The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Boston (Mass.)
BOSTON, Mass., the capital of the State, and, according to the United States census of 1910, fifth city in population in the United States. It is situated on the western shore of Massachusetts Bay.
History.— The settlement from which it has grown was made in 1630 by members of the Massachusetts Bay Company, bearing with them the charter granted to this organization by Charles I. The leader of the first expedition of settlers who landed at Charlestown, 17 June 1630, was Gov. John Winthrop, a Puritan gentleman. In his fleet came others of like condition. Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson and his wife, the Lady Arbella, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, together with a company of sturdy Puritans, chiefly from Lincolnshire. They landed 700 or 800 strong, a number soon increased to 1,000 and then to 2,000 by later arrivals — the most considerable settlement on the American coast. At the end of the first summer, a season of hardship, they moved across the Charles River to the promontory of Shawmut — an Indian word translated “living fountains.” This headland, with ample water-supply, was called by the English settlers Trimountain, from the three-peaked hill, now Beacon Hill, which formed its highest eminence. On 17 Sept. 1630 it was voted to change its name to Boston, after the Lincolnshire town from which some of the chief settlers had come. The original settler of the land, the Rev. William Blackstone (q.v.), a scholar who had left England to avoid the “lord-bishops,” sold the newcomers his land and moved on to Rhode Island, in order to escape the “lord-brethren.”
From the first the power of the Puritan clergy was important. Church and State were practically one. Trained in the English universities, the ministers set a true value upon education. A free public school was established in 1633, and in 1636 the General Court provided for the beginnings of Harvard College. The government of both town and colony was purely democratic, having for its unit the town-meeting, which in Boston itself maintained its sway, with the single interruption of British military rule at the outbreak of the Revolution, until the town became a city in 1822. Besides the training in self-government thus acquired, Boston had the advantage of virtual independence through its early years. At first the Crown was fully occupied with its own problems in England; and when Cromwell came into power, so strongly Puritan a settlement was naturally left much to its own devices. Thus the charter of the Bay Company and the liberties enjoyed under it became very dear to the people of Boston. When Charles II came to the throne there were grave fears that these liberties would be seriously curtailed. In 1664 four royal commissioners came from England to adjust difficulties in several colonies. Their mission to Boston was a failure, and for some years to come the town was secure under its original system of government.
Under James II came the dreaded change. Complaints of the Boston spirit of independence and religious intolerance were borne more frequently to the English court, and before the death of Charles II the Court of Chancery voted the Massachusetts Bay charter vacated. In the summer of 1686 the original government of the colony came to an end. Before the close of this year, Sir Edmund Andros, the new governor appointed by the king, the first chief magistrate in Massachusetts not chosen by popular election, arrived in Boston. Probably nobody in his peculiar place could have satisfied the people at this time. Within less than three years from his arrival a bloodless revolution in Boston, a well-organized uprising of the people, removed him from office. Early in 1690 he was sent back to England, where Increase Mather, the leading minister of Boston, had already been for nearly two years, trying to have the old charter restored, or to get the best possible substitute for it. This he succeeded in doing, after the accession of William and Mary, and had the further satisfaction of choosing the first governor under the new instrument making Massachusetts a royal province. With this governor, Sir William Phipps, Mather returned to Boston in the spring of 1692.
By this time Boston had grown to importance as the leading seaport, and in many respects the foremost town of America. Before the end of the 17th century its population was approximately 7,000. In another half century this number was more than doubled. A good idea of certain aspects of the town in this period is given by an Englishman, Daniel Neal, who wrote in 1719:
“The bay of Boston is spacious enough to contain in a manner the navy of England. The masts of ships here, and at proper seasons of the year, make a kind of wood of trees like that we see upon the river of Thames about Wapping and Limehouse, which may easily be imagined when we consider that by computation given into the collectors of his Majesty's customs to the governor upon the building of the lighthouse, it appeared that there was 24,000 ton of shipping cleared annually.
“At the bottom of the bay is a noble pier 1,800 or 2,000 foot long, with a row of warehouses on the north side for the use of merchants. The pier runs so far into the bay that ships of the greatest burthen may unlade without the help of boats or lighters. From the head of the pier you go up the chief street of the town [now State Street], at the upper end of which is the town house or Exchange, a fine piece of building, containing, besides the walk for the merchants, the Council-Chamber, the House of Commons, and another spacious room for the sessions of the courts of justice. The Exchange is surrounded by booksellers' shops which have a good trade. There are five printing presses in Boston, which are generally full of work, by which it appears that humanity and the knowledge of letters flourish more here than in all the other English Plantations put together; for in the city of New York there is but one bookseller's shop, and in the Plantations of Virginia, Maryland, Carolina, Barbadoes, and the Islands, none at all.”
As in the 17th so in the 18th century, the clergy and ecclesiastical affairs loomed large upon the local horizon. The prominence in Boston records of what is known as the “Mather dynasty” — of which Increase and his son, Cotton Mather, were the chief figures — bears witness to this condition. The younger of these Puritan priests is remembered largely for his connection with the witchcraft delusion, which had its worst effects in Salem, but in temporal matters and humanitarian work he impressed himself no less forcibly on the life of his time. Of the devout laity, educated at Harvard College, giving themselves to public service, living private lives of dignity and piety, Samuel Sewall, whose diary preserves the true flavor of ancient Boston, stands as an admirable type. In contrast with the background of lives like his, the society of which royal governors were the central figures presents a less austere picture. About the governors, established from 1716 onward in a sort of vice-regal state in the Province House, gathered the more worldly element of the place — prosperous merchants, officials of the Crown, members of the King's Chapel congregation and the two other Anglican churches established before the middle of the century. Under the province charter religious liberty was increasing, and churches of various denominations — including even the Quakers, whose first representatives in Boston were hanged on the Common — had come into being. Meanwhile the constant friction between the governors and the General Court, always meeting in Boston, kept the spirit of political independence wide awake. A fruitful source of trouble was the annual grant voted by the court to the governor. A salary the people steadily refused to pay to an official not of their own choice; and the amount of the grant varied according to the personal popularity of the chief magistrate. Through all these years, moreover, the town-meeting was educating the people in self-rule, so that when the time was ripe for active opposition from American colonists to the colonial government of England, the men of Boston were ready to take a leading part in the struggle.
In 1761 James Otis, advocate-general of the province, resigned his position under the Crown in order to contest the Writs of Assistance, which permitted customs officials to enter any house, search for smuggled goods, and on suspicion seize what they might find. The argument against these writs was the first of many conspicuous acts of resistance to royal authority. In 1765 the Stamp Act, taxing many articles of daily use in the colonies, was passed by Parliament. Its principle was bitterly resented in Boston, where riotous outbreaks soon took place. A mob completely destroyed the house of Thomas Hutchinson, chief justice of the province, and was properly denounced by respectable citizens. In the next year the repeal of the act was joyfully celebrated by all classes. In 1770 occurred the “Boston Massacre” (q.v.), the result of friction between the inhabitants and the British troops stationed in the town. In the use of “a word which historians apply to such events as Cawnpore or the Sicilian Vespers” — the word “massacre” to describe “the careless shooting of half a dozen townsmen” — John Fiske finds “all the mildness of New England civilization brought most strikingly before us.” The town-meeting was even more typical of this civilization, and from its training Samuel Adams, at about this time, stepped into virtual leadership of the revolutionary cause in Boston. The Committee of Correspondence was formed upon his motion, and out of it grew by degrees the union not only of towns, but of colonies, in their opposition to the throne. On 16 Dec. 1773, occurred the “Tea Party,” a cleverly planned and executed plot for throwing into Boston harbor, by men disguised as Mohawk Indians, the cargoes of three vessels bearing tea upon which the people of Boston would not pay the hated tax. Parliament retaliated by passing the Boston Port Bill, which closed the harbor and brought the chief industry of the town, its maritime trade, to a standstill. A military governor, General Gage, took the place of Hutchinson, who had been acting as the chief civil magistrate, and open hostilities were at hand.
The events of 19 April 1775 — the warning ride of Paul Revere, the escape of John Hancock and Samuel Adams, the fights at Concord, Lexington and along the road between the two towns — are the commonplaces of American history. They belong to Boston in so far as the Boston revolutionary leaders were concerned in them, and as the British troops set forth from the town and returned to it defeated. The battle of Bunker Hill in Charlestown, 17 June 1775, bears much the same relation to Boston history. On 3 July Washington arrived in Cambridge and took command of the American army, which from that time until the following March kept the British closely within the lines of the siege of Boston. Many of the inhabitants were permitted early to depart. Those who remained suffered hardships and privations besides witnessing the destruction of much American property, and such scenes of destruction as the use of the Old South meeting-house as a riding-school. On the night of 4 March 1776 Washington made his memorable seizure of Dorchester Heights (now South Boston), and on the 17th Howe with all his army and a large following of American Tories sailed for Halifax. Thereupon Washington entered the city, and even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence Boston ceased to be a scene of active warfare in the long conflict. Yet John Adams, Hancock and other Boston men bore an important part in the counsels of the young nation, in whose army and navy the town was fully represented.
The recovery from the effects of the siege was slow. To take the place of the departed Tories, and to occupy their spacious houses, there was in the remaining years of the 18th century a gradual immigration from the neighboring country (where Tories were few) of families possessing wealth, energy and qualities of leadership. Local government by town-meeting was resumed. In 1780 a State government for Massachusetts was formed, and John Hancock was chosen the first governor. In the general readjustment maritime affairs took their previous place of importance. Cut off by British legislation from the West India trade, the Boston merchants looked farther abroad. The prospects of the fur trade on the northwest coast of America became known through Captain Cook's journals, published in 1784. In 1787 two small vessels, the Columbia and the Washington sailed from Boston to attempt this trade. Before her return in 1790 the Columbia had circumnavigated the globe — the first of American vessels to accomplish this feat. The furs collected in the Northwest had been sold in China, and the example thus set led the way to an important trade with the East in which Boston long maintained the American supremacy. In such a seaport as Boston, Jefferson's Embargo and the War of 1812 were naturally unpopular. The Federalist party, moreover, had much of its best strength in Boston. The powerful mercantile class saw its best interests in a strongly centralized government and conditions of general stability. The opinions of this class colored the influential feeling of the community to an extent which laid Boston open to charges of something very near disloyalty to the national government. The crippling of commerce, however, had the good effect of turning capital and energy toward manufacturing. In 1814 Francis C. Lowell, of Boston, made the first American use of the power-loom in his mill at Waltham at almost the same time with its introduction into England. The growth of the great cotton industry at Lowell followed rapidly upon this invention. With the spread of manufactures Boston itself was growing. In 1820 its population was over 43,000. The old form of town government had become unwieldly. For some years efforts had been making toward the adoption of a city charter. In 1822 this was finally achieved.
From the time of this change in local government to the present, the outward growth of the city, as figures can speak for it, has been unbroken. In matters not computed in this way, the development has been in several important respects unique. With Boston, for example, the Unitarian movement in America is especially associated. Before the town became a city there were divisions among the clergy of Congregationalism — practically the established order in New England — on various doctrinal points, notably that of the Trinity. Under the leadership of William Ellery Channing the “liberal” clergy and most of the older and more influential religious societies turned from Calvinism to the new theology. Especially between 1820 and 1830, an acute controversy took place. Between 1840 and 1850 the Unitarian body itself was disturbed by differences between the more conservative element and the radicals, of whom Theodore Parker was a type. The result of the successive controversies has been a liberalizing of religious beliefs not only in what came to be Unitarian Boston, but in the many Protestant bodies which now acknowledge an important debt to Unitarianism. Another far-reaching movement which had its headquarters in Boston was that of anti-slavery. Here in 1831 William Lloyd Garrison established his journal, the Liberator. A year later the first anti-slavery society in America was established in Boston. The agitation of the Abolitionists was for a long time opposed to the conservative class, which resorted even to mob violence in the hope of suppressing the reformers. But to Garrison and his associates it was due, as Mr. J. F. Rhodes has said, “that slavery became a topic of discussion at every northern fireside.” When the Civil War broke out, the cause of the Union, perhaps even more than that of abolition, enlisted the enthusiastic support of the Boston community; yet, as if in fulfilment of the work which Garrison began, it was from Boston that Governor Andrew sent forth the first regiment of colored troops raised in the North.
With Boston and its immediate vicinity, moreover, are associated the names which stand for the most important contribution of the 19th century to American literature. Prescott, Ticknor, Bancroft, Motley and Parkman; Emerson, Hawthorne, Lowell, Longfellow, Holmes and Whittier, — these and their associates, bound together with many ties of sympathy and friendship, constituted a group of writers which gave the place a unique distinction in letters. The Atlantic Monthly, founded in 1857, became the vehicle for much of their most characteristic utterances. The influences of Transcendentalism (largely a local movement, culminating in the forties), of anti-slavery feeling, of creative expression, combined to give to this utterance as a whole something of the distinction which the individual writers won each for himself.
During the 19th century two important changes in the Boston landscape affected the future of the city, in the regions both of residence and of business. The first of these was the filling in of the Back Bay, an arm of the Charles River which spread between the Common and the hills of Brookline, running south and east as far as the Neck or narrow strip of land connecting Boston and Roxbury. From the early years of the century changes in the shore line of Boston had been wrought by cutting down the principal hills and filling out the irregularities of the harbor front. The first step in the series of events which led to the conversion of the Back Bay from water into land was the granting of a charter in 1814 to the Roxbury Mill Corporation, permitting the building of dams across the Back Bay and confining its water for mill purposes. To these rights the Boston Water Power Company succeeded in 1832. At about the same time the Boston & Providence and Boston & Worcester railroads invaded the Back Bay with their bridges. Moreover the waters became unsanitary through lack of drainage, and to solve the problem, hygienic and legal, a State commission was appointed and made a full report in 1852. Its recommendations to create the whole tract of land now known as the Back Bay did not at once satisfy the various conflicting interests, but in 1858 the actual work of filling up the waters was begun. The result was a large enrichment of the State treasury, and the addition to the city of the whole district occupied by the residences, clubs, churches, hotels and other institutions connected with the most prosperous life of the city. The original peninsula of Boston contained 783 acres. Through its encroachments upon water, largely in the Back Bay, it has grown to 1,829 acres. With the accessions of outlying districts, the total area of the city is now 29,158 acres.
The second great change in the outward aspect of Boston resulted from the great fire of 9 and 10 Nov. 1872. From the beginning of its history Boston had been afflicted by serious fires. This greatest of them all destroyed 776 buildings, all but 67 of which were of brick and stone. It devastated Summer street (both sides), Washington street from Summer to Milk, Milk street to the post office, Devonshire street, Water (both sides), Congress, Lindall and Oliver streets to the harbor. From the corner of Washington and Franklin streets the shipping at the wharves was in clear view. Nearly 2,000,000 feet of land were burned over. The total loss was estimated at more than $75,000,000. Yet by private enterprise and State aid the recovery was immediate. The opportunity to widen and straighten streets in the business district was seized. Statelier buildings rose in the place of those destroyed, and a new business region, corresponding to the new district of residences, was created.
The Metropolitan District.— He who would understand modern Boston must distinguish the city proper from the metropolitan district of which it is the centre. Where the Charles, Mystic and Chelsea rivers meet and flow into Boston Harbor, nature, materially aided by man, has formed three converging points of land. The northeastern, practically an island, is occupied by East Boston; the tip of the western is the Charlestown district; and the southern, out of which rises Beacon Hill, is the real heart, the business and administrative centre of Boston. South and west of this centre lie the South Boston, Roxbury and Dorchester districts. Inland on the southern bank of the Charles, and cut off from Boston by Cambridge on one side and the town of Brookline on the other, lies the Brighton district. These districts form the present city, a community whose population in 1915, according to the decennial State census, was 745,439, and whose total land area is 29,158 acres.
But this city, both in area and in population, is only part of the New England metropolis. The cities of Somerville and Cambridge reach almost to the centre of Boston; the independent town of Brookline is almost wholly within the city. The State enumeration made in 1915 put the population of the cities and towns lying within 10 miles of Boston at 942,480, giving the metropolitan district, as defined in the Federal census of 1910, a population of 1,687,919. Indeed, the State's centre of population lies within the metropolitan district.
Local Travel.— In this situation Boston faces a problem of the first order. Ferries, automobiles, steam and electric railways bring daily into the city thousands of these people. This fact can be easily illustrated. In the year ending 30 June 1914 the Boston, Revere Beach & Lynn Railroad, a narrow gauge suburban railroad, carried 13,817,292 passengers into and out of the city, or practically 7,000,000 each way, which equals more than 20,000 for each working day. In the same year the three leading railroads entering the city carried over 60,000,000 passengers into and out of the city, most of this business consisting of the transportation of “commuters,” who come to the city each day. The Boston Elevated system carried an even larger number into the cities and towns of the metropolitan district. These people from the suburbs come to work and to play. The city must provide transportation for them; it must clean its streets and regulate traffic for their convenience; it must give them police protection; it must educate many of them; it must be ready to serve their every want as if they were citizens. Ample evidences of these facts may be found in school, hospital and police records. Over one-third of the persons arrested annually in Boston do not have their residences in the city.
On the other hand, this condition has its compensations for the city. The commerce and industry of the city are thereby greatly increased. This, in turn, has its effect on property values. The assessed valuation of real estate in Boston in 1914 was $1,237,473,100, of personalty, $312,573,509, total over a billion and a half. This equals a per capita assessed valuation of $2,061.84, which exceeds New York's per capita valuation by almost $300 and every other city in the country by over $600.
Population.— The population of the city proper has grown steadily since 1790. Immigration and the annexation of other towns have probably been the most important factors in this growth. In 1790 Boston had 18,320 people; in 1810, 33,787; in 1830, 61,392; in 1850, 136,881; in 1870, 250,526; in 1890, 448,477; in 1910, 670,585; and in 1915 (State census) 745,439. Immigration has been largely from Ireland. Following the famine in Ireland in the 40's, a considerable stream of Irish immigration set in toward the United States, and much of it found its way to Boston. In 1846, when the city is said to have had about 120,000 people, there were already about 24,000 Irish among the population. This stream of incomers continued through the century, until the home of the Puritan and the birthplace of Unitarianism has come to be dominated politically by the Irish-Americans. In 1910 there were in Boston over 150,000 persons of Irish birth or Irish parentage. To be sure, other nations have also contributed to Boston's foreign population, especially in recent years. In 1910, 69,000 of its people were of Canadian birth or parentage, less than 5,000 of these being French-Canadian; 19,000 were of English birth or parentage; 19,000 German; 49,000 Italian; and 63,000 Russian, mainly Jewish. In addition there were thousands of persons in the city one of whose parents was of foreign birth. All told, less than 25 per cent of the people of Boston in 1910 were native born of native parentage and many of these could claim but a single generation of American parentage behind them.
Churches.— Church statistics go far to confirm these figures, for of 345 churches of all denominations listed in the city directory of 1915, 65 were Roman Catholic and 38 Jewish. Among others, the Baptist denomination had in the same year 35 churches within the city; the Congregational-Trinitarians had 36; the Congregational-Unitarians, 24; the Methodist Episcopal Church, 31; the Lutherans, 12; the Presbyterians, 11; and the Episcopalians, 36. When one considers the history of New England, these statistics are, indeed, surprising. Among the various other denominations which have a footing in Boston is the Christian Science Church, whose temple, or mother-church, is one of the architectural landmarks of a city which boasts many famous and beautiful buildings.
Commerce.— With the growth and diversification of the population has come a corresponding increase in commerce and manufactures. Boston is not a city of one dominant manufacture, nor is its import and export business highly specialized in one line. Nevertheless, in the manufacture of boots and shoes, clothing, pianos and organs and a number of specialties, Boston is one of the leading cities of the Union, and as a wool market it stands first. The United States census of manufactures for 1914 recorded 3,138 industrial establishments of factory grade, employing 96,913 persons, of whom 78,894 were wage earners, receiving annually in wages $49,444,000. The capital invested aggregated $214,735,000, and the year's output was valued at $284,802,000; of this, $134,234,000 was the value added by manufacture.
The port of Boston is firmly established as the chief port of New England and as one of the largest in the United States. With exports of $71,961,259 and imports of $162,998,471, total $234,959,730, Boston's foreign trade in 1914 was surpassed by that of only two other American cities, New York and New Orleans. The tonnage of vessels in foreign trade which entered and cleared in the year 1913 was over 5,000,000, in 1914 slightly under 5,000,000. The coastwise trade was also considerable, as was the number of passengers coming and going on the steamship lines which make regular sailings from the port.
Boston's rank among American cities was officially summed up in ‘Boston Statistics, 1915,’ as follows: “First in value of property per capita, first in municipal assets per capita, first in banking power per capita, the first shoe and leather centre, the first wool market, the second importing seaport, the second textile centre, third in foreign trade, also in amount of bank clearings, the fourth postal district, fourth (close to third) in total assessed valuation, fourth (probably) in population, the fifth exporting seaport, and seventh in the value of its manufactures.”
Transportation.— A few words should be said about the transportation and terminal facilities of Boston. There are two main railroad stations in the city, the North and South stations. Into the former come all the trains of the Boston & Maine system, which covers especially northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Passengers on the Boston & Maine to and from Boston in the year 1913-14 numbered over 25,000,000. The South station, reputed to be the largest railroad station in the world, is the main terminal for two railroads, the Boston & Albany, now a New York Central line, and the New York, New Haven & Hartford. This station handles annually even more passengers than does the North station. Within the city Boston has an excellent system of elevated, surface and sub-surface electric railways, now under the single management of the Boston Elevated Railway Company and giving both local transportation and rapid transit into adjacent cities and towns. The subways are owned, and were built, by the city, sometimes in co-operation with other cities, and are leased to the Boston Elevated company at fixed annual rentals. There are now many miles of subway and extensions are continually being made. Without subways and elevated lines, the older parts of Boston would be hopelessly congested during the rush hours of the morning and evening.
With the new century, Boston awoke to the necessity of developing her harbor facilities to more efficiently handle the growing commerce. In the past 15 years the Federal, State and city governments have co-operated on a scheme of development, which, though held up at times by unforeseen delays, has gone steadily on toward the goal of completion. One of the main channels of the harbor has been deepened and widened; an immense drydock has been constructed; several large new piers have already been completed, at an expense of millions of State money; and still other works are in process. When this work shall have been all completed and the two main railroad stations more closely linked up with one another and articulated with the means of local transportation, especially the Boston Elevated system, Boston will have solved its chief transportation and terminal problems for some years to come.
Points of Interest.— The city and its environs offer to the visitor and sightseer a variety of points of interest almost if not quite unequaled in an equal space anywhere in the United States. The city and the State have taken care to preserve many of the more famous buildings of an earlier day. Among those which remain are the Old State House and Faneuil Hall, dating from 1748 and 1742, respectively, and a group of the old meeting-houses, including Christ Church (1723), the Old South Meeting-house (1792), and King's Chapel (1749). In the Navy Yard in Charlestown lies the old frigate Constitution, exemplifying the preparedness of another day. Bunker Hill, its monument, and Dorchester Heights are all within the present city limits.
Changes.— In growing from a town to a metropolis, Boston has undergone fundamental changes, perhaps not all for the better. Like most American cities, it suffers from much bad architecture. But since the middle of the last century and especially in the past 30 years, many improvements have been made in the appearance of the city. The old part of the city still suffers from crooked, narrow, poorly-planned streets, some steep grades and other hindrances to traffic, but with the filling in of the Back Bay district, the city took the first step toward the development of a real city plan. Ample width was given to the streets and the blocks were laid out on the rectangular plan. Later the Fenway district was made a place of architectural beauty by the locating in it of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Harvard Medical School and other buildings of note. Elsewhere in the city there have been other acts of replanning, as at Copley Square, upon which fronts the splendid Public Library. In 1913, by the erection of the Custom House Tower, the skyline of the city was entirely changed; this splendid tower of stone-masonry, standing in the business district and close to the wharfs, rises high above the buildings in its vicinity and can be seen from afar on all sides of the city. A building-heights law prohibits other buildings from even approaching it in height. No enumeration of the better buildings about Boston would be complete which did not mention the State House, which stands on Beacon Hill, fronting the Common, and has been greatly enlarged since its original “Bulfinch Front” was built in 1795-97.
Parks, Playgrounds, etc.— The parks and playgrounds movement may fairly be said to have had its beginning for Americans in Boston. The city still stands at the head of those communities which have actually achieved their aims in this direction. There are within the city 3,574 acres of land devoted to park and playground purposes, over one-tenth of the total land area of the city. Of this area, 2,692 acres are under control of the city and 882 acres under control of the State. The Common, with an area of 48 acres, and the Public Garden, with an area of 24 acres, lie almost at the centre of the city. No district is without its park or its playground, no part of the community without an easily accessible breathing spot. Yet here again we must consider not Boston alone, but the metropolitan district. A State-appointed Metropolitan Park Commission has developed in the environs of the city a supplementary system of parks and reservations which is perhaps the most complete in America. Almost every part of the whole system can be reached from any part of the city on payment of a five-cent fare. North of the city lies the Middlesex Fells Reservation, containing over 3,000 acres of woodland and hills. South of the city lies the Blue Hills Reservation, containing 4,232 acres. The ocean beaches north and south of the city have been preserved and equipped with bathing facilities. Both banks of the Charles River have been included in the general scheme for a number of miles inland. And finally, all the important units in the system have been linked up one with another by means of a system of well-kept boulevards. Indeed, in every respect, in planning as well as in maintenance, in the equipment of playgrounds and the provision of bathing facilities and in the more especially educative features provided at the Marine Park, the Franklin Park Zoo and the Arnold Arboretum, the park system of Boston and of the metropolitan district may be said to be excellent.
Education.— The facilities offered by the city for education in all the arts and sciences are ample and of high order. At the base lies an extensive system of kindergartens and primary grade schools, above which are the grade schools, junior high schools and high schools. In addition there were in 1914 30 night schools of all grades, with 451 teachers, 77 playgrounds with 133 instructors, 87 school physicians and 35 school nurses. The total number of teachers in day schools was 3,108, of whom 451 were men. The cities of Massachusetts have a large amount of local autonomy in school affairs and Boston has made full use of this privilege. The city spends already $6.89 per capita for the support of schools, therein leading all the cities of the United States, and would undoubtedly spend more were there not legal restrictions on the amount which may be spent for school purposes. Indeed, this financial restriction upon the powers of the city has had the bad effect in the last few years of necessitating a larger number of pupils per teacher, the ratios in 1914 being 43 to 1 in the grade schools, 29 to 1 in the high schools and 26 to 1 in the kindergartens. The annual expenditures for all purposes in 1914 were $84.69 per attending pupil in the day high schools and $41.36 per attending pupil in the day elementary schools.
The city itself offers no higher education except through its library, which now has over 1,000,000 volumes in its collection and maintains 30 branch libraries and reading-rooms. It circulates annually over 2,000,000 volumes. Instruction in the arts is given by the School of Drawing and Painting, housed in the Museum of Fine Arts, and in music by the New England Conservatory of Music, as well as by a number of other schools and private teachers. Boston University (q.v.) is within the city limits and just across the river lies Cambridge, which has been the seat of Harvard College, now Harvard University (q.v.), for nearly 300 years, and to which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (q.v.) is moving in 1916. The Lowell Institute, founded in 1838 with an endowment of $237,000, offers each year a number of courses of free lectures of a high order. The Boston Symphony Orchestra has already educated a large group of people to an appreciation of the best in music.
Legislation.— The constitution of Massachusetts puts almost no restrictions upon the power of the legislature to make laws for cities. The legislature, meeting annually in the city of Boston, and observing the rising importance of the metropolis in the affairs of the State, has seen fit to keep in its own hands almost the whole legislative power in the city's affairs. The legislature enacts each year a large number of bills for the government of Boston alone or for the metropolitan district. In 1897 it was asserted that in the past 75 years the legislature had passed 532 special acts affecting the city or the towns which have been annexed to it; another count showed over 400 from 1885 to 1908. The number of such special acts seems to increase rather than decrease. Some affairs have been taken entirely out of the control of the city, such as the police department. The State legislature is in a real sense, the chief governing body of the city.
Government.— Boston had no charter as a city until 1822, when its population was already approaching 50,000 and town government was no longer possible. Between 1822 and 1909 the city had many minor changes of government, but it was through a large part of that period governed by a mayor with little power, a small board of aldermen and a large council. From the first the mayor was an elective officer and the tendency was for his powers to increase at the expense of those of the council. The large, double-chambered council came to be thoroughly discredited because of its inefficiency and its tendency to play politics. In 1909, following an investigation of the financial methods and condition of the city, the legislature enacted a new charter framed by a committee of citizens, which gave more power and responsibility to the mayor, and substituted for the old unwieldy council a body of nine men elected at large for three-year terms. The mayor now serves a four-year term, but may be recalled at the end of his second year. His salary is $10,000 annually. He has extensive power over the annual budget, for the council only may reduce it, and that only upon a two-thirds vote. His appointments to the chief places in the administration require no aldermanic confirmation, but may be rejected by the State Civil Service Commission. Most minor positions are filled under civil service rules laid down by the State commission. Members of the council receive $1,500 per year. As a body they may reduce the budget and they have also the ordinance power, including the power to create and to abolish city departments.
The city's school system is under two boards. The school committee, composed of five members elected at large, has charge of the curriculum and the staff of teachers. The school-house commission, which has charge of the physical plant and the erection of new buildings, is composed of three members appointed by the mayor.
Elections come annually. Nominations are by petition. At present 3,000 signatures of bona-fide voters are required to nominate a candidate for the mayoralty, 2,000 signatures for a place in the council or on the school committee. The nominations and the elections are non-partisan, Boston being the first large city in the country to use this feature, and second only to San Francisco in the system of election at large for the council.
Problems of government and administration in Boston are in a number of cases of deep concern to more than the city. Many of them are truly metropolitan problems. For this reason the legislature of the State has deemed it wise to take out of the hands of the city government, as such, the control of the police, the water supply, the main drainage system and the park system. Each one of these departments is controlled by State-appointed officers, and their annual budgets are practically mandatory upon the city. The police system has at its head a single commissioner appointed by the governor for a five-year term. His police jurisdiction extends only to the bounds of the city proper. Parks, water supply and the main drainage and sewerage system are under State commissions whose jurisdictions cover more than the city, including, indeed, many cities and towns in the metropolitan district.
The city is thus hedged about on all sides by the control of the State. It has also been compelled to assume a very large portion of the metropolitan debt. On 1 July 1914, the city was carrying 77 per cent of the metropolitan water debt, 59 per cent of most of the park debt, 43 per cent of most of the sewer debt and also some minor debts of the larger district, the total metropolitan debt borne by the city being over $35,000,000. On 1 Feb. 1915, the total net debt of the city was $81,974,576, or about $110 per capita. The city of New York alone among American cities exceeded this per capita indebtedness. This rising tide of municipal indebtedness, coupled with a steady increase in the annual payments for current expenses, has recently given people both within and outside the city the idea that Boston is the most expensively governed city in the United States. In 1913 the per capita payments for all governmental costs amounted to $45.06. New York, with per capita expenditures of $46.78, was the only American city to exceed Boston in expenditures. The average for all cities of over 500,000 population was $37.56. When put upon a basis of expenditures per $1,000 of assessed valuation, Boston and New York both make much better showings, Boston's being even better than New York's. The tax rate in 1914 on 100 per cent valuation was $17.50, of which $13.57 was for municipal purposes. Over $24,000,000 of the net debt of the city is for rapid transit purposes, mainly subways, and is self-paying. Nevertheless, when all possible deductions and allowances are made, the city's financial operations during the past 20 years have laid themselves open to much criticism. From 1903 to 1907, inclusive, public borrowings increased by almost $6,500,000 annually. These criticisms bore fruit in 1907 in the creation of the finance commission, which was in 1909 made a permanent State commission, though the city continues to pay the bills. This commission has done a great deal to point out defects in the city's financial operations and its reports are of considerable value to the student of municipal government. It serves also to educate the more intelligent among the voters. It was the work of this commission in its first two years which brought about the important changes in the government of the city which were effected in 1909.
Warning: Default sort key "Boston, Massachusetts" overrides earlier default sort key "Boston (Mass.)".