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ting out a slice from this inclosure set apart for the future. If you do it now, where are you to stop? Will you not be called to cut out another slice next year, or in five years,
and may not the Park be reduced from that form and those proportions it promises to enjoy ? This metropolis is now at its beginning, and yet doubling in a decade. During the last ten years its population has multiplied twofold; and in the coming ten years there is every reason to believe that the development will be as large, if not larger. Of course with the increase of population is the demand for a park, especially in the central situation which that enjoys. I use the language of another, when I say that parks are the lungs of a great city ; but where will be the lungs of this metropolis, if you begin now to reduce the Park? Rather should we sacredly keep it all intact, so that hereafter, when you and I, Sir, have passed away, and this metropolis has grown to a grandeur and beauty which imagination cannot now conceive, that Park may remain in its entirety, a blessing to the people, for which they themselves in turn will bless us.
Sir, I was born in a city which has the enjoyment of such a blessing. There is in Boston what is known as The Common, set apart in the very earliest days of the old town, when it was in fact what the name implies, – a common for the pasturage of cattle; but, though often assailed, it has been preserved untouched. Railroad corporations and other companies have tried in vain to obtain a corner from it. The jealous city fathers have saved that beautiful piece of earth, till now it is the first treasure of Boston, - unless we except her common schools, where all are equal before the law. I have often thought what would have ensued if some time ago, yield
ing to corporation pressure in its various forms, the city had consented to sacrifice that beautiful inclosure. There it is, the very apple of the eye to Boston; and nobody now fears that it will be diminished by a foot.
And should not Washington have a similar possession ? Are you willing, Sir, now at this early moment of her history, when she is just beginning to grow, or rather when her growth is just beginning to be apparent, to despoil her of this unquestionable attraction, where the useful and the beautiful commingle? I think, Sir, you will act improvidently, if you do so. I think you will act against the best interests of the city, whether you look at health, beauty, or enjoyment; for a park ministers to all these.
Therefore, Sir, would I keep it intact. By no consent of Congress would I allow any business interest or disturbing railroad company to fasten itself upon this inclosure. They should be excluded; and when I say this, I would not carry them off far. Let them plant their stations just the other side. They will then be perhaps a third of a mile from Pennsylvania Avenue, traversing the centre of population with conveniences such as railroads in no other city enjoy. With those open to them, why should we allow them to enter our pleasuregrounds? If there were no proper place without going a long distance, a mile or two miles, there would be some reason, perhaps, for entertaining this question; but when I consider the facilities which they may enjoy only the other side of the Park line, with land there cheap and easy to be had, I am astonished that any one can be willing to sacrifice the Park simply to bring them a few rods nearer Pennsylvania Avenue.
And this brings me to the question of travel on the Avenue. If you put a railway station as is proposed, you will bring on the Avenue all that glut and accumulation of carriages and wagons always concentrated about the terminus of a great line of travel. I think it will be injurious to the Avenue. That alone would be a reason with me against the bill.
But as often as I think of the question, I come back to the Park, which, say what you will, is destined to be one of the most important possessions of this metropolis, and for the special enjoyment of the people. They will enjoy this Capitol, for it is beautiful to behold, also the other public edifices, some of them excellent in style and grateful to the eye; but nothing of all these will be what we may expect that Park to be, - a place where the young and old will resort of an evening to enjoy innocent recreation and congenial society, while the open air or the opportunities of exercise impart to them that best blessing, health. Sir, that Park should not be sacrificed; and if you have any doubt, let me lay before you the testimony of another place. I have already cited Boston; I now call your attention to Philadelphia. You know the remarkable park which has been opened there. I stopped a day in Philadelphia last summer, on my way home, especially to see and enjoy this magnificent resort; and I was well rewarded. I beheld the most beautiful park, certainly in its promise, on this continent; and I doubt if there is one even in the European world of equal promise.
But no one
can enter its grounds without annoyance and trouble from the railroad-crossings, and the perpetual sound of the steamengine with its shrill whistle, so little in harmony with pleasure-grounds.
It requires no scientific knowledge, no practical ac
quaintance with railroads, to see that those crossings are a positive nuisance, and that the hospitable park set apart for the population of a mighty city, and destined to be one of the most beautiful objects of the civilized world, actually suffers from the nuisance. I appeal to Senators who have visited it; I know that there is not one who will say that I am not right. There is not one who has ever entered those grounds, not even the Senator from Pennsylvania who pioneers this bill, that will not say he regrets those railroad-crossings and wishes them out of the way. But I shall not rely upon the authority of the Senator or my own testimony. I have in my hand the last annual report of the Commissioners, and I wish the Senate to hear what they say:
“At an early period of their organization the Commissioners aildressed themselves to the solution of the very
difficult problem of how to attain the best approaches to the Park, and they have not at any time ceased to give that matter their earnest attention. If a former generation could have foreseen".
Now see, Senators, how this applies to the present case,
"If a former generation could have foreseen that the liberal views which far-sighted men among them held on the subject of a park which should embrace both banks of the Schuylkill would finally ripen into a fruition beyond what the most sanguine could then have dreamed, the great railways which now run in close proximity to that stream would have reached the city by other routes, or at least would have been carried on tracks more remote from the river. At that day this could readily have been done without conflicting with any interest; but now that the conditions have been long established, and trade and travel settled in conformity
to them, any violent change must be regarded as out of the question.” 1
The Commissioners then make certain recommendations, which I will not take up time to read. But I come to a brief passage:
“The Commissioners, therefore, respectfully but strenuously urge that steps shall be immediately taken to promote this most desirable end. And they do this not alone in the interest of the thousands whose vehicles are entangled at the railroad-crossing, but much more in the interest of the hundreds of thousands whose principal enjoyment of the Park has been and will be in that portion of it which is most exposed to these dangerous annoyances.” ?
That is testimony. If this were a court of justice instead of the Senate, and if you, Sir, were a court and the Senators now before me were a jury, that would be a testimony conclusive in the case, — testimony of experts, who know by experience what they testify, who have seen with their own eyes and felt in their own consciousness, whenever they entered that park, the nuisance against which I now protest. Sir, they testify against the present bill. Can you answer the testimony? Is it not clear? Is it not complete?
Sir, I need no testimony. I only ask Senators to look at the Park. Let them pass through our Library and take their stand on that unequalled portico from which they may look down upon an amphitheatre more like that of ancient Rome than that of any other capital, with a river beneath and hills in the distance, — a river
1 Fourth Annual Report of the Commissioners of Fairmount Park, pp. 15-16.
2 Ibid., p. 17.