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and tracks, and restore them to public use as highways for all classes of the people. The expenditure involved will be large, but should prove no permanent or real addition to our funded debt, as the rentals for the use of the subways ought to be sufficient to cover the interest and sinking-fund requirements on the forty-year loans issued for the purpose, and after the maturity of these loans to yield a clear profit to the city.1
The streets I found also to be encumbered by innumerable pedlers and other persons transacting private business upon the narrow sidewalks of the congested district, thus increasing the difficulties of travel. These nuisances have been to a great extent abolished; all pedlers having been excluded from the retail business section, and desks and other sidewalk obstructions prohibited.
Much remains that could be done to facilitate travel by regulating the use of the streets by teams. The interests concerned have, however, taken the not wholly unreasonable position that they should not be made the special object of regulation as long as the chief cause of congestion - the street-railway companies are allowed locations everywhere; and this argument, together with others of less force, has hitherto sufficed to deter the Board of Aldermen from taking action. It seems now to be the opinion that the question of traffic regulations should be postponed until the street-car service has been permanently readjusted by the Transit Commission.
1 See Chapter 18, § 7.
The first attempt to light the streets by gas was made in 1834, prior to which time oil-lamps had been used, first put up in 1773 by subscription. Oil and gas were used for street lighting until 1882, when 113 electric lights were erected. Since then there has been a gradual diminution in the number of gas-lamps, and a gradual increase in the number of electric lights, and in 1891 naphtha was substituted for oil in the remoter suburban streets.
On the 1st of January, 1891, there were in use upon the public streets 9,282 gas-lamps, consisting of 9,247 four-foot burners and 35 large burners. There were also 2,957 oillamps, 99 naphtha-lamps, and 1,125 electric lights, each of 2,000 candle-power (commercial); making a total of 13,463 lights.
The prices charged by the gas companies ranged from $1 to $2 per thousand cubic feet; and the electric-light companies charged forty cents per lamp per night.
The contracts with the different gas companies expiring in 1893, an effort, with the details of which the citizens are familiar, was made to secure a reduction in the price. The final result of this movement was a series of contracts with the different companies at prices ranging from 70 cents to $1.50. These contracts expire in 1896 and 1897, at the option of the city, which has the right to insist indefinitely upon the maintenance of the present prices.
The number of gas-lamps and the respective prices for the same in use January 1, 1891, and January 1, 1895, are shown in the following table:
These reductions effected a saving to the city treasury of about $55,000 per annum in the prices paid to the various gas companies on account of the street lamps. An additional saving of about $10,000 was also brought about in the prices paid for lighting the public buildings, which were included in the special contracts with the gas companies.
All doubt concerning the validity of these contracts would seem to have been removed by a recent order of the Board of Aldermen, approved December 5, 1894.
Through competition between the different companies, appeals to the Gas Commission and the State Legislature, and the contracts referred to, a general reduction was also effected in the prices paid by private consumers for gas throughout the city amounting to about half a million dollars per annum.
The following table shows the reductions in detail:
PRICES PAID BY PRIVATE CONSUMERS FOR GAS IN THE CITY OF BOSTON.
$1.20 to large con-
20 cts. per M. off if
20 cts. per M. off if
1.70 Same as Dorchester,
50 cts. off if paid in
Charlestown.... 2.00 25 cts. per M. off if paid in 15 days. .
10 cts. per M. off if paid in 15 days.
Same as Dorchester.
15 cts. off if paid in 15 days.
1.50 10 cts. per M. off if paid in 12 days.
20 cts. per M. off if paid in 25 days.
1.60 10 cts. per M. off if paid in 15 days.
The controversies with the different gas companies having been adjusted during the year 1893, it remained to secure an improvement in the electric-light service of the city. During the year 1894 contracts have been made with the various electric-light companies, involving a reduction in price from 40 to 35 cents per light per night where overhead wires are strung and owned by the companies, and to 34 cents where the city owns the distributing plant. These reductions in the price of electric lights were predicated
upon a certain increase in the number, as set forth in the several contracts, and the Superintendent of Lamps has accordingly erected during the past year 790 new electric lights, 520 of which are on the public streets, principally on the main thoroughfares leading from the city proper to the suburbs, and 270 upon the Common, Public Garden, and the parks.
The following table shows the annual increase in electric lights:
And the number on January 1, 1891, and January 1, 1895, are shown, by wards, in the following: