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TESTIMONY OF GRENVILLE T. W. BRAMAN, Esq.
Q. (By Mr. PUTNAM.) Mr. Braman, what has been your occupation for the last eight or ten years?
A. Well, real estate.
Q. Dealing in real estate?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you been treasurer of the Water Power Company? A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you had dealings in real estate in the Back Bay, so called; and if so, to what extent ?
A. I have sold a great deal of property that has been sold by the Water Power Company within the last nine years, as at present filled.
Q. Are you familiar, sir, with values of real estate in the neighborhood of the Milldam, and in the neighborhood of Brimmer and Charles streets?
A. I am.
Q. Mr. Braman, what, in your judgment, would be the effect upon the values of land bordering upon the Charles River of such a filling up of a portion of the basin of Charles River adjoining these lands as proposed by the plan furnished by the committee?
A. I think it would depreciate the property bordering on the river from twenty to twenty-five per cent, and undoubtedly it would depreciate the adjoining property.
Q. How far would the influence of that depreciation extend? A. Well, I think it would extend to Boylston street in a ratio, what, I could not tell, but I know the value is dependent upon the value of houses erected upon Beacon street, and of course the depreciation of those houses will tend to depreciate all the property in that neighborhood.
Q. When you speak of twenty or twenty-five per cent, do
you have in mind the whole property built upon or not built upon, or merely that which has been improved?
A. I am speaking of houses particularly, and I think there will be greater depreciation upon the land. The depreciation in the value of these houses would not be so much as it would be of the land. Take a lot of land on the north side of Beacon
street for five dollars a foot you can easily call it that — and it would not bring more than half that on the other side of these same streets.
Q. Have you had any experience in the cost of filling, Mr. Braman, — in the filling up of flats?
A. Yes, sir; in the filling by the Boston Water Power Company.
Q. What, in your judgment, would it cost to fill this land, taking the plan which the committee furnish?
A. At this time?
Q. Yes, sir.
A. I have made some little calculation, and I estimate that with the sea-walls necessary to be built it would cost about a dollar a foot for saleable lands.
Q. How much did you count out for streets?
A. From a third to a fourth; I think it would take more than a quarter.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) What do you estimate the cost of the sea-wall?
A. I think it would be a hundred dollars a foot.
Q. (By Mr. DERBY.) How large an area did you estimate? A. Well, I didn't go into it very precisely. I calculated for making a sea-wall in deep water.
Q. How large an area did you apply your estimate to? A. I applied it from the cross-dam (Parker street) down. Q. At what width? How large a channel did you leave? A. I only took this side, and drew a line from Parker street to Cambridge bridge.
Q. That would leave how large a channel?
A. It would depend upon how far the line would come down on the Cambridge side.
Q. You have only made one sea-wall; but then the price of land would depend upon the number of feet of land to which the sea-wall was applied. If you apply it to four million feet, it would cost more per foot.
A. I only applied it to the land on this side.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.)
filling to come from?
Where did you estimate your
A. Well, I figured my filling that it would be less than six dollars a square; it might cost seven or eight. I believe now the city are paying seven for filling the Church Street District. Q. (By Mr. DERBY.) That is eight yards?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) You own property in this neighborhood?
A. Yes, sir; I am interested in property on Charles street, between Pinckney street and Chestnut street.
Q. (By Mr. DERBY.) Mr. Braman, you have been familiar with that locality from boyhood?
A. I was born there, sir, on Charles River.
Q. I want to ask you as to the comparative depth of the two sides of the Mill-dam. What is the difference (I am speaking of the water area which is now open on the north side of where the commonwealth has built up), what would be the difference between them?
A. Well, quite a difference; because, of course, we all know that the empty basin was flats, and a great deal of it and of the marshes was out of the water; and here close by my house there is twelve feet of water, right by my house on Brimmer street.
Q. Take the whole range for a thousand feet out from the Mill-dam, do any flats show themselves within one or two thousand feet of your place?
A. From my house on Brimmer street there are probably twenty-five hundred feet before there are any flats. I think there are one or two shoal places.
Q. All the way down to Cambridge bridge no flats?
A. No, sir.
Q. But up towards the cross-dam there is a little shoal?
A. I think there is a little shoal place. I know they get aground there in boats.
Q. As to the regular current, do you have a free current?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. The water does not stagnate there?
A. No, sir. I perceive by this surface in the rear of Brimmer street that Mr. Boschke made from twelve to sixteen feet of water directly back of my house.
Q. (By Mr. KIMBALL.) Do you know whether the filling in below Brimmer street had any effect on the Charles street property?
A. My impression is that the people who owned houses on Charles street felt that the time must come when it would be filled, because they knew that a sea-wall would have to be built, and I think the people are moving down from Charles street on to this property. I don't know that it embraced the Charles street property until then; I think not.
Q. The current sweeps pretty strong by your house?
Q. (By Mr. BAKER.) Is the tide water in that locality offensive?
A. I do not know that it is offensive in any way at all.
SATURDAY, Nov. 27, 1869.
The Committee met at 9 o'clock, A. M., and the introduction of testimony was resumed.
TESTIMONY OF DUNCAN MCBEAN THAXTER, M. d.
Q. (By Mr. INGALLS.) Doctor Thaxter, you are a physician in Boston?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You practise in South Boston, do you not?
A. I have for about twenty years.
Q. You are also one of the surgeons of the City Hospital? A. I am.
Q. How long have you been?
A. Ever since the hospital was opened.
Q. Wont you be kind enough to look at this plan, and let me ask you, considering there should be a space filled up from West Boston bridge to the cross-dam, 1,000 or 1,400 feet from Beacon street out into the Charles River, what would be the effect upon the sanitary condition of the city of having this space filled up, and streets laid out, and buildings erected?
(By the CHAIRMAN.) Why not put your questions upon this point in this shape: what would be the effect of fillings from this point [the sea-wall in the rear of Beacon street] 1,000 feet, or not to exceed 1,500 feet? Or say what would be the effect of filling up north of Beacon street, five, ten, fifteen hundred, or two thousand feet? We have not adopted any particular extent of filling. If you can tell us that it would be safe to fill in a thousand feet, and not two thousand feet, we might• set it at one thousand feet.
A. Unquestionably in my mind any diminution in this surface would have a correspondingly detrimental effect upon the sanitary condition of the city. This space like others in and about the city has been likened to the lungs of the city, and any diminution of this lung must of course be felt, I think through the whole city, but more especially in this neighborhood. I believe the reason, or one of the reasons why Boston has always