HOW TO BUILD A CITY
P. Gerard, C. E.
How to Build a City (Philadelphia: Review Printing House, 1872):3-24.The author's training and experience remain unknown. Possibly he was involved as an engineer on one of the Western railroads that were actively locating, laying out, and developing sites for new towns. If the author's short preface is to be believed, he developed his ideas from "twelve years of travel and observation...specially in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Paris, London, Liverpool, Vienna, Rome, Florence, Milan, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Hague, and Brussels." Possibly Gerard lived in Philadelphia where he published his book. At least in this work he refers to aspects of that city frequently. Beyond that we know nothing about him except that he had a passion for details. The reader will find virtually every feature of this proposed city identified and fully described and explained.Although the cities of this country, especially in the Middle States, are generally superior in comfort to those of Europe, many ameliorations can still be introduced. The erection and enlargement of cities are of such general bearing that, without favoring any extra legal officiousness, we yet think the legislature of each State could decree, on this subject, general rules, obliging every urban locality, however small, to have some plan or map which all extensions should follow.
Some European cities, among which is Paris, have cost more to rectify and ameliorate than to build; and even in this country, with the sums used to repair the want of foresight, or the carelessness of the first builders, especially in the lower part of New York, in New England cities, and in New Orleans, they could build a faubourg from New York to San Francisco. The adequate planning of a city is a question of trade ratio, property value, public health, order and security, facility of communication--the realization of the highest of all desirable comforts and conveniences. Considerations of a moral as well as of a material nature should inspire the founders of a city. They must further take into notice the modifications that for a century our civilization has received, and still receives every day--the narrowing range of social inequalities as the sequence of the political equality established by the growth of republicanism. The class of hired help, or servants, will be continually reduced to smaller proportions, and more generally families will be obliged to do themselves their household work. To this end, however, invention is rapidly affording facilities. Already the use of gas for cooking has given wonderful results; the washing in public establishments can be done with great promptness and economy; and when all houses receive heat as they receive gas and water, what will remain to do in a family will not be a work insurmountable. In fact, the regeneration of the social order resides, for a great part, in the good construction of cities.
But such construction as we suggest must be done by companies. Formerly cities were so slowly built that no dispositions were taken in view of the future, and their enlargement, like their creation, was the work of chance and hazard. Most of them took birth from some establishment which a stream had at first attracted; then time and circumstances did the rest. But in our daily facility of communication hastens the formation of cities. In this country speculation seizes upon some favorable site, streets are traced, an appeal is made to populations, advantages are offered to the first residents, and it is thus that from the beginning of this century most of the western cities have grown with such rapidity. The time is not far distant when companies will be organized for erecting cities, especially in those immense solitudes, where, not long ago, a few Indians were the only inhabitants--in that vast territory designated on the maps at the beginning of this century, "Unknown Parts"--where, as an attestation of human progress, soon will be seen cities which will excel the old ones in beauty, comfort, and happiness.
How to Trace Streets and Avenues.
A bay, a river, a lake, or a railroad, is the highway of transportation, on the borders of which our speculators to-day start their towns. If a city is to be built on a railroad, a canal, or a river, the streets must be traced parallel to it, with the avenues at right angles. We suggest this disposition from the fact that cities generally spread more along the water; and as streets are, in our plan, more numerous than avenues, there will be less digging against the sloping of the ground.
Squares Reserved for Public Buildings.
There are seen on the plan five lines of small blocks, parallel to the avenues. These blocks of 180 by 100 feet are designed for public buildings, and some of them are parks. There should be in each park a reading room, with inkstands, &c. Besides, every park would contain water-closets for both sexes, so generally needed in this country. Furnaces to heat whole blocks of houses, boilers to furnish steam for manufacturing purposes, are also seen in those small squares, under which pass the collecting sewers and some underground railroads. In the United States most of the public building are enclosed in the middle of blocks, some even in narrow streets; the most favored stand on a corner. In fact, we pass at the foot of the finest structures without perceiving them. In the present plan, a church, an asylum, a court of justice, a great public school, an academy, a theatre, a bank, a railroad station, a public library, or a great hotel, stands in the middle of one of these small squares, and could stand nowhere else. This measure is suggested not only by love for art, but also a greater protection against fire.
Some Dispositions to Be Taken in the Business Part of the City.
Every important city in the United States has a part of it destined for business purposes, and it is generally composed of offices and stores of all kinds. In our plan the business part of the city is a quadrilateral figure, limited on each side by a boulevard. A line of small squares crosses the middle of the business part, at the centre of which is the city hall, occupying the central square. In the others are the post-office, the courts, telegraph offices, the central police station, the custom house, &c.; in fact, the most frequented public buildings for business purposes. In that part the steps cannot project on the sidewalk, but must be placed in the interior of the buildings. This last disposition--obligatory in Boston, Mass., and also in many parts of Europe--without injuring the value of the buildings, prevents incumbrance on the sidewalks.
Streets Reserved for Dwellings Only.
Our plan reserves every third street for dwellings only. The habit of having the dwelling distant from the place of business is characteristic of the American. The dwelling is for him a retreat of comfort, and all commercial activity is an injury to the quiet of which a business man has need. The interdiction of trading in the streets set apart for residences will receive, we are certain, the approbation of nine-tenths of the population. It is also a way to put an end to those demolitions--those continual alterations which make a city an eternal building-yard. Besides, this disposition distributes the wealthy population in all parts of the city, and prevents the formation of pauper districts like those of London and Paris, so dangerous to public safety. These dens, inaccessible to the police as well as to charity, would be unknown to our city.
Is very much needed in most of the great cities of the United States. The one represented in our plan is a great square formed by four large thoroughfares crossing the city from north to south, and from east to west. This makes the limits of our business district. On the boulevard would take place military reviews, great processions, &c.; as in a well-regulated city no parade will be allowed to obstruct a business thoroughfare. In the thoroughfares of which it is formed, and which should be public promenades as well as streets, no cars should run and no trade be allowed. These four streets should be 210 feet from house to house, distributed as follows: Every house should have fronting the street a garden 40 feet in depth, in which a tree of the largest species should be planted, at 10 feet from the sidewalks, and in the centre line of the grounds. Between a sidewalk of 20 feet and the street should be a belt of ground, in which should be planted another line of trees. This belt, surrounded by an iron fence, should be for the necessary development of the trees, and would form a charming parterre, ornamented with flowers; so that in these four large arteries the sidewalks are between two gardens. Taking out of 210 feet the preceding allowances, there remain 60 feet for the street, which should be in wooden pavement or in gravel. Two of the large thoroughfares going from north to south lead to the park, and bound it.
We thus designate the routes established at the summit of the five lines of public stables, and also over some squares, and which, passing by means of bridges above the streets, traverse the city in length and breadth. From the summit of these strategic lines all the streets and avenues, without exception, can be seen, and so, many thefts prevented, fire discovered, and, in case of need, any riot quelled. These lines would have telegraphic wires and munitions of war sufficient to meet every emergency. Should the public safety be threatened, alarm clocks would warn the inhabitants to remain in their houses. The strategic lines communicate by a stairway with police stations established under them. It should be forbidden to hang in the middle of the streets, signs, or anything that would prevent them from being distinctly seen from the strategic lines. For the same reason, trees should not be planted in the ordinary streets and avenues. The large avenues forming the boulevard, and some of the streets of great breadth, indicated in the plan, are the only lines in which it should be permitted to plant trees.
Steam Railroads--How They Traverse the City.
Our railroads pass under the avenues, not in dark tunnels--both expensive and disagreeable--but in a trench open to the sky, made in the middle of the street. The bridges would be of the entire width of the avenues, so that one could pass above the railroads without being aware of it. A strip of garden of about ten feet in width, and surrounded by an iron fence, would separate this trench from travellers. By this means those accidents which are caused by the noise of the locomotive would be avoided, and the walls of the trench would be protected against heavy loads passing in the street. These trenches, which are far superior to tunnels, and still more so than air-line railroads, like the one in Greenwich street, New York, are beyond comparison less costly.
Width of the Streets and Modes of Pavement.
We designate as streets all the space included between two lines of houses; that is to say, that we consider the space occupied by the steps as belonging to the street. This width, which in our plan is seventy-five feet for ordinary streets and avenues, allows us to establish in each of them the following lines of rails: Two pairs for street cars, and two pairs for other vehicles. We suggest for these four pairs of tracks not the railroad measurement in the United States, which is 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, but the wide gauge of 5 feet 2 inches, needed for two horses. Besides these four pairs, another 2 1/2 feet gauge should be established near each sidewalk, for hand-carts, making altogether six pairs of tracks for each street and avenue. We would urge strongly the adoption of this width: it is an important matter which has been submitted to long and frequent discussions. Seventy-five feet from house to house is a convenient breadth; it is a little wider than the ordinary streets of the upper part of New York, about six feet more than the average of those west of Broad street, Philadelphia, and something like fifteen feet less than the generality of those of Washington, which are too wide. A street of seventy-five feet cannot be considered out of proportion, neither in a village nor in the largest city. For us it is the only rational width, because it allows the following subdivisions:--
A.--Centre of the street in granite pavement, called Belgian 4 feet
B.--On each side of this centre, one pair of rails of 5 feet 2 in. gauge, with its centre in wooden pavement 10 feet 4 inches
C.--A belt of four feet in Belgian pavement 8 feet
D.--Pair of rails like letter B 10 feet 4 inches
E.--Belt in Belgian pavement like letter C 8 feet
F.--Pair of rails 2 5/12 feet gauge, for hand-carts, centre in wooden pavement 4 feet 10 inches
G.--Gutters of 3/4 foot 1 foot 6 inches. Width of the street from sidewalk to sidewalk 47 feet
H.--Sidewalk from the street to the steps, 9 feet 18 feet
I.--Allowance for the steps, 5 feet 10 feet. Width of the street from house to house 75 feet.
A street needs six pairs of rails. It is with their help that all the locomotion ought to be done in a city. They have been adopted for cars; why not accept them also for all other vehicles? We will not speak here of their superiority over all other ways of transportation. They are so great a comfort that the horses themselves show us their advantage by their readiness to take them.
According to the preceding arrangements one sees that we use to form our streets--the rails, the granite, and the wood. A pavement in wood is less durable than one in stone, but affords to horses a pleasant passage not injurious to their shoeing and their limbs, with the great advantage of being less noisy. In fact, we suggest the use of wooden pavements only where it is really useful; we mean between the tracks where the horses pass. These wooden pavements should be made of boards about five feet long (the gauge of the railroad) and five inches thick. They could be used in both sides, and then sawed out anew; so that the same board being used four times instead of one, its duration should be over thirty years. To avoid as much as possible the annoyance of leaving the tracks, there should be curves at the corners of each street.
Some persons would like to introduce between two large streets a narrow one for the poorer classes. This is not only erroneous as a social principle, but a financial mistake. A house in a narrow street has less value than it would have in a street seventy-five feet wide. Space is never wanting when we commence to build a city; we do wrong not to make use of it generously, but at the same time with discretion.
Blocks of Dwellings--Their Size, &c.
A complete block must present an uninterrupted line of buildings, without projections as well as without hollows. This disposition ought to exist, not only for the front, but also for the back part of the main building. The houses of the same block can differ in area and figure, but they must be all of the same height, in order to place under the whole cornice of the block a pipe which could, in case of a fire, water its four main fronts. In view of having this pipe able to operate in winter, it should be kept empty with its faucet in the cellar, and free from freezing. Blocks with houses of the same height, in presenting a solid and regular body, offer no salient points, and can resist better the destructive power of gales and hurricanes. The width of the blocks should be 180 feet, which would give to each building 90 feet, besides the front steps. Those who would judge such apportionment too small, could take two lots in depth or width. The length of our blocks is 700 feet. Such length of extension may seem formidable, but we have many reasons for adopting such a measurement.
Our first reason is the obligation of having a bridge over every crossing of the steam-car railroads. Consequently, in reducing the number of avenues, we reduce the number of bridges. Also, in having less surface of avenues, we have less expenses of many kinds. Besides, we find in blocks of 700 feet in length by 180 feet in width, sufficient space to have here and there a railroad depot, or some other large establishment, without being obliged to intercept any street, like the Baltimore depot at Philadelphia has done at Fifteenth street. It is a great annoyance to us when, riding on a street, we come in front of a square or public building, where we must suddenly turn to go around it. The only ones of this kind in our plan are some of those leading to our great public park. In fact, blockaded streets ought to be avoided as much as possible. A city of which all the thoroughfares are straight and unintercepted is certainly healthier, from the fact that the air passing freely throughout it, carries away the deleterious miasms and maintains the public salubrity.
If the desire of giving more ground to each structure should trouble the builders of a city, especially at the time of its foundation, such a concession could be allowed, but the subdivision of the grounds could be made afterwards according to the limits and regulations given in this section.
As our avenues have several lines of rails, the longest distance to reach the cars does not exceed four hundred feet. It is also very pleasant to be able to take a trip of seven hundred feet without being troubled with vehicles crossing the streets. It is especially when steam will have replaced the horse that the advantage of having such long blocks will be more appreciated.
When Penn traced the plan of Philadelphia he committed a grave mistake in making the blocks square. He would have been better inspired had he made them narrower--rectangular parallelograms. The draining of a town formed with square blocks necessitates an expense almost double that of one formed with narrow blocks. Besides, in allowing buildings too great a depth of ground, Penn prepared the formation of a great quantity of alleys, which are afterwards converted into narrow streets. Their introduction will always be difficult to prevent, especially in the centre of large cities where the high price of ground suggests expedients. We must keep in notice, also, that there happens in the existence of a country periods of remissness, when public administrations tolerate such encroachments. It may be thought that in giving to our blocks a length of 700 feet we expose many buildings to one fire; but such blocks, besides other protection, contain less houses than the square ones of 400 feet front.
Extremities of Blocks
Every extremity of our blocks is composed of six constructions. Each corner belongs to the street, so that there remain fronting the avenue four numbers only, or eight for both sides, which facilitates the numbering of the streets from 10 to 10, instead of from 100 to 100, as in the avenues. As the extremity of the blocks necessitates a particular construction, we refer here to the design of it. Every corner should be cut in such a manner as will allow sufficient room to put there the door of the corner building. By cutting off the corners of the blocks the driver of a car can see a great deal sooner another crossing car, and thus prevent a collision. At every corner should be a permanent shade, under which passengers could await the coming of the cars....
A style every day more and more uniform for the construction of houses seems to be accepted in cities. It is because the useful is less contested than the agreeable. The dwellings for the middle classes are generally, in the Northern and Middle States, as follows: For the first story, a hall, in which are the main stairs; a parlor, with two windows fronting the street; then, at the end of the hall, in the part called the "back building," are the dining-room and kitchen. The second story of the back building has an addition of about eight feet in length, containing the bath-room, and a small piece called the store-room: generally this addition is in wood, but the use of it for this part of the dwelling ought to be formally forbidden. The third story is above the main building only, and has but two rooms.
For the wealthier classes, the arrangement which precedes is almost the same, with more width of front and more amplitude. Besides, under the addition which we have spoken of, is a second kitchen for the summer, and instead of a single parlor, two are often used. We remark here, however, that the generality of the new houses have but one parlor. In New York, where the greatest part of the dwellings have been converted into tenement houses, the dining-room is generally in the basement; but in buildings intended for tenement or boarding houses, we suggest that the dining-room and parlor be on the first floor and fronting the street, as the depth of our lots and the disposition of our sewers do not allow the extension and spreading of any construction towards the yard. Every block should have some of these dwelling houses.
We have no modifications to suggest concerning the dwellings which we have just described. Almost the only amelioration they can receive is the heater. With the exception of the narrow dwellings for small families, none of less than eighteen feet front should be erected in the streets for dwellings only, and should have no more and no less than three stories. In these houses a hall should be obligatory, and should not be inside less than five feet and a half in width, with double door. For cool regions we suggest dwellings of a more compact structure, and without outbuildings....
Large Blocks for Depots of Coal, Bricks, Timber, Stone, Lime, Gas Works, Saw Mills for Wood and Marble, Great Metallurgical Establishments, and Others Which Necessitate Space.
These blocks form the frame of this plan on three sides. They are about three times the size of our ordinary blocks. In the middle of them pass two lines of railroads. Great precautions should be taken in these blocks against fire, both its occurrence and extension. No more than a quarter of a million feet of timber should be kept in the same yard. It should be observed, also, to separate depots of combustible matters by non-combustible ones.
Lines of Blocks for Stables, Horse-ponds, Coach and Wagon Houses, Covered Stations for Hacks, Work-shops for Carriage and Wagon Builders, Horse Shoers, and Feed Stores.
These lines, in our plan, are six in number. The manufacturing establishments and trades enumerated at the head of this section should be allowed to be placed only in these lines of streets. The stables should be under the control of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Horses would have in them plenty of room--something very much needed in the generality of stables in our large cities, where horses are often obliged to lie down on their knees, which is demonstrated by a blister inside of the upper part of the fore leg. It is in New York, especially, that these blisters can frequently be seen. As it has been acknowledged that a horse alone in a stable suffers as much as a man in the cell of a prison, horses should be there in company; taking into notice, however, that in view of avoiding the propagation of glanders and other contagious diseases, more than six horses should never be kept together. Mules, milch cows, &c., should also be admitted in these stables. We will not speak of the utility of such establishments, nor of the satisfaction and relief which all owners of horses would experience in seeing them well cared for and well fed: these facts would speak for themselves.
In the lines of blocks of which we are speaking, should be found horse-ponds. These ponds would not only render the work of the groom easier, but would be also, in some localities, a great help in case of fire. In these blocks the poor cartman who does not know, most of the time, where to put his wagon, and who, against his will, annoys his neighbors with it, could find a place always ready. There, also, the carriage and wagon builders, whose business needs a great deal of room, could have it at discretion. In fact, the coach horses which pass in waiting, whole days exposed to the inclemency of the weather, could wait there under good shades.
As the stores for hay and feed are nowhere better situated than in the vicinity of the stables, they would have in these lines good buildings surrounded with all the precautions against fire; avoiding also the accumulation of too large supplies in the same building. It is over these blocks that are established the strategic lines.
Sewers and Underground Works.
The subterranean part of a city is a great establishment, which we must think of before commencing. It is necessary to have a clear idea of the natural sloping of the ground, in view of securing an easy outlet for the sewers. But, whatever might be these arrangements, all the sewers, except the collectors, must be parallel to the streets. These collectors, or main sewers, run parallel to the avenues, and are under our lines of small squares, from which their accumulation is carried away by boats or steam cars, to be treated for agricultural purposes. The wagons used in the sewers should be built so as to be driven in the field with horses. We give herewith the description of our three different underground lines.
Pipe for Receiving the Sweepings of the Streets.
Instead of carrying the cleanings of the streets, at a great cost, and also to the great annoyance of the inhabitants, the accumulation should be put into an inlet under each corner of the sidewalks. This inlet already exists in all the great cities of the country. From that inlet the sweepings would go into a large pipe, seven feet in diameter, lying under the centre of the street. In this pipe should be rails upon which wagons could travel. We notice at this point, that on account of our narrow blocks, the avenues have no need of pipes; their most distant point to an inlet being not over 105 feet. If our blocks were square, with fronts from 400 to 500 feet, as they are in Philadelphia, the distance to the inlet would be such as renders necessary the same pipe under the avenues; and as one of these lines of pipe ought to pass under the other, we do not exaggerate in saying that the underground establishment of a city erected in square blocks would cost about double those erected in the narrow ones.
Pipe for Carrying Away Ashes.
This second pipe, of the same size as the other, should be laid under the extreme limit of the yard, and used by the two rows of houses. At the top of it should be, for each house, two narrow openings, to which should be adapted in one a box to receive the ashes, and in the other, one to receive the offal of the kitchen. It is by the bottom of this same pipe that the wash and rain water could find a discharge. Everybody can understand how much easier, with such a pipe, cleanliness in the houses would be secured.
Pipe for the Water-closets.
This third pipe should be of the same size as the two others, and would pass at four feet under the rear extremity of the building. Every row of houses should have one of these pipes. The contents of the water-closets should go into wagons always ready to receive them. At the extremity of the pipes should be, also, reservoirs, made in such a way as will let the water out and reserve the fecal matter, which should be sold as manure. Every house, however small, should have water from public pipes, bath, gas, at least a water-closet in communication with the public pipe, and all the regular discharges for ashes, rain and washing water, &c., here indicated.
Instead of the ordinary lamp-post, every other corner and every boarding-house--or, in their absence, some other buildings favorably situated for the purpose--should have over the door a lamp with a large reflector. This lamp should be under the care of the tenant of the house. If the tenant should neglect the lighting or extinguishing of the lamp, the nearest policeman should take charge of it. This arrangement would avoid an obstruction and large expense to the city.
Houses for Small Families.
Philadelphia, of all the important cities of the United States, is the one which offers most facilities to the artizan for procuring a home, on account of the number of houses which have been constructed with reference to this class of residents. But, nevertheless, a numerous class has been forgotten there, as well as elsewhere. We refer particularly to families of refined taste and limited means, composed of only two or three persons, who, not being able to find in the choice portions of the city small but handsome houses, adapted to their taste and habits, are obliged to board--preferring to occupy apartments rather than live in streets altogether unsuitable to their mode of life. In consequence of the present construction of cities, this class, so numerous and so worthy of consideration, is virtually without a home.
In order to supply such a need, each block or square of streets reserved for residences should contain at least, in each row facing the street, six houses, with the interior only nine to eleven feet in width. These houses should have only the door on the ground-floor, and one window to each upper story; but they should have cellars with a small opening under the stairs, water for the bath, and all the comforts of the other dwellings.... The doors should always be placed between two windows, so that the smaller could not be distinguished from the larger dwellings. The hall or entry should be nine to eleven feet in width, and the interior should be arranged in such a manner that the visitor himself could not perceive that he is in a house which is only about half the size of the others.
Depots for Petroleum, Alcohol, and Other Inflammable Substances.
Dangerous articles should be stored, if possible, near water, (some exception as to petroleum and the like,) far from any habitation and in cellars, the walls of which should be in brick, as much as possible of a fire-proof kind. These cellars should not be more than a hundred and eighty feet in length by twenty-five in width, and ten in height from the soil to the vault, which should be arched in full and covered with at least six feet of ground. The doors and shutters should be of iron. Each cellar should have three brick chimneys, sixty feet high by eight feet in diameter at the base, so that in case of a fire the blaze could find vent through these three openings. There should be between each cellar a space of twenty feet, filled with earth. These cellars should be built under the small squares along the quays.
Brussels, a capitol where great comfort exists, has electric dials, indicating the time with great uniformity. They can be seen at the corners of many streets, and other places. These useful time-keepers cost but very little, and it is astonishing that they are, as yet, almost unknown in this country. Every one of our blocks should have six of these dials, one at each extremity, facing the avenue, and two in each row of houses, facing the street.
We have for a long time thought that two oblique streets--streets which cross others at sharp angles (each intersecting the city from corner to corner) we mean from the north-east to the south-west and from the north-west to the south-east--to be two indispensable arteries. We acknowledge the advantage which they offer in shortening distances, but mature examination of the question has demonstrated to us the inconveniences of these crossings. Through the fact that they shorten distances they attract a crowd and create those encumbrances so obstructive in some large cities. The foot of Broadway, New York, and some points of the "city" in London, are examples of this annoyance. The cutting of streets in oblique lines causes in certain parts great danger, on account of the time needed to pass the crossings, and many accidents on the highway happen to these passages.
These oblique lines make, in their way, numbers of small triangular areas, change the angles of houses, and render them as unsightly as comfortless. They also destroy the regularity of a city and bewilder the stranger who searches his way.l Broadway of New York could have ended at Fifth avenue without any inconvenience. Oblique streets, in needing the same pipes and sewers as the others, would create underground still greater difficulties than on the surface. When a city has reached such a development as seems to need oblique lines, it is then that they become unpleasant by the encumbrance which they promote. In fact, so few of the inhabitants of a city go from one extreme corner to the other that too much would be done for them in creating all the annoyances which we have enumerated.
How We Intend to Heat Our City.
Heat can be sent into every habitation as well as water and gas. This innovation is, for the Northern and Middle States cities especially, of an immense benefit. It is almost the only comfort which these cities need. Evidently, to procure the general distribution of heat is not as simple as procuring water and gas. For the difficulties which seemed at first to impede the execution of this improvement the author proposes an invention of his own. The same coal that furnishes the gas can also furnish its part of heat. This has been lost up to the present time. As the gas-works cannot provide a sufficient supply of heat, there is an adapted plan of furnace which should be used to warm blocks of houses. Two tunnels in masonry, of seven feet in height by three in width inside, cross under the whole line of buildings into the cellars. From the tunnel the heat goes into the chimney. From the furnace it passes by the other tunnel, and goes to another distant chimney.
By the preceding description one sees that two passages are necessary. One only would furnish much heat to the buildings near the furnace and very little to those near the chimney. In view of making an equal distribution of the heat, these two independent passages or tunnels, with draughts in different directions, are necessary.... Two heating tunnels are entirely closed, without any access to them except by their extremities. They cut off, consequently, all communication between the front and rear of the cellar; in fact they make two cellars, each one needing a separate entrance. These tunnels would cost comparatively little, and the belt of about eleven feet taken from the cellar is a small encroachment taken from present fuel space. The tunnels need this space to allow an easy cleaning. It is from these tunnels that start secondary pipes to warm the buildings, and at their summit must be laid the gas, the water, and the steam pipes, where the frost would never trouble them. In the small public squares are large boilers for supplying steam for manufacturing purposes.
A Large Public Park.
The one we delineate is 6,690 feet long by 6,660 wide. It is near the northern centre of the city. It is a mistake to locate a public park too far from the centre of the city, because the citizens cannot so well enjoy it. One park is sufficient, even for the largest city. It is the best place for most amusements, even for horse races, for which can be used the great circle seen upon our plan. There is another carriageway and several avenues for pedestrians. It also contains the waterworks and reservoirs. There should be here, as at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, and at the Zoological Garden in London, the most beautiful specimens of plants and animals, especially the most useful, and which could be sold at a moderate price for propagation. In a word, the population could there look for and procure the greatest possible pleasure and the best refreshments at the least expense.
Measures for Preventing Basements from Being Used as Dwelling Places.
New York, particularly in the lower part, presents to-day the sad spectacle of a people dwelling in cellars, the generality of which have the ground covered with water, and where the young are emaciated, corrupted, and lost by thousands. Strict measures ought to be taken very soon to check this destruction of the body and degradation of the soul. Among civilized nations it ought to be interdicted to dwell below the level of the streets. Cellars ought only to serve as storing places for merchandise and provisions. A man has no more right to live in a basement than he has to commit suicide; he has no more right to keep his children there than he has to kill them. No cellar or basement should communicate directly with the street by a stairway, and it should be forbidden to carry on any retail business there.
The Cleanliness of Streets, Yards, and Gardens.
Everything which in a city is against cleanliness should be a violation of law. Cleanliness is one of our first necessities. Deleterious emanations compromise public health. Every citizen has the right of requiring neatness in the yard of his neighbor. The facilities afforded to all, in our plan, to get rid of ashes, offal, &c., would admit no pretext for uncleanliness. Every one knows that the dust of the streets is more or less dangerous, according to the miasms of which it is formed. When this dust is formed of decomposed vegetable or animal matters, it is a venom which inoculates itself into the system and produces terrible ravages. It is from this dust of the streets and marshy emanations that arise our main epidemics.
Public Baths and Swimming Schools.
Although a bath-room should be obligatory in each of our houses, some public bath-rooms should be erected here and there, where the sailor or the indigent traveler could find gratuitously the comforts of a bath. Swimming-schools, which should be a branch of public education, are generally needed, and are not now in the reach of the poorer classes. All should know how to swim. Our quays and squares furnish ample room for these two objects.
We all know that the chimneys of back buildings, when too low, have a very irregular draught. To prevent this annoyance these chimneys should reach the height of those of the main building, so that all the chimneys belonging to the same block should have their tops of the same level, in order to prevent the higher from interfering with the draught of the shorter. From the fact that the chimneys of the back building are more exposed to the gale, being more out from the roof, they require more solidity in their construction, and we suggest the erection of the back building chimneys of two adjoining houses in a single and stout body, with separate draughts. Our chimneys should pass the main roof at least eight feet, for the reasons explained in the following section.
Telegraph companies should have the right to establish, at their cost, telegraph wires on the sides of chimneys, avoiding interference with their draught. These wires should be at least seven feet from the top of the roof, and their attachment should be made in such a way as will not injure the interest or the convenience of the dwellers. In using chimneys as supports for telegraph wires, the expense and encumbrance of the poles would be avoided, and the wires would be more in safety, and easier of access over the roofs than from the streets.
These are very much needed in our cities. Such establishments, well managed, with apparatus like that used in the St. Nicholas Hotel, New York, would be an immense help, especially to families without servants. The management of public wash-houses is a very delicate matter. They can succeed only with the greatest kindness and tolerance, particularly toward the poorer classes. Although up to the present time the attempt to establish public wash-houses has been fruitless, this important question must not be abandoned; there cannot be any real comfort without them. The greatest promptness is also needed. There is in Elmira, N. Y., a wash-house, where the linen can be washed, dried, and ironed in less than thirty minutes. These establishments should be divided into two classes: those where the washing should be reasonably paid, and others where it should be done at the lowest possible price.
The plan of our city comprehends two large slaughter-houses, situated near the drove-yards or cattle-markets, having connection by railway with each other. In warm countries particularly, slaughter-houses should be well conducted. Everything in and about them should be clean and complete, and the space occupied by them should be ample for all necessities. The pavements should be of granite, and the water supply abundant. The slaughtering should be quickly and thoroughly done, especially in summer, so that the meat should be kept as pure as possible for the markets, and the skins preserved in proper condition. To these establishments should be attached out-buildings, where all the remaining particles could be utilized. The cutting of meats and making of sausage should be kept under strict surveillance. The waste blood and intestines suitable for manure should be carried off by cars constructed for that purpose. It is well known that slaughter-houses are a great benefit to all. The city of Brussels has the largest slaughter-house in the world. There the butchers were the most bitter against its erection, but to-day they acknowledge its advantages. Adequate arrangements induce greater cleanliness, without taking into consideration the fact that they can with less trouble utilize every particle of the animal.
Slaughter-houses should be made under the control of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the animals, before killing, should be examined by a skilful veterinary surgeon. Attached to the slaughter-houses should be spacious stables, where the cattle merchant or farmer could always be able to obtain, at a fair price, good shelter and food for the stock he intends for market. The intervention of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in these establishments would be for the good of the public as well as for the animals. A great deal of flesh of animals is eaten which have died of disease, or have been killed in an unhealthy state; calves have been led to slaughter that have been three days without drink. The cattle from Texas arrive at the North in a deplorable state, and not only has great cruelty been practiced on them from motives of gain or from negligence, but the lives of the people are endangered by eating unhealthy and unfit food.
From the slaughter-houses, of which we have just spoken, cars receive and carry the meat into the markets, in which are sold fish, vegetables, and provisions of all sorts; also trees, plants, and agricultural implements. These markets, occupying many of the small squares reserved for public buildings, have telegraphic communication with the wharves and slaughter-houses.
Avenues Reserved for the Passage of Live Stock.
As the passage of live stock is attended with danger, particular measures are taken on the subject in most cities. In the plan are three lines or avenues destined for the passage of such stock--one connecting the two cattle markets, and the others leading from the wharves to these markets. These passages are trenches, seven feet in depth and forty in width, similar to cuts for passage of railroad cars, and are divided the whole length by a fence, thus making two ways--one for the coming, the other for the going of stock. At intervals are placed doors or gates, which can be shut when necessary, to prevent the herds from becoming mixed.
Passages like those of Paris and Brussels (roofed with glass) are impracticable for the streets of this plan, which are seventy-five feet wide. The glass, also, in the United States would be more exposed to the ravages of hail than in Europe. We do not believe that covered passages are a great improvement, and we even consider them dangerous in warm countries. We remember the unpleasantness of the covered sidewalks of the Street of Rivoli, in Paris, which deprives the passer-by of the full sight of that magnificent thoroughfare. With all the facilities of communication afforded in this plan, where cars pass at every corner of the streets, we consider the shading of those corners a sufficient protection against the rain.
Designations for Streets, Avenues and Districts.
Instead of a central street, which in most localities is called Main street, and in some others Market street, we have a line of squares for public buildings from north to south, and one of the blocks from east to west. By this way numbers are the only designations which we use for our streets and avenues. In almost all new cities, instead of giving, as formerly, the names of persons or events of which they desire to perpetuate the remembrance, they use, and with reason, only numbers. Unless a sea or larger river serve for a natural limit, it is from the central block, where is the city hall, that must begin the first streets and avenues, for which we suggest the following designations: North-east, for the streets at the northern-right of city hall; North-west for the streets at the northern-left of city hall; South-east for the streets at the southern-right of city hall; South-west for the streets at the southern-left of city hall. Our city is divided also into four districts, having the same designation and limits.
The Numbering of Streets and Avenues.
At the centre of each block, facing the city hall, should be a lamp, from which should commence, at the north and the south, the first numbers for the streets, and, at the east and the west, the first numbers for the avenues. In the central block should be, for the streets, Nos. 1 to 99, so that after the first avenue would come No. 100, after the second 200, after the third 300, &c. As in the avenues there should never be more than eight numbers from street to street; instead of proceeding by hundreds, they would be by tens, so that after the first street comes No. 10, after the second 20, after the third 30, &c. According to our plan the part of the avenue between two streets has but six constructions, the corners belonging to the street. There remain, then, from street to street four numbers, or eight for both sides. The numbering of buildings should be obligatory and at the cost of the owners. The even numbers should be to the right on leaving the city hall. This system of numbering, adopted by Philadelphia, can be considered in every respect the best of all.
Sidewalks and Stairways.
All encroachments on the sidewalk other than steps should be forbidden. No stairways leading to the cellar or basement, no fence should be tolerated, even no show-window; and no cornice but that of the roof should project over the sidewalks. Front steps are beyond doubt great ornaments to a street. We consider for ordinary houses five steps, including the threshold, as the best number, because it needs no railing.
We have in our city two large cemeteries, a portion of which should be reserved for each religious denomination. It should be forbidden to establish anywhere else public cemeteries. It is well known that when in the centre of the city they are often converted into building-lots.
Precautions against Fire.
Constructions of wood should be prohibited in cities. Shingle roofs should equally be forbidden, and iron should replace wood as far as possible in all buildings. Without rejecting entirely the use of wood, we must employ it as little as possible, and every builder should think of the means of using the smallest quantity possible of combustible material. Thus, the roof, shutters, joists, and door-frames should be of iron, or equally non-combustible; the cellars arched, and their steps of stone, the hall covered with flag-stones or tiles instead of flooring. The wainscotting might be in stone or marble, and the wooden outbuildings replaced entirely by those of brick and stone. Of course we would not interdict any newly manufactured building material which shall be introduced in the progress of invention.
A great protection against fire lies also in the proper distribution of water. A pipe of large diameter, solely reserved for fires, should pass under the streets. This pipe should have branches on both sides, which should issue from the pavements, and upon which should be fitted forcing-pumps, always in working order. It is to the impossibility which firemen often experience of getting to a fire in time with their engines that the greatest disasters are often traceable. Independently of this pipe reserved for fires, another pipe, also of large dimensions, should pass along the yards between the two rows of buildings. Forcing-pumps should be fitted also to this pipe. From this large pipe should proceed one of much smaller diameter, which should run along all the interior part of the cornice, from whence it might water the four principal walls of the whole row of buildings, &c. As the frost would not fail to destroy the pipe leading to the cornice if it were full, we should be careful to keep it empty and to have its cock in a cellar, sheltered from the frost. The two large pipes of which we have spoken should be supplied from different reservoirs, in order that one should not counteract the action of the other....
Selected, scanned, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: email@example.com To Top of Page To Homepage