conditions. Q Â£ g reat numbers accentuates the problem. In
the densely settled metropolis the problems of immigration
and good citizenship are inseparable. It is also in the city
that the negro problem shows some of its worst evils. The
The Growth of Cities 123
crowding together of whites and blacks often results in
considerable race friction and disorder among the ignorant
classes of each race. Poverty and pauperism are more
common in the city than in the country, for many unfor-
tunates drift in from the surrounding rural districts.
Urban charitable institutions support during the winter
the migratory group which leaves with the advent of spring.
Many cases of permanent relief formerly lived in the country
and came to the city with no definite means of support.
It has been estimated that a third of the population of
many big cities live below the poverty line, and in some of
them as high as ten per cent have required the assistance
of charity. The city's record of crime is unenviable and
is often twice as large as that of the country. Vice seems
associated with city life; but illiteracy is not so great among
the native born in the city as in the country.
But what of the future? The "city beautiful" is the
ideal of those who would remodel city life upon more
artistic lines by inaugurating an era of city- The
planning for future development. A second uture -
ideal centers in public health. The examination of men for
military service in the great World War has disclosed
valuable statistics concerning the health of city dwellers.
There is no doubt that the urban death rate is shrinking.
The city, which was formerly regarded as extremely
unhealthy, is becoming more sanitary with the advance of
scientific knowledge. Preventable disease, however, can
be still further cut down by greater civic cooperation. A
third ideal is that of reform in housing and committees of
citizens have determined that the slum must be eliminated
from city life. The political ideal seeks a municipal
government which is both efficient and democratic. Some
124 Problems of American Democracy
American cities, as we shall see in a later chapter, have
already adopted a commission form of government to
insure better civic housekeeping. Let us hope that the
future will not bear out the opinion of Viscount Bryce a
generation ago that municipal government was the one
great failure of American democracy.
Rural Life. â€” The more rapid increase of urban popu-
lation as compared with rural has already been indicated.
The The appeal of the city to the country boy was
past ' ever present, and in the past rural districts
were frequently drained of the ambitious element qualified
for future leadership. Country schools were often few and
poor, while the school term was shortened to meet the de-
mands of farm life. Higher education could only be obtained
in the city. Work on the farm was hard and the hours of labor
long. Indeed, the farmer and his family have probably
been exploited as much as any other element in American
industry. He has patiently suffered a working day from
sunrise to sunset, while his wife has not only performed
the chores of farm life, but also reared large families.
The farmer, himself, has endured longer hours of work
than those permitted by many trade unions. In the past,
his daughters and sons have sought an escape in city life
from the hard rigor of the farm.
In recent years, however, a change has gradually taken
place. A decreasing proportion of food producers com-
The pared with food consumers has elevated the
importance and economic position of the farmer.
Higher prices and better living conditions combine to
make his life more enjoyable. No longer is he necessarily
confined and bound by tradition. The creation of a
federal department of agriculture has been beneficial in
The Growth of Cities 125
the dissemination of better methods of farming. Expert
advice upon seeds and soils can be had for the asking.
Education has advanced with material prosperity, and the
modern farmer is beginning to see the value of sending his
boys to school. The country high school has appeared
upon the landscape. The rural free delivery of mail, the
newspaper, and the telephone help the farmer keep abreast
of the times. The mail order department of the big stores
send their catalogues to his door, while the interurban
electric trolley takes him quickly to town. Finally, the
advent of the automobile has produced better roads and
promoted sociability. Thus the former isolation of
country life is fast disappearing.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Name and describe some famous cities of antiquity.
2. Describe the appearance and sanitary conditions of medieval
3. What modern industrial changes caused an unprecedented
growth of cities?
4. Give examples of this growth among European cities.
5. Compare urban and rural development in America.
6. What is the distribution of urban population in the United
7. What are the causes of the growth of cities in recent years?
8. Give the results of such a rapid growth of cities.
9. What do you mean by city-planning?
10. How would it help solve the problem of congestion?
1 1 . Describe some conditions of bad housing with which you are
12. Give the effects of such conditions upon the public health and
13. Give some remedial suggestions.
14. What do you think of municipal tenements and corporation
126 Problems of American Democracy
15. What should housing legislation prohibit and what should it
16. Show the relation between public utilities and city health.
17. Show some definite ways in which pure food laws protect the
18. Why is a social service department a valuable addition to a
19. What social ills are intensified in a city?
20. How do city and country compare in poverty and crime?
21. What should be the ideals of the future city?
22. Describe the change which has taken place in rural life.
TOPICS FOR SPECIAL REPORT
1. The rise of cities in the Middle Ages.
2. The Industrial Revolution and the growth of modern cities.
3. Immigration in relation to cities.
4. Housing conditions in your community.
5. Your water supply.
6. "How the other half live."
7. The water fronts of French and German cities.
8. The activities of a department of public health.
9. City-planning in America â€” its progress and advantages.
10. European versus American cities.
Bailey, L. H. The Country Life Movement in the United States.
Godfrey, H. Health of the City.
Rhs, J. How the Other Half Live.
Robinson, C. M. Modern Civic Art.
Rowe, L. S. Problems of City Government.
Smith, S. G. Social Pathology.
Weber, A. F. Growth of Cities.
Wilcox, D. F. The American City.
Problems of the City
I. Government of the city
i. The city as a political unit
2. Early forms of government
3. Political corruption
4. Commission form of government
5. City manager plan
II. Municipal activities
1. Recognized functions
2. Public utilities
3. Water supply
4. Gas and electricity
7. Municipal ownership
Government of the City. â€” The city or borough is a
legal creation of the commonwealth in which it is located.
It is a municipal corporation which has been
given a charter by the state legislature. The as I C1 y
charter contains the organization of the city J^t?
government and numerous provisions specifying
what the city may do and what it may not do. Its borrow-
ing power, for illustration, has legal limitations. Although
a state passes laws, a city can pass only ordinances. Some
cities in the United States contain a greater population
than certain states. Nevertheless, their citizens are not
128 Problems of American Democracy
free to choose for themselves in many matters of local
government. They are dependent upon the state legis-
lature, which is made up of representatives of all parts of
the commonwealth. Hence there has grown up the cry of
"Home rule for cities." On the other hand, it must be
remembered that many municipal functions are of vital
interest to others who do not live inside the city. The
water supply and the disposal of sewage are cases in point.
Another problem is the occasional confusion between city
and county lines. Sometimes the city has grown so
enormously that it has become practically coterminous
with the county, and yet the two sets of offices have per-
sisted. In England, when a borough reaches a certain
population, it is then known as a county borough and
becomes a separate political unit. In the United States,
it is possible for a small community to separate itself
legally from the township in which it is located. It then
becomes a chartered corporation and a unit of local govern-
ment independent of the township. Such municipal cor-
porations are known variously as villages, towns, or
Early town government in America was modeled after
that of England. Not only was the mayor elected by the
Earl members of the council, but vacancies in that
forms of body were often similarly filled. Hence the
organization was that of a closed corporation.
Gradually, the citizens of the towns came to elect not only
the members of the council but also the mayor. City
charters were planned like those of the state and national
governments and usually provided for two chambers of
councils. The select council generally had a smaller
membership than the common council, and its members
Problems of the City 129
were called aldermen. Although the practice varied, the
mayor generally had a veto power. Recently there has
been a tendency toward a smaller and one-chambered
council. With a smaller number of members, it is possible
to pay higher salaries and to raise the personnel of the
membership. The large two-chambered body was not
only too unwieldy, but it also tended to diffuse responsi-
bility. As a rule, the members of council are elected from
municipal districts called wards. Many objections have
been raised to this application of the principle of geo-
graphical representation to cities. It is held that the
needs of different parts of the city are not sufficiently
divergent to justify separate representation, and that the
best men of the whole city should be chosen irrespective of
their local residences.
A generation ago, Viscount Bryce regarded the city as
the great failure of American democracy. It was here
that the evils of bossism were most glaring. Political
Political leaders, in return for patronage and corru P tlon -
political favors, have been able to control the vote of the
majority. The city has been divided by the political
machine into smaller districts, each under the control of
some office-holder who is responsible for "getting out" the
vote on election day. The influx of great numbers of
ignorant immigrants into the city has made easier this
political manipulation. The administrative departments
have been frequently lacking in efficiency, and the wheels of
justice have sometimes been clogged. Finally, there has
been in the past a great waste of the public funds. When
Tweed was boss of New York a court house was designed
to cost two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Seven
years later it was found that eight millions had been spent
130 Problems of American Democracy
and that the building had not yet been completed. As late
as 1908 an investigation revealed the fact that the police
department was paying twenty-one cents a pound for
nails, which any citizen could purchase for five cents a
pound. Cheap five-cent coat hooks were being put up at
a cost of over two dollars apiece. The awarding of munic-
ipal contracts to political favorites has given rise to the
expression of "contractor rule." Municipal finances have
often been poorly managed and great debts incurred.
Bonds have sometimes been issued to meet current expenses,
as well as to pay for permanent improvements.
A new type of municipal government came into existence
with the Galveston flood of 1901. The city had been rather
extravagantly administered under the mayor-
sioâ„¢form council type of government. Deficits had been
mentT ern " regularly met by borrowing. The flood caused
great loss of life and property. The munici-
pality seemed incapable of meeting the catastrophe and
restoring the public credit. A new charter was therefore
granted the city, which provided for a commission form of
government. The entire control over the government of
the city was placed in the hands of five commissioners who
held both executive and legislative power. They not only
passed ordinances for the city, but also were in charge of
the administrative departments. In many forms of com-
mission government, each commissioner directs the work of
some one department of the city government. The
presiding officer is frequently in charge of finances.
Although the commissioners are elected by the people of
the city, the mayor is chosen later from among his fellow
commissioners, who then proceed to divide the work of
the various departments among themselves. Such a plan
Problems of the City 13 1
has been termed an attempt to give the city a business
administration, but has been successfully operated thus
far only in our smaller cities. The success of the Gal-
veston plan resulted in its adoption by many other cities.
It is a device by which responsibility is fixed in the hands
of a few people, who are known to the community and
whose work can be closely watched. Des Moines copied
the general plan, but added the initiative and referendum
as an aid to direct legislation.
The city manager plan is an adaptation of the com-
mission form of municipal government. Here the com-
missioners do not attempt to administer directly
any of the departments of the city government, manager
They merely determine the general policy to be
followed and leave the actual administration to some pro-
fessional expert whom they have chosen. In this respect,
we observe a resemblance to the directors of a corporation
and the salaried superintendent of their plant. The city
manager generally has the power to appoint the adminis-
trative officers under him and, in this way, can be held
responsible for the efficiency of the various departments.
On the other hand the city manager is an employee of the
city commissioners, who can dismiss him when dissatisfied
with his municipal administration. An amendment added
to the constitution of Ohio in 191 2 permitted cities to
draft their own constitutions, and the city of Dayton chose
the city manager plan. Here, as in Galveston, a flood was
partially responsible for a political readjustment. The
Dayton charter will serve as an illustration of the city
manager plan. In this form of government there is a
commission consisting of five members, elected for four
years from the city at large. They pass ordinances, fix
132 Problems of American Democracy
the tax rate, approve appropriations, and elect a city
manager to run the administrative departments. There
are also provisions providing for the initiative, referendum,
Municipal Activities. â€” No matter what form the city
government takes, there are certain fundamental depart-
Recognized ments for which provision must be made. In
functions. ^ Â£ rgt pi ace? fa e municipality must protect
the lives and property of its citizens. Hence we have the
department of public safety with its police and fire bureaus.
The development of a uniformed police force organized
upon a military basis was a gradual evolution from the
earlier days of night watchmen and constables. So, too,
the present engines for fighting fire are very different from
the hand-pulled and operated machines of a generation ago.
Other municipal departments are those of transportation
and public works. Bridges and highways must be built
and kept in repair, while the city is also responsible for the
construction of sewers and the disposal of the sewage.
It must own and keep in repair its own pipe lines and
sewage disposal plant. The cleaning of the streets and
the collection of refuse are legitimate functions of the
city. Some municipalities have awarded this work to
private contractors, but the practice is disappearing.
Other important city departments are those of health,
charities, and education, for these are vital functions in
any democracy. To pay for all these municipal activities
great sums of money must be raised. The tax upon real
estate is the chief source of revenue for the local govern-
ment. The appropriations for some of our larger cities
are even greater than those of a number of our common-
wealths. Hence, there is the necessity for an adequate
Problems of the City 133
budget system and some standardized methods of account-
ing. Of recent years there have come into existence in
various cities bureaus of municipal research. These
organizations, which are privately financed and directed,
study municipal problems and make suggestions for civic
betterment. A new day may be dawning in municipal
affairs in which men will proudly say in the words of the
Apostle Paul, "I am a citizen of no mean city."
Besides the recognized municipal functions which the
city cannot escape, there are other activities of a semi-
public nature. These include the furnishing of Public
water, gas, electricity, and the means of trans- utmties -
portation and communication. Although frequently per-
formed by private corporations, the nature of the service
here rendered is so essential to the community that some
sort of government regulation is imperative. Hence the
term public utility is applied to this group of necessities.
If the commodity or service were not essential, the public
could cease its consumption. When there is no possibility
of substitution, however, "Mr. Common People" must
accept the service rendered and pay the price demanded.
Besides these social and political characteristics, there is
an economic aspect of the problem. Public utilities are
natural monopolies, that is, their very nature makes com-
petition impracticable. For illustration, it would be very
costly to build parallel trolley lines or to install water
pipes of separate companies on the same street. Compet-
ing telephone companies in the same city not only make
necessary a duplication of poles, wires, and exchange
stations, but also force individuals to subscribe to both
companies in order to secure effective service. Competi-
tion between public service corporations has proved disas-
134 Problems of American Democracy
troiis in the past. They have finally been forced to
combine and to raise the rates in order, not only to recom-
pense themselves for the cheap rates during the period of
competition, but also to pay for the duplication of equip-
ment. For these reasons public service commissions have
frequently refused to grant a franchise to a new public
service corporation when another similar company was
operating in the same district.
The importance of a pure and adequate water supply to
the community makes this service an essential public
Water utility. With the growth of cities, it has become
supply. increasingly difficult to find a source of water
which is both adequate in supply and free from impurities.
Rivers are regarded with suspicion because other cities
farther up the stream may have used the channel for
sewage disposal. The city of Los Angeles brings its water
through huge conduits a distance of two hundred and fifty
miles down the mountains and across the desert. Inci-
dentally this also furnishes a source of hydro-electricity.
Other cities dependent upon rivers have built great filtra-
tion plants and costly pumping stations. Bacteriological
tests are made and the water is sometimes scientifically
treated to safeguard the health of the city. Because of
the close relationship of the water supply to the public
health, most cities own their own waterworks. A second
consideration is that of cost to the consumer. Often the
revenue from the water tax is insufficient to pay for the
cost of the service. The water department may show a
deficit which must be made up in other ways. Water
meters are excellent preventives of waste, but unfortunate
in so far as they discourage the use of water on the part of
the poorer citizens.
Problems of the City 135
Gas was used as an illuminant early in the eighteenth
century. The lighting of the streets decreased the amount
of crime and helped make the modern city a more Gas and
pleasant place in which to live. The history of gas electncit y-
service as a public utility is interesting and varied. Different
cities have made numerous experiments. At first private
companies were chartered and given very liberal franchises.
Later many cities bought the gas plants, and tried municipal
ownership and operation. No generalization can be made,
however, for some cities succeeded while others signally
failed. The development of electricity has overshadowed
the use of gas as an illuminant. Electric lighting dates
from the year 1880. Before the close of the last century
numerous electric plants had been established. Although
some cities have manufactured their own electricity, most
of them found it more economical to purchase it from great
electric power companies. Because of its increasing
industrial uses, the manufacture of electricity in recent
years has been accomplished on a very large scale. No
limit can be set to the possibilities of electricity, and future
generations may regard the supply of electric current as
vital as the water supply. Hence the rates and the
character of the electric service must be carefully supervised
by public service commissions. Electricity cannot be
stored in tanks like gas, but is produced instantaneously
with the demand. The industrial need during the day
balances the demand at night for lighting purposes.
Nevertheless, the problem of supply is difficult of adjust-
ment, and the steady consumer is favored in rate making.
Electricity for the lighting of the city is sometimes furnished
at a very low rate, in return for certain privileges in the
franchise given to the company.
136 Problems of American Democracy
The development of municipal transportation in America,
since the first street car line was operated in Baltimore in
Transpor- J %S9, has been signalized by marked improve-
ments. The horse and cable cars gradually
gave way to the electric trolley. English cities still cling
to the bus, which seems adapted to their narrow, crowded
streets. Recent years have seen the development in
America of the subway and the elevated railroad. As
each city grew, the separate car lines in it were merged
into a great system. In the history of the various mergers
all sorts of "high finance" are illustrated. Some of the
early lines had been given such favorable franchises that
they made enormous profits. In taking them over, later
companies were forced to guarantee high earnings to the
original companies. The evil of stock watering appeared,
and the public found it difficult to get lower fares. Public
service commissions, therefore, came into existence. These
public bodies are empowered to pass upon the quality of
the service. They may also determine what is an equitable
fare and what is a proper rate of profit for the investors.
In Europe, as contrasted with America, public ownership
of tramways has been the rule. In order to facilitate
rapid transit in our growing cities, some American munici-
palities have tried the experiment of building their own
subways and elevated railroads and of leasing them to
private companies to operate.
The city is given by the commonwealth the right to
make a contract with a private corporation granting it the
right to do certain things. Such a contract,
Franchises. Â° . .. . ,
called a franchise, is made for a limited number of
years. The franchise may impose conditions upon the
company, such as the repairing of the streets, the quality and
Problems of the City 137
the cost of the service rendered, and the payment to the city
of certain charges for the right to operate. In the past
franchises have often been given away with little regard
for the public interest. Political influence in councils, or
the legislature, have sometimes influenced the terms con-
tained in them. Many valuable privileges, for which later
commercial companies would have paid a handsome price,
were given away or sold at a very low figure. On the other