« PreviousContinue »
creation of that class in the community who have not the means of riding round the suburbs of this city, the poor, or common class, who should have access to this park at a very small charge for fare.
Boston has been the leader in all the great educational, and benevolent, and progressive movements of the age; and I confess to a little mortification, that we are not now up to the mark in comparison with other cities in relation to this great object. My attention has been called to an article which has appeared in the newspapers, taken from my friend and old acquaintance, Mr. Cleveland, in relation to the propriety of parks, which, generally, he acknowledges, but takes exception to a park in Boston, from the fact that our suburbs are so highly ornamented that all the region is a park. park. Now, sir, I agree with him that all the region around Boston is a park, and a beautiful country to ride through for those who have the wealth and means to do so; but, sir, I think that these suburbs, these public roads, are in no sense whatever a park. Why, sir, they are continually crowded in the vicinity of Boston with the ordinary vehicles of business, with manure carts, with carts carrying out the offal and swill of the city, with heavy express wagons and lumber wagons and stone wagons, and all the various vehicles which are used in the ordinary business of life; and, from necessity, they grind up the road so that it is either dusty or muddy, and it is not a convenient and proper place for pedestrians, and is not in any sense a park.
I agree, for those who have the means of riding out with their own teams, that they can find the most beautiful country in the world; but for pedestrians, for people in common circumstances of life, and it is those I beg you to keep in mind that I am praying for, these roads furnish none of the conveniences which they would have in a park.
Now, sir, I have heard it stated, and I believe it is true, that it is agreed, or has been agreed, or rather it has been assented to, that our railroads, say for instance the Providence Railroad,
or the Hartford and Erie, would be happy to take, and would agree in all probability, to take our passengers once in ten minutes to a park at a very low rate, perhaps six cents, — and that they could reach the park in ten or fifteen minutes. I say this without any reference to location; I may almost say I have no preference. But suppose, for instance, that the poor people, the common class of society, could leave the depot in Summer street, go out over the Hartford and Erie Road, and then cross one mile to the Providence Railroad and return to the city for six cents, the country between the roads embracing five hundred acres in a public park,- I think any gentleman would agree with me that it would be a great convenience to that class of society, and that it would promote the health and happiness of a large portion of the population of Boston.
But, sir, I did not suppose I should be called upon by you to open this case, as the lawyers say. There are other gentlemen here who have made the subject a study; they have their papers with them, I have no doubt, and are better able to enlighten you than I am. As I said before, I have no personal interest in the matter; I have no land to sell that I ever will dispose of. I have climbed the hill of life, and am descending on the other side, and have no interest here but for the public good, the health and happiness of the people of Boston, - of which, thank God! I am now one,— and the renown and welfare of our city.
Mr. THOMAS LAMB said, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: I agree entirely with what Colonel Wilder has said to you in relation to this matter of a park. In regard to the idea suggested by the article he referred to, that we have a sufficient park, in our vicinity, from the location of our country dwellings and surroundings, I think we have not what is wanted in a park. A park should belong to the people; so that every man, woman and child, rich or poor, who frequents, it can say, "This is
mine, and I have a right here." That is a satisfaction such as we cannot get if we go into the private premises of any of our friends in this vicinity. That, I think, is the answer to that suggestion. It seems to me that Boston is a peculiarly situated city for the purpose of comfort during the summer months. We know, when the thermometer is eighty-five or ninety degrees in the city, in summer, if we get into a steamer, in half an hour's sail we get into a climate where there are twenty degrees less heat. Now, there is the fact that we have this great benefit, this great variety of climate, which we ought to take advantage of, but which we have not taken advantage of. I think we can do that. That is a subject, Mr. Chairman, that for a great many years I have given thought to in connection with our harbor; and about two years since I had a plan or map drawn of our harbor and its vicinity, and the advantages that might be derived from it. I don't know that you have seen it. I have a copy of it in my pocket now, and I should like to refer a little to it in explanation of what I think in relation to this matter of a park. This map centres at the old State House, and comprises a circle having a radius of six miles. I had no idea that we should very rapidly extend over that great circle, but we have done it. We have taken in Roxbury and Dorchester, and all we have to do to comprise the territory between two great rivers, Charles and Neponset, is to take in Brookline and Jamaica Plain, and then we have an extension of Boston which is natural, which carries us out without crossing the water; that, it seems to me, for a number of years will probably be the extension of the city of Boston.
Now, as to a park. A park should undoubtedly be obtained, I think, somewhere in this vicinity, between Charles and Neponset rivers; and although I am not prepared to make any statements from any particular knowledge of the locality as to what can be obtained, I should prefer to have it nearly to the water on the northeastern shore; that is, between our splendid reservoir in Brookline and Dorchester meeting-house, if you please,
somewhere in that direction. As respects the locality of a park, it seems to me that that cannot be decided by any public meeting or public declaration, but that is to be selected by a proper committee chosen for that purpose, who will have to take a great many things into consideration. Now, we know very well by the reports that the great Central Park of New York, although it has cost them five millions of dollars, has been a great benefit to the city in a pecuniary point of view. It has increased the value of property vastly, and besides all that, it has made the city very desirable and attractive, and in various ways has added greatly to the wealth of that city; and I believe that a park of such a character in our vicinity would do the same for Boston. My impression is, that in obtaining it the city should do exactly as you, Mr. Chairman, or any other gentleman of this body would do, if he had the purchasing of it himself; that is, he would take time to consider; he would ascertain where he could locate, and ascertain more localities than one, and then he would undertake to obtain what he wants.
And my impression is, that the competition for the locality of the park should lower the price of the land and not raise it. If you are going to locate your park anywhere, you are going to vastly benefit property in its immediate vicinity; and that fact alone would make it very desirable, if you had four or five localities to look to, for them to come down in their price, and almost give it to you rather than not have you go there. That is a fact that belongs to management, and it is the kind of management that I think must be used by a select body, by a committee. We cannot designate where you should locate the park, although I think the extension of the city of Boston should be between those two great rivers; and my impression in relation to Charles river is, that that river can be made much more valuable than it now is, or ever has been, and that it should be, not only for the purposes of a park but for the purposes of our harbor. We know very well that one of the commissioners of
our harbor has made the declaration that compensation is out of the question for the taking away of the water from Boston Harbor; that Mystic Pond, which they have looked to, is of such soft mud that if they begin to dig it a great portion of it passes off into the harbor and tends to fill up the channel, and it is so much damage that the committee have concluded it is best to get rid of compensation, and fill up our harbor and not have reference to compensation. I do not agree with that view. I think it is a very wrong view to take of this subject. I think we want to save our harbor, and that we should do so in all our fillings up, in the past, as well as the future. We should make compensation, by making room for the tide-water. I think I am right in saying that the inhabitants on Charles river, at Watertown, made application a year or two years ago to the legislature, saying that, if the commonwealth, or city, or anybody else would undertake to excavate their river between Cambridge and Watertown, so as to give a larger depth of water for navigation, they would be very glad not only to let them take the gravel that is at the bottom, but they would aid in the payment of its transportation even to our city for the purpose of filling up this basin they are now at work upon; and probably the marshy ground in front of Brookline, which ought to be filled up, and which is of no use to the harbor, will be filled with gravel.
If we could do that, if we could excavate Charles River to a certain extent, and make more space for the tide-water coming into it and going out, and at the same time make the banks of the river more desirable for dwellings than they now are, it seems to me it would be a very desirable matter to be done, and it would be a very good border for the city of Boston on its northerly line. I do not agree with Mr. Wilder in having a small park. It seems to me we want a large one, one of good extent; and I believe that such a one by the kind of management I have suggested can be obtained, and at a moderate cost,