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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/467

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449
THE SUMMER HEAT OF CITIES.

management of its accomplished secretary, Prof. Lewis Collins, is a model organization of the kind, and has accomplished a vast amount of good in this field in that city. But it may well be questioned if we have not reached a period of sanitary reform in cities when a work of the kind we contemplate in New York should not be undertaken by the strong arm of the city government, as a matter of public policy, and carried steadily forward to its completion. The growth of the greater city is far too rapid in every direction to await the slow movements of the people under the pressure of voluntary organizations. The best work can be done in those outlying districts where the streets are as yet but sparsely built upon, and the soil has been undisturbed. Again, it is of the utmost importance that a work of this kind, which will largely prove one of city ornamentation, should be under the exclusive direction of a skilled central authority having ample power and means to harmonize every feature of the work from the center of the city to its remotest limits. Finally, the successful cultivation of trees and other vegetation in our streets can be successfully carried on only by experts in the art of tree culture, who devote their entire time and energies to these duties, and are sustained by the power of the city government. Mr. Frederick Law Olmstead remarks, "Not one in a hundred of all that may have been planted in the streets of our American cities in the last fifty years has had such treatment that its species would come to be if properly planted and cared for." Mr. Richards, in the paper referred to on Tree Planting in the Streets of Washington, makes the following statement: "The selection, planting, and care of all trees in the streets of Washington are under the direction of the District authorities; individual preferences and private enterprises are not allowed to regulate this improvement, as is generally done in other cities. Moreover, the city has its own nursery, where seeds planted from its own trees grow and supply all the needed varieties."

It is apparent that to accomplish such a work as we propose the undertaking must be placed under the jurisdiction of a department of the city government, skilled in the performance of such duties, fully equipped with all needful appliances, and clothed with ample power and supplied with the-financial resources necessary to overcome every obstacle. Fortunately, we have in our Department of Parks an organized branch of the city administration endowed with every qualification for the performance of these duties. The charter provides as follows: "It shall be the duty of each commissioner. . . to maintain the beauty and utility of all such parks, squares, and public places as are situated within his jurisdiction, and to institute and execute all measures for the improvement thereof for ornamental purposes and for the beneficial uses of the people of the