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Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- January 28, 1879City Finances (Editorial)
As gratifying as our city finances appear, when considering the comptroller's report given to the city council yesterday evening, we see, nevertheless, serious problems involved when we scrutinize the facts more thoroughly. In giving intrinsical cogitation to some matters, one is confronted with ominous doubts about the advisability of accumulating public money at the office of the city treasurer. There is for instance, $82,276 in the city treasury belonging to the school fund--more than sufficient to build three schools. Yet, thousands of school children are trying in vain to gain admittance in public schools; thousands others must spend hours in unsanitary, inadequate, rented buildings which serve as auxiliary institutions of learning.
The Department of Public Works has a cash balance of $107,315.40 available; yet, the approaches to most bridges are in dire need of repair, and the unpaved streets 2are just about unpassable, quite aside from the despicable fact that the city laborers are paid in script, whereby they lose at least eight per cent. The city treasurer probably drew interest on the money with which the officials bought up the script--money which in all fairness should have been used to pay the workers.
Of the appropriations for drainage canals, $63,476.92 is still unused, although we have streets where drainage ditches are a necessity. Promises were made three years ago to alleviate conditions; yet, property owners still wait hopelessly to see this work performed, and look with apprehension toward the time when children will die with scarlet fever and diphtheria.
The taxpayers do not donate money to see an imposing balance in the treasury at the end of the year, but they expect public improvements to be made in conformance with appropriations, and that public servants be properly reimbursed for their labor. Hoarded wealth in the city treasury does not benefit the municipality; on the contrary, if the proceeds derived from taxation are not 3kept in constant circulation, the total tax burden may become even greater. With this circulation it will not be so unbearable as when the accumulated funds at the city treasury retard the normal flow of money.
As gratifying as our city finances appear, when considering the comptroller's report given to the city council yesterday evening, we see, nevertheless, serious problems involved when we scrutinize the facts ...
I H, I F 6, I M
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- March 07, 1879Aldermanic Opposition to Bathhouses
It has always been surprising that a city like Chicago, with its extensive lake shore, should have no public bathing beaches and no bathhouses, particularly when one realizes that swimming within the city limits is prohibited. Other less auspiciously located cities have recognized the necessity of adecuate bathing facilities for the working people--the need of clean invigorating cool After for swimming in the summertime--and much said and written on the subject in Chicago.
At the City Council meeting yesterday, Alderman Stauber, Socialist, made a motion that five thousand dollars should be spent for bathhouses, one to be crected on the North Side, the other on the South Side. He added that there more no logal obstacles to providing such a grant, according to a report of the Committee on Legal Matters.
But the sagacious City fathers were not convinced of the advisability of 2building public bathhouses, and therefore voted almost unanimously against the proposal.
The City Council thereby indicated its disregard for the need of cleanliness. In the eyes of a civilized humanity, such an attitude must be regarded as more pernicious than a possible reproach for having spent the trifling sum of five thousand dollars, taken out of an increased tax levy.
The public will do well to remember the names of our wise City Councilors who intend to keep the poor people from bathing in the lake. For people cannot patronize privately owned bathhouses, and, besides, there are very few of them. [Editor's note: list given of aldermanic vote on bathhouse motion. Names of those facing re-election given.]
It has always been surprising that a city like Chicago, with its extensive lake shore, should have no public bathing beaches and no bathhouses, particularly when one realizes that swimming ...
I F 3, I M
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- March 08, 1879Opposed to Quacks (Editorial)
The Illinois law pertaining to physicians is rather inadequate. However, the State Medical Board, a body created by law, has done its utmost to suppress quackery, and it is estimated that, through the enforcement of the statute, several hundred of the shady gentry have been driven out of the State. Of course, quite a few of the so-called "doctors" are still unapprehended.
The hatred of this horde is centered upon Dr. Rauch of Chicago, president of the State Medical Board. To remove him, his foes have stigmatized him as a whiskey addict, atheist, and associate of dissolute women. A committee of the State senate disproved the allegations, which are based almost entirely upon the statements of a Chicago drug store clerk, who asserted that Dr. Rauch drank twenty glasses of whiskey in one day at a local apothecary shop, that he cursed in a most abominable manner, and that he flirted with passing disreputable women under the door. This boob of a drug store clerk must know these women very well, 2to judge from his own evidence.
Dr. Rauch, aided by reputable witnesses of unimpeachable character, thoroughly refuted the accusations. It was proved that the physician's conduct was honorable at all times, although he is by no means a "water simpleton", and that, by virtue of his medical studies and experience, he is indeed qualified to serve as a member of the State Medical Board.
Only one "crime" was definitely attributed to the doctor; he tore off a sign at the Palmer House. Governor Cullom reappointed the physician to the State Medical administration, and the preponderant majority of the Investigating Committee--only two members dissenting--favored confirmation of the Governor's act.
Our anti-quack law, unfortunately, cannot serve in prosecuting all charlatans, because the statute grants immunity to all possessing a diploma issued by a medical faculty. In Illinois and other states one can find medical institutions where the student can really become proficient in his chosen profession; but no assurance is given that a person obtaining such credentials is actually capable.3
Then, too, there are medical schools where it is impossible to acquire knowledge, even when matriculating with the best of intentions.
Our many medical faculties throughout the United States have unleashed thousands of "recently baked" doctors this Spring, all properly authorized to prey upon society. Quite a few of these medical aspirants will seek other vocations, because of the tremendous competition within the medical profession. But, even after such withdrawals occur, the number of men proclaiming themselves doctors is far too large.
Estimates show that, in Germany, one person out of three thousand is a "genuine" doctor; in France the ratio is one to four thousand; in England, one in twenty-two hundred. In the United States, the ratio is one doctor to every one thousand persons, on the average, and in several American cities we have one doctor (that is, a person professing to be a physician) for every one hundred to two hundred inhabitants.
Among these medical practitioners are many men, excellent and outstanding, hailing 4from Europe, as well as Americans. But in our crowded medical profession we have an astonishing number of misfits; this is true, first, because even in the best of American medical colleges the study period is far too short; second, because our country has a very large number of inferior institutions; and finally, because diplomas are too easily procurable. Such diplomas are a substitute for the serious, compulsory examinations required in Germany.
The Illinois law pertaining to physicians is rather inadequate. However, the State Medical Board, a body created by law, has done its utmost to suppress quackery, and it is estimated ...
I M, I H
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- April 18, 1879Bathhouses
When several bills were before the City Council asking for small appropriations to build public bathhouses, our English language newspapers failed to make any comments on this important subject. It will be remembered that all these proposals were defeated by the majority. Despicable indeed. Now one hears that the "highly cogent reason" for the refusal of these bills was the fact that Communist Stauber [alderman] advocated their passage so vigorously.
Now, that the budget question and that of the tax levy have been settled, and construction of bathhouses is out of the question during this season, it suddenly occurs to the Evening Journal that bathhouses are a necessity and that the absence of such buildings is a disgrace for a cosmopolitan city like Chicago.That newspaper [Evening Journal], which professes to have the welfare of Chicago at heart, also obtained a statement from the Health Commissioner wherein the necessity of four public bathhouses is properly recorded, and the paper also ascertained that the project requires twenty thousand dollars, at least.2
Bathhouses cannot be built this year, but, if the City Council is sensible, it can procure suitable sites and pay for the necessary arrangements and supervision from the contingent fund. It is only necessary to select a suitable place on the lake shore and erect a wooden structure to hide the bathers from the inquisitive stares of an overly morbid stupidity.
It would suffice to have one or two policemen in attendance at each place for supervision and to prevent accidents. These bathing places would establish the need for such improvements so definitely, that no objections can be raised, next year, to building permanent structures. To make the plan feasible only an amendment to the present bathing ordinance--or restriction--is required; the cost is so insignificant that it can easily be defrayed from the contingent fund.
When several bills were before the City Council asking for small appropriations to build public bathhouses, our English language newspapers failed to make any comments on this important subject. It ...
I F 3, I M
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- May 01, 1879Bathhouses (Editorial)
Mayor Harrison promised to be the best mayor Chicago ever had. If he is serious, he must consider the just demands of the people, whether they live in palaces or hovels. Our fellow citizens who cannot afford bathing facilities in their own homes, now demand the right to perform their ablutions in the lake. For the sake of propriety as well as morality, and in order that elegant ladies who might be looking from their homes near the shore may not be offended by the sight of naked men and youngsters, the people now demand that bathhouses be erected which may be used free of charge.
The former City Council denied an appropriation for constructing bathhouses, because a Socialist favored the measure. Several aldermen informed the writer that the overwhelming defeat of the bill was solely because Stauber sponsored it but that need not prevent the mayor from building bathhouses on our beaches. During the years 1873 and 1874, the City Council set aside two thousand dollars 2a year, hence a total of four thousand dollars, for bathhouses.
Tax collections during these same years were gathered with difficulty; the poor landowners paid, but the wealthy resorted to litigation, and obtained a revocation of the total tax levy. Now, tax levies have been upheld on the strength of a recent law, and a steady flow of money enters the city coffers.
Mayor Harrison need only declare that four thousand dollars of the tax money received for the years 1873 and 1874 shall be used to construct bathhouses, and no law can prevent him from doing this. After all, he would only act in conformance to public sentiment.
Mayor Harrison promised to be the best mayor Chicago ever had. If he is serious, he must consider the just demands of the people, whether they live in palaces or ...
I H, I M
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- June 18, 1879Utilization of Sewage (Editorial)
The question what to do with our sewerage has been a constant headache to the administration. Most of our sewers empty into the river, while a few discharge their contents into the lake. The Chicago River flows into the lake or into the Illinois Canal, the direction of the flow depending on whether high water prevails in the Desplaines River or in the Chicago River. In either case, the current is very slow, and thus permits the sediment to accumulate on the river bed. Everyone knows that at times the water emits an awful stench. As Chicago increases in population, more sewerage will pollute the river. In fact, the residents along the Illinois Central Canal are already complaining. Plans are being discussed to widen and deepen the canal to increase the flow, but money is lacking for such a project.
Another method under consideration provides for complete independence 2of the drainage canal system by utilizing the sewerage for fertilizer. Among the many projects involving the latter proposal, one might mention the plan of L. G. Hallberg, civil engineer, who proposes to construct two or three large canals, running north and south, which would gather the discharge of all the sewers. The canals would converge into a huge settling basin, south of the Stockyards, where suitable chemicals would deodorize the liquid while the sediment would furnish the fertilizer.
The idea is not new; City Engineer Chesborough advocated something similar several years ago. Unfortunately the city lacks funds to make such extensive changes in its sewer system. Even if the money were available and it were possible to separate sufficient solids for fertilizer, we still lack sufficient demand for the disposal of the product. To the best of our knowledge, owners of horses and stock feeders must dispose of the manure by loading it onto barges, towing it far out on the lake, and dumping it, or they must pay to have the dung carted away. The land is still so productive that the farmer has not recognized the value of adding fertilizer to the soil. It is, of 3course, quite possible that a time will come when our farmers will understand the economic importance of utilizing the waste products of large cities; and therefore it is well to call attention to the question from time to time.
Mr.Hallberg circulated a petition among the merchants requesting the City Council to construct a temporary filtration basin at the end of one of the larger sewers. A fairly large number of signatures have been obtained, and the petition will be presented to the council within the near future.
The question what to do with our sewerage has been a constant headache to the administration. Most of our sewers empty into the river, while a few discharge their contents ...
Skandinaven -- July 29, 1879Real-Estate Owners Protest Building of "L"
A petition is being circulated protesting the building of the elevated. The petition asks those involved, especially the Civic Council, to "come down to earth and stay there."
The Scandinavians, especially the Danes around Lake and Peoria, Lake and Kinzie, and Lake and Milwaukee, are the main objectors. [Translator's note:-- The Danes and Norwegians living in the district along Milwaukee Avenue from Lake Street to Chicago Avenue, believed that the "L" would lover real-estate values. The same thing occurred along Bake Street, out they did not get sufficient signatures. On the South Side, the people compromised and agreed on condition that the "L" should be built in the alley between Wabash and State; therefore it was called the "Alley 'L'. "Later the Scandinavians along Milwaukee Avenue regretted the petition, but it was too late--the new franchise had been voted on in the City Council, the line to run west, where the Metropolitan "L" now is located.2
The original franchise specified that the "L" run along Milwaukee Avenue to Chicago Avenue, later to be extended to what was then called Armitage Road.
Every original franchise issued in Chicago was contested by the people. Some believed that the trains would fall into the street; others that the locomotives then used would set fire to the wooden buildings along the right of way. Many such reasons were given to justify the petitions.
The Scandinavians also, in many cases, fought "Baron" Yerkes' cable cars, primarily because of the numerous accidents and delays.]
A petition is being circulated protesting the building of the elevated. The petition asks those involved, especially the Civic Council, to "come down to earth and stay there." The Scandinavians, ...
II F, I F 6, I F 4, I M
Secondary listingsNorwegian // Attitudes > Politics > Graft and Corruption (I F 6) ?
Norwegian // Attitudes > Politics > Extent of Influence (I F 4) ?
Norwegian // Attitudes > Health and Sanitation (I M) ?
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- August 04, 1879Sewer Gas (Editorial)
At the time of the scarlet fever epidemic, two years ago, when so many died in Chicago, we called attention to the badly constructed sewers, which permit seepage and escape of sewer gas into even our finest homes. The board of health has been very active in ameliorating conditions by compelling property owners to make the needed repairs or improvements wherever sewer gas was apparent. However, it seems necessary to go to the root of the evil.
As the city has authority to enforce building specifications, it is obvious that certain regulations can be drafted to prevent faulty sewer construction. No permit for a new building should be issued unless a sewer plan is submitted. A competent official should then make an investigation, and inspect the pipes before they are put into the ground.2
Only in this manner will it be possible to avoid a repetition of the awful experiences we have had.
Pipes which were badly connected caused entire blocks to become fever breeding places and, when basements were dug into, it was found that the soil was contaminated--just a filthy mess. Badly constructed sewers cause the gas to seep into even our finest homes, bringing sickness and death. The old story about looking the barn after the horse is stolen ought to be a thing of the past.
It is not improper for the authorities to interfere in building construction in order to prevent sickness or pestilence.
The plumbers to whom the installation of sewer pipes is usually entrusted are a conniving lot, and whatever labor they perform is usually hidden by the subsequent work of the carpenters or bricklayers; if no thorough inspection is required, the temptation to be careless is almost irresistible. If sloppy work merely caused constant repairs and expense, then the problem could be left 3to the property owner, but when the health, and even the life, of the community are jeopardized, then it is just as much of a duty for the city to act as in the case of unsafe buildings.
Ventilation is also an important matter, and should be subject to inspection. It was shown recently that the cold air intake of a residential building was improperly located, so that, when the furnace was in operation, sewer gas circulated through the building.
That the law permits such criminal negligence and fails to protect the public is an outrage. Heavy fines should be assessed, and the power of the state should be called upon to prevent recurrences.
The commissioner of the board of health would be delinquent in his duty if he failed to present the facts to the council, and did not urge that body to pass an ordinance on sewers and ventilation which provided for inspection of buildings during construction.
At the time of the scarlet fever epidemic, two years ago, when so many died in Chicago, we called attention to the badly constructed sewers, which permit seepage and escape ...
Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- December 08, 1879Sanitary Conditions in Chicago a Grave Problem (Editorial)
Anyone who has perused the statistics of the health department must have noticed that mortality rates rose considerably in Chicago this year. The records show that we had 7422 deaths in the year 1878. In 1879, up to December 1, a period of 11 months, deaths reached 8,467; adding thereto [for December] the average number of deaths during the past eleven months, we find that the year's total will be about 9,236, or 1,814 more than in the previous year.
A list showing the constant increase during the various months is appended:
Deaths during 1878 1879 Increase January, 572 737 165 February, 481 584 103 Deaths during 1878 1879 Increase March, 578 730 152 April, 508 604 96 May, 486 625 139 June, 453 703 250 July, 1067 1152 85 August, 814 1084 270 September, 663 687 24 October, 587 770 180(sic) November, 591 791 200 December, 622 --- --- 7422 8467(eleven months) 1045(eleven months)(sic)
This terrifying increase in our morality cannot be ascribed to an increase in our population. Even if the population were six or seven per cent larger (and 3that would probably be a high estimate) the increase in mortality amounts to fifteen or sixteen per cent (sic).
There is one undeniable fact--instead of becoming cleaner, our city takes on the aspect of a mud pile. The streets are swept but not cleaned; in other words, dirt and manure are swept into the gutter, where they remain and rot. As the city grows, the pollution of the river increases, and now we have an open, stagnant sewer. To this must be added the stench of some six million hogs and cattle which are being slaughtered at the yards, a most odoriferous problem with which we are confronted, even in the northernmost parts of the city, whenever south winds prevail.
Undoubtedly, the unhealthy conditions now confronting us are attributable to these causes, since a large number of people are dying from diphtheria. The present mortality resulting from this sickness is tremendous.
Responsibility rests with our city administration. That our streets are not properly cleaned is the administration's fault. The manner in which contractors 4are allowed to perform the work is not compatible with intelligence. That the river developed into a cesspool was also the administration's fault. It was negligence--pure and simple--which brought about the present deplorable conditions. At least the north branch of the river could have been cleaned. That the stockyards and lard renderers can overwhelm us with stench may not be entirely the fault of the city officials. Undoubtedly, Dr. De Wolf has the best of intentions in making our slaughterhouses conform to health rules, but he lacks sufficient authority. In connection therewith, it becomes necessary for the public to recognize the danger confronting us, and for strong public opinion to assert proper pressure in order to support the health commissioner in his fight.
The question is a matter of life and death for Chicago. At the present rate of mortality, we face a declining population.
Anyone who has perused the statistics of the health department must have noticed that mortality rates rose considerably in Chicago this year. The records show that we had 7422 deaths ...
Der Westen -- December 14, 1879Wells School Protest Meeting
About fifty citizens, among them members of the school board, Vocke, Armstrong, the contractor Ward, General Lieb, and others, met at Hillinger's hall, 601 North Wells Street, to formulate protests against unsanitary conditions prevailing at the Wells school.
Jacob Becker was named chairman, and Robert Lahey, secretary. Both were elected unanimously.
Colonel Schaffner was asked to address the assembly. He spoke at length about the misfortune which had befallen so many families recently, of the large number of children who have died from scarlet fever and diphtheria because of alleged unsanitary conditions at the Wells school and in the vicinity. He asked that Messrs. Vocke, Armstrong, and Ward give their views.2
Attorney Wagner made a motion to nominate a committee of five to investigate matters, because 300 children have died in this district.
A number of those present objected to the motion, and a somewhat heated debate ensued. General Lieb suggested that the motion be tabled. Mr. Wagner finally withdrew his motion, after he and Schaffner had become involved in a bitter argument.
Colonel Schaffner accepted the chairmanship, after Mr. Becker resigned.
General Lieb spoke about the unusualness of the situation which made it necessary to have meetings of this kind in the present age of progress. The school board was responsible for the deaths of the many children, including his [Lieb's] own child. It was the school board's duty to select healthful localities for building sites and, while he blamed no one in particular, the fact remained that, though the school board had received all the funds asked 3for, it had failed to perform its functions properly.
Martin Horn then spoke at length, and accused the school board and the contractor, who deliberately continued using the present school although cheap and healthful buildings were available. Mr. Horn's own children had died because of the deplorable environment.
Robert Lahey criticized the school board most severely for the neglect shown in this district. He also considered it very detrimental that the children had to play in the street during recess, and said it was about time an indignation meeting was held.
Jacob Becker spoke in a similar vein. William Vocke was asked to speak. He said that he had read of the proposed meeting in the Illinois Staats-Zeitung, and had therefore asked his colleague, Armstrong, as well as Mr. Ward, to go 4to the meeting. He [Vocke] felt that the district should have a schoolhouse which belonged to the city; but such an arrangement was not possible because of the city's financial condition. The city could not buy land for a school. This was a matter concerning the city council, and that body would have to decide the issue. "The point at issue revolves about the question, whether the deaths of all the children can be attributed to the school building." The school board was accused of murder, of intentionally killing the children, but upon thinking rationally about the matter, such assertions would be withdrawn. His [Vocke's] child was suffering from scarlet fever, and had attended the Scammon school, but he did not think that the schoolhouse was at fault. He would like to hear just in what way the Wells school was at fault, and then the schoolboard could make changes or improvements. If any faults are pointed out, the school board will remedy them; that he could promise.
Martin Horn said that twenty-five wagonloads of dirt and manure were removed 5from the basement and yard on the previous day, and that the drainage ditches were cleaned.
Vocke admitted that manure was piled up in the yard. School board member Frake was in charge of this school, and should have made an investigation. The schoolboard would always consider practical suggestions, according to Vocke. The old school on Larrabee Street was worse than this school. Neither the exterior nor the interior of the present school shows any defect. The present occasion should not be used as an excuse for playing politics. He promised to consider all fair complaints and suggestions for improvement, and said that he would support them in the city council.
Martin Horn gave a description (of the school building) which was not very complimentary. He emphasized that walls were thin, floors were defective, and drainage was bad.6
General Lieb was very irate, and denied vehemently that anyone had tried to make a political issue of the affair. The life and health of the children were the only concerns of the people here assembled. Mr. Vocke was a member of the school board, and it was his duty to make practical suggestions; he, as well as all the other members, were to blame for the deaths of the children.
Chairman Schaffner admonished the speaker. Mr. Lieb asked pardon for the personal remarks he had made, and continued to accuse the school board for its neglect. The schoolrooms, he said, were dark, insufficiently ventilated, too small, and the children had no playgrounds. This would be sufficient reason for making changes. After the Chicago Fire, crooks acquired the land which belonged to the school. He made a motion that a committee be appointed to explain matters to the mayor.7
Colonel Schaffner relinquished the chairmanship to General Lieb, and said that the citizens of the North Side had not chosen proper men for the city council. The city council, in turn, selected unfit members for the school board. Each member of the school board had to inspect a certain number of schools, and neither Mr. Vocke nor Mr. Armstrong had had anything to do with the Wells school. A committee should be named to conduct an investigation, and to make recommendations for improvements. Mayor Harrison could not do anything in the matter.
Mr. Vocke informed the assembly that the Wells school building was rented by the month, and that, therefore, no difficulty would be encountered in securing other quarters.
Colonel Schaffner then suggested that the committee which was to be named should compile statistics and make suggestions to the school board.8
Mr. Horn remarked that twenty-three pupils of that school had died of contagious diseases during the last three weeks.
Mr. Ward then gave an explanation, and said that Mr. Schoeninger, a member of the school board, had told him long ago to look for a suitable building. At that time the school was on La Salle Street. Later, Mr. Ward and school board member Hotz drove around for days until they finally found the present building, which they rented. He then gave a lengthy account involving the school building and said that the board of health had never issued an adverse report concerning the premises. On one occasion he was requested to have the walls whitewashed. Nevertheless, the school board would be perfectly willing to locate the school elsewhere, if the city council would provide another building.
Diversion was created by Dr. Wagner, a lawyer, who attempted to cross-examine 9Mr. Ward. The attorney, highly proficient in the gentle art of questioning, had attained a great reputation in the courts of the North Side, and the procedure promised to be interesting, but the chairman, unfortunately, intervened and ended the controversy.
Mr. Niemann called attention to the fact that the surroundings of the school were not sanitary, and that this would also be a contributing cause of the epidemic.
Colonel Schaffner's motion was finally accepted and the committee was formed; the following members were appointed: Messrs. Lieb, Karls, Lotz, Lewis, Kaeseberg, Becker, and Schaffner.
School board member Armstrong made a very apt remark about the indifference of the inhabitants of the district, who had not complained until recently. If 10the city council would agree with the school board, a new school could be provided quickly.
Mr. Lahey made a motion to hold another meeting at the same place next Saturday; the motion provided that the aldermen of the 15th and 16th wards would be asked to attend. The motion was carried.
About fifty citizens, among them members of the school board, Vocke, Armstrong, the contractor Ward, General Lieb, and others, met at Hillinger's hall, 601 North Wells Street, to formulate protests ...
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