S. H Clay.

City building a citation of methods in use in more than one hundred cities for the solution of important problems in the progressive growth of the American municipality online

. (page 13 of 19)
Online LibraryS. H ClayCity building a citation of methods in use in more than one hundred cities for the solution of important problems in the progressive growth of the American municipality → online text (page 13 of 19)
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physically weak and mentally defective children, may have opportunity for out-
door play when the grounds are not crowded with school children ;

That $300 given for rubber balls, jumping ropes, etc., which will supply a
thousand or more children a whole year with practical lessons in the care of
public property, unselfishness, etc., will bring better return to the government
than an equal amount spent for hospitals, prisons, children's courts, or other
reknedial institutions ;

That playgrounds should be developed into centers of civic usefulness.

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The City Beautiful. 109


A beautiful city is a joy forever, is a pleasant place in which to live and do ^
business. Therefore, it possesses in its beauty an advantage beyond estimate for
attracting new people and business. Ornamentation of a city by its citizens is
an investment which will yield incalculable dividends in contentment and where
people are contented they are willing to remain.

Every city may make itself beautiful if it desires to develop the natural
opportunities of which each is possessed. No city should be without its parks,
which become beautiful nature retreats in the midst of the busy hum of indus-
try where the business man may linger for a few minutes on his way home from
a day of toIT and in thuirtew moments go back in retrospection to the boyhoojj^
days when his hours were spent close to nature's heart.

How much good does it do for the man who is typically American — there-
fore working always under forced draught — to hear the calls of the birds, to see
the peaceful life in the foliage of the trees and to breathe an atmosphere laden
with the delicious aroma of blooming flowers ! Such a taste of real life, he gets
from a halt in a park. It is impossible for him — a human being — ^to be entirely
impervious tp the insinuating, insistent, subtle influence of such beauty.

Ornamentation of a city, or rather the development of a city's possibilities
has the effect upon that city's people of making them better fit for their duty, of
broadening and deepening their character, and of creating a spirit of civic pride
out of which comes a determination to overcome all obstacles in the way of civic

Street lighting, eliminating billboards and the smoke nuisance, providing
for the cleanly disposal of all refuse, prohibiting the tacking of signs and cards
on fences and poles, erecting artistic public buildings and public improvements
and in short taking advantage as far as practicable of every opportunity of
adding to the ornamental beauty of the city belong to this subject.

The boulevards and parkways in the vicinity of Boston are synonyms of
beauty and are a constant source of pleasure and pride to those who daily make
use of them. Many of them resemble the plans in vogue in many European
cities. On the outer edges are walks for pedestrians with accompanying strips
of well kept lawns in which are planted various kinds of shade trees. Next lin
toward the center are bridle paths for horseback riding. These paths are many
times constructed of cinders so as to give a softer and surer footing for horses
than the hard, smooth surface of the regular driveways which are separated
from these bridle paths by another row of shade trees and strip of lawn. The
center of the whole is occupied by the trolley lines. The spaces between the rails
are grass sown and instead of ties and rock ballasting shocking the eye in such
a vista, the greensward relieves and softens the whole.

Of late years the t:are of shade trees has become such an important matter
that nearly every city of average size has its forestry expert paid by the city to
carefully guard the life of these invaluable ornaments. Cracks are liealed by
cement as soon as they appear. New trees are constantly being planted. In
Hamilton, Ohio, the city has trees planted along every new street as it is paved
and the maintenance of these trees is provided from the city taxes.

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no City Building.

More attention is being paid to the artistic beauty of public buildings and
improvements, such as bridges, aqueducts, viaducts, etc., than formerly. Des
Moines, Iowa, furnishes an excellent example of this feature of ornamentation
in the magnificent civic center recently erected and dedicatd with great cere^
mony as a remarkable achievement of the Commission Form of Government,
and also the ornamentation of the river banks through the city with parks and
pleasure grounds together with a number of massive concrete bridges of a beau-
tiful style of architecture patterned in large measure after the magnificent via-
ducts found in Paris, France.

Many cities prohibit fences enclosing the front lawns of residences. They
also require lawns to be planted and properly cared for together with shade
trees planted and maintained. The result is block after block and street after
street of what are veritable parks in which the citizens take a vast amount of
pride and with which they would not dispense for love nor money. One thing
leads to another and in these cities one can hardly find a yard but what has its
flower beds filled with blooming plants together with clumps of shrubbery
arranged in artistic unison with the whole scheme of ornamentation.

In such a city the billboard finds small chance for lodgment. A trip
through the alleys will show a tidy condition where closed garbage cans contain
the refuse from the kitchens and back premises. An advertising card tacked on
a pole would stand as much chance of sticking as the tramp who was continually
being kicked off the train by the brakeman who finally asked where the tramp
was going and received the reply "to Chicago if my pants hold out." Civic pride
and city loyalty are such familiar words that their definition is on the tongue
of every school boy and girl. Ornamentation is as important to real progress
in a city as the addition of new industries.

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The City Beautiful. 111

Street Lighting

The archaic system of street lighting is a thing of the past in the modern
progressive city. The old arc system, which at best, gives a circle of light only a
few feet in diameter is fast disappearing and in its stead comes the use of small
Tungsten lamps on standards and arranged in arches. The result is practically
the turning of night into day. Besides the ornamentation of the street it is re-
marked upon by every visitor who has any faculty of observation.

One of the earliest cities in this country to adopt this system was Minne-
apolis, Minnesota. The movement was promoted by one of the commercial
organizations of that city. It was found that the city administration was ad-
verse to spending a large amount of money for the installation of an elaborate
system. Consequently, it was decided to try the plan out on two or three blocks
of one of the main streets.

A committee from the commercial organization visited the merchants doing
business in the section which it was desired to improve and secured from them
agreements that they would install the system themselves as an experiment.

As soon as this work was completed and the lights were turned on, almost
immediately popular sentiment demanded the installation of a more complete
system and today, Minneapolis has miles of streets lighted by the Tungsten
lamps set on ornamental iron standards.

Other cities caught on very rapidly and today it would be difficult to men-
tion all which have adopted this system of street lighting in whole or in part.
Some which may be mentioned are Indianapolis, Indiana, Cincinnati, Ohio, Day-
ton, Ohio, Warren, Ohio, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, New York City, Chicago, Illi-
nois, Toronto, Ontario, Washington, D. C, Abeline, Kansas, South Bend^
Indiana, and one might go on almost indefinitely mentioning others.

Besides the system of street lighting with the use of ornamental standards
and Tungsten lamps other systems have appeared such as the arch system and
the flaming arc system, both of which are improvements over the old arc sys-
tem. The arch system consists of a string of small incandescent lamps stretched
from one side of the street to the other at regular intervals along the length of
the street. The chief objection to this system is that it gives a city an appearance
of celebrating some special event because of the appearance of impermanency
which is not to be found in the system where ornamental standards are used.

The flaming arcs first appeared when they were used by some enterprising
business establishments for the purpose of advertising by attracting attention
to their places of business on account of the great light emanating from these
arc lamps. Some of the cities then adopted the plan of using the flaming arcs
for street illumination by placing these lamps at regular intervals up and down
the street. They were installed from poles set in the sidewalks and in the
middle of the street as is the common method of installing the old arc system.

The cities which have ornamental street lighting have almost without excep-
tion found it impossible at first to secure the installation and maintenance from
the city administration. The excuse has always been that the system costs so

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113 City Building.

much more than the old arc system and for that reason the city officials felt
that they would not be justified in adding to the city expense this extra cost.

In most cases the manner in which this difficulty has been met has been
similar to that adopted by Minneapolis as stated abov^. Usually the commercial
organization after making a careful estimate of the cost of installation and the
cost of maintenance per annum of the system, would appoint committees to
secure subscriptions from the merchants on the main streets of the city to pay
for the cost of installation. After the subscriptions were secured then the
proposition was made to the city administration that the city should pay the
maintenance cost which includes the repainting of the standards, the keeping of
the globes and lamps in good condition and the purchasing of the electric

There is no city on record which has adopted this system which has gone
back to the old system. Its success has been uniform and the increased number
of cities dropping the old arc system for the new ornamental lighting is prima
facie evidence of satisfaction.

The Department of Commerce and Labor at Washington, D. C, has issued
a number of special bulletins which would be of particular value to those con-
, templating the adoption of ornamental street lighting. A request to the Depart-
ment of Commerce and Labor will secure these bulletins free of cost to any
applicant. The title of them are "Lighting of principal streets of London, Paris,
Berlin, Brussels and Vienna ;" "Gas, water, electric light, street car and telephone
service in various cities," issued September 3, 1907, and in Special Consular
Reports No. 42 is a special article on street lighting in Europe.

Hamilton, Ohio, has installed the ornamental cluster system and the method
adopted is that the merchants are charged $1.00 per front foot per year for five
years. This money is paid to the city and the city installs, maintains and
operates the system.

Usually the standards contain a cluster of five lamps, one large one in the
center on top and the other four smaller lamps are placed on four short arms
immediately below the large center lamp, The star^ards are placed at inter-
vals varying from 50 to 100 feet apart on both sides of the street.

Ornamental street lighting is a valuable municipal asset because the stand-
ard system looks well both night and day and it increases property values by
making the city attractive for home makers and visitors; by making the prop-
erty itself safer from attacks by thieves and burglars; by drawing trade which
"follows the light," and by stopping the waste of taxpayers' money paid for
light they do not get.

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The City Beautiful. 113

Billboard and Smoke Elimination

The elimination of both billboards and the smoke nuisance in a city is really
a matter to be taken care of by public sentiment. If the people of a community
desire to rid themselves from these drawbacks, they can effectively stop every
bit of it but if they do not desire their elimination, then results cannot be accom-
plished until the desire for riddance has been created, and the only effective way
in which such a desire can be created is through the means of a campaign of
education, where through the constant use of newspapers, mass meetings and
various forms of publicity the public is shown the detrimental side of the

Some of the objections to the billboards are that they disfigure the land-^
scape, and the view, thereby destroying property values. For example,
directly opposite Eden Park in Cincinnati, one of the most beautiful scenic parks
to be found in this country, is a high hill which is nearly covered with tremend-
ous billboards advertising some sorts of tobacco, liquors, soaps, medicine and
other numerous articles. The natural view from the eleven car lines which
pass this point would be much more delightful than the curt command to "Chew^
Climax Plug" or "Try Hunter's Rye."

Directly opposite the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and immediately nex
to one of Pittsburgh's finest hotels at this writing are vacant lots which ar^
"graced" with spacious expanses of billboards. These boards have depreciating
effects not only on the property where they are located but also on the surround-
ing property.

The billboard is frequently a nuisance and danger to property in its neigh-
borhood. The fire chiefs of all large cities testify that it is a delay and a handi-
cap to firemen. Frequently firemen have to cut a way through a sign board, or
demolish it altogether, before effective work can be done on the fire raging be-
hind it. But slight reflection is needed to show how dangerous such a structure
would be in large cities and narrow streets.

The billboard is frequently dangerous to health. It has been found in many
cities that the spaces behind billboards have become unpleasant nuisances, since
many careless people have used these spaces as a common dumping-ground,
where enormous amounts of filth have been deposited for the reason that such
spaces are well screened from the streets. In this way the sanitary officers of
many cities declare that the entire population of large areas has become sub-
jected to the danger of serious disease. This consideration has led some cities,
which undertake to control the erection and maintenance of billboards, to make
it compulsory that they be built with an open space of several feet from the
ground to the billboard structure itself.

Probably a much more serious objection to billboards in their most familiar
form is the unwholesome nature of the advertising displayed upon them. Moral
agencies indict them because they are so frequently used to advertise lurid and
sensational plays and alcoholic beverages.

In some cities where the nuisance of the billboard has become one of large
proportions, business men, women's clubs, and many organizations having for
their object, either primarily or incidentally, the bettering of civic conditions,

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114 City Building.

refuse to trade with those people or patronize those interests which advertise in
objectionable ways. In some cases a protest of this kind has been sufficient.

A large number of cities, suffering seriously from billboard evil, have under-
taken to curtail it, or do awa^ with.it altogether. Among those cities are Chicago,
from which arises a case in which the Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the
right of the police to censure immoral posters, Montclair, Worcester, Cincin-
nati, Cambridge, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington. In the last city
the Commissioners of the District a year ago agreed to refuse any more permits
for the erection of billboards, the records showing that from January 1 to July
15, 1909, permits were granted for billboards on 182 walls and 56 fences.

Under the laws of some states cities and towns exercise a licensing power
over billboards, and the ordinances which control this matter prove the feeling
of impatience and desperation of the framers of the ordinances^ for they leave
but small comfort to the erectors of billboards.

With regard to the smoke nuisance, the best work of a primary character
for elimination is with the makers of the smoke themselves. A study of the
question will show any manufacturer that he is losing money in the waste of
energy going up his chimneys in dense clouds of black smoke a great percentage
of which waste could be economically eliminated by the installation of smoke
consumers and. automatic stokers.

Information along this line can be secured upon request from the University
of Pittsburg which maintains a department looking to the study and abatement
of the nuisance. The Department of the Interior has issued a bulletin on the
extent to which measures have been taken in cities for smoke prevention and
the means adopted and the progress made toward smoke abatement on loco-
motives and stationary power plants.

H. M. Wilson, the head of the Bureau of Mines, says that the cities need
good ordinances providing for inspectors at moderate salaries; that the best
medium for abatement is through the city's Board of Health; that the city
should stand half the expense of installing smoke consumers and that the in-
spector in making an inventory of such chimneys should prove to the owners
their money loss and should co-operate with them without compelling them to
change to the right system.

The smoke nuisance levies an annual tribute from Chicago of $17,000,000
for damage done while the economic loss in waste is estimated at the enormous
figure of from $300,000,000 to $500,000,000.

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The City Beautiful. 115

Clean-up Days

For sanitation and health, for the prevention of destruction of property
by fire, for the beauty of the city and for the reason that "cleanliness is next to
godliness," clean-up days are imperative necessities in all cities, large and small
alike. These special seasons when the Mayor issues a proclamation to the citizens
to look to it that the premises of their business establishments as well as their resi-
dences are thoroughly cleansed of refuse and rubbish of every description are
of comparatively recent origin and since their inauguration have grown in popu-
larity until now there are few cities of even minor importance but have one or
morg. such cleaning campaigns in the course of every year.

It is a pity however, that such campaigns should be necessary. In some
few cities, they are unnecessary because the citizens are so filled with civic pride
that they keep their property in a thoroughly clean condition all of the time.
But the average American city has not yet paused sufficiently long in the mad
scramble for increased population to develop the asthetic side (as it is regarded
by so many business men) of city building or development.

But competition in trade has become so sharp in all branches of business
activity, that it has forced the merchant to study his business carefully for the
purpose of finding and stopping little leaks, so small in fact that a few yeiars
ago he would not give them a second thought. He is realizing today that . a
clean place of business is more attractive to the average customer than a dirty
store with unkempt surroundings. He knows that refuse and rubbish increases
the fire hazard on his property and that he has to pay for the dirt in increased
cost of insurance.

Although the average citizen realizes these statements as facts, still con-
certed action and continuous action for cleanliness has not yet been secured
and consequently it is necessary to have the clean-up campaigns. The usual
method of conducting such a campaign is as follows: The Board of Health
informs the Mayor of unsanitary conditions resulting from foul alleys and
premises. The Mayor issues a proclamation designating one or more days to
be known as clean-up days and calling upon all citizens to give their preimise;s
a thorough cleaning. The city makes arrangement for the disposal of all rub-
bish collected from private property and announces that if citizens will have the
rubbish piled in convenient places it will be carried away. Many times the in-
surance people will give valuable assistance in the campaign in showing how
cleanliness will decrease insurance premiums and other questions of similar
character. The commercial organization and civic clubs get behind the move-
ment and all working together generate sufficient enthusiasm in the campaign as
to cause the whole city to bestir itself to get clean.

Many cities have ordinances which compel the citizens to keep their prem-
ises clean. Fines are provided for violations. Other ordinances provide fines
for expectorating on sidewalks and in public buildings, fines for tacking cards
and signs on poles and fences and also making it an offense to scatter bills on
the streets and in the yards of residences. Other ordinances are passed looking
to the questions of sanitation. The Bureau of the Treasury Deoartment issues
the Public Health Reports which contain ordinances for sanitation passed by
cities of more than 25,000 population since January 1, 1910.

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lid City Building.

One of the most unique clean-up campaigns ever inaugurated was that
prosecuted by the Boy Scouts in London. On a certain day all of the boys of
the Scouts were asked to band together and go out through the entire city
picking up paper strewn around by carelessness. The boys entered into the
work with surprising zeal, making play out of work, and at the close of the day
the largest city in the world was cleaner than it had ever been in its entire

The New Woman's Club of Leesburg, Virginia, to awaken public interest
against the fly and in favor of cleaner streets invited all the townspeople to a
*'civic rally," which consisted of a popular lecture on the City Beautiful, fol-
lowed by two scenes in pantomime. The first showed a village street — the pave-
ment and gutters littered with papers, orange peel and peanut shells — ^boix?^s
and barrels on the sidewalk, and old pieces of meat hanging in front of the
butcher shop. A big basket marked "For Waste Paper and Trash" stood at the
street corner. Along this street loitered a score of people representing the vil-
lage population ; the business man, the butcher boy, the nursemaid, two colored
boys, two colored girls, the old farmer in town for the day, and a group of
school children ; and all of them as they sauntered along threw more waste into
the street. The school children scattered banana skins and orange peel, and
every one threw down bits of paper, utterly disregarding the waste basket.

The "After" scene showed the street perfectly clean, the same people
walked along, but carefully threw all their waste into the public receptacle.
After the program, the audience dispersed, enthusiastic over the possibility of
clean streets in Leesburg.

The Woman's Club of Trenton, Missouri, offered twenty-five cents a hun-
dred for all the old cans gathered from alleys and vacant lots. But they were
aghast when they found themselves confronted with a huge pile of about 100,000
of these apparently indestructible nuisances. The Town Council, ashamed of
the lackness of the street cleaning department voted to pay the bill and, as a
further evidence of repentance, instituted a general street cleaning crusade.
The Club, freed from its debt, spent the same amount of money in beautifying
the public square and the school grounds.

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Education. 117



The Duty of the Commercial Organization to the School.

Because it is the province of the commercial organization to assist in the
development of all phases of the city's life and activities and because the future
of the city is dependent upon the incoming generations, therefore it is necessary
and vital for the business man and the professional man to do all in his power
singly and through co-operative effort to increase the efficiency of the public
schools. No matter how good the public school system of a city may be, it can
be made better and the better the system becomes, the more capable, it Is
of still greater growth in efficiency.

That the commercial organization can be of great assistance to the schools

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Online LibraryS. H ClayCity building a citation of methods in use in more than one hundred cities for the solution of important problems in the progressive growth of the American municipality → online text (page 13 of 19)