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BY M. O. STONE.
(Secretary Park Commission, Rochester, N. Y.)
IFTY years ago there were no great public parks in this country, and most of the large park systems have been developed within. the last twenty-five years. Of the 159 cities of the United States, each having a population of 25,000 or more, there are 37 that have no public parks. The population of these cities ranges from 25,000 to 42,000. Forty three cities with from 30,000 to 102,000 inhabitants have parks, the smallest park area being threefourths of an acre, the largest 48 acres, and the average park area for each of these 43 cities is 10 acres.
The number of cities having parks and park systems varying in size from 50 acres up to Greater New York's grand system of parks, comprising about 7,000 acres, is 79. Up to about 1866, when Central Park began to show some degree of finish and beauty under the wise direction of park commissioners of high character and intelligence and the almost magic touch of those great landscape gardeners, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, public pleasure grounds were generally considered undesirable, if not unattainable, luxuries. But at this time the question of park making was not being seriously considered in many cities. Soon after Central Park was opened to the public it became immensely popular, and was visited by thousands from all parts of the country. From this time munici palities seemed to gradually realize that liberal expenditures for the purchase and improvement of public pleasure grounds were not only legitimate, but were demanded in the interests of public welfare. In some cities a few strong men worked persistently for parks, contending in many cases against local newspapers, prominent business men, and a united saloon influence.
PARKS ENHANCE REAL ESTATE VALUES.
But in the end the park promoters were successful. Probably not one of the cities that did not take kindly to the creation of public parks when the agitation was at its height, but finally accepted the idea, would, if it were possible, part with its parks for twice their total cost. It has been found in some cities that the parks have earned money for the taxpayers, and from a financial point of view are good investments. Attractive parks now occupy large areas that for
years were obstructions to the extension and material prosperity of many cities; and, as these unsightly and waste places were gradually improved and beautified, the value of land in those neighborhoods soon began to rise. Twenty-two officials, representing parks in thirty-three cities, state that real estate near their park territory has increased in valuation greatly beyond the average increase in other parts of their cities. Ten years ago the Board of Park Commissioners of Boston reported that the increase in the value of lands near the Back Bay" system had been over 300 per cent.; during the same time the value of lands in the rest of the city had increased in value but 18 per cent. Land values have also risen enormously near Central and other New York parks; and everywhere, though perhaps not to such an extent as in Boston and New York, appreciation in the value of real estate near parks has steadily increased, and must continue to do so as parks are developed and grow more beautiful. Many park systems are but partially improved, and some years may be necessary to show their value in this direction.
The improvement and beautifying of any section of a city by the erection of handsome buildings, especially when surrounded by beautiful grounds, immediately causes surrounding prop, erty to become more valuable, and attractive public parks in a still greater degree have the same effect. The phenomenal growth of our cities during the last ten years should arouse municipalities to the necessity of securing land for park purposes before the most desirable tracts are taken for residential and manufacturing pur poses. There is little reason to fear that rapidly growing cities will obtain more park lands than will be required, and the danger of delay in buying is illustrated in many cities which find, when they are forced to consider the question of providing public parks, that the cost of procuring suitable land has increased enormously; in some cases the most desirable tracts, that could have been bought at reasonable figures a few years ago, cannot now be secured at prices that will permit of their acquisition for park purposes. There are in many cities large open spaces near poor and overcrowded sections which should be taken at once for park purposes and for great playgrounds.
PRIVATE GIFTS FOR PUBLIC PLEASURE GROUNDS.
Perhaps there is no way in which men of wealth could so directly benefit so large a number of people as by gifts of land for public pleasure grounds. Magnificent sums are given to colleges, libraries, and other public institutions. Why should not money be as freely given to create great parks for the betterment of all sorts and conditions of men"? The accumulation of great fortunes has been made possible only through the toil of those who most need the pure air and rest afforded by large rural parks. The largest gift of land in this country for park purposes was that of 3,717 acres to the city of Los Angeles, Cal. Hartford has received by gift 830 acres; Minneapolis, 790 acres ; St. Louis, 435 acres; Cleveland, 395 acres; Springfield, Mass., 360 acres; Allegheny, 313 acres ; Toronto, Ont., 225 acres; Detroit, 194 acres ; Worcester, 150 acres; Peoria, 140 acres ; Omaha, 130 acres, and Providence, 121 acres. A few other cities have received donations of land for parks varying in amounts from 2 to 90 acres.
MUNICIPAL PARK FINANCE SYSTEMS.
It would be impossible to overestimate the value of public parks to the physical and moral health of the people. The great urban pleasure grounds are coming to be considered as essential to a city's welfare as are pure water, well-lighted streets, public baths, and public schools, and the park officials of three-fourths of the cities which have public parks say that the greater part of their taxpapers favor liberal appropriations for the purchase of park lands, their improvement and proper maintenance. The legislative branches of nearly all city governments grant appropriations for the maintenance of their parks, the park departments annually stating to them the amounts deemed necessary. In some cases maximum amounts have been fixed by State legislatures beyond which appropriations cannot be made for parks in those cities. The parks of Hartford and San Francisco are annually provided with funds raised by a tax of not less than one-half of a mill on each dollar of value of all property taxable for municipal purposes. Paterson, N. J., maintains her parks with an annual appropriation obtained from a tax of two-fifths of a mill levied on assessed valuation of taxable property. Minne. apolis receives her annual appropriation for parks through a Board of Tax Levy," with a limit of one mill on the assessed valuation of property to be taxed.
The parks of Peoria, Ill., are maintained from an annual tax levy of six mills, which provides her parks with the most liberal appropriation
There are 330 acres in The method by which
granted in this country. the four parks of Peoria. the parks of Paterson are annually maintained would undoubtedly be the best one for nearly all cities. The fixing of annual park appropriations would cease to be subject to the caprice or polit ical bias of city councils, and park boards would be assured of certain amounts annually, thus being in a position to act intelligently and upon business methods.
EFFICIENCY IN PARK ADMINISTRATION.
The wonderful results in making and maintaining parks that have been accomplished everywhere by park commissions when entirely free from hurtful political influences, have attracted general attention and praise. In many cases large park areas have been secured, while funds necessary for their development and annual maintenance have been quite inadequate. But, fortunately, nearly all park boards have succeeded in conducting their departments on business principles.
Competent superintendents have usually been secured and retained. These superintendents have employed and discharged park laborers. with little dictation from any source, and honest, intelligent service has been the natural result. Men employed in planting and caring for trees, shrubs, and flowers ought to be something more than ordinary unskilled laborers, and should be trained to do special work.
A very large proportion of the money expended for the improvement and maintenance of parks is used for labor, and this labor cannot be honestly and carefully performed when partially under the direction of outside influences. If the same degree of efficiency and application of business principles had always been found in the various departments of our city governments as has prevailed in most of the park boards of this country, many municipalities would not now be carrying burdens of indebtedness so great as to suggest the possibility of bankruptcy. Of the thirty largest park systems in the United States, twenty-five are under strictly non-partisan commissions; in the other five cities the administration of park work is less under the control of political organizations than any other departments of the city government, and but two of these have park commissions.
ECONOMICAL MANAGEMENT BY COMMISSIONS.
The management of park affairs under commissions largely accounts for the economical and satisfactory development of our largest park systems, and the feeling is general that full value has been received for all park expenditures. In
30 cities representing the finest parks of this country, the average annual tax rate per $1,000 for park improvement and maintenance has been, for the last five years, 40 cents. The rate for each of these cities varies from 13 cents in Cincinnati, with 422 acres of parks, to $1.33 in Peoria, with but 330 acres of parks. Choosing 10 cities that have especially fine park systems, and whose park commissions have been independent of corrupting influences, we find that their tax rate on $1,000 has been but 30 cents. these 30 cities the average annual cost per capita for improving and maintaining parks during the last five years has been 34 cents. It should be remembered that park commissioners, usually busy men of affairs, have given years of gratui tous service in this work, but have often received harsh and unjust criticism. While the position of park commissioner is every where considered an honorable one, and the organizers and members of park boards are generally men of broad and philanthropic aim, their official lives have been filled with many vexations.
The work of laying out and improving parks is being done in nearly all cities under the direc tion of efficient landscape gardeners. Commissioners accept the plans made by these men and endeavor to acquire lands and improve them as directed by their retained advisers. These plans require large expenditures of public money, and as years are necessary for plans to materialize, partly because of lack of funds and because trees and shrubs and good roads will not spring into existence in a year or two, some citizens are unreasonable and demand results that only time and fair appropriations of money can accomplish.
RESTFULNESS IN LANDSCAPE
Because of the constantly increasing expenses of modern municipalities, and through an imperfect and crude understanding of legitimate park needs, it is difficult in many cities to secure annual appropriations large enough for anything beyond the bare maintenance of the parks. This condition of things in so many cities should lead to the making of parks where the strong features are quiet landscapes with great stretches of meadow, and where the naturalistic planting is restful to all the senses. The cost of developing and maintaining great urban pleasure grounds where the pastoral idea is uppermost is very much less than for the making of those that are more pretentious and artificial. Park roads and walks must be made and a few buildings erected; but the true artist limits their number to the bare necessities of the case, and conceals them as far as possible by skillful planting. Rare trees,
shrubs, and plants in profusion are costly and too frequently are out of harmony with their sur roundings. Large plantings of a limited variety of hardy trees and shrubs, naturalistic in their broad effects, cost very much less to grow and properly care for than the rare and striking ones. In some of our most attractive parks effective plantings have been made of great masses of dogwoods, viburnums, sumacs, and other native shrubs; these are easily, quickly, and cheaply grown, and are always pleasing. The parks that the American public enjoy best are those that have cost the least to improve and sustain.
HARMONY IN DESIGN THE GREAT DESIDERATUM.
These are the great public pleasure grounds created by men who have worked lovingly and wisely on Nature's canvas, having clearly in their minds pictures of one harmonious whole that could only be realized after many years. some cities it has been difficult to prevent the placing of many things in public parks that were not considered in the original designs, and the question is continually arising as to whether there shall be a strict adherence to the carefully prepared plans of those who have for years studied the essentials of great parks. There should be no difference of opinion in this matter. When plans drawn by professional landscape gardeners of acknowledged ability are accepted, they should be closely followed. From a business point of view, nothing less can be done.
THE POLICING OF PUBLIC PARKS.
In many large park systems the police forces are small. On Sundays, holidays, and special occasions immense throngs gather in the parks, yet the order generally maintained is good and the harm done to everything that beautifies is slight. The development of a strong public sentiment which frowns upon depredations and hoodlumism in public parks has apparently kept pace with the growth and embellishment of the parks. When park property has been injured, the of fenders have not always been found among the socalled lower classes." Women riding through parks in their luxurious carriages have been known to order their coachmen to gather flowers, and have calmly directed the despoiling of shrubs and trees.
A little more than one-half of the parks of this country are policed by men under the control of and paid by the park departments. In the other cities regular policemen are detailed for park duty. In four good-sized park systems there are no regularly detailed police, but from the employees of each park are chosen a sufficient number who are commissioned as special peace officers.
THE SOUTH AND HER HISTORY.
BY DAVID Y. THOMAS.
T the last meeting of the American Histori. cal Association that body was invited to meet in Nashville next time, whereupon the question was at once raised, "What interest is there in history in the South?" The question was put in all sincerity, and some members of the association manifested a desire to go South for one of the annual meetings, if only assured that the interest there would justify it. However, it was felt that the rule of rotation laid down for the locality of the meetings, East, West, Washington," could not be departed from to the disadvantage of the East, and that Nashville would have to take her chances with the West in future. In the meantime the writer would like to put forward a few facts in answer to the above inquiry. ·
The question is one which had already presented itself to the writer, himself a Southerner, nor had he found the most satisfactory answer. He had often heard the complaint that the South had been misrepresented and misunderstood by some historians; that the part she played in the formation and building of the nation had been minified, while that of the North had been magnified; and that the representation of her course in the events leading up to the Civil War had been grossly unjust. Of late a protest has been heard from a State so far north as New York against the partiality of writers from a section still farther If the charge is true, where lies the fault? Why has no one come forward with a scientific array of cold and convincing facts? Not all historians are lineal descendants of the unjust judge; they seek the truth and endeavor to confine them selves to it. Unfortunately, however, a few men who, mainly for purposes of revenue, have essayed to write histories, the smaller histories concerning which the charge referred to is most frequently heard, will need to clear themselves of the suspicion that they are related to the person just mentioned. When men, North or South, for that matter, in any age or clime, start out with preconceived notions and pet theories, and ruthlessly reject everything which tends to subvert them, or with a determination to please a particular constituency, they will never become historians, no matter how many so-called "histories" they may write. The muse of history is the companion of Truth, whatever the cost of
keeping her company. But the truth with regard to history is not always an open book, seen and read of all men; it must be sought in the byways and hedges. Dropping the metaphor, history is. a matter of record, made up of facts, not opinions and theories alone. If the historian cannot find the record, his account must be mythical; if he finds only a part, his account is likely to be distorted, be his intentions ever so honest. If the South should be bidden by the oracle, as was Phaon, the Sophist, to consult the dead, whither could she turn for the record of their wisdom? What has she done to put that record before the world?
In explanation, but not justification, of the paucity of historical works in the South, Mr. Thomas Nelson Page has said, in substance, that she has been too busy making history to stop to write it. Then, if the schoolboy is perfectly familiar with the Mayflower, but never heard of the Discovery or the Good-Speed, who is to blame for it? For many years the South studied the problems of government with a passion, and con. sequently has left a lasting impress on the constitutional law of the nation, but her work in writing the story of those studies and their application, and of her struggle with nature and the savages, is yet to be done. Unfortunately, the materials necessary for this work have not always been carefully preserved, and many of those still in existence have not been made easily accessible to the student. What is more natural, then, than that occasional mistakes should be made by those attempting the story? But a brighter day is dawning.
In a few instances sufficient interest has been aroused to induce the State governments to lend a helping hand. As far back as 1882, the Legislature of Maryland began to make biennial appropriations of $4,000 for the publication of her Colonial and Revolutionary Archives. The appropriations have amounted to $36,000, and have resulted in the publication of nineteen volumes. In 1896, $15,000 was given for the work of preparing a roster of her volunteers in the Civil War. Virginia has published a calendar of her "State Papers." One might reasonably have expected their publication in full from a State which played so important a rôle. She also has copies. of the documents in the Public Record Office,
London, relating to her history in the seventeenth century. Besides this, copies of the records of some of her early and more important counties have been made and deposited in the State Library at Richmond. North Carolina has published seventeen volumes of her Colonial Records; also, a "Complete Legislative Manual and Political Register" of the State, and a pretty full military roster down to, and including, 1898. In 1892, South Carolina appropriated $6,500 to secure copies of her Colonial Records in England, of which there are now thirty-six folio volumes in the office of the Secretary of State. It is to be hoped that they will be printed soon. Her military history has been brought down to the Mexican War, and a roster of her Confederate soldiers is now being prepared. A "Roster and Itinerary" of her soldiers in the Spanish-American War has already appeared. An Historical Commission, to serve without pay, has been appointed to collect material from any available source. Georgia has spent about $10,000 for collection, but nothing for printing. Unfortunately, the copy of her Colonial Records was burned in 1893. An appeal will be made to the Legislature to have them copied again.
Some of the newer States also are waking up to the importance of their records. Alabama was the first to begin the preservation of the history of the Civil War. A Superintendent of Army Records was appointed in 1863; but the end of the war, and the consequent change of government, left matters in great confusion. A part of the work already done was lost, but some of it has been recovered. A few years since a commission was appointed to report upon historical material. February 27, 1901, a Department of Archives and History was created by the Legislature, and a director appointed, with a salary of $1,800, and $700 for contingent expenses. Mississippi has appropriated $2,000 to be used for publication under the direction of the Historical Commission appointed by the president of the Historical Society. Texas has sent a commission to the city of Mexico to look after documents there.
It is doubtful if the Solons who have been so busy making history would have found time to do even this much, had not the members of the historical societies proved their relationship to a certain widow by their importunities. Just what credit is due to them in each particular case cannot easily be determined, but several societies have been untiring in their efforts. The Maryland society edits and looks after the publication of the archives mentioned above. In addition to this, it has done good work in the publication of documents and of carefully prepared papers based
on sources. TheCalvert Papers are the most important published so far. The society now has more than thirty volumes to its credit. The Society for the History of Germans in Maryland has issued two volumes. The Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science" are too well known to need comment.
The Virginia Historical Society was founded in 1831, and was chartered three years later, but in 1882 it had published only thirteen volumes. Since then it has taken on new life. In the decade 1882-92 eleven volumes appeared. the society began the publication of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, a quarterly of one hundred and twelve pages. It is largely devoted to documents, but considerable space is given to genealogies of only local interest. A catalogue of the manuscripts in the possession of the society has lately been published. The William and Mary (College) Quarterly, edited by President Lyon G. Tyler, is doing much to supplement the work of the Virginia Magazine of History. Lower Norfolk, Virginia, Antiquarian, and the John P. Branch Historical Society Papers of Randolph-Macon College, are publications worthy of
From 1857 to 1883 the South Carolina Historical Society published four volumes. In 1891 new life was infused into the society, and it is now pushing its work before the Legislature. January, 1900, witnessed the birth of its official organ, The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine. The most commendable feature about this quarterly is that it is largely devoted to documents. One might prefer to have such papers in volumes devoted to nothing else, but when they cannot be had that way, it is better to have them in a magazine than not at all.
The Georgia Historical Society was founded in 1839, for the purpose of preserving and dif. fusing information relating to the history of the State of Georgia in particular, and of American history in general." history in general." It has done something in the way of collecting, but very little in the way of diffusing this information. Only five volumes can be set down to its credit. These, however, contain pages of considerable importance. The last, issued under the auspices of the Savannah Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, contains the Proceedings of the first Provincial Congress, and of the Georgia Council of Safety, 1775–77. The society is fortunate in having for its librarian Mr. Hardin, a member of the Legislature, who will press upon that body the imperative need of funds.
The Alabama Historical Society was organized in 1850, but up to 1876 had published only a few pamphlets. The Alabama Historical Regis