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In Board of Aldermen, December


THE Joint Special Committee appointed to procure plans and estimates for raising the Suffolk Street District (so called) and report to the City Council upon the expediency of taking said district, as provided by chapter 277 of the acts of the year 1868, beg leave to submit the following


By the terms of the act, passed June 4, 1868, the city of Boston was authorized to purchase or otherwise take, within three years, the lands, or any of them, not within the limits of the Boston and Albany Railroad, which are below the grade of eighteen feet above mean low water; and all estates, any part of which is below said grade, with the buildings and other fixtures on the land so purchased or taken, situated and lying within the district which is bounded on the northeast by Pleasant street, on the east by Washington street, on the south by Dover street, and on the west and northwest by Tremont street.

The provisions of this act, in relation to the settlement for damages on account of the taking, are the same as the act under which the improvements on the Church Street District have been carried out.

The territory embraced within the boundaries above mentioned covers an area of about thirty-one acres, - about double the area of the Church Street District. Its condition as to

drainage was described in a report made to the City Council last year, from which we take the following:

"Until the year 1846, all the streets on this district, as well as those on the Church Street District, and the whole of the South End, drained directly into the Back Bay, or "Receiving Basin," as it was called, in which the water varied from one to three feet above low water mark. In that year, a negotiation, which had been going on between the city and the Worcester Railroad Corporation for more than a year, resulted in the construction of a sewer in Indiana place, to intercept the drainage from Porter and Kirkland streets, Wheeler's court and Claflin place, and carry it to the basin at the foot of Fayette street. This sewer was built by the city, the Railroad Company paying threefourths of the cost, and assuming all the responsibility for diverting and cutting off the tributary drains.

"In 1852, a new sewer was built in Indiana place (not disturbing the old one, but at a higher level) which emptied into the Church street sewer, and diverted the drainage of the upper part of Indiana place, and some of the houses towards Tremont street, from the Back Bay to Charles River. The streets and places above, however, were drained as before.

"In 1861, the Water Power Company, when about to fill what is now Ferdinand street, built an intercepting drain at a very low level along its easterly line, from Grenville place to Fayette street, receiving there the Indiana place sewer, and thence extending it from time to time, as the filling progressed, along the line of the Worcester Railroad until it met the Providence Railroad, and then by the side of the latter to an intersection with the Dedham street waste weir, at a point about a half mile distant from the foot of Fayette street.

"The sewers south of the railroad in Castle and Lucas streets, and a passage-way just north of Dover street, remained undisturbed until 1850. At that time, in consequence of the nuisance arising from the Back Bay, of which Tremont street

was then the boundary, an intercepting sewer was built through Tremont and Dover streets, which received all the drains emptying into the basin, and was intended to discharge the dry weather or house drainage into the South Bay, and by weirs or overflows allow the storm water to discharge by the old outlets into the Back Bay. This scheme was hardly in operation when it was vitiated by the Water Power Company, which filled in the flats west of Tremont street and closed all the weirs, the city remaining passive until February 1863, when, after paying many claims for damages, an order was passed legally discontinuing the weirs. In 1857, however, an additional sewer had been built to the South Bay through Dedham street, cutting off all drainage above; and one weir had been re-opened in an opposite direction through the same street to the Back Bay. This weir, or sewer, to the Back Bay has been extended at intervals until it now pierces the embankment of the Providence Railroad, and is the great safety-valve of the drainage of the district, although the city only maintains it at the pleasure of the Water Power Company, having released all their rights of drainage into the basin by the Tripartite indenture of 1856, which was modified in 1864, by mutual agreement, for a system of drainage for the new land on the Back Bay, which has since been carried out."

This territory occupies a somewhat different position from the Church Street District in respect of this, that, by neglecting to carry out the system of drainage established by the Board of Aldermen, the city became liable in damages to the owners of estates, and has actually paid on that account, in the aggregate, the sum of $115,147.15, besides the sum of $90,000 expended in raising the grade of Dover street.

In the case of the Church Street District, the city had paid no damages for impaired drainage at the time of taking, for the reason that, although defective, the system of drainage was in accordance with the orders of the Board of Aldermen. [See the case of Child vs. City of Boston, 4 Allen, 41.]

The following named streets and places are embraced within the district; Albion street, Claflin place, Castle street, Cherry street, Chapman street, Carney place, Emerald street, Garland street, Hingham street, Indiana place, Kirkland street, Lucas street, Middlesex street, Osborn place, Ohio place, Orange street, the southerly side of Pleasant street, from Tremont street to Washington street, Porter street, Paul street, Russell place, Spear place, Suffolk street, Tremont street, on the easterly side, from Dover street to Pleasant street, Village street, Wheeler's court; Dover street, on the northerly side, from Tremont street to Washington street; and Washington street, on the westerly side, from Dover street to Pleasant street. The present grade of these streets varies from six and five-tenths feet to eighteen feet above mean low water. It appeared, from an examination of the territory in 1868, that the whole number of dwellinghouses was 680; the number of buildings of all kinds 749 (brick, 509; wood, 236; stone, 4).

Number of families

Number of persons

Number of buildings occupied exclusively by the owners,
Number of buildings occupied jointly by owners and


Number of buildings occupied by tenants alone






After mature consideration it appears to the committee that the only effectual way of abating the nuisance caused by the impaired drainage is to take the territory, with the buildings and other fixtures thereon, as authorized by the act of the Legislature, raise the buildings, and fill up the streets, cellars and back-yards to a proper grade with good clean gravel, and settle with the owners upon substantially the same principles that were adopted in the case of the Church Street District. To place this territory in a condition which its situation in the centre of the city demands will, of course, involve a large

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