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HON. PATRICK A. CoLLINs,
SIR, - The trustees in charge of the Bath Department submit here with the fifth annual report of the work of the department. We wish, in the beginning, to indicate briefly the stages by which the work of the department has grown since its establishment in 1897. o Up to 1897 there were fourteen bathing places, open for three months or less during the summer. The new department was able to provide during that year six new summer baths. Under its management the patronage of the baths increased three-fold the first summer. Up to this time there were no all-the-year-round municipal baths or gymnasia. In 1897 work was begun on the bathhouse on Dover street, which was opened the following year, and has been available for use by both men and women on every day of the year from that time to this. In 1898 also the East Boston Gymnasium, which had been presented to the city, was placed in charge of this department.
The success of the East Boston Gymnasium led to the passage of an appropriation for the building of a new gymnasium on D street, South Boston, upon land owned by the state. This building, ample in size, admirably lighted and ventilated, and well equipped with apparatus, lockers and baths, is in nearly all respects the model of what a municipal gymnasium should be. Desiring to provide other congested parts of the city with similar opportunities to those furnished in South Boston and East Boston, the department was able to open three small gymnasia, one on Harrison avenue, Ward 9, one on Elmwood street, Ward 19, and one on Tyler street, Ward 7. The Ward 9 building was purchased at an exceedingly low price. In Ward 19 the ward-room is used. In Ward 7 the gymnasium was originally established by the College Settlements Association, as part of the work of Denison House, but is now under lease to the city for a term of ten years. The department has not increased the number of swimming baths along the water side for summer use; in fact, all the districts with water front where swimming baths seem to be needed are provided for. But the facilities for encouraging swimming during the summer months have been greatly developed. This is especially true of L street, South Boston, where at the expense of $60,000 a well-designed building has been erected, running 900 feet along the beach, and providing dressing-room accommodation for at least 1,500 people at one time. At Dewey beach, Charlestown, the buildings have been considerably enlarged and improved during the past year. One hundred and fifty new closets were built, the house rearranged, and the entire beach enclosed with a high fence. In 1902 an appropriation of $4,000 was made for these improvements. f There are two inland districts which are also supplied with opportunities for swimming, the east and west sides of the lower part of Roxbury. The district near Roxbury Crossing has been provided for until now only by an antiquated wooden structure on Cabot street, containing a very defective swimming pool. This building has been removed, and a thoroughly well-appointed edifice is being erected, which will include a bath-house with a large swimming tank, an abundant supply of shower baths, and a well-equipped gymnasium. On the east side of Roxbury is the Orchard park swimming pool, which is of much use in this ever more crowded district. The swimming pool at Orchard park is shut in with a high fence, but is open to the sky. It was
originally obtained at an exceedingly, low cost, and is one of the many instances of how the department has been able to accomplish results far out of proportion to the meagreness of the original outlay. The city owns a lot of land in Ward 15, South Boston, upon which part of the work of constructing a swimming pool has been begun. There is no present prospect of completing this work. . Early in the year 1904 a gymnasium and swimming pool included in a new municipal building will be ready to be opened on Columbia road in Ward 16. An appropriation for a bath-house and gymnasium at the North End has been made during the past year. A suitable lot of land has been secured on North Bennet street, and the architect’s plans for the building accepted. Work on this structure will begin early in the spring. * The urinals which have stood for many years in the crowded places throughout the city have not been increased in number. The board has not been able to replace them, and has not thought it best to remove them. They are all in bad condition, and may fairly be said to be a disgrace to the city. The underground convenience station on the Common near Park street, which represents what a city ought to do in this matter, was opened three years ago, and is used by not less than 1,000 people per day. Two years ago the Bath Department was given charge of the playground at North End park. This was a new departure, but a satisfactory one to the members of the board. There is good reason why the department which has charge of indoor athletics and sports should have the direction of the outdoor activities of the same children and young people that come to the gymnasia in winter. If the force of instructors in the indoor gymnasia could be put in charge of the playground work they could in that way accomplish more cumulative and more permanent results with those who make up their gymnasium classes. As to the general public benefit accruing from the work of the department, we were able to show a year ago from the report of the Institutions Registration Department that there had been a marked decrease in juvenile arrests during the past ten years, and we believe that the work of the Bath Department has been the greatest single agency in effecting this vital improvement in public morals. We believe, also, that in due time it will become clear that the baths and gymnasia are serving distinctly to lower the disease rate and the death rate of the city. There is striking testimony from careful observers in the districts where the baths and