Sunday, January 29, 2012

1865: A Good Sidewalk Was Hard to Find

From the Report of a Committee on the Repair of Roads in Brookline, 1865:

The condition of that portion of the road devoted exclusively to pedestrians, is, in such a town as Brookline, as important as that of the carriage-way. Most of the persons in this town conduct their daily business in Boston, and reach the city by other means than their own conveyances. These persons, therefore, are for the most part compelled to walk, in Brookline, to and from the railroad, horse-car, or omnibus; and the town is therefore bound to furnish them, at all seasons of the year, an easy and cleanly path to travel on. That they do not have this, during the whole of the winter and early spring, and during continued wet weather at other seasons, is a well-known fact. 

. . . . With attention to the repair of the existing sidewalks, and the construction of additions to them, the town might, in a few years, have permanently good sidewalks on every principal street.  And it would no longer be the case that ladies, young children, and invalids, would be prevented by the state of the path, from taking necessary walking exercise.  And persons liking Brookline scenery and Brookline society, would have more inducement to settle in the town, from the increased facilities for enjoying these great advantages.

Plank sidewalks, like this one shown on Beacon Street east of Englewood Avenue in the 1880s, were laid in Brookline as early as the 1850s.
(Brookline Historical Society lantern slide)