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ADDRESS OF PRESIDENT HARRIS.
GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMON COUNCIL:
The year of our official service is well-nigh ended. Through your kind preference, expressed at the organization of the City Government, I have had the honor to preside over your deliberations, and a brief allusion to some of the subjects which have engaged your time and attention may not be unsuited to this occasion.
You have been called upon to make large appropriations for the widening and grading of streets, improvements which ought long ago to have been considered, and which could have been made at a comparatively small expense. They have, however, been deferred, until the growing wants of the city have seemed to admit of no further delay, and your immediate action has evinced wisdom and good judgment in the matter. Under the present administration, the widening and grading of Tremont street has been consummated. Hanover street has been widened in part, and, by concurrent action, is to be widened to sixty feet in its entire length. Atlantic avenue is well under way, and Broadway extension is being rapidly pushed to a completion. Other projects, looking to a more direct means of communication, and greater facilities for travel, have also been carried through.
During the year, the work of raising the Church Street Dis
trict, and grading the same, has been accomplished in a manner highly creditable to those who have had it in charge.
The improvements made in this district have forced upon your attention the necessity of raising the Suffolk Street District; but the consideration has not resulted in definite action on your part.
You have, too, been called upon to consider the subject of the extension of Washington street to Haymarket square; the propriety of securing land for a park; of an additional supply of water, and also of establishing a Board of Street Commissioners. The Public Library, rapidly growing in public favor, has been liberally provided for at your hands; and the City Hospital, so beneficent in its designs, has likewise shared your fostering care.
The cause of education has not been overlooked, for the school-houses which have been erected, so admirably adapted to the purposes for which they were intended, stand as monuments of your interest in our common school system. Your attention has often been directed to the institutions at South Boston and Deer Island, and the poor and insane have shared in your sympathy.
The East Boston Ferry question, which has engaged the attention of your predecessors, has reached a conclusion by the purchase, by the city, of the franchise and equipments of the corporation.
I will not detain you by referring to the numerous other subjects which have come before you for consideration; but I can cheerfully bear witness to the fact, that you have given to all of them careful thought and deliberation.
Your weekly meetings indicate but a small amount of the time spent in patient examination and discussion of them. The
frequent and necessary meetings of your different joint and special committees disclose more fully the amount of work which has been performed, and the carefulness with which you have considered the subjects affecting the honor and interests - of our city.
That mistakes may have been made, I will not deny; but as a whole, it appears that the improvements made, and the measures inaugurated, are such as will, on investigation, be pronounced judicious.
The auditor's books indicate a considerable increase of the city debt; but it should be borne in mind that a further incrcase will not necessarily follow, as the expenses already incurred for laying out and widening streets will be offset in part by the amounts to be received under the betterment law. That the expenses of a municipality enlarged in territory and population will be large, there can be no doubt. The Boston of to-day is not the Boston of fifty or even of ten years ago. She is now in the full tide of her prosperity, with means increased to meet her growing wants. For years to come, these wants must be large, and should be provided for with a discreet but liberal hand. Progressive in her tendencies, desirous of repairing errors in the past, errors which have entailed large outlays, she may well hope to maintain her position as a great commercial and mercantile city.
I desire, before closing, to acknowledge the many acts of official courtesy extended by his Honor the Mayor, and the chairman of the Board of Aldermen. With all the members of the City Government, my relations have been agreeable. Gratefully I refer to the assistance rendered by the efficient clerk of this body; his valuable services are too well known to require further comment. And now, gentlemen, I turn to you
as associates in the administration of the government, and thank you most sincerely for the many acts of courtesy and regard of which I have been the recipient. As I intimated on accepting the position you assigned me, the duties of a presiding officer were entirely new to me, but the indulgence then asked has not been withheld. If I have succeeded in any degree in meeting your expectations, it has been because you have generously sustained me, and I can refer to no word or deed of yours which has rendered my position other than pleasant. In this closing hour, permit me to say that if any decision has appeared hasty, or has in any way disturbed you, forget it when I assure you that I have endeavored to discharge the duties of the chair with a regard to the best interests of the city, and with a strict impartiality.
The expression of your kind regard now placed on record, I shall always cherish as among my most valued remembrances, and many of the associations here formed will live long in memory as choice mementos of the past.
That all the blessings which heart can crave may crown your lives is the wish of your retiring president.