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forming a fountain of knowledge, pure, inexhaustible and free to all. Its several departments are under the immediate supervision of gentlemen of preëminent ability, who devote themselves with ceaseless watchfulness and diligence to the details of its affairs, and perform a vast labor, the amount and great value of which can be appreciated by those only who enjoy opportunities for personal observation of the affairs of this institution. Apart from the value of the library as a city institution, it is rapidly assuming importance among the book collections of the country, both on account of the number and value of its volumes.
The rooms are the resort of persons of all classes, and the experiment thus far made of the need of such an institution in a large and educated community is already demonstrated. The new library building is approaching completion, and will doubtless be ready for occupancy during the present year, and I commend to your favor whatever appropriations may be required to render its usefulness speedily available.
THE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Continues to be efficient, orderly and well managed, in every particular. It is happily free from a class of difficulties which have not unfrequently attended the existence of similar organizations in other large cities, and, including the Fire Alarm Telegraph, the system of means brought into requisition from the discovery of a fire until it is extinguished, is as nearly perfected as appears to be practicable, until some new agencies for this purpose shall be discovered. .
Frequent applications have been made during the past year for information respecting the plan of organization of this department, and it has received marked commendation from experienced persons, who have investigated it, from various parts of the world. The Department numbers about 600 members, divided into twelve Engine Companies, three Hook and Ladder Companies, six Hydrant Companies, and the Company attached to the steam fire engine. Each of these companies is furnished with its appropriate apparatus.
The steam fire engine, purchased in 1854, has been brought into use during the past year, on all occasions when it could be of service, and when it was in working order. The value of steam fire engines has been tested in some other cities with much greater success than with us, and in those places the use of them and their sufficiency has ceased to be a matter of experiment.
In order to secure the full advantage of such apparatus, it must doubtless be sought in engines of less weight than the Miles Greenwood, with as much simplicity of construction as can be attained.
It has been suggested that additional protection against fire might be secured by introducing hydrant pipes into the walls of buildings, with inlets at each story, to which hose should be constantly attached, and that such an apparatus would be especially valuable in some of the extensive and lofty warehouses now building, and which for the most part are located in those portions of the city where hydrants could be made available in advance of the arrival of the Fire Department
Within a few weeks past the department and the city have sustained a mournful loss in the death of Mr. Elisha Smith, Jr., its intelligent and intrepid Chief Engineer, who distinguished himself not less for valor in the hour of peril, than for impartiality in advice and discipline. As a citizen he enjoyed the respect and confidence of his acquaintance, and he well deserved the high esteem which was universally accorded to him by a community deeply interested in the competent discharge of the duties of his office.
No department of the government is of higher importance than that which is vested with authority to execute its laws, and which is intrusted with the general guardianship of life and of property, by day and by night. To discharge the duties of a police officer with success, and with safety to the rights of the citizen, requires a combination of qualities of a much higher
order than is commonly estimated. Intelligence, good morals, promptness and efficiency of action, and that practical good sense which dictates the performance of the right act at the right moment, can nowhere find an ampler service than in the police. And I take this opportunity to protest against the prevailing habit of our fellow citizens of pressing the government for the appointment of persons to this service who possess none of the qualities above enumerated, but who seek the office simply as a means of support. It is the solemn duty of the appointing power to disregard such applications, and to seek the efficiency of the department independent of eleemosynary or personal considerations. The department generally is in good condition, and no improvements in the plan of its organization have been suggested.
It is proposed to make such change in the appointment and regulation of that part of the police holding special warrants, as shall bring them more directly into the service, and render them responsible for the nature and amount of their duties, and for their personal conduct while in the discharge thereof, to the head of the department. The practice which has obtained for several years past, of investing persons with police authority outside of the department, with permission to dispose of their services where they can obtain the highest compensation, is false in theory and liable to bring the officer into trials of integrity between interest
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and duty. No police officer should ever be placed in such a position as that the law to which he owes solemn allegiance at all times shall be a trust convertible to his convenience or profit.
The great luxury of a full supply of water, and the sanitary advantages which are derived from its general use, and its value as a means of protection against large conflagrations, are liable to be undervalued in the abundance of their common enjoyment. It is desirable that the water should be universally diffused, not only for the considerations named, but that the income of this department may be increased. The whole number of water takers at present is about 21,400,-an increase of 1400 since Jan. 1, 1856. The average rate of interest paid on the water debt is about 4.9 per cent. ; and for the first time since the construction of the water works, the receipts during the past year have nearly or quite equalled the interest on the debt; and it is confidently expected that during the present year the amount of receipts will considerably exceed the interest. It seems to be absolutely necessary to impress upon our fellow citizens, by some means, the necessity of guarding against the great waste of water during periods both of extreme heat and extreme cold. The average daily consumption through the year is