Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Community Meeting - 1910

In 1910, the city of Boston was still dealing with the West Roxbury district as a whole, rather than its constituent parts of Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and West Roxbury proper, as it does now. Mt Hope was still recognized as a neighborhood, later to disappear into White City and perhaps Roslindale. Germantown suffered the same fate, losing its distinctive identity to West Roxbury.

I left out the sections referring specifically to districts outside today's Jamaica Plain.

Boston Daily Globe February 16, 1910

West Roxbury's Needs Related

Wants of Sections Presented by Improvement Societies.

New Streets and Sidewalks Most Generally Asked.

Mayor Fitzgerald and the city council, with Guy C. Emerson, superintendent of streets, visited West Roxbury last evening and leared the needs of the district from the citizens, more than 600 of whom had assembled in the splendid hall of the West Roxbury high school.

In area West Roxbury is the largest district in the city, containing more than a half-dozen fairly distinct communities. And the general needs of this vast district are many, although the more urgent matters are not at all extravagant.

Each of the communities has its improvement association and one or more representatives of each of these associations made known the wants of the district.

The first and most general needs of the district as a whole appear to be the acceptance and construction of streets and the improvement of sidewalks next come playgrounds, one or more tunnel under the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad embankment, a better system of caring for ashes and garbage, cleaner and better watered streets, new primary schoolhouses at Germantown and Roslindale, the opening of the city yard, a more efficient warfare on the gypsy and browntail moths and the elm tree beetle all over West Roxbury, and an elevated station at Green st.

It was the largest meeting held thus far and in some respects it was the most business like, as each of the improvement associations had studied and approved the matters proposed and those matters which related to the district as a whole were approved by all of the associations, and each association had a competent speaker to present its needs. The improvement associations represented at the meeting were Jamaica Plain, Germantown, West Roxbury, Mt Hope, Roslindale and Forest Hills. The Cleveland club was also represented.

Waste Paper Business.

A suggestion from William B. Wheelwright that the city go into business of sorting and selling waste paper brought out a discussion, in which Mayor Fitzgerald and Supt Emerson took part. Mr Wheelwright insisted there was money to be made on waste paper, and Supt Emerson admitted something might be done if the people would separate the paper from the ashes, otherwise it wold not pay.

Frank M. Doyle suggested that an ordinance compelling people to separate the paper as they do garbage from the ashes would settle the matter. It was learned that the Woman's municipal league with the Morgan Memorial had undertaken the kind of work in a small way.

The mayor said that perhaps the meetings of the city government and the people and the discussions resulting might produce a civic spirit that would result in the cooperation of the people more and more in such things. He believed that it was a matter the improvement association should take up.

In opening the meeting Mayor Fitzgerald again explained the things which came under the head of appropriations and those that came under loans and special legislative acts. Most of the matters introduced at the meeting would come under the head of loans.

He later pointed out that Boston was about the only large city in the country that paid the expense of new streets. In other cities the cost was born by the abutters. He said that the city paid half the expense of sidewalks and the property owners the other half, and the present poor condition of the sidewalks in West Roxbury was due largely to the fact that the property owners were unwilling to pay their half of the cost. The city was ready to go ahead with such improvements.

Patrick J. Brady, representing the Cleveland club, was the first speaker. He said the organization represented the largest body of citizens in the West Roxbury district, so he said that he would take up the general needs of the district, but would leave it to the improvement associations to point out the necessity of the various needs.

In Jamaica Plain.

L.J. Brackett, president of the Jamaica Plain citizens' association, said Jamaica Plain had three important needs; playgrounds, the improvement and care of certain streets and sidewalks and the preservation of trees from insects. He called special attention to the sidewalks of Centre st from Green to Boylston st and on Washington st from Green st to Forest Hills sq. He spoke for cleaner and better watered streets and receptacles for waste paper in the business streets; also increased efficiency in the collection of ashes and garbage.

He recommended for the consideration of the city government the construction of a new street over Stony brook, a tunnel under the New Haven tracks at some point between Green and Boylston sts, and the restoration of the noon bell and the no-school bell service. He asked the Mayor to appear at the hearings before the railroad commissioners and endorse a station of the elevated at Green st, and urged the mayor and city council to favor the electrification of steam railroads in greater Boston.

Rev Carroll Perry urged the necessity of three playgrounds in Jamaica Plain, one on the Goodwin estate, which the city already partly owned; one on the Burrage estate on Perkins st and Jamaia Way, which was being used at present by permission of the owner as a playground, and one at Brookside and Cornwall sts, where it would be also possible to have a winter gymnasium.

Dr E. Peabody Gerry advocated more strenuous measures to save the trees from gypsy moths, browtail moths and elm beetles. Much had been done, but much remained to be done, and he suggested that the city appropriate $75,000 to get rid of the pestes. He also pleaded for reforestation and the planting of new trees. He said the Soldier's monument should be better cared for and that the cleaning of the sidewalks of snow should be more strictly attended to.

He said Jamaica pond was sadly in need of cleaning and that the proposed footbridge, 38 feet high, over the New Haven tracks above Forest Hills should not be built. A tunnel should be built at the point.

Supt Emerson said the matter of a tunnel had been considered, and sentiment appeared to be evenly divided between a footbridge and a tunnel.

Mayor Fitzgerald suggested that the snow-plow service in the matter of opening sidewalks should be resumed. He believed that the care of the Soldier's monument would come within the scope of the Parkman fund.

[cut "Germantown's 13 Needs"]

Rev George H. Lyons of Our Lady of Lourdes church urged the necessity of a tunnel under the New Haven tracks to connect Cornwall and Oakdale sts. He said 800 parishioners lived on one side of the track and they had to walk a half mile or moreto get to the church, which was in reality only a short distance away. It is one of the most congested sections and the lack of a tunnel puts thousands of people to great inconvenience, he said.

[cut West Roxbury, Mt Hope and Roslindale sections]


A few thoughts: sadly, they lost the battle with the elm beetles. The paper recycling suggestion was interesting, and no doubt before its time. The tunnel under the railroad tracks between Green and Boylston sts was built at the end of Lawndale street, off Lamartine, and coming out to Amory street. The footbridge for Forest Hills must have been the Tollgate bridge, and is listed as being built the same year as this meeting. The steel span remains, but the stairs on each side and the wooden flooring is gone.

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