[chapter 4][p. 87] [p. 88]
IV. MADISON AS A PLACE OF RESIDENCE
Closely associated with and in some respects resulting from Madison's development as a governmental and educational center, is Madison's advance as a residence city and summer resort. But Madison's main claim as a place to live in or a place to visit rests upon the beautiful lakes and the unique achievements in park making of the Park and Pleasure Drive Association. These lakes and parks have heretofore given Madison a place of high distinction among residence cities of the Middle West, a place it cannot continue to hold, however, without a radical change with regard to future civic improvements. While the city was small, the natural, unspoiled beauty and charm of the site counted for much, and the public parks and drives, although limited, were effective. Now, with the growth of the city, the situation is rapidly changing. The lake shores are becoming more and more built upon and less and less available to the public; railroad tracks and crossings, poles and overhead wires, are all steadily increasing; street trees are rapidly deteriorating, and more and more unsightliness appears on every hand. As a beautiful city, Madison has a present tendency not upward but downward, because the changes noted above are not counteracted by a constructive civic policy leading to better railroad approaches, better looking streets, finer residence sections, more parks and playgrounds, in fact, better city planning. It is time to recognize that one important element in Madison's prosperity is its beauty, indeed, that this - if the broad and true meaning is given to the term - is the most important element in the control of the people.[p. 90]
The railroads appear to be the most serious factor in Madison's unmaking. Their approaches both in East and West Madison are inconvenient and ugly, their yards are located too near the center of the city, their tracks occupy what was a particularly beautiful stretch of lake front, crossing an arm of the lake in South Madison; and they actually run through the grounds of the University. Within two miles of the center of the city the three railroad companies have branched out so as to form nearlyMills Street) where the topography made the elimination of the grade crossing easy and natural, the street was actually filled up to the level of the railroad. No one who studies or carefully observes the cities of the United States, can fail to be impressed with the irreparable harm and financial loss due to the reckless fashion in which city councils and state legislatures have given the railroads apparently whatever they asked for, a policy which still prevails in many places, and which undoubtedly has been one of the chief causes of wholesale city corruption and municipal misgovernment. And the railroads, on their part, through [p. 91] [p. 92] selfishness and greed, have exacted from cities locations and privileges which make now a decent development of many of these cities well-nigh impossible. Railroads are important factors and should be conveniently and adequately provided for; more so, in fact, than heretofore. No one questions that. But a comparison of the plans of American cities with those of Germany or other countries will show in what different ways this provision can be
EAST MADISON WITH THE C., M. & ST. PAUL DEPOT.
With a view of correcting the evils of the railroad approaches in East Madison, a plan was prepared a year ago, providing for a union station for the Chicago, Milwaukee [p. 93] and St. Paul, and the Chicago and Northwestern, (now across the street from each other), the elimination of the grade crossings in that neighborhood, and the restoration of the Monona Lake front to the people. Since that time, the Chicago and Northwestern line has begun the construction of a new station which, no doubt, as aMadison is not hopeful from the point of view of the city, but the city and the State should do all that is still possible to secure relief from the present almost intolerable conditions. [p. 94]
Better looking streets is another urgent need of Madison. Except around Capitol Square, I believe there are no wires underground. Elsewhere, on State Street, on the main business streets, in the principal residence sections, surrounding the parks, nearly everywhere, unsightly poles and wires appear in profusion. Some way should be found to remove gradually practically every pole and overhead wire from the streets of Madison. It is folly to
THE WATER APPROACH TO MADISON.
The removal of the poles from the streets would prepare the way for a better method of planting and maintaining street trees. At present the trees in the streets of Madison are not under public control and every attempt to place them there has been defeated in the city council. Seldom does one see even a single well-located, well-developed street tree and never a row of good trees a block long. Madison - and it is true of Wisconsin generally - holds tenaciously to individual rights and is less willing than cities in other parts of the country to place the care of the street trees in the hands of a properly constituted public body. It seems unnecessary to state so
THE WATER APPROACH TO GENEVA, SWITZERLAND.
Compare with views on opposite page.
STATE STREET, MADISON.
The history of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association is pleasant reading to any one interested in the improvement of cities; it is likewise pleasant reading to any one interested in good citizenship. Under the inspiring and compelling leadership of John M. Olin, this Association has established a world record. For seventeen [p. 97] years with steadily increasing success, he has succeeded in collecting in Madison, in small voluntary subscriptions, an average of twenty thousand dollars a year, making in all a total of a quarter of a million dollars. He
A VIEW OF STATE STREET, MADISON.
Illustrating the way in which the distance between buildings is being constantly contracted by rebuilding closer and closer to the sidewalk. It would be to the advantage of every one, including the land owners of State Street, if a building line could be fixed for all property west of Gilman Street beyond which it would be illegal to build. Such building regulations have been passed in other cities. The building line law should also be applied to some other streets in Madison. Massachusetts has a law by which a compulsory building line may be established at the time any street or highway is laid out.
GENERAL PLAN OF TENNEY PARK
A city park system cannot be made by private efforts, no matter how persistent, well-directed or generous they may be. The power and purse of the public are needed. The history of Madison's parks proves this. For, fine as the result is, it is altogether inadequate and the work now moves haltingly. The city of Madison, acting through its council, at first gave no support whatever to parks and now gives a small support unsystematically, uncertainly and grudgingly. Parks in Madison are not now prospering as they should and a radical change of policy is called for. The two greatest needs are the creation of an official Park Commission and the frank recognition that the acquisition of park lands cannot be met from current income but must be provided for by bond issues.[p. 102] [p. 103] board, than the recent experience of La Crosse, a city the size of Madison. Two years ago, there were no public parks there, and no park commission, and it is less than a year since the actual work of park construction was begun. Yet today La Crosse has the substantial framework of a comprehensive park system that is equalled by few cities of the same class. This result, it is true, is due to the happy concurrence of a number of influences. But one of the principal is the fact that the La Crosse, and it should be the case elsewhere, generous public action has been supported and supplemented by generous private gifts. [p. 104]
YAHARA RIVER PARKWAY.
FARWELL DRIVE, MADISON.
Next to the need of an official park commission in Madison is the need for understanding the right relation of bond issues to the acquisition and development of a park system. President Taft said recently,
"I think that men sometimes overdo the business of meeting what ought to be distributed expenses out of current income. I think there is good reason for issuing bonds for those improvements
This sound statement of the President has direct application to Madison. Such a system of parks as Madison should have would probably cost for land and permanent improvements in the neighborhood of $300,000 and a bonded indebtedness for such a sum would, I believe, be justified fully. This would mean, on [p. 108][p. 109] the basis of the present population, only ten dollars of park bonds per capita, which is below the average for cities the country over. Ten dollars per capita with interest payable in twenty years would not be a heavy burden. It would be more than likely to prove a good investment, warranted by financial as well as other returns, and the dividends to the second generation would be larger Madison will never cost less than today; once bought, they will steadily increase in value, and the experience of all cities, Madison included, proves that parks more than pay for themselves. [1*] I know of no instance where a city regrets well-considered purchases of park land.
Madison like other cities should aim not at a series of detached or isolated parks, each separate from the other, but at a park system. Just as the city has a school system, a connected street system, a sewer system and a water system, so it should have a park system. Such a system should provide for each section of the city, for each class of the population, for each proper but varying [p. 110] taste. East Madison, for example, needs parks as much as South Madison or any other section. Children and young people and the working classes should be much more fully provided for. Then convenient and agreeable parkway connections must be made, not merely ordinaryMadison's measure for parks should be taken. Comparison should be made with the parks of such progressive cities as Hartford, Connecticut, Kansas [p. 111] City, Missouri, Brookline, Massachusetts, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma City. We should ask what are the present park requirements of Madison ? What will the future requirements be ? These questions need to be seriously asked and answers to Mr. Stewart, an expert engineer recently employed by the Water Department, Madison in 1925 will have a population of 50,000 and in 1940, but thirty years from now, 100,000. (See diagram on page 118.) If these figures should prove true - and they are likely to be exceeded - how many acres of parks would this larger Madison require and justify? Certainly, the [p. 112] [p. 113] present acreage must be increased many fold. Where is unplatted, unimproved and inexpensive property to be had even now? Will it be easier or cheaper to get it in 1925 when Madison has 50,000 population or in 1940 when it has 100,000 or more?
The present parks of Madison should be looked upon merely as a nucleus. They are lovely little neighborhood parks, but fail altogether as a park system. What, then, are Madison's park needs? Madison needs especially some small centrally located open spaces or squares, [2*] a series of playgrounds, at least one large park and a system of connecting parkways or parked avenues. Toward this end, I propose for consideration the acquisition of land in the neighborhood of the railroad stations in both East and West Madison; the triangle at State and Gorham Streets already referred to; lake frontages at the foot of North Hamilton and South Hamilton Streets; a generous park about the size of Tenney Park at the Lake Monona end of the Yahara River; the balance of the block on [p. 114][p. 115] which Kendall Field is located with perhaps another full block of marsh land adjoining it; all the low land situated between Mills Street and Park Street, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul tracks and Washington Streets; and a really large park, say 500 to 1,000 acres around Lake Wingra connected with Henry Vilas Park and completely Suggestive Plan for Madison, a Model City.
Open squares or plazas near the railroad approaches to the city would contribute much to both convenience and beauty. The proposed triangle fronting on State Street between Gorham and Broom would be an ornamental space of inestimable value, adorning the city's [p. 116][p. 117] [p. 118] main thoroughfare, and afford an open center for fountains or monuments and attractive sites round about for a number of important public and semi-public buildings. It might be to Madison what Copley Square is to Boston - in fact, more, for it has a much more significant location. North and South Hamilton Streets,
POPULATION CURVES OF THE CITY OF MADISON.
If the population of Madison continues to increase as heretofore, the city will have in 1920 nearly 50,000 and in 1940 over 100,000. This is one of the most important factors in forecasting the requirements of the future.
These additions, or something like these, to what Madison already has, would enable the city to meet the present demand and provide reasonably for the future. Are arguments needed for a better provision for outdoor life and outdoor sports in Madison? No one questions that [p. 122] they make an indispensable contribution to the legitimate pleasure of life, to health, to the checking of disorder and crime, to the preparation for adult life and to the formation of character.
"They have the direct effect of giving a large amount of intense and innocent pleasure, and they have indirect effects which are still more important. In so far as they raise the level of physical strength andhealth, and dispel the morbidness of temperament which is so apt to accompany a sedentary life and a diseased or inert frame, they contribute powerfully to lasting happiness. They play a considerable part in the formation of friendships, which is one of the best fruits of the period between boyhood and mature manhood. Some of them give lessons of courage, perseverance, energy, self-restraint, and cheerful acquiescence in disappointment [p. 123] [p. 124] and defeat that are of no small value in the formation of character."
PART OF SOUTH PARK PLAYGROUND SYSTEM, CHICAGO.
But of even more far-reaching influence than parks and playgrounds are the city plan and the method of city extension. In Europe city making means a sensible city plan, a convenient arrangement of streets; orderly railroad
Street trees, Madison, under private control. Compare with opposite illustration. No further comment necessary.
"The demands of beauty are in large measure identical with those of efficiency and economy and differ merely in requiring a closer approach to practical[p. 126] quality."[4*]
In the United States, in contrast to the practice of Europe, towns and cities have not yet sought diligently this type of beauty. At best they have been content to relieve the fearful ugliness and awful sordidness of their daily city surroundings by the establishment here and there of parks, usually in the distant outskirts of the city requiring a special journey to see and enjoy.
The most important features of city planning are not the public buildings, not the railroad approaches, not even the parks and playgrounds. They are the location of streets, the establishment of block lines, the subdivisions of property into lots, the regulations of building, and the housing of the people. And yet, the fixing and extension of these features is too often left practically without effective regulation to the decision of private individuals. That these individuals are often lacking in [p. 127][p. 128] knowledge, in taste, in high or even fair civic motives; that they are often controlled by ignorance, caprice, and selfishness, the present character of American city suburbs bears abundant testimony. The law recently adopted in Wisconsin which gives city councils control
RESIDENTIAL STREET VIEW IN ENGLAND.
City officials in Madison and elsewhere in Wisconsin, especially in Milwaukee, are now beginning to give attention to these important features of city planning. [p. 129]
AN INTERESTING STREET VISTA.
Round Top Hill and Lakewood (on opposite page) are two illustrations of a better method of land subdivision, recently adopted in Madison.
Detailed illustration of street planning in Washington, D. C., which accounts for much of what is most attractive in the National Capital. Consider what the establishment of an open circle at the intersection of State, West Johnson and North Henry Streets would have meant for Madison.
Street arrangements and land subdivisions in Madison. The most important features of city planning are the location of streets, the establishment of block lines, the subdivision of property into lots and the proper regulation of building. The above illustrations show how these features are being neglected in Madison.
BELLEVUE PARK, HARRISBURG, PA.
A new type of neighborhood planning. All the lots are sold subject to such restrictions as will assure permanently pleasant views. A building line is established varying with location. Not more than one house may be erected on any one lot. Black smoke, bill-boards, public stables, the sale of intoxicants, are prohibited. No overhead wires or poles will be permitted on the property. Trees of permanent character are planted.
"Ordinarily and in the great majority of cases,"
said Mr. Roosevelt in his recent Sorbonne lecture,
"human rights and property rights are fundamentally and in the long run identical, but when it clearly appears that there is a real conflict between them, human rights must have the upper hand for property belongs to man and not man to property."
The solution of the problems presented in this chapter, the normal problems of a modern American city, will require patience, good citizenship, liberal expenditure and the use of all the skill and experience in city making and city administration that can be secured from near and far. But no one who knows Madison and the Wisconsin way of using skill, experience and foresight can fail to believe that there is a latent power in the population that if successfully drawn upon would surmount all difficulties and make Madison a model city, the hope of democracy.[p. 138]
[1*] See "Madison Parks as a Municipal Investment" published by Citizens' Committee
"We began to realize we were cutting up lands upon which people would dwell for ages to come. We were changing wholesale acres into a form from which they could be changed again only at great cost. At this point it would be the simplest thing in the world to set aside, if we were so charitably-minded, some of this land, and leave it as a perpetual open space for generations to play upon. At that time no other aspect of the case suggested itself to us. It did not seem possible that such an immediate sacrifice to our future expectations would work any important benefit to our treasury balance; in other words, that it was not a business proposition, although it did look like the most justifiable sentimentalism. In this we were mistaken. There were infinite business possibilities in such an act of generosity, and, could we have seen ahead, as we can now look back, we would immediately have begun the segregation of lands for park purposes in all our subdivisions, and would not only have served the community better, but would have received a return in dollars and cents sufficient to amply repay for every foot of ground so utilized."
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