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CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
May 23d, 1913. SIR:
I hereby appoint you a delegate to represent the City of New York at the
Very truly yours,
Borough of Manhattan, City of New York
CITY OF NEW YORK
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
May 23d, 1913. To WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
This is to certify that Mr. H. W. Durham, the bearer of this letter, has been commissioned by the City of New York to make a study of paving and street maintenance in European cities, and all public officials are requested to give him whatever helpful information is at their command.
Yours very truly,
TABLE OF CONTENTS
8. London-Outline map showing boroughs..
14. Diagram showing the relative maximum, minimum and average monthly
temperature in various cities..
17. Diagram showing the average monthly cloudiness..
By direction of the late Mayor and at the suggestion of the Borough President, following his attendance as a delegate for the City of New York at the International Road Congress held in London in June, 1913, a study was made by the Chief Engineer of Highways of paving and pavement maintenance conditions in the leading cities of Europe. The trip was undertaken for the purpose of learning what are the practices prevalent in the most advanced municipalities of the world, in order to have first-hand information as to the methods, instead of the vague generalities and unintelligent criticisms and assertions frequently used in discussions about New York pavements.
Three months were available for this work. It was realized that all the large cities of Europe could not be seen thoroughly in this time. But this was not thought to be essential, as however much of interest others might have for the sightseer, only those of modern importance, as great capitals, or centers of business and manufacturing, and seaports in the most advanced nations, would have matters of interest for comparison with New York. For this reason the study was restricted to Great Britain and Central Europe, as also for the reason that here only were localities with a similarity of climatic conditions; and the Scandinavian countries, Russia, Spain and the southern parts of Italy and France, while containing many cities of importance, were necess
essarily omitted. It is believed that the countries and cities visited, including all the great capitals of two million inhabitants and over, the greatest seaports and many of the great manufacturing and business centers, contain all that is typical of the best European paving practice and include everything that contains any points of superiority or of particular interest to the subject of study.
The casual tourist in the course of a trip notes some point of street practice which comes to his attention as differing from that at home, and on his return becomes a paving expert by urging its superiority and demanding its installation here. He may have no knowledge of the reasons behind the different practices he has seen. He has probably no information as to the extent to which what he has noted is typical. But on the strength of being able to say, "I have been there and seen it,” he obtains a hearing for his assertions much more extensive than their importance warrants.
It was strongly desired to avoid any such error by making, not a hasty survey, but a careful inspection of each city. Some of the places were visited two or three times at different periods, in order to correct first impressions and to see the streets at different seasons. Some cities which were in most orderly condition during public celebrations or at the height of the fashionable season, were later found in considerable disarray.
Visits were made to the officials charged with the care of the streets and information obtained from them as to the entire area under their jurisdiction. The most conscientious official, however, would naturally desire to display the best side of the work under his charge, and inspection trips were, accordingly, not confined to those made in the company of the city officials, although many such courtesies were extended by them; but a large mileage of the streets in each city was traversed informally with the object of observing, not only the good, but the inferior conditions prevalent and the ordinary methods of doing construction, maintenance and repair work when not under formal inspection.
The tourist sees only a limited, usually the best, part of a great city, and by this limited and cursory impression later measures the average or the poorest condition in his own city. This method of comparing a maximum with an average gives ample opportunity for destructive criticism and personal importance, but is of no value in an effective study of relative conditions. Particular care was taken to avoid it by obtaining all the facts available in regard to the subject.
The study included the following countries: Great Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. The governments of these countries represent all types prevalent in Europe. Their forms of city organization differ as widely as do those of the nations. But there was not found such a diversity of methods of organization for the control of streets.
As a general thing, one of two methods was found in force:
First. Where a strongly centralized authority, reporting to the general city government, controls all municipal work through a system of small unit organizations, each in charge of a district, supervising all construction within its area.
Second. Local control, existing in large cities without a centralized government or in small cities where the organization does not require subdivisions, where each borough is largely independent of higher authority and places control of city work under a single head reporting to its governing council; the subdivisions being usually charged with independent direction throughout the entire borough of the different classes of work controlled. Numberless vai ions to any such rules are to be encountered, but in every city there was found some equivalent to our public works department, usually operated under the authority of the city council or governing official and usually headed by an executive officer, who is almost invariably an engineer. Frequently this officer controls all street work, including pavements, sewers, lighting, cleaning, subways and water supply. In other cities there are separate departments for some of the latter, and he has charge of only the pavements proper—their drainage, cleaning and lighting.
With the exception of the strongly centralized and complex organization prevalent throughout France, the foreign public works department is of somewhat simpler form than ours. Everywhere records and machinery of control are regarded as more of a means and not so much an end as in this country. The aim of the municipal engineer abroad, however he may fail of reaching it, is to maintain his streets in perfect condition, and not so especially to have a system of card records and filing cases for exhibit and for a basis of learned discussion, as is sometimes the case in this country.
It should be noted before proceeding to a detailed study of the cities visited that there must be constantly borne in mind, when making comparisons, the fundamental difference in spirit between the European and American, perhaps best manifested in the greater regard for the letter of the law and an orderly method of procedure observed abroad; possibly due to each individual having a sense of belonging to a particular station in life with consequent less personal freedom. The advantages of our type of government entail certain disadvantages in administration, and no recognition of the difference will make possible any material change.
The cities studied were as follows:
GREAT BRITAIN-London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Chester, Oxford, York and Newcastle.
FRANCE-Paris, Boulogne, Calais, Bordeaux, Lille, Nancy and Nantes.
GERMANY–Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Munich, Frankfurt a. M., Dusseldorf, Cologne,
BELGIUM-Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Liége.
Among these cities there are four that can fairly be compared with New York in size: London with over 7,000,000 population in the metropolitan district; Paris and Berlin having a population in excess of 3,000,000 each, including suburbs; and Vienna with over 2,000,000. Of these four, however, only one, London, is a great seaport and manufacturing city comparable to New York. Of the great seaports of the world having an annual commerce in excess of $1,000,000,000, all others than New York are in the above list--London, Liverpool, Hamburg and Antwerp. Glasgow and Rotterdam, while seaports whose business is of less magnitude, are cities of considerable commercial importance. Among the great manufacturing cities of Europe having a population in excess of half a million