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second, and adjoined by the library of
would find it difficult to believe that a city of Ioo,000 inhabitants nestled there among the greenery. The Municipal Art Society, numbering now some five hundred members, and the other societies already mentioned, are working valiantly, each in its respective field, to augment these natural resources. To make a city beautiful, convenient and healthful—all these compose the duties of such societies, and to accomplish it in harmony with the city officials and with the least possible expense to the city should, of course, be their aim; and with these ends in view large work has been undertaken and some really striking results have been obtained. One thing under consideration is the selection and adoption of a uniform street marker which shall be both useful and ornamental. The present sign is metal, enameled black, with aluminum letters about three inches high. While neat in appearance when new, these rust quickly and are not easily
readable from a distance, at night they are quite illegible unless a street lamp shines directly upon them. It was proposed to find some type of sign which should be more satisfactory in both the above-mentioned respects, and at the same time be artistic. To this end the Committee on Street Fixtures and Advertising Signs, of the Municipal Art Society, opened correspondence with the city engineers of other large cities, at home and abroad, to ascertain what had been done in this line elsewhere. The inquiries invariably received prompt and kind attention, and sample street name-plates were supplied, and even in one case the model of a sign-post. Having a collection of this kind at hand, it was exhibited and the case presented to the public in open meeting, and finally to the Street Board. As a result permission was obtained to erect six signs at such street intersections as the Committee should choose. The marker selected as being in every way most suitable is of ultramarine enamel with three-inch white block letters. In this connection also arose the guestion of the naming of new streets. Until recently the property owner cut his street to suit himself and named it after a like manner. We are told that great minds run in the same channel, and it often happened that two streets in very different sections of the city received names phonetically similar or differing in no way but in the “street,” “avenue” or “place” portion of the appellation. For instance, there is Allyn Street and Allen Place, the former in the very center and the latter about twenty minutes by trolley out to the southwest; also Meadow Street (south) and Meadow Place (west), and, again, Park Street, Park Terrace and Park Avenue (south center, west and extreme northwest, respectively), besides numerous other instances. Now, under the amended charter, new streets are to be named in accordance with a specific scheme, and their lay-out, etc., approved by the City Plans Commission before being adopted by the city, so much of this confusion will be avoided in the future. While street name-plates of sufficient prominence are at a premium, advertising signs in many cases run to the opposite extreme, particularly the electric ones. As everybody knows, no method of illumination and evening decoration offers more diverse opportunities than electricity. But, like many other things of beauty, when turned to private ends it becomes a glaring nuisance. Competition enters in, and each sign-owner strives to outshine his neighbor. And when flat signs, electric or painted, fail to attract attention, they are turned out end-wise, and there they hang, over the heads of the long-suffering populace, like the sword of Damocles about to descend. And, like the sword, they are apt to descend, with consequent loss of life or limb. The craze has spread from the saloons even up to one of the churches, though nothing more incongruous could be imagined than a church flying at its bow a blue and white electric
bordered “beer-sign”! But Hartford has a city ordinance which reads, in part, as follows:
“The following acts are declared to be acts of nuisance: the placing of any business sign, within the limits of any street of the city, otherwise than parallel to and against or as near as is convenient to the face of the building, wall or fence whereunto the same shall be attached.”
The penalty for its violation is a fine of not less than $1.00 or more than $25.00. Prosecutions are being made on the basis of this law and results are being obtained, and there can be ultimately but one outcome. In line with this mode of advertisement may be mentioned the omnipresent billboards. These have no respect for majesty of scenery or artistic beauty. Painted on rocky precipices in this country's greatest mountain system are to be seen advertisements of Carter's Little Liver Pills, Hood's Sarsaparilla, and kindred things. Popular disgust at such displays is steadily increasing. In the country natural beauty is defaced or quite hidden from view by huge signboards. It gives one a distinct sense of physical shock to come suddenly upon one of these multicolored monstrosities in the midst of an otherwise peaceful and quiet landscape. Hartford has many of these nuisances within the city limits, but in the near future they bid fair to be reduced to the minimum. On the main artery of traffic between the center and the fashionable residential “Hill” section was a towering “double-decker” signboard, and by its side one of ordinary proportions. These were eyesores for years, and, at last, was organized the United Committee for Bill Board Regulation, and it began to agitate the subject. In this case the owner showed himself very considerate, for without being approached personally he had them removed when he learned the general drift of public opinion.
Photograph by Paul de Fafchamps
At the corner of Pearl and Ford streets, and overlooking beautiful Bushnell Park, is a row of very unattractive low wooden shanties. These had, until very recently, a fringe of billboards along their base, and were crowned with another along the edge of the roofs. In response to public opinion the committee has been able to persuade the owner of the buildings and the lessee of the advertising privilege to remove most of these billboards, and a serious eyesore has thus been largely eliminated.
On the roof of the building at “Exchange Corner,” in the very center of the city, stood for a number of years a huge round sign, on which appeared the picture of a man, many times life size, mixing something in a glass, while large letters informed the shuddering watcher, “Highball. That's all.” Most everyone thought it was quite enough, if not one too many. And so after much agitation by individuals through the public press and by the Municipal
Art Society, the lease was not renewed, and great was the public rejoicing. This illustrates the power of public opinion. A bill has recently been passed which will at least restrain the use of billboards within the city limits, and it would be a very welcome departure, here and in other states, if the outlying districts also could be protected. Traffic in the city streets is becoming more and more congested as the city grows in size. It has been found necessary within two years to station policemen at five of the principal street intersections in order to protect pedestrians while crossing, and also to enforce the rules of the road. The Municipal Art Society is agitating the question of locating isles of safety at such points. In order to arouse public interest in this subject, there has been held a competition, recently closed,— designs of isles of safety with electroliers being submitted, for vote and adoption by the Society, and the suc