« PreviousContinue »
dred feet, which carries us clear of the five hundred feet line; and then looking upon the map here, and seeing the Common here, and the Public Garden there, which really act as the lungs of this portion of the city, now, then, I ask you as a medical expert, if this is filled up here as it has been proposed, or as I have marked here, would not this be the best ventilated portion of all Boston?
A. You diminish the channel, if I understand it, two-thirds. Q. Well, suppose it is all filled up?
A. No, sir; I should say there was the best ventilated part of Boston [indicating].
Q. Where is that?
A. South Boston. If you can find a place anywhere within a hundred miles of Boston which is any better ventilated, I don't know it.
Q. But I mean in the city proper; isn't that the best ventilated portion of Boston?
A. Undoubtedly, it ought to be the best ventilated.
Q. Is there any doubt about it?
A. All I can say is, I cannot say what they will fill in there, but on the plan of leaving it an open space, it ought to be.
Q. But filled up to this line, wouldn't it be the best ventilated portion of the city of Boston?
A. Yes, sir; it will be very well ventilated - one of the best, but not the best.
Q. (By Mr. CROSBY.) Are you acquainted with that portion of territory that lies southwest of the Charles River?
A. You mean on the Cambridge shores?
Q. Whatever territory it is—I am not familiar enough to designate precisely — what is the character of this territory that lies to the southwest of the Charles River, and adjoining this land?
A. My impression is, if I get the direction right, that it is a marshy shore.
Q. It would depend something upon the character of the winds coming across that territory, would it not? Going into this sanitary matter, I should like to know what the territory is that lies back in the southwest direction from this, over which these winds blow. Would there be likely to blow vitiated air coming over this wide sweep of rich open country?
A. So far as I know, there is no objection.
Q. What I wanted to ascertain was, whether there was anything in the character of these winds coming over that expanse of territory which would require the health-giving properties of these waters in order to make them safe after they reach the city?
A. I should have to answer in this way; that taking away anything that would deprive the city of the purity of its atmosphere is detrimental to it.
Q. Do you think that the area of this water-surface, as it is now, bears so important a part in the ventilation of the city that it is essential that it should be kept open, in order that these winds may blow over it.
A. Well, I suppose that these questions have been put to me in view of what may take place hereafter. If the whole territory is to be left as it is now, perhaps it is not essential; but I suppose we are all looking forward to what will take place hereafter. There is no knowing how soon these vacant lots may be filled. And I suppose that every house and factory, or anything that may be put there, adds to the causes of vitiation.
Q. (By the CHAIRMAN.) You think the character, the healthgiving, health-bearing, health influencing quality of these winds is very little affected by the fact of blowing over flats upon which the sewage of this Back Bay territory is emptied ?
A. The wind blowing over flats where sewage is emptied of course must be vitiated by it.
Q. Then, what would be the effect, as regards ventilation, if, instead of leaving it as it is now, with these flats exposed on
both sides at low water, a portion should be filled up, and the rest dredged, so that the whole of this area should at all times be covered with water?
A. Thereby keeping the filth from the sewers covered?
A. So far as that goes, it would be undoubtedly depriving the air of so much vitiation.
Q. Suppose there should be here such a filling as to cover all the flats now bare at low water, and leaving pretty much the same area that is now covered with water, covered with water all the time?
A. So far as you cover the sewers, it is an advantage; but in covering out here, you are covering the space with inhabitants, and you are widening the space to be ventilated, and removing the means of ventilation from the west of the city. That would be a disadvantage.
TESTIMONY OF HENRY G. CLARK, M. D.
Q. (By Mr. PUTNAM.) Dr. Clark, you have been City Physician of the city of Boston, have you not?
A. Yes, sir; I have.
Q. During what years?
A. From 1849 to 1860, ten or eleven years.
Q. (By Mr. DERBY.) Connected with the sanitary commission, I think, also?
A. Yes, sir, as Inspector-in-chief of the General Hospitals of the Army.
Q. (By Mr. PUTNAM.) Have you given any particular attention to the question of the sanitary conditions of the city?
A. I have, a great deal.
Q. What part of the city do you live in?
A. I live on Beacon street, near Park street.
Q. Between the Tremont House and Park street?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Dr. Clark, are you familiar with these parts of the city, north and west, that would be affected by the filling up of Charles River?
A. Yes, sir, I am; with all parts; particularly the older parts of the city.
Q. Will you be kind enough to say what in your judgment would be the effect, in a sanitary point of view, of filling up any large part-say twelve hundred to fifteen hundred feet from the present sea-wall- of the basin of the Charles River, whether left open and ornamented, or covered with dwellinghouses?
A. I think it would be decidedly injurious as a sanitary
Q. How would that be, sir? Will you explain your views on the subject?
A. In the first place, it would be detrimental in the matter of drainage, which lies at the bottom of all improvements of sanitary conditions. It would make the drainage less perfect. It would remove from the vicinity of the houses in this part of the city the even cooling medium of fresh water.
Q. How about the ventilation, sir, of the northern part of the city—say, north of Beacon street?
A. I think the whole of it would be very much affected. We have all the required evidence in the removal of the salt water from the Public Garden at the foot of Charles street. The temperature has been very much changed, as I remember it, since it used to come up there through the flood-gates of the Mill-dam; and especially since the time when it used to come in freely from the sea before that was built. It was very much injured by the construction of the Mill-dam, and more still by the filling inside of it. The drainage has been very much obstructed, and the difficulties of proper drainage much increased.
Q. What is the value, if there is any value, to large and
densely populated cities, of large open spaces, at frequent intervals?
A. They are absolutely necessary to the sanitary condition of large towns. And if these spaces consist of good solid land, with trees and foliage, or of bodies of deep water, especially of salt water, it is better still.
Q. Have you noticed, sir, in your drives and walks about that part of the city, on the west side of Beacon Hill, and over towards the hospital, and that direction - have you noticed, in the summer time, the effects of this salt water basin upon the western portion of the city?
A. Always yes, sir.
Q. What is the effect of it?
A. The pleasant cooling effect upon the atmosphere in summer time is very marked indeed. The temperature is certainly and uniformly lowered by the air passing over the water.
Q. From your experience as a physician, and your knowl edge of sanitary subjects, should you or not expect any effect on the death rate or disease in that part of the city from having this closed up?
A. The older parts that remain ?
Q. Upon the central part of the city, — say, north of Beacon street, and upon the slope of the hill?
A. I think it would. It would certainly diminish its healthy conditions.
Q. Will you state, if you know, whether there is now noticed any difference in the facility and success with which operations can be performed in crowded cities as compared with the country?
A. Always very much less in the cities.
Q. That is to say, for a delicate surgical operation you would consider the chance of a cure better in the country than in the city, as a general thing?
A. With the same conveniences for operating, the atmos