariable characteristics; unobtrusiveness 
in design, material and color, depending in detail upon the nature 
of the immediate background and surroundings; and such per- 
manence of character that nature can have time to adopt them as 
her own by the processes of surface Aveathering and the growth 
of lichens and of larger vegetation upon and about them, long be- 
fore they are so far decayed as to need renewal. 

Above all no single thing should ever be done within the 
limits of the City Forest with a view to decoration, for human 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

decorations are 1)ouik1 to l)e trivial and distractin.^:- if a[>iiliril to 
nature on this great ^eale. 

To guard against the del'aeenient of tlie Toothills by lire or 
!)}• careless private exploitation the area now controlled In' the 
city ought to be gradually and systematically extended so as to 
include all of the frontal escarpment directly in view of the city, 
reaching southward beyond South Boulder Peak and northward 
to the vicinity of Two ^file C*anon. So much of this land as 
is still in the hands of the Government ought to be secured as 
a gift on condition that it be held forever as a public forest. 

A plan ought to be devised for a system of first-class roads 
on easy grades leading through the most interesting passages of 
^cenery that can thus be made accessible; and then each year as 
]niudi road should he built, according to plan, as the city feels 
ready to pay for. Walking trails, being so much more flexible 
in location and so much cheaper to build need not be so thor- 
oughly pilanned in advance. Ijut a certain amount of planning and 
construction of trails should be done each year as well. 

One other small improvement of some importance is the 
establishment of conveniences for picnicing at certain selected 
points, especially at points where water is available. At these 
points convenient stone hearths should be prepared so situated 
and designed as to minimize to the utmost the danger of tho 
spread of fire, and a supply of firewood should be kept on hand 
so that every inducement will be offered to the '"beefsteak 
parties" and to campers to use these points and no others for 
fires. Stringent rules should then he pniblished agninst the 
making of fires except at the designated camping places. 

When we urged above that beyond building necessary roads 
and structures nothing should he done in the forest that would 
obtrude the idea of human control, we did not mean to imply 
that nothing at all sliould be done to it. Protection against fire 
is an essential, and the utilization and sale of the timber as it 
ripens to merchantable size is a reasonable and proper use of the 
forest, ])rovided it be done in a conservative maimer and with due 
regard to certain special passages of scenery where venerable and 
even decrepit trees are important elements of scenic value. 

99 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

Indeed there are thousands of places where the present con- 
dition of sparse small tree growth, by permitting an unobstructed 
outlook from road, path or other special vantage point, offers 
greater enjoyment of scenery than would be the case were the 
trees to grow to full size and density of stand. The new forest 
growth is spreading steadily down over the lower slopes and thick- 
ening above, and throughout a large jiart of the reservation the 
time will soon be ripe to begin systematic thinnings and cuttings, 
whether the matter be regarded mainly from the point of view 
of scenic enjoyment, as we believe it should, or from the stand- 
point of economic forestry. While we believe that the ordinary 
considerations of economic forestry should here be secondary, we 
can see no reason why they should be wholly disregarded; and 
with the steadily rising price of timber there is no reason why the 
forest should not, iinder proper management, bring in a small 
return from timber sales, sufficient, presumably, to pay the 
expenses of protection and care, so that the city would be bur- 
dened only with the cost of such improvements as new roads and 
Trails. 

Another small source of income which can be utilized to the 
distinct advantage of the scenery is the grazing privilege. There 
are a numl)er of tracts, especially on the lower slopes and on the 
mesas, where persistent grazing, if properly regulated as to 
amount, will tend to extend and maintain one of the most beau- 
tiful types of quiet landscape that can, anywhere be found, the 
park type of landscape in the true sense of that misused word, 
a type of smooth-ero])ped pastoral land merging into open wood- 
land with scattered trees and groups of trees and shady groves 
and open sunny glades intermingling and merging one into the 
other in a succession of charming picturesque compositions of end- 
less variety and beauty. 

It is to be hoped that the people of Boulder will never he 
beguiled into permitting the establishment upon Flagstaff Moun- 
tain, or elsewhere in the midst of the Municipal Forest, of a 
so-called amusement i)ark such as hasi been proposed in connec- 
tion Avith a project of an inclined railway. This is not because 
we have any objection to amusement parks as such; we have laid 

100 



THE FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED JR. REPORT 

them out and we fully appreciate the amount of pleasure they 
can give. xVlso we fully appreciate the fact that if they occupy 
sites of peculiar natural interest they will draw larger crowds than 
otherwise; for many are attracted l)y, points of natural interest 
made easily accessible who would not go out of their way for the 
''amusements" alone, although when they are on the spot they 
are apt to follow the herd and leave their share of nickels behind. 
Tlie promoters of the shows and the transportation companies 
gain from this combination and those who go primarily for the 
sake of the amusements get a mild flavoring of the sauce of 
scenery along with their salad of varied excitements and amuse- 
ments. The people who go primarily for the sake of the scenery 
are apt to be in doubt whether they are the more pleased to have 
it accessible or the more disgusted to have their attention dis- 
tracted by so many incongnious sights and sounds. 

The enjoyment of scenery is a good deal like the enjoyment 
of music. A great many people, probably the majority of people, 
are rather pleased to hear music, if it is not too loud or too 
absorbing, when they are at a gay dinner party and busily engaged 
in chatting and eating their dinner. It is the habit of some of 
the vulgar rich to treat the best of opera music in the same way, 
as a mere sauce to conversation in their boxes. But no one who 
really enjoys music wants to be distracted from a great per- 
former's playing by conversation or dinner or a game of billiards 
or any of a thousand and one things that he might be glad to 
do at some other time and place. 

The scenery of Flagstaff Mountain is too noble, too magnifi- 
cent, too precious, to be wasted in serving as an almost unheeded 
accompaniment to the fun of roller coasters, moving pictures and 
vaiideville shows. There are dozens of places near Boulder where 
a pretty and attractive amusement park could be laid out and 
provided with transportation facilities at less expense than on 
Flagstaff Mountain and where it would draw just about as big 
a crowd and give just about as much ]:)leasure, whereas an amuse- 
ment park on Flagstaff Mountain woidd to a great extent ruin 
the highest value possessed by the whole City Forest, namely, that 

101 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

when you get into it you pass into a different world from the 
city, into a place of quiet mountain sceneiy, remote and vast, 
■\vliere the weary can find peace. 



Public Buildings 

Tlie matter ot: piil^lie Luiklings and their location is one to 
which, in onr brief study of the city, we did not give the attention 
which the subject deserves. But we could not help noticing that 
the present arrangements for the City Hall and other city offices 
are a makeshift, neither coiivenient nor by any means worthy of 
the community. 

It goes without saying that it is desirable, within reasonable 
limits, to group together the main public buildings of a city, both 
as a matter of convenience and for the sake of appearance, and 
when one examines the opportunity of making such a grouping 
in Boulder he is confronted with two alternatives. The City has 
a distinct center in Court House Square and the thought natur- 
ally suggests itself that the principal public buildings ought to 
be grouped around this square. But since the sides of the square 
are already occupied by private property of considerable value a 
good deal of expense wotild be involved in such an improvement 
and one looks, as an alternative, for some cheaper property where 
a new center could be formed. 

The Pearl Street frontage on Court House S([uare is part 
of the principal shojDping street, and apart from the expense of 
acquiring the property for public buildings there is a strong objec- 
tion, for general commercial reasons, to the complete interrup- 
tion of the continuity of stores along such a shopping street. 
We may therefore dismiss the Pearl Street frontage as a site for 
public buildings. On the Thirteenth Street frontage the new 
hotel has just been erected, a quasi-public building of the sort 
that can very properly form part of a civic center. It is to be 
carefully considered whether the remainder of the Thirteenth 
Street frontage and the frontage on Spruce and Fourteenth 
Streets cannot reasonably be utilized for public buildings. The 
price of such sites, taking into account land and buildings, would 
be relativclv high, bttt the advantage of facing Court House 
Square, the great convenience of such a grouping in so central 
a locality, and the architectural effect made possible, would be 
worth paying a good price for. 



BOULDER CITY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

Conditions do not seem to favor starting a new center. The 
nearest locality M'here a sufficiently large block of land to make 
a really good group could be secured at a low price is toward 
Boulder Creek, and apart from the prejudice against a low site 
and one which is now in such unattractive condition, this is 
objectionable because of its being separated from the business 
center of the town by the railroad. 

Fine isolated sites for public buildings or monuments are to 
be found at the northerly ends of several streets where they 
terminate against Lovers' Hill, and in planning and acquiring 
tlie proposed parkwa}' along that hill it would be well to secure 
public control of these strategic points, which can so readily be 
used for striking features at the termini of the several street 
vistas. The opportunity is particularly good! at the ends of 
Fourteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth (if we remember 
correctly) and Twenty-Third Streets. A glance northward on 
Fifteenth Street, the vista of which is closed by a small private 
house, will suggest the value of a proper architectural treatment 
of these sites and the desirability of getting them into public 
possession. 



104 



Control Over Private Property 

This report has already drawn itself out to such length that 
Ave mnst not further extend it by entering upon a general dis- 
cussion of the pregnant subject of the control Avhich may rea- 
sonably and wisely be exerted by the municipality over the free- 
dom of the individual to use his property according to his per- 
sonal pleasure without regard to the interests and wishes of his 
neio-hbors. 

AVe cannot, however, forbear to touch upon one point, the 
matter of billboards and display advertising. Xo one can ques- 
tion that the presence of large and 
THE BILLBOARD NUISANCE f,equently garish advertising signs, 
designed specifically to stand out strikingly from their surround- 
ings and violently arrest the attention, is more or less irritating 
and annoying to most people and tends to make the city less 
agreeable in appearance. Not infrequently an acceptable piece 
of information is conveyed to the mind, especiallv in the case of 
posters announcing some entertainment or other passing event, 
but it is very seldom that the ordinary citizen gets any advantage 
from the signs and posters that compensates him for the annoy- 
ance. It is clearly a case where the privilege of the abutter upon 
a public highway to see and to be seen by the passing public is 
liable to abuse, and frequently is abused to the detriment of the 
general public which pays for maintaining the street. When the 
abuse goes so far as to give indubitable offense to public morals 
or health through the nature of the advertisement or through the 
erection of a shield Avhich invites the commission of nuisances by 
others; or when the abuse goes so far as to cause serious risk of 
life, limb or property through the maintenance of structurally 
dangerous or inflammable billboards; then the courts will protect 
a complainant under the law of nuisance, if anybody is willing to 
take the trouble to go to law about a matter which is everybody's 
business and therefore nobody's business. In our easy-going 
American way most of iis hate to take an unpleasant initiative, or 
to risk getting the reputation of being fault-finding busy-bodies; 

105 



BOULDER CITY niPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION 

so we do not get tlio I'clief ami protection I'rom sudi miisanees 
^vhiell we jniglit get even under the coinnion law. But the rourts 
are, i)roperly, so conservative and cautious about arl)itrarily inter- 
fering witli an individual's use of his own property tliat tlie alnise 
has to he a crying and outrageous one hefore the courts will order 
it to he ahated under the law of nuisances. And. up to that point 
there is now ]io relief or mitigation of the abuse. The most 
effective way to deal with it ap]iears to be by license and taxa- 
tion^ the same metliod that is used to control many other busi- 
ness enterprises Avhich are legitimate but liable to abuse. 

The re(|uiremeut of a license before any sign may be ]»ublic]y 
exhibited, (jther than one relating to business carried on upon the 
premises; the rec|iiirement that anv sign or structure for the sup- 
port and exhibition of signs or posters which may be erected under 
the license shall be securely built, and of fireproof material (gal- 
vanized iron is commonly used) ; the imposition of a reasonably 
heavy annual license tax based i"i}K)n the size of the sign or hill- 
board authorized by the license; and a proviso that the license may 
1)6 revoked or suspended at the discretion of the licensing author- 
ity in case any immoral, indecent or fraudulent advertisement is 
exhibited; these measui'cs are legally ])racticable and will lend to 
keep the abiises of the Ijusiness within bounds. 

In closing this long and discursive report we Iteg to express 
the pleasure and interest we took in our visit to Boulder, brief 
as it was, and the interest with which we look forward to the 
results of a fuller awakening of the citizens to the peculiar oppor- 
tunities of the situation and to the need of a progressive munic- 
ipal policy in consei'ving and developing them. 

Eespectfully submitted, 

OLMSTED BEOTHEES, 
Landscape Architects. 
Brookline. !Mass. 
Xov. !Hh. lOOS. 



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