Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- April 08, 1867The South Side Park (Editorial)
Although the act creating a South Side park may be very severely criticized by some people, it cannot be denied that the provisions of the act in general are for the most part just and essentially in conformity with the laws by which Now York's Central Park was established. The question is not whether a better law could have been enacted, but whether this law, of it is ratified by the people, is sufficient legal authority to fulfill the desire of the people for a public park which is in walking distance from the streetcar, and which will be conducive to the health and recreation of our citizens.
Nobody who knows the South Side of Chicago can deny that the park must be located the limits prescribed by the law, because only there can the necessary land be purchased at a reasonable price.2
At a cost of one hundred to five hundred dollars per acre the land cannot cost more than five hundred thousand dollars, and even three hundred fifty thousand dollars should be enough to buy a suitable site. The law does not demand that extensive improvements be made immediately, nor is this expected. It will be two years or even longer before the land is surveyed and the park laid out; and before much money will have been spent for that purpose, the adjacent lots will have increased greatly in value.
The act provides that the cost of the property used for the park shall be paid by taxing the owners of the property which increases in value through the establishment of the park; and in order that the payments will not be too burdensome, the assessments are spread over ten years.
There is every reason to believe that the increase in assessed valuation and the resulting rise in taxes, caused by the establishment of the park, will exceed the cost of the park and the interest on the bonds which may be sold, 3according to the act. To explain this, we quote from an article that was published in a recent issue of the New York Evening Post:
"The assessed valuation of the three wards adjoining Central Park was $26,429,565 in 1856 and rose to $61,029,960 in 1865. Thus where was an increase of $34,600,395 within ten years in these three wards alone. However, the annual interest on the cost of the land, and the annual cost for the improvements made in Central Park was $585,953,76. Thus we see that the city's income was $448,718.05 above disbursements. There need be no further proof of the fact that a park is a profitable investment for a large city."
If the city of New York, after ten years, increased its income in a single year by $448,718.05, there can be no doubt that a similar investment would be profitable for South Chicago and the towns of Lake Park and Hyde Park.
The objection has been raised that it would be unjust to tax only the South 4Side of Chicago to pay for the park, since the entire city is paying for the parks located on the North Side and the West Side. Be that as it may, there cannot be the least doubt that as long as the North Side and West Side have a majority in the City Council the public lands on the South Side will not be improved at the cost of the city. This is the case, despite the fact that much money has already been spent to purchase and improve Union Park and Lincoln Park, despite the fact that the land used for these parks was adjacent to the most highly taxed property is and despite the fact that the assessed valuation of south Side property is $42,000,000, and the property of the North and west Side $58,000,000.
It is believed that the financial advantages according to South Chicago, Hyde Park, and lake Park will be equal to the cost of the park, before the time allotted for paying for the park has elapsed.
Chicago simply must have a large park if it is to become a large city. There 5is nothing attractive in the vicinity of Chicago, save Lake Michigan.
Chicago's commercial advantages are great, indeed. Money is easily earned here, but it will not remain here, unless the city is made attractive.
How many people who have acquired wealth in Chicago have gone abroad, or to other cities to spend their money, thus depriving us of riches which rightfully belonged to us? What is their answer, when they are asked: "Why are you leaving Chicago?" Is it not: "There is nothing here that attracts us; there are no parks, no parks, no promenades; this is a good place to make money, but that is all"?
So if we wish to keep our wealthy people here and persuade them to spend their money here, we will have to offer then some better inducement, something that will attach them to our city. If we do not, more money will leave Chicago than a hundred parks cost. However, we must also consider those thousands of residents who are not rich. we must have public parks and gardens where both 6rich and poor, old and young, any enjoy fresh air, pleasant strolls, beautiful scenery and flowers, and be attracted by these pleasures to such an extent that they will have no time for less profitable activity.
Those persons who regarded the Dearborn School as too large for our city and advised that an asylum for the insane advocates of that building be crected on the site of the School will also oppose the establishment of the park. Those persons who think that the Canal and railroads are disadvantageous to Chicago's commerce, and that plank roads are better than asphalt pavements, will also be against the South side park.
In fact anyone who is so narrow-minded, or parsimonious, that he cannot see a single benefit in any public improvement, will certainly not wish the city Council to arrange the purchase of a park on the South Side.
Therefore, let all of us who deem it our duty to care for the health and 7recreation of thousands, all who believe that Chicago must be made attractive for the purpose of laying a foundation of wealth, all who wish to enjoy the simple pleasures and amusements which every other city affords, let us vote for the park, and the law will be ratified, and Chicago will be just as famous for its public parks and the comfort and pleasure which people enjoy in them, as it is for its commerce and industry and the wealth and well being they make possible.
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