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relating to the collection of garbage; to the cleaning and watering of the streets; to the construction and maintenance of the public sewers; and to surface drainage, except the Back Bay Fens and Muddy River improvement, which are in charge of the Park Commission.
The water supply of the city is in charge of the Boston Water Board.
Quarantine. Gallop's Island, containing about sixteen acres, was purchased for a quarantine station in 1860 at a cost of $6,600. Down to the threatened invasion of cholera in 1892, $45,304.41 had been expended for improvements, consisting of a wharf and a few wooden buildings.
In that year additions were made, consisting of four new buildings, and a separate disinfecting plant was established upon the mainland near Swett street. These improvements, costing $56,702.18,1 have given to the city a quarantine and epidemic plant which, in connection with the other islands in the harbor, render Boston as well protected a city as any in the country against attacks of cholera and yellow fever.
The buildings can also be used in case of epidemics of other diseases.
SECTION 3. Small-pox, Diphtheria, etc. The present small-pox hospital is situated on Canterbury street, in Ward 24, on a lot containing about four acres, purchased in 1877.2 The cost of land and buildings has been $31,388.72.3
Diphtheria and scarlet fever have hitherto been treated in private houses or at the City Hospital; but the accommodations of the latter institution have long been felt to be insufficient, and the isolation of patients to be very imperfect. Accordingly, in 1892, it was determined to erect new wards for the treatment of contagious diseases on the land then occupied by the Department of Public Grounds on the south side of West Chester Park (now Massachusetts avenue) and
1 $22,638.99 at Gallop's Island, and $34,063.19 at Swett street.
2 Prior to this purchase a building on Swett street had been used as a small-pox hospital. It was destroyed by fire in 1872.
3 Land, $9,034.00; buildings, $22,354.72.
THE PUBLIC HEALTH.
immediately opposite the City Hospital. This plant, consisting of seven buildings1 with accommodations for 210 patients, is now practically complete and ready for occupation. The cost will be about $500,000; and the buildings are considered to be the best built and best arranged of the kind to be found in any American city.
SECTION 4. The City Hospital. This institution was begun in 1861, opened in 1864, and occupied in 1890 an area of about eight acres, between Harrison avenue and Albany street. The original cost of the land and buildings was about $400,000, and the total appropriations for the entire plant, consisting of twenty-one buildings, from 1861 to 1891, were $873,627.15.
Since January 1, 1891, appropriations amounting to $1,096,320.292 have been voted, and out of them the seven buildings for the contagious wards already mentioned have been built; also an ambulance stable and a new boilerhouse; and several other buildings are now in process of construction for surgical and pathological purposes.
The land appropriated to the use of the hospital has been increased by about six acres.
If further appropriations are made, sufficient to secure the rest of the land between Massachusetts avenue and what was formerly Springfield street, and to erect thereon a nurses' home and two or three additional wards, the city will not only have one of the finest municipal hospitals in the world, but will have as large an institution as can easily be handled by a single administrative force. If a further development of this great charity is then deemed wise, it should take the direction of cottage or special hospitals in the different sections of the city.
1 An entrance lodge, an administration building, a domestic building, a nurses' building, a laundry building, and two ward buildings; the whole surrounded by a brick wall.
2 The appropriation of $100,000 for land and buildings for the Department of Public Grounds, rendered necessary by the transfer of the nursery grounds on West Chester park to the City Hospital, should be added to the amount specifically assigned to the Hospital Department. This makes in reality a total of nearly $1,200,000 appropriated in the last four years for improvements at the City IIospital.
SECTION 5. Garbage. House offal is collected by the employees of the Sanitary Division of the Street Department, and carted to various central stations, whence it is sold to farmers or taken out to sea. This method of garbage disposal has long been criticised, and after much investigation an experimental contract for a small plant in the Dorchester district has this year been given to a corporation exploiting a patented system of reduction. If the system proves a success, it can be introduced in other sections of the city, unless some better and cheaper invention is presented. If it proves in any respect a nuisance to the neighborhood, the contract provides that it shall be removed at the request of the Board of Health.1
SECTION 6. Street Cleaning. It seems unnecessary to refer to the condition of the streets prior to the concentration of the different branches of street service in the hands of the late superintendent, or to the elaborate system of street cleaning introduced by him and its results. These results are recognized upon all hands; and the chief improvement now possible would seem to depend upon the citizens themselves, who, by abstaining from throwing paper and other refuse matter into the streets, would greatly facilitate the task of cleaning them. The present city ordinances forbid such conduct; but the Board of Police has either been unable or unwilling to enforce them.
SECTION 7. Street Watering. After various futile attempts to formulate and introduce a street-watering system upon the assessment plan, it was determined in 1892 to make a systematic effort to water the streets of the city at public expense. A special street-watering service was established by the Superintendent of Streets; the amount of money annually devoted to the purpose was doubled; paved streets were entirely excluded from the work of the department; and the macadamized streets were divided up into sections, the watering of them being either let out to contractors or done by teams hired by the department. This
1 See Document 148, of 1894.
system involved a complete change in the method of watering the residential sections of the city on the Back Bay and at the South End, whence had come the principal complaint about dust. Since the introduction of the new methods, practically no complaints have been received at the City Hall of dusty streets, and the physicians and other citizens who were the chief promoters of the change appear to be entirely satisfied with the results accomplished.1
SECTION 8. Sewers and Surface Drainage. For obvious topographical reasons Boston is a difficult and expensive city to drain. Without the benefit enjoyed by New York, Philadelphia, London, and other cities, of powerful river or tidal currents, and consisting in great part of filled land rising a few feet only above tide water, and in great part of rock, the soil can only be made fit for the occupation of a dense population by the most elaborate and expensive arrangements for the disposal of sewage and surface drainage.
The colonial system of "common sewers," built, owned, and managed by private citizens under public regulation, which was established at an early date in the history of the town, probably prior to 1700,- lasted until 1823, when it was superseded by a system of public sewers, built, owned, and controlled by the city.
For the next fifty years the principal question connected with the drainage of this city was how to recover that portion of the cost of sewer construction that ought to he paid by the individuals immediately benefited; it being the aim of the authorities to collect a reasonable percentage of the cost of the public sewers in assessments on abutting or neighboring estates, in order that the individuals specially benefited should contribute to the cost of the work, and that the public appropriations available for the purpose should go as far as possible. It would have
See Stat. 1890, chap. 365; Stat. 1891, chap. 179; inaugural address, January, 1892; City Document 44, of 1892; and the annual reports of the Street Department for 1892-3 and 1893-4.
been much better to assess the entire cost, as is done in most of the large cities of the country; but the public funds of this city have always been regarded as held partly in trust for the development of real estate, and no administration has ever succeeded in getting rid of this radical vice in our financial system.
A great variety of assessment plans have been tried under various ordinances of the City Council and various acts of the Legislature: the principal ones being the ordinance of July 7, 1823; the general sewer law of 1841, chap. 115, accepted by the city April 7, 1841; chap. 232 of the Acts of 1878; chap. 456 of the Acts of 1889; chap. 346 of the Acts of 1890; and chap. 402 of the Acts of 1892. Under the ordinance of 1823 such sum could be assessed as the Mayor and Aldermen should deem just and reasonable; but from that year to 1837 only 21 per cent. of the cost of the sewers was in fact collected by assessments. In 1837 an attempt was made to assess the entire cost; but this idea seems to have been abandoned almost as soon as conceived, and the scheme was adopted of charging to the abutters three-quarters of the cost of the sewers, paying the remaining quarter out of the city treasury. This system lasted until 1889, but it did not result in the collection of the 75 per cent. theoretically assessed; the amount received under the Act of 1878, chap. 232 (which was the best of these 75 per cent. laws), down to 1889, having been only 38 per cent. In 1889 an entirely new plan was adopted, and modified the next year; the result of the two acts being that only 21 per cent. of the cost of construction was returned by the abutters in assessments. This was felt to be an imposition upon the taxpayers of the city, and the Legislature of 1892 was petitioned for a law which would authorize a larger assessment. The Sewer Act of 1892 was expected to produce the 75 per cent. which had for years been theoretically conceded to be a fair assessment; but up to February 1, 1894, the assessments amounted to only 59.9 per cent. of the amount spent for construction. The