Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rubbish Heaps of Ypsilanti

This story appeared in the Ypsilanti Daily Press of Friday, June 22, 1906.

A fair sized, but very enthusiastic audience listened last night to a talk by Robert Hemphill, Jr. on the unsightly spots in Ypsilanti. The talk was accompanied by a series of views showing the places which the speaker thought might be improved.

Following the discussion Mayor Van Fossen talked upon the subject of removing the poles from the streets of the city and putting the wires underground.

President Cleary opened the meeting and introduced Mr. Hemphill, who said: In my own experience in visiting various cities of the country, I have found that the impression of the city which was most likely to remain fixed in my mind was the view about the railroad depot--the first and last sight that greets the visitor's eye. The buildings ad grounds near the railroad are like the front porch of the house. For this reason plans that have recently been adopted for beautifying our cities have begun at the railroad. In the plans that are now in progress to make of Washington one of the most beautiful cities of the country, the central point of the plan is Grand Union depot. So in Cleveland and other cities, they are beginning their work of beautifying the city by improving the appearance of the approaches to the city.

For this reason I have selected some of the views which are first to meet the eye of the visitor as he enters our city.

Mr. Hemphill then presented views of the unsightly places east of the river, which would meet the eye of the visitor as he enters the city on the electric line. The next view was a picture of the river down neat the bridge. To the right, as one enters the city, then turning to the left, one would catch a view of the city's dump.

The speaker said that the question of providing the city with a suitable dump heap was one that had presently been raised, but as yet no one has been able to suggest a place which would be convenient and at the same time would not disfigure the landscape.

The next views showed the bill boards which greet the eyes of visitors as they enter the city from Saline, and attention was called to the fact that these bill boards are used mainly by foreign business houses which draw trade away from the city, and not by our home merchants.

The Ark, the alley back of some of our stores, and near views of some resident property then came in for a share of the speaker's attention, and he compared the conditions along the river bank with the conditions in an English city of equal size and with a similar river running through it.

The society passed a vote of thanks to Mr. Hemphill and those associated with him in the preparation of these views, and then attacked the problem of putting the wires underground.

Mayor Van Fossen declared that while Ypsilanti had a wide reputation for its beautiful shade trees it was in serious danger of losing this distinction, because of the wanton destruction of the trees by the companies which run the electric wires through the tops of the trees. He declared that there were at least 200 trees dying in the city at the present time because of the live wires coming in contact with the limbs of the trees or because large limbs had been cut off and rot had run into the hearts of the trees.

The mayor was not a t all certain that the city would be able to compel the companies to put the wires underground, but he said that he was determined to have the matter put to the people for a vote, so that they could express their opinions upon the matter.

He urged individual property owners to begin suit against the companies to recover damages when the trees on their premises had been injured.

Mr. Hatch thought that the property owners would have difficulty in recovering from the company, but thought that the city could compel the companies to put the wires underground, provided they had not entered into contract to allow them to keep the wires overhead.

Taken altogether the meeting was one that aroused a great deal of interest and will probably have an influence in bring about some changed conditions.


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