Page images

in the government of the United States, the same power which protects the harbor from a bridge across it to East Boston. If the harbor commissioners learn, as I presume they will, that the filling will be injurious, and you decide that this space must be filled up, the direct action of Congress will be invoked; and if, sir, the action of Congress is not invoked, the Supreme Court of the United States by injunction or intervention will protect the riparian owners.

I will, however, assume that half a million of dollars will extinguish these rights. Add to it the cost of draws and inerest while the work is being done, and you will add thirty cents per foot more, and carry the price close to two dollars per superficial foot.

I put these statements before you not as assertions merely, but as deductions from the evidence in the case. Now, gentlemen, suppose you have done this deed, that you have filied this area, that you have converted this beautiful arm of the sea into terra firma, and with certainly a very inferior material, unless you bring the gravel down from the country. You have given a different character to this land. It differs toto cœlo from the land on the other side; and if you have a better quality of land, you will have to incur an additional expense.

I have asked you what this undertaking will cost. Now, let me ask you, what will you get for it? Who wants it? Do you think gentlemen who now live on Beacon street would come out and build on a channel five hundred feet in width? What confidence would they have in the State of Massachusetts ? What confidence would its deeds inspire? Do you think I would trust the State under such circumstances, and go and build another house, and spend twenty, or thirty, or forty thousand dollars upon such a house? And you will have no gentlemen of the class that build upon Beacon street to go down there and buy these lots for dwelling-houses. It must be an inferior class of dwelling-houses that would be put up there. You may

sell some lots for stables, and for wood wharves and coal wharves upon the river, and some for factories. You have a territory down on the other side of the Mill Pond where land may be bought for a dollar and a quarter a foot. And this would sell for less. It would be longer in the market; and it would sell for a dollar and a half, and a dollar and a quarter And you would have

a foot, doubtless down to a dollar a foot. your investment of six or eight millions of dollars valued down by the assessors of Boston, and you would find that this land that you have filled, where filling will be an injury to the city of Boston, worth a million dollars less than its cost after you have filled it, besides the irreparable injury which is done to the adjacent property.

In the first

has many The mere

What is that damage? What is its character? place, a direct injury to the Commonwealth, which thousand feet of land, partially built upon, for sale. discussion of this matter has already damaged that property ten or fifteen per cent; and the first act that is passed by the State looking in this direction will make a further deduction in the value of the property. It is an immediate injury to the State. But how is it with the residue of the property on the Back Bay, where the drainage is to be affected? How is that to be affected? All the evidence goes to show that the injury will range from fifty down to ten per cent from the Back Bay lands, to those on Mount Vernon street.

Well, now, sir, let me ask who suffers? Who own the Commonwealth of Massachusetts? Who are the State? When the Revolution ended, the valuation of the State was some twenty millions. It did not exceed its debts. The State in the great struggle for independence had to use all its wealth. It was absorbed by the war. And what we have to-day is an accretion since the treaty made in 1783. But I put it to you in this illustration of my point, that all the property of West Boston is the property of the State, and all of it was called

upon during the late struggle. Did not you tax it? Don't you tax it just as much as you please here in the State House? It is all the property of the State. It may be held partly by rich men, and partly by poor men, but the State has an interest in the whole. And let me ask you, as trustees and guardians of the public, whether it is not your duty to regard the damage to this part of the metropolis, and to treat it as the property of the State? Let me ask you another question, gentlemen. Is not the city of Boston doubly and trebly interested in this question? Is not the city of Boston a large portion of the State? Does not its valuation reach to one-third of your entire valuation? Does it not pay more than one-third of your taxes? And has it not paid that proportion for the last twenty years? And is it not to-day paying more than two-fifths of the taxes, since you have added Roxbury and Dorchester? Is it not going to pay half the taxes of the State? Should not the views of the city of Boston be regarded in a matter of this kind, when one-half of your levy is to be borne by the city of Boston? Is not the position of Boston one that should give it a potential voice in this case, when you are going to diminish the value of its property, and compel it to bear half the loss? It seems to me that the decision of the people of Boston should be almost conclusive on this question, and should weigh down the voice of Watertown and any of the smaller villages. I respectfully submit to this committee that upon the evidence in this case the damages that will be done to the Commonwealth, in which you have, or ought to have, an interest, will be equal to the whole expense of filling which you are about to incur.

I have touched, gentlemen, upon a few of the considerations in this case; and I now pass to some of the other important subjects which present themselves to my mind as objections to this entire project. And I touch, gentlemen, first upon the subject of drainage. If you extend the land a thousand feet beyond the Mill-dam, the present drains will suffer. They now enter the

sea six feet below high water mark. They are covered sixteen hours out of twenty-four. If you extend them a thousand feet they will have but two hours in each day to empty their contents. The reservoirs will be filled with garbage, and their contents carried back into the cellars. It has been suggested that this may be obviated by a great sewer parallel to the Mill-dam, and running down to deep water. Possibly some relief may be had, but you cannot get it without a great expenditure. A vast sewer must be carried down under the level of the sea, and will not empty at all without the assistance of steam pumps. Will that be desirable drainage for the city of Boston? Will it answer the purpose? I would prefer, instead of throwing this drainage into the harbor of Boston, to turn the course of the drains, and to have the drainage taken up the stream, and carried on to the marshes and meadows of Watertown. The experience of Europe will soon show whether it is possible. And I presume that when the time comes to consider the question of utilizing drainage, it will then be the time to determine whether the drainage shall be carried to the interior or into the harbor. But, gentlemen, we can defer that for a long period. At present, the Charles River serves for the purposes of drainage. It is said that if you deepen on the Cambridge side you increase its capacity; but you must deepen it on the Boston side. For the present, it answers perfectly well for drainage. When the time comes for deepening, we shall be able, I trust, to incur the expense.

But, gentlemen, another point to which I wish to call the attention of the committee is this: that you require, for the purposes of drainage as well as of navigation, the whole of this area of two thousand feet between the commissioners' lines; and I think I demonstrate that even this will not suffice for the coming half century. half century. What is the depth? The average depth on the Boston side is from three to four feet at low water. It ranges from nothing to four feet. On the Cambridge side, the


the other. The

The depth of while in the nearly three

bed of the river is bare at low water, but may be materially deepened. The average depth at low water between the commissioners' lines is less than a single foot. What is the rise of the tide? Eleven feet. Now, gentlemen, I want to compare Charles River with another estuary of the sea, where there is a higher tide, a stronger current, and a less width. I refer to the river Thames, as it passes the city of London. It is crossed by many bridges. These bridges from abutment to abutment average a thousand feet in length. The river between the abutments is a thousand feet in width. What is the depth of the Thames as compared with the Charles? The tide is twentyone feet in one case, and eleven feet in rise of the tide is twice as great in the Thames. the Thames is thirty-two feet at high water, Charles the depth is but twelve feet. It is times as deep. And when you come to the question of speed, it runs through the city with a fall of one foot to the mile, with a speed three times the speed of the Charles. The volume of the water is from two to three times as great as the volume of the Charles. Well, then, we have a river to which the Charles is not equal. The Charles, with its two thousand feet, is only equal to one-third or one-half the Thames. The question is, whether the Thames has sufficed for the drainage of a large city? It has been a failure for ten or fifteen years past. For some twenty centuries, it was sufficient. London was founded by the Romans in the era of our Saviour, and down to ten or fifteen years since the Thames had answered the purposes of drainage; but then it was found that the drainage was too much for the river. The contents of the drains were washed back again, and were lodged on the banks below the Parliament House. And the result was, that London was obliged to incur a vast expense, and it had at last accounts expended some four millions sterling, or twenty millions of dollars, for a sewer parallel to the river for drainage. I put before you a statement of

« PreviousContinue »