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matter, it seems to me that it should be undertaken upon the modest and comparatively inexpensive plan here suggested, and substantially, if not exclusively, upon the property now owned by the city; and that it would be altogether unwise for the city to request or receive a general authority to purchase, develop, build, or maintain any grand scheme of public docks involving an expenditure of untold millions.
SECTION 2. Railroad terminals. Equally important with the improvement of the harbor is the necessity for an improvement in the terminal facilities of the different railroads entering Boston. This problem was exhaustively discussed by the Rapid Transit Commission of 1891, which made a number of recommendations upon the subject. Many of these recommendations have, since been carried out, notwithstanding the general opposition at first manifested by the railroad companies. Lands have been acquired for the freight terminals of the Boston & Maine system substantially as recommended by the Commission; the tracks of the Providence Division of the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad are to be elevated and increased in number, substantially in accordance with the Commissioners' plan; and this company has shown an entire willingness to cooperate with the city in the improvement of the freight facilities of the Old Colony Division, though not upon the exact lines recommended by the Commission. On the other hand, the recommendation of the Commission of elevated drawless bridges across the Charles River, and of a second-story Union Station, on Causeway street, for the Boston & Maine and Fitchburg Railroad Companies, was defeated in the Legislature of 1893, although it received the endorsement of the State Railroad Commission and of the special committee of the Legislature appointed to consider the subject. The action of the corporations in this matter and the construction of the new Union Station at the level of the street is now understood to be regarded by many of the railroad officials and engineers as a great mistake. The building has cost fully as much as the second-story station
would have cost; the expense of abolishing the grade crossings on the north of the river will be very much more than if the tracks had been elevated instead of the streets; and the great advantage to be derived from a two-story station and drawless bridges across the Charles has been indefinitely postponed, if not forever lost.
It is earnestly to be hoped that the Federal authorities. will permit the Boston Transit Commission to build a new bridge to Charlestown without a draw, but at an elevation sufficient to permit of the passage of tugs, barges, and small boats at all stages of the tide. This would close the river to masted navigation, and thus cause some inconvenience, and possibly pecuniary loss, to the wharf owners along the upper basin of the Charles; but the gain to the transportation interests of the city would be immeasurably greater than any loss due to the exclusion of masted vessels from the Charles; and the construction of such a bridge would be likely to lead to the reconstruction at some future time of the other bridges across the river at a level sufficient to permit the continuous and uninterrupted passage of mastless craft at all stages of the tide.
The subject of municipal ownership is attracting great attention, and suggestions for the purchase and management by the community of the various kinds of semi-public business hitherto controlled by private corporations are becoming frequent. The city of Boston has during its seventytwo years of corporate life been engaged on a large scale in five distinct works of this character; namely, the improvement of the "Public Lands," the Quincy market, the Cochituate water-works, the East Boston ferries, and the Mystic waterworks; and it is evident that accurate information as to the results of these undertakings may be of great service to the public, not only in the management of these particular enterprises, but in respect to others upon which the city may be urged to embark.
This information, only to be obtained after laborious research in the books and accounts of the city, has been prepared at various times during the past three years by the City Auditor and his clerks in response to inquiries from the Executive Department. I have had the accounts of these different enterprises struck off upon tables and forms specially prepared for the purpose and brought down to date. They will be found in the Appendix, Tables 25 to 45.
SECTION 1. The Public Lands. The first undertaking in the nature of an investment or speculation which attracted the attention of the City Government was the improvement and sale of the flats surrounding the city. These were recognized at a very early period, not only as a means of developing and expanding the city, but as a possible source of profit. In fact, for many years it was customary to assume that the proceeds of the public lands thus
acquired would be sufficient to pay the city debt.1 The Mill Pond lands, the Neck Lands acquired by filling on either side of Boston Neck, the South Bay lands on the borders of the tidal basin called by that name, the South Boston lands, and the Back Bay lands, were the principal undertakings of this character, and the financial operations relating to them cover a period of about seventy years; the first expenditures having been in 1824 and the last receipts in 1892. A profit of nearly $3,000,000 was realized on the Neck lands; the South Boston lands netted about $300,000; and the Mill Pond lands about $200,000; while there was a loss on the South Bay scheme of about $700,000, and on the Back Bay lands of about $850,000. The exact net profit of the five undertakings has been $1,847,559.23.2 This figure takes no account of the subsequent expenditures. for streets laid out and constructed on these lands, nor, on the other hand, of the public benefit derived from the increase in the building area of the city. It covers merely the expenditures and receipts charged or credited in the city books to the Public Lands Account.
During the ten or fifteen years succeeding the close of the Civil war three special improvements the Northamptonstreet, Suffolk-street, and Church-street improvements were undertaken and carried out for sanitary reasons. The total cost of these undertakings was $4,174,167.33, and the receipts were $1,258,632.26, making the net cost of the inprovements $2,915,535.07.
Other investments or speculations in land have from time to time been entered into, and the result of these operations as a whole, including those already named, is that they have cost the city, net, $1,011,603.96, taking no account, however, of the great collateral advantages derived from the increase of the street and building area of the city. It will be seen that the expectation of the authorities during the earlier period of our municipal history, that there was suffi
1 See inaugural addresses of the early Mayors.
cient profit in the development of the tidal flats about the city to pay off the city debt, was justified so long as the net debt of the city was under $2,000,000, a financial condition which ceased about the year 1848.
SECTION 2. The Quincy Market. The next undertaking or investment of the kind under discussion was the establishment of the Quincy market. This undertaking, begun during the elder Quincy's administration, had paid for itself by 1848, and has since yielded an aggregate profit above all expenses of nearly $3,000,000. Table 26 in the Appendix contains the accounts of the Quincy market from 1825 to January 1, 1894, and may be summarized as follows:
Payments, $1,240,280 62
$61,527 27 +$2,919,561 59 +$2,858,034 32
The property now consists of 27,400 square feet of land, assessed at $822,000, and of a building assessed at $300,000, making the total assessed value of the estate $1,122,000. The annual income exceeds the annual expenditure by about $57,000, which is a little over five per cent. on the assessors' valuation. Taking the loss in tax receipts due to its ownership by the city into account, the net profit to the city amounts to about three and three-quarters per cent. per While this is less than the average return from private investments in land, yet it will hardly be denied that an undertaking which paid for itself in twenty years, which has since yielded and is still bringing in a net revenue of nearly $60,000 a year, and which furnishes public accommodations of great value, has been a success, regarded from the standpoint of a municipal investment.
SECTION 3. The Mystic Water- Works. After an agitation lasting seven years an act was procured by the city of Charlestown from the Legislature of 1861,1 and accepted
1 St. 1861, ch. 105.