Holyoke (Mass.).

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street. If when the fence is about to be renewed there
should be erected in its place one consisting of simple and
well proportioned and well spaced concrete posts carrying
two iron pipe rails there would be a great gain in appear-
ance as well as in durability. It is needless to say that such
a fence might be so designed as to be either ugly or beauti-
ful in its proportions; but it would at least open up the
views of the canal to much better advantage than at present.
In considering what could be done to increase the "by-
product of beauty" derived from the canals incidentally to
their primary purpose, it is necessary to distinguish between
those canal banks which are occupied for manufacturing
purposes and those which are bordered by a public street.
In the first case there is usually, but not always, a narrow
lane or private way close to the canal, sometimes w f ith a
sloping bank between and sometimes with only space enough
for a guard rail on top of a vertical retaining wall. Beyond
the lane there are normally factory buildings of all sorts of
heights and shapes interspersed with yards and occasional
w r aste spaces and openings left for light and air or for pos-
sible future use. Here and there a tree or a short row of
trees pushes up a mass of foliage out of one of these spaces.
There is no uniformity or regularity, nor can there be; but
if one looks along one of these canals in the twilight or on
a hazy day when only the broad masses of light and shade
can be seen and when hard and ugly details are obscured,
the effect is distinctly picturesque. The necessarily vary-
ing uses of these banks and the fact that anything done
toward making them more beautiful must necessarily hold
its place on a very uncertain tenure, liable to unexpected
change here and there according to the varying demands
of dozens of different industrial establishments, points clear-


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ly toward the wisdom of accepting this accidental and pic-
turesque quality and making the most of it while endeavor-
ing to soften and obscure, as far as may be, harsh and un-
pleasing details. The two simplest things to do looking
toward those ends are the planting of creepers to grow on
the buildings and the planting of trees at numerous places
where they are not likely to be in the way, taking pains to
use trees of a number of different kinds, having a consider-
able variety of growth as to height, spread and general
character. This variety is desirable partly for practical
reasons, because in some of the available situations a large
growing tree would ultimately be a nuisance while a small
one would have plenty of space for growth and partly for
the sake of a consistent irregularity of appearance.

The accompanying list of trees and creepers may be sug-
gestive, if in selecting and planting them these points are
borne in mind, viz.: (1) There must be suitable soil con-
ditions. If where a tree or creeper is wanted there is not
beneath the surface an amply sufficient depth and extent of
suitable soil the material must be excavated and replaced
by good soil and manure or else the planting might better
be omitted ; and the fitness of the soil can only be judged
by a man who has a good working knowledge of soils and
ornamental planting. (2) There should be intelligent dis-
crimination in avoiding at each particular spot any tree
the natural shape or size of which when fully grown is likely
to make it an encumbrance. (3) Finally, within the limits
of choice left open by these practical requirements, the
spacing of the trees, especially in the narrow strip along the
canal, should be very irregular and there should be a studied
irregularity in the distribution of the different kinds of

Along those banks of the canals which are bordered by
streets the conditions are different and it is a fairly open
choice whether to adopt a simple orderly row of large-grow-
ing trees or to continue the irregular treatment. Where


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there are occasional existing trees worth saving or in cases
where it is unsafe to calculate upon reasonably systematic
care in the future, the irregular type of treatment would be
the more reasonable ; but ordinarily where the conditions are
fairly uniform for a long stretch it would be better to adopt
a single kind of tree and plant in a regular row.

n. Public Recreation Grounds.

It is coming to be more and more clearly and widely re-
cognized that sustained high efficiency on the part of our
productive workers, both mental and manual, is dependent
not only upon adequate food and healthful dwellings, but
upon a reasonable amount of proper physical exercise and
outdoor recreation, especially during adolescence but also
in some degree during mature life. Normal children will
take all the exercise and outdoor recreation they need if
given a fair opportunity to do so; intelligent and successful
business and professional men have the means to do so if
they choose, and are gradually learning, under the penalty
of physical or mental breakdown, that they must choose —
witness the increase of country clubs and the increasing
average length of vacations among such men ; the bulk of
the working population has as yet neither the instinct nor
the intelligence to take such exercise and recreation unless
the means of doing so are made convenient and attractive.

Obviously the public is bound to safeguard the health
and efficiency first of the growing generation, and next of
that part of the present productive population that is least
provided with the means and knowledge for taking care of
itself. We shall therefore first consider playgrounds and
then provisions for other kinds of public recreation usually
classed under the head of parks.


In the past the children of Holyoke cannot have suf-
fered very seriously from any insufficiency in area of public


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playgrounds, not only because the city was small enough to
have extensive tracts of vacant land open to them on the
nearby outskirts, but because there have been scattered
throughout the manufacturing district unoccupied blocks of
land held by the Water Power Company to which the boys
have had free access until from time to time they have been
occupied by new factories.

The time is past, however, when Holyoke can wisely ad-
here to this * * village ' ' policy of leaving the children to find
their own playgrounds. If there are to be playgrounds
within reasonable distance of the children's homes they must
be provided by the city, just as surely as water has to be
so supplied after the village period of private wells has

An examination of the school grounds in the city shows
that this situation has been recognized and an intelligent
attempt made by the city authorities and by the parochial
schools to provide playground space in connection with the
school houses. On the whole the school grounds of Holyoke
impress a visitor as being rather more ample and more intel-
ligently laid out than usual. But that is not saying that
they meet the needs of the situaion by any means. There is
yet no generally accepted standard as to the extent of school
grounds or the character of their equipment by which the
actual provision in Holyoke can be measured. Reference is
occasionally made to the figure of 30 square feet of play-
ground per capita of school attendance, regarded as a rea-
sonable minimum by the educational authorities in London.
But this is to be considered not as a standard of what a city
ought to provide, but distinctly as a minimum below which
the inadequacy of the playground area becomes so intoler-
able that it cannot reasonably be borne even in crowded
London with its high land values. It is to be borne in mind,
too, that ordinarily and properly a considerable fraction of
the lot outside of a school building is occupied by steps, by
area-ways, and by spaces set apart for decorative planta-
tions of trees, shrubs, vines and turf. On large lots the area


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so withdrawn from actual usable playground need be only
a small fraction but on small lots it often occupies the major
part of the space ; not infrequently, in practice, there is no
playground space left at all and the children are crowded
into the streets. On school lots of restricted area* it would
perhaps be fair to assume that two-thirds of the area out-
side the building could be made completely available for
playing, although that is probably a larger proportion than
is attained on the average in Holyoke. On this basis, allow-
ing 30 square feet of actual playing space to each child, the
minimum allowance of school grounds outside the building
should be 45 square feet per capita.

The following table shows the area of school yards in
relation to number of pupils in all the Holyoke schools for
which we secured definite data.


Name of Building.

Appleton St. School,
Bridge St. School.
Elm ,St. School,
Hamilton St. School,
High School,
Highland Grammar,
Nonotuck St. School,
No. Chestnut St. School,
Park St. School,
Sargeant St. School,
Springdale Grammar,
West Street Grammar,
So. Chestnut St. School,

Area of

Sq. Ft.




by BId'g

Sq. Ft.



of Lot
Sq. Ft.








Sq. Bt.





























































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It will be seen that half of these schools, attended by
59 per cent of the children, have an allowance less than whe
minimum above discussed.

But it does not follow that the remaining 41 per cent
of the children have even the minimum allowance of playing
space. The high school, for example, although it has at
present an allowance of 107 square feet of ground per pupil
has not one square foot of playground, the whole area being
occupied in lawn, paths and decorative planting. More-
over, the character of the building and its position on the
lot are such that it would be difficult if not impossible to
provide even the minimum of 30 square feet of playground
for each pupil without making a rather ugly botch of the
grounds and seriously impairing the dignity and aesthetic
value of this important public monument.

But aside from a general deficiency in area and a de-
cidedly inequitable distribution of that area, there is a
marked shortcoming in two particulars. All of the play-
grounds are plain open gravel areas, sometimes shaded with
trees and in a few instances made attractive by a little shrub
planting in protected corners and strips about the edges.
At its best this type of playground is undoubtedly the most
profitable way to utilize the major portion of the average
school ground. It provides a place for a great variety of
concentrated active play on the part of children of the mid-
dle and upper grammar school grades. The hurly-burly of
such a playground, however, does not provide properly for
the very young children in the lower grades. They need
playground spaces separate from the rough activities of the
older children where they can have some special provisions
for their own kind of play, such as sand boxes, and where
they can have a nice clean- lawn to play on, for under the
moderate stress of such little children's play it is possible
to maintain turf which would not outlast a single season
under the trampling of the larger boys and girls. At the
other end of the scale, the lack of differentiation in the play-


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grounds bears hardest upon the older girls, who have, nor-
mally and properly, neither the strength nor the disposition
to take part in the rough and active play of the general play-
ground ; but it is also true that the older boys need a much
larger space per capita than the average for all school ages
and with their increasing strength and energy and inde-
pendence need more specialized athletic provisions and more
skilful guidance and control if their energies are to be kept
in profitable channels.

That pregnant saying, "The boy without a playground
is father of the man without a job," applies particularly to
the period of the upper grammar school grades and at the
high school, when energies are most active, when the influ-
ence of other youths who have passed beyond school control is
strongest, and when undesirable habits and associations are
most likely to be formed. And it is just here, by providing
adequately for healthy athletic sports not confined to the
school boys but open also to the young men who have passed
beyond the school age, that an immensely valuable oppor-
tunity exists for mending the weakest spot in our educa-
tional system. It is a mpst pernicious but most widespread
idea that education and the regular business of life are two
distinct things and that education normally stops when pro-
ductive work begins. An immense educational value flows
from the indirect personal influence on the pupils exerted by
men and women of the sort that make good school-teachers,
and to extend this personal influence beyond the tasks of
the school room and especially beyond the school age into
the period after wage-earning begins would save many
young working people from settling down suddenly to a
life made up of productive drudgery on the one hand and
of unprofitable amusement and loafing on the other.

Function of Neighborhood Recreation Grounds.

The playground and athletic field for the older school
boys and for young men, the outdoor gymnasuim and the
gymnasium under shelter, with its accompanying facilities


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for personal cleanliness, both for boys and men and for girls
and women, and the association of these things when under
public control with the influences of school and public li-
brary or when under private control with the influence of
religion, as in the work of the Young Men's Christian as-
sociation, are current developments of our civilization in
its struggle to maintain and advance the standard of citi-
zenship which no progressive city can afford to ignore.
They are logical developments of the public school system
which are coming into being all over the country in response
to an unmistakable public demand whether their provision
and administration is undertaken by school department or
park department or by a special bath or gymnasium depart-
ment. The method of dealing with the problem must be
worked out in each city to meet its particular needs and
conditions, but the first step is the square recognition of
the duty, to be met as rapidly and as well as circumstances
permit, of providing within convenient reach of every home
in the city not merely facilities for book learning but facili-
ties for the healthy development of body and mind, includ-
ing, on the outdoor side, (1) specialized provision for babies
and little children, preferably associated with park-like rest-
ing places where their mothers can sit and watch them
while doing a bit of sewing, knitting or other handiwork,
(2) provision for the active games of children of interme-
diate age, especially in immediate connection with the
schools, (3) provision for the athletic activities of boys and
men. with bathing facilities and under the control and
guidance of suitable teachers or directors. (4) similar pro-
vision for girls and women. (5) provisions for the less active
forms of outdoor recreation in parks designed to afford mild
forms of exercise in the x>resenee of refreshing scenery.

It is a large order and it cannot be filled all at once,
but more and more generally cities are coming to recognize
that they have got to fill it sooner or later if they are to re-
main centers of healthful activity, and more and more gen-
erally they are taking steps toward equipping themselves.


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Selection of Sites.

In the situation in which Holyoke finds itself, the most
pressing matter seems to be the acquisition of lands for such
recreation grounds, especially in the down town wards, be-
fore the vacant lands are all built up. No sound general rule
can be given as to the extent of such lands required, and
since convenience of location and economy ( both in the first
cost of the land and in the cost of putting it into condition
to use) are of much more consequence for most of the pur-
poses in view than any natural advantages in the way of
scenery, it would be a waste of time to make specific recom-
mendations without any figures on land values. It may be
said, however, that it is generally convenient and economical
to group several of the functions discussed above into single
neighborhood recreation centers, that there should ultim-
ately be such a center w T ithin not more than half a mile of
every home in the close built portion of a city, that something
like five per cent of the total area of fully occupied city is
needed fairly to meet the need for neighborhood recreation
grounds of varying sorts, and that experience seems to in-
dicate that if the area of such grounds is subdivided into*
blocks smaller than about ten acres each its administration
and maintenance become more costly in proportion to the
value of the results than if the individual grounds are larger.

Special Park .Sites.

Normally as indicated above, the chief criteria in se-
lecting sites for neighborhood recreation grounds are : first,
convenience of location in relation to the population to be
served ; second, a low price for the land ; and third, the ab-
sence of conditions that would make it impracticable or
unreasonably costly to adapt the land successfully to its
purpose and to maintain it. The last is a negative require-
ment, but it sometimes happens that sites are to be found
having peculiar and positive advantages for certain kinds


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of public recreation, most frequently for the enjoyment of
landscape beauty of some sort, and in such cases unless
there are serious objections on the score of inaccessibility or
cost of land, a decided preference should be given such sites.
And there are some very strong reasons for securing sites
of this sort in advance of others that may also be needed to
supply the requirements of a given district, even though
they may not be suited to so many different kinds of public
recreation as the others. The first is that the qualiies giv-
ing them peculiar value for park purposes do not generally
contribute to their market value for building purposes,
sometimes quite the reverse, as in the case of land which is
so hilly that it commands fine views but would require much
grading to convert into good building lots ; in other words,
the ratio of their park value to their market value is at
present abnormally high ; but under continued private con-
trol there is a constant inducement to reverse the ratio,
either by neglect or by deliberately undertaking what are
" improvements ' ' from the point of view of market value
and serious injury from the point of view of park value.
Moreover, as such opportunities are usually few in number
and peculiar in kind, if one of them is lost through delay
it is usually impossible to find a fair substitute even at an
increased cost. It pays, therefore, to look up such oppor-
tunities and secure them even in advance of an immediate
and pressing need for their use by the public.

We emphasize this point because we do not believe in
the wisdom of the policy, frequently advocated, of a city's
acquiring lands in advance of the actual need for their use
merely because the market price and therefore their cost
to the city are likely to be greatly enhanced if their acquisi-
tion is postponed. The judgment of the business community
which determines the market value of lands at any given
time, can be relied upon to discount the probable increase
in value a good deal more accurately, on the average, than
any city officials. But where a park site has peculiar nat-


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ural advantages that are likely to be destroyed in case its
acquisition is delayed, it does clearly pay to purchase it in
anticipation of future needs.

Prospect Park.

Prospect park, a possession of which the city may well
be proud, is ti good example of such a location having pecu-
liar park values. It does not contain a large area in itself,
but those who resort to it enjoy the beauty of a spacious and
charming landscape almost as fully as if the city owned sev-
eral square miles of country. The refreshment and pleasure
to be derived from a stroll along the promenade in Prospect
park overlooking the great sweep of the Connecticut valley
is of real value, especially to people who have been cooped
up all day long in work-shop or tenement, and this value is
felt by a large number of people; it is by far the greatest
value attaching to the park and one to which every other
feature of the park should be considered a mere supplement
and support. This immense public value is practically se-
cured by the control of two narrow strips of ground. One
of these, about twenty feet wide, is that occupied by the
path along the top of the bluff from which the view is seen.
This would have a market value scarcely greater than the
same numebr of square feet of good building land anywhere
else in the neighborhood. The other includes the sloping
face of the bluff necessary to the control of the view because
trees, buildings , advertising signs or other structures upon
the slope would cut it off from the path. This slope has al-
most no market value at all as building land. Yet for a
park, ten times the area without the view would not com-
pare with it.

There are certain other opportunities of a closely sim-
ilar sort which it would be extravagant for the city to waste
through neglect. Two of them are apparent upon a very
superficial examination.


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North Bluff.

The first opportunity is the continuation to the north-
ward of the bluff occupied by Prospect park. For some
little distance beyond the park the space between Prospect
street and the river is in actual use, being occupied by a few
buildings and a lumber-yard. In this section the only thing
likely to be done under continued private ownership that
would make its later acquisition and development as a park
more costly is the erection of additional buildings or other
private improvements of considerable value. Except in so far
as this danger may arise the time of acquiring thisland might
be allowed to depend upon favorable negotiations with the
several owners. It is likely that the continued shoaling of
the bend in the river and the probable relocation of the rail-
road will eventually put the lumber-yard out of business and
it might be cheaper to await these developments than to in-
terfere with an established and going industry. In the long
run, however, this tract certainly ought to come into the
hands of the city. Beyond this tract the bluff appears to
be for the most part unoccupied and covered with a rather
poor growth of trees except where the surface has been cut
into and converted into a steep sliding sandbank. It would
probably pay to acquire the face of the bluff and a strip
along the top wide enough for liberal paths and a, few shade
trees at an early date, before the private developments now
extending out in this direction go so far as to complicate the
situation, and in order that whatever is good in the way of
tree growth may be adequately protected. The vitality of
the trees is now being ruined by neglect, mainly through
the constant recurrence of apparently trifling little fires that
scorch the bark of the trees and injure the soil.

With such contractions, enlargements and modifications
as may be suggested by close study of the physical condi-
tions and the real estate values, this principle of public ac-

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