The American Journal of Science and Arts 17 (January 1830):99-110; (April 1830):249-273.

The journal in which this remarkable essay appeared was founded in 1818 by Benjamin Silliman, America's most distinguished scientist who had been appointed Professor of Chemistry and Natural History at Yale University when only twenty-three. Silliman edited this journal for many years, and his wide-ranging interests brought him into contact with America's most literate and best educated persons. Doubtless we will never know the author of this essay which--despite its title--discusses the subject of city planning in great detail. From the one drawing that accompanies the article and in which the ideas of the author about urban design are illustrated it is probably safe to say that the writer was not an architect but, rather, a sophisticated observer who had read widely and traveled with eyes open.
The fine arts have hitherto received little cultivation or encouragement in our country--a fact usually attributed to its infancy.-- But this is not the only cause. There is in most minds among us, even among persons of enlightened understanding and liberal views, a secret recoil when they are mentioned, a kind of vague feeling that they would be dangerous to that simplicity of manners, and purity of morals, which must form both the basis and bulwark of a republic. The feeling is a natural one, but does great injustice to the subject.-- The fine arts are perfectly consonant with good morals, and, so far from being the handmaid of luxury and licentiousness, have always operated as a check on their extravagance....

Most of the fine arts, by which I mean, painting, sculpture, music, architecture, engraving, poetry and eloquence, require a rich and well cultivated soil for their growth. Let any one take up a criticism, say on a piece of statuary, and we will be astonished at the extent, variety and difficult nature of the subjects it comprehends. History, antiquities, anatomy, proportion, costume, adaptation of parts, taste, form but a small portion of them, while taste itself embraces a circle of most difficult objects. The same is the case with painting. Architecture requiring, in addition to most of these, a deep knowledge of the mathematics and involving more important interests, is still more difficult....

By architecture, I mean not only the principles of science and taste, as applied to public and private edifices, but also to the ornamenting of towns or cities with columns, arches, porticoes, bridges and fountains, and generally in the way of building, to whatever can be of utility or ornament to them or their precincts. My remarks will also take a wider range, and embrace a science, for which I cannot find a name, for the good reason, that among the nations from which we draw our language, no such science could be known. I means the choice of position, and the planning of towns, with the grounds and appurtenances connected with them....

[W]e are gradually forming a pretty correct judgment, as to the beauties of a landscape or a town; and our taste is beginning to set strongly towards them.-- This is shown in the crowds that gather to the deck of a steam or canal boat, as a fine point of view, or a handsome village, is approached and is heard in the murmur of approbation among little groups of such travellers, on more ordinary occasions. One of the first, questions too, about a town, usually respects its beauty of situation, and of internal character; and no question is answered sooner, and generally, with more correctness. Indeed I do not hesitate to say, that in no country is a striking object sooner analyzed or its worth more correctly estimated. This feeling of the public is going to increase and improve, and, before many years, he who will wish a town to flourish in choosing its position and forming its plan, will have to consult not only health and convenience, but also beauty and good taste....

But I wish to touch another string, and one to which every patriotic bosom will respond. We have a happy country: it may be made as beautiful as it is happy. But there is some danger that this will not be. Our forefathers set the example of looking to Europe, and particularly to England, for every thing; and in most cases we follow the example. We draw even the plans of our towns and cities from them. By this I do not mean that we form them street by street, according to the model of any English city, but that we are pleased or satisfied if their general character corresponds with those abroad. Now there is not one of them, not even Rome,; that would not be glad to remodel itself, and change from the clumsiness of its present form, into something of more symmetry and taste. And they also do it, as far as possible, whenever there is opportunity.... London is almost every day tearing down costly houses to widen streets, or form new ones, or open public squares, for the health or proper convenience of her inhabitants. And so will our posterity have to do, if we go on as we have commenced: indeed we are doing it already. We have a vast advantage on this subject, and it is surprising how little we have felt it. We have yet to choose the sites of what are to be large towns and cities, in a generation or two: we have to plan them, with full choice as to convenience or beauty; we have most of our public buildings to erect; we build from one to three hundred private edifices yearly, in each of our large cities; we have a population enlightened, and capable of appreciating beauty in these things; and we have the whole world to choose our models from--or what in some of them is better still--to travel over, and from which to collect beauties, and form a model for ourselves.

Let no one urge that we are not prepared for these things; that they require wealth and leisure, which we have not for them; and that business, not taste, must engross the attention of a young nation. We are prepared for them. It is as easy in planning a town to consult good taste and beauty as not to do it, and unless this is done now, the odds are greatly against it ever being done. It is as easy to build in good taste as not, if good models were only before us. And here let me express my regret that we have so few of them, and my hope that the deficiency will soon be supplied....

Place in a village a handsome public monument, or pillar, or church, and I do not hesitate to say that, all other things being equal, those villagers will be bound more to one another, and to their village, that those of another. Place by another a group of trees, with a fountain playing in their midst: have beneath them tasteful seats, and make it a place to which experience age and prattling infancy will go for company or amusement; a spot where the villagers will assemble in the evening for cheerful conversation,and I venture to say that these people will love their homes more, and thinking less of changing, will improve them more; that they will be wiser; that their taverns will be less frequented; and that every good feeling will prevail more among them, than would have been the case without. Place in a town or city, a spot with spreading trees, and pleasant walks between, a spot which would serve as an agreeable promenade, and the feelings of that people will flow in a kinder and smoother channel; there will be more cheerfulness and more happiness than there would otherwise have been. It is a delightful amusement to saunter along the French promenades about sunset, and observe the happy groups, of all ages, that throng them; to watch the rapid sale of bouquets, at the platforms which line their sides (flowers only are admitted there); and as an American looks at the cheerful scene, he must think with pain of his own cities, where every thing seems calculated for dull labor, or lynx-eyed gain. It is doubtless owing, in some degree, to the provision of such places, in foreign countries, that their natives resort less to taverns for amusement than with us; and that intoxication consequently is less frequently seen. The French have their Boulevards; the Spaniards their Prado; the Italians their Corso; all of these have their public gardens; and we--we have our tipplingshops, the bane and disgrace of our land, and shall have them, I fear, till we provide more innocent places of resort. All attempts to check this current of human feeling are vain; the stream must flow; and if we give it a channel, will refresh and beautify the land, it would otherwise have desolated and destroyed....

The subject is one sufficiently important, to be a matter of governmental patronage. This we can scarcely expect, but I hope much from honorable rivalship between our cities and towns. The character of a place depends more on this, than would seem probable, at first sight; and, as I have already said, will depend on it still more in future years. Most of the Italian cities owe their reputation, and some of them, through the crowds of foreigners thus allured, a considerable part of their support, to the attention architecture formerly received. Milan would gain but little attention from the multitudes hurrying yearly to Rome, were it not for her cathedral. Genoa would draw but slight notice, were it not for her beautiful palaces. The Duomo and Logia of Florence divide with its gallery, the admiration of all travellers: even Rome owes much of her present celebrity to her architectural remains, and Greece without hers would be but a winter's shadow....

I will now come nearer home. New Haven was going the way of all our other towns, when, in 1798 or thereabout, she was fortunate enough to have for a resident an English architect of the name of Banner. His name is now almost forgotten, but a time will come, when it will rank well among those of her worthies. He erected a house, still to be seen, on one side of the public square, which though not a model of good taste, was yet sufficient to draw public attention to the subject. New Haven has now taken a character through the land, that draws to it crowds of visitors, a character above all price, since it attaches its inhabitants to their homes, and makes them satisfied and contented. I have met its natives almost every where, and as I have witnessed the glow of feeling, with which they talked of its greens, its elms, and avenues, and its burying ground, I have wished earnestly, that the cause of such feeling were universal in our land. It is true there are other subjects that contribute to the reputation of the place; but when it is spoken of, it is always as the "beautiful city," shewing at once, the idea first suggested by its name, and uppermost in the estimate of its character. All this has been effected at the most trifling expense. The elms have cost simply the labor of planting them; the houses, if there is any difference, are cheaper than in other cities; the burying ground is but little more expensive than such places usually are, and might be made, with advantage, less expensive than it is. There is nothing in New Haven beyond the power of every town in our country. I would not however, propose it as a model:--but the subject has already expanded itself more than I intended it should....

I now proceed to the more practical part of the subject, and shall consider it under the following heads:

1. The best ground for a city or town, with the best mode of laying out such ground.

2. Public edifices and public monuments--with the architecture best adapted to them.

3. Private building and private grounds.

The reader and I...should be better acquainted before we start. He must excuse then the title: there is no word in the language exactly suited to the subject, and this will answer perhaps as well as any other. He must also excuse some egotism: it will be necessary to apply individual taste to the matters under discussion, and the first person singular must often come in from necessity. On the other hand, he is invited to criticise freely and to find fault whenever he may choose. My remarks will be based on some observation both at home and in other countries, and on some thought and study; but still I wish no one in verba mea jurare, and particularly in matters of taste. I wish the public to use their own judgment and their own taste, and shall think my time well spent if I can only draw their attention to a subject so interesting and important.

In selecting ground for a town or city, regard should be had to convenience, beauty and health. The first of these is so changeful in its character and so little subject to rule, that we must leave it to take care of itself, which it will never fail to do: health and beauty are fair subjects for our consideration. The usual practice in our country, and particularly in the West, is to give even ground the preference, and where it cannot be obtained, the surface is generally levelled, often at considerable expense. This is perfectly natural. On meeting with a level tract of country near a handsome stream, our first exclamation is apt to be "what a beautiful spot for a town;" and in selecting ground to be passed over frequently,--perhaps in after ages to be constantly traversed by dense crowds, it seems proper that the most level should be selected. But natural as such a choice may seem, still it is not wise. A city on level ground can never be a cleanly one. Extreme muddiness may be avoided by paving, and extreme filth by frequent application of the scavenger's broom; after all this expense, however, such a place will be filled with offensive sights and smells. The offals of shops and kitchens will still accumulate: stables will still send up their noisome effluvia, and mire will still every where abound. There is no sweeping so good, while there is none half so cheap, as that which we may receive from a smart shower of rain. Such a cleansing however is impossible in a level town. The waters, instead of forming themselves into rapid and healthy streams, here flood the street, or gather into pools, which send us in long circuits by day, and deceive our eyes by night: collecting the essence of every putrifying substance by our very door, they change from black to yellow, and from yellow to green, while from day to day they load the air with loathsome smells and sickening vapors. From this there is no escape, and in our changeful climate it is frequent. Every one of our level cities will satisfy us that this is no caricature; and if such is the case now, what will it be with the population becomes far denser and poorer also, and therefore less able to consult cleanliness or comfort than it is now?

Such a city can never be a handsome one. We may enrich it with marble palaces, and deck them with ivory and gold, still it will be heavy and gloomy and dull. Every one has read of Babylon, the city of sixty miles in circuit, and one hundred brazen gates. It was the perfection of cities, if we make evenness of ground the standard; yet who that thinks of it, stretching league after league over the same unvaried plain, does not immediately tire of its uniformity. We turn from street to street, but the same dead level is before us. We look to the right and left, but the same prospect opens on either side; our feelings become stagnant, and we can consent to live there only by consenting to become as dull as it. Such is a level city. Let us now take a view of Rome. The simple word, "in Capitolium ascendit," conveys to my mind, and doubtless conveyed to that of the ancient Roman's, a more cheerful idea, than is suggested by all the wealth, and pomp, and splendor of the proud drowsy city of the East. Rome draws half its interest from its seven hills: from the days when Romulus and Remus took their auguries on the Palatine and Aventine mounts, till the choosing of the present Pope, on mons Vaticanus, they have figured most in its history; they mingle in our recollections or every fine description or heroic deed, and were at once the defence and ornament, and just boast of that city--the queen of cities. Even the forum took much of its character and its orators much of their power from the Capitoline hill, immobile saxum, which overhung it, and on which the citadel and the temples of their gods stood out distinct and clear against the bright blue sky. Those spots still breathe a thrilling eloquence; what must they have been in the days of their splendor and glory ! We have a Rome or two in our country: I have never seen them, but will venture to affirm that they are built on the most level ground the districts could afford. The ancients understood these things far better. Constantinople is celebrated far and wide for its beauty as it is approached, It has minarets and domes without number: the minaret, tall and delicate, and always white, is a beautiful thing, and scarcely less so is the white swelling dome. But these alone would not produce an effect so like fascination, as the scene rises first before the traveller. It is because these domes and minarets rise from their proud elevation in splendid relief against the sky; because the hills bring now an ivy-draped aqueduct, now a cypress grove, now a palace, now a tower into view, making what is really beautiful appear so, and because that the dense mass of houses below is on every variety of ground, that Constantinople takes the preeminence among handsome views. New York has sometimes been compared to it in regard to position, and the comparison is just; but if the citizens of New York would have the comparison go further, they must save their hills, which I understand, are now fast disappearing before the levelling system, so prevalent in our land. A level spot may serve admirably for a corn-field, but whether it is best for a city I must now submit to the reader's judgment. I would not have abrupt eminences, or high ones, or many: but should still prefer them to a plain: rolling ground, with sufficient inclination throughout, to give a brisk current after a rain, is probably the best. I was going to say that the subject deserves further discussion, but it is so plain, that if our practice were not so universally on the wrong side, it would seem to deserve no discussion at all: reprobation is perhaps the more proper word. But this I must leave to the feeling of the public, and pass now to consider the best rules for planning a city or town.

This subject is still more important than the other. We may choose our ground well, but if it is not well used the choice loses half its worth. The ground too for many of our cities is already chosen, and they cannot be removed; but they are extending their limits every year: New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, have doubled their circuit in the last twenty years; our other cities have increased theirs rapidly: Cincinnati has quadrupled hers in the last twelve or fifteen, and so with many other of our western cities--and all this is still going on and will go on for many years to come. Our towns also are enlarging with a rapidity this huge world, old as it is, never knew before. Much, very much then can still be done, and the question, as I said, is a very important one--what is the best mode of planning a town? I shall endeavor to go into it at considerable length.

Our practice here too is beginning to set strongly towards one mode, that of squares or rectangular parallelograms. Philadelphia is laid out so, and it is a handsome city: Cincinnati is in the same fashion: I believe nearly all our western towns are so, and the custom is every year extending more and more. I am sorry to see it, and I hope the reader will be so too before we dismiss the subject. Experience shall be our guide in the discussion.

Convenience and beauty should be our governing principle in forming the plan of a city;--and for the first. The citizens of New York I understand, complain on this score; the numerous sharp angles, they say, give their houses, and consequently, the rooms and furniture, an inconvenient shape. The shape may sometimes admit of tasteful lines, and may be agreeable enough to those who own their dwelling and are permanently settled; but for those who are not so well off, it is found difficult to adjust the carpets, furniture and hangings, to such a variety of forms. The rooms also have often an unsightly character. A triangle may be a pretty thing in geometry, but it is difficult to be managed in a house, particularly if its angles be acute. The yard and other ground they say are also badly adapted for their comfort.

I have heard no complaints from Boston, or Baltimore, or Washington, where such angles are common, but the thing seems reasonable enough, and should by no means be disregarded. The rectangular form is certainly the most convenient and handsomest and therefore the best for a room. Curves are not devoid of beauty and may sometimes be admitted, but sharp angles should be avoided whenever it is possible. They have neither symmetry nor comfort, and I know indeed nothing that can be said in their favor. Such angles will necessarily occur in a very irregular town. Convenience is so far in favor of rectangles in our plan: I was going to add that in such a place, streets and houses are more easily found, but this is easily done in Washington which has every variety of angle. But convenience is not always in favor of rectangles. The main paths across a public green are very seldom at right angles, or if made so by the public authorities are soon abandoned by the citizens, for others in an oblique direction. This shows, that if in building, the rectangle is most comfortable, yet in passing from place to place it is not. I would not follow cow-paths in laying out streets, as one of our cities is facetiously accused of having done: but should certainly not disregard those of men. Rectangles may also lead our streets over very inappropriate spots, up steep eminences, or over deep glens and valleys. We should not sacrifice our eminences, and what is then to be done? The reader answers, "in such cases depart from your rectangles"--and this is just the point to which I wished to lead him: but more of this by and by.

Beauty is not in favor of the rectangle. We should judge of the beauty of our city, more from its impression on strangers, than on ourselves. We are accustomed to its forms; its associations affect us; we are warped by our attachment to family and friends, are no longer fit judges on the subject. We feel all this, and inquire with some anxiety of the stranger what he thinks of it. This may not always be perfectly polite, but the question is still natural enough, and we must only take care that intimacy or friendly confidence between us may warrant it. Who so capable of setting us right where we are wrong, as he who sees with other eyes, and hears with other ears, and who may properly be expected to judge with greater candor than ourselves? I say then we should watch the impression of our city on visiters[sic], and learn wisdom from their remarks. A rectangular city, as far as its plan is concerned, will not be found to interest a visiter[sic] long. He understands it easily and its dimensions shrink: he turns angle after angle and it is all the same, till the houses take also this character of uniformity, and however beautiful, cease to interest. He looks along a street: it stretches far before him and he feels as we do in looking up a long straight road--it may be very convenient but we feel no disposition to pursue it further, though it may be planted with elms and dressed with rich vines and enlivened with the sweet melody of birds: we are just as well off where we are, why go further? But give that road a turn near us, and our curiosity is immediately excited to pursue it further. I recollect a road not far from Wooster in Ohio. It ran, I think, six or seven miles as straight as an arrow-, and when I travelled on it, became at last absolutely painful to me. I began to feel like a man in a strait jacket, and perhaps the road contractors would have said I deserved one. But to return to our rectangular city. Every one will recollect his sensations, on turning from street to street, and finding the same long vista before him. It may please for a few moments at first, but the feelings soon grow dull and stagnate, and he turns listlessly away. Such a city has two important principles of beauty, symmetry and neatness; but, in a city at least, variety is essential to beauty: this is uniform, and therefore soon becomes dull. We love variety, and nature has provided largely for it: no two scenes are alike, though rocks, hills, trees, valleys and streams may go to the composition of both. We should soon tire of nature if things were so, at least if they were often so. At a first visit to a spot, it is the constant succession of new views taking us by surprise and sharpening curiosity, that delights us: afterwards it is this adaptation of forms to our nature, this variety suited to our love of variety, that fixes itself so strongly on our souls. Other principles of our nature, no doubt, are acted on, but this is among the uppermost. Let us bring it to the test. Suppose close together two beautiful scenes exactly alike in all parts: they would excite our wonder, but apart from this, would there not be a strong disappointment in our feelings? Would not the one we saw first, sink in our estimation because the other was just like it ? Let us go further: suppose there were three such, we should wonder more for a short while and then begin to be indifferent: four, should begin to tire: five, we should be weary: six, it would require an effort to look at them, and we should then begin to dislike. I will change the case. Let the reader suppose himself in a forest with a handsome glade by his side: he turns and has one exactly like it by him again: a few feet more and another comes; and again another, and so on without end. Those trees might be different in shape and in their leaves, but if disposed, as was said, exactly alike in all cases, would he seek that forest again for a pleasant walk? Again, suppose this variety of trees were disposed in the form of uniform avenues, stretching far as the eye could reach, would he then be greatly pleased ? But suppose these avenues in every variety, now broad and open, now shaded and narrow, one while opening to a wide stretch of landscape, and at another pointing to a rocky glen: how our feelings change at the thought! This is the effect of variety. No city then should be uniform, not even uniform in beauty, or it will pall and tire. I love, myself, in traversing a city to be taken by surprise; to be able to anticipate some new form, or combination of forms, at every turn; to have my admiration constantly drawn upon by the taste and judgment shewn in these combinations, and to have the city swell out and magnify its dimensions from my only half successful effort to comprehend them. A word or two on this last subject: it is of no great consequence, but should not be altogether neglected, in our discussion. Every one will recollect his surprise on ascending a steeple in an irregular town, or an adjoining eminence, and looking down on it to find it so small: it is but a short time since I took such a view of Hartford, and found it but little more than half as large as I had imagined. This is natural: the constant effect of partial] obscurity is to magnify, and no one will neglect it when he wishes to strike us by the vast or grand. I recollect my chagrin at Niagara Falls, when after a toil. some effort to see it from every point, I found that the best view was most easily had. It was on a spot some dozen or twenty yards S. W. from the table rock. The water there rushes by our feet, in large volume and with terrific rapidity, is precipitated over the ledge and lost to our sight: further on we can trace the roaring element nearly to the bottom, but the bottom can no where be seen, and from the shaking of the ground, the deep roar and the spray, our imagination makes the descent twice as great as it really is.

The conclusion then from the whole is this: that rectangles are convenient for building, and should therefore be used; but that they produce a tiresome sameness, against which we should carefully guard: that irregular cities are best accommodated to motion or change of place; that they keep our interest alive by their variety, and other things being equal, affect us most by their size. Each has its advantages: they may be easily combined, and I shall proceed to some remarks on the best character of such a combination.

In laying out a town, we should first carefully study the ground. There are no places, even the most level, that do not offer in some spots greater advantages of ground than in others. These should be seized upon and turned to the best account for beauty or convenience, but particularly for beauty; for convenience will usually take good care of itself. A proper use of these will insure sufficient variety to a city, and the remainder of the site may be occupied by squares and rectangular parallelograms. Even these last however, if carefully adjusted, will admit of very great variety, as I shall presently show: Sameness should always be avoided: if it is tiresome in a landscape, it is doubly so in the plan of a city, in which walls and windows and roofs are necessarily much alike, and uniformity is apt enough to come without being sought. A city like the one I propose, would unite convenience, symmetry, neatness, variety, and beauty: I add also elegance, and shall now proceed to take it up in detail.

We are first to study the ground, and ascertaining its several advantages, form the main features of our plan from these: I consider rounded eminences of moderate elevation a very great advantage. There are few towns that have not some heights: where there are none, other spots may be selected for the same purpose, though they will not suit so well. To show the reader what use I wish to be made of them, I will convey him for a few moments to Marseilles, in France. In the new part of that city, are two wide streets, called Les allées des Capuchins, and Les allées de Meilhan. They start from another called Le Boulevard, and meet at no great distance from it, forming with each other an angle of about thirty degrees. Each is planted with four rows of trees, forming three well arched and handsome avenues, the ground below being firm, dry, and rounded from the middle to a channel on each side: the parts outside and next the houses are appropriated to carriages and wagons, which are excluded from the avenues. At the point where the central avenues of the two streets meet, is a fountain, cheap and plain, but of exceeding beauty. It is a large basin of water, elevated five or six feet, and handsomely sodded around: from the centre shoots up to a great height a single, delicate, silvery jet. I have seen the splendid fountains in the portico of St. Peter's, at Rome, but they did not affect me with half the pleasure that was given by this simple small stream amid the green well arched trees. It goes to prove what I have already said, that great wealth is not necessary to the cultivation of taste. Indeed most of the fountains at Rome err on this point. They pour forth immense volumes of water amid marble basins and tritons, and seahorses and cars; but I think taste would prefer even the simple Turkish fountain with its soft gurgle, the huge plane overshadowing it, the rude bench beneath the tree, and the doves cooing in the branches. But I have wandered from my object and return. The fountain at Marseilles, from its position, belongs to both the streets of les Capuchins and Meilhan, and is an exquisitely beautiful termination to the vista in both. At the point where Les Allées des Capuchins meets le Boulevard is a handsome obelisk, thus an ornament to both these streets. I was pleased with this method of multiplying ornamental objects, and should keep it constantly in view in drawing the first and main features in the plan of a city. A handsome edifice with five streets diverging from it, would be equal to five such edifices placed so as to have only one point of view. With so many radiating lines, however, our city would be greatly cut up and filled with sharp angles, and we must be extremely cautious how the system is used. It would be best to have but a few points for numerous radiating lines, but the principle might be employed on a smaller scale through most parts of the city. Those few points should be on eminences, for a handsome object always appears best on an elevated position: the edifices placed there should be the most important and beautiful in the city, and some of the streets diverging from them, should be the widest and handsomest. To all these our main attention should be directed: a few other points for a few radiating streets and objects of less consequence should be selected, and the remainder of the ground be filled up with rectangular or oblique streets, as convenience might dictate, without however a total disregard to beauty.

The reader who has been at Washington will immediately think of the plan of that city, and there is a very strong resemblance between it and the one I propose. That of Washington has always been greatly admired, and if ever filled up as seems to have been originally expected, will give us indeed a beautiful and splendid city. Those who have not seen it, will readily understand the plan. The Capitol and the President's house, a mile distant from each other, are made radiating points for numerous wide streets which are called avenues, and are named after the several states. The whole plan is nearly four miles in length, and the parts not thus occupied are supplied with streets crossing each other at right angles, directed, I believe, to the four points of the compass. The whole is worthy of our national capital, and with some few exceptions, is an admirable plan. But it is not suited to a smaller city or a town. The avenues occupy too much ground to recommend it for extensive adoption, and are perhaps too numerous even for Washington, though all the ground should be filled up. Amid such a large number of handsome streets, proper regard would probably not be paid to any, and even if it were not so, I would not repeat even a handsome thing very often: a handsome object looses half its value the moment it is made common. I have two other objections. The first is the large breaks occurring frequently in the avenues where they are crossed at an acute angle by the rectangular streets. One of these occurs just below Williamson's hotel, The triangle adjoining will probably be filled up, but there will still remain a most unsightly gap on that side of the avenue. If I recollect right, there are two or three similar ones between that and the capitol. The other objection is connected with this. The plan has too much regularity: perhaps I should express my meaning better, should I say that it wants variety. Washington has great advantages in the nature of its ground: instead of consulting these, however, the two radiating points are determined on, the avenues from them are fixed, a few other avenues planned; the rectangular system is then applied; and the whole are left to run over steep bills and deep valleys as their fate may direct. Some of them are on the sides of abrupt descents, and beautiful as the plan appears on paper, I know of no city where the streets are so uncouth as are some of those in Washington. And I do not see how they can ever appear much better. An avenue of this character (called I believe Delaware avenue) passes just East of the botanical garden: and a street equally unmanageable ascends immediately back of Mr. Carroll's mansion.

We should not adopt, then, any one system to be carried uniformly through our whole plan. The nature of the ground should govern us; we should consult this in all parts: turn it to the best advantage, counteract its inconveniences, and fill up the intermediate parts as may best suit our purpose. I present a plan that will explain my views better than description. It is not given as a beau ideal of a town, but simply to elucidate my remarks. I have taken for it no other advantages or ground than can be found in any of our cities or towns. No. 2, is a circular eminence, which I seize upon for a town-house or other handsome building of general public interest. From it diverge six streets three of which are broad avenues, and by directing them, not by a fixed rule, but at will, I make four or five point to some interesting object. The sixth is a curved street:(1) the stranger enters it, wondering whither it may lead, and finds it open suddenly on a fountain or pillar: before him is the broad street pointing to No. 15, a handsome public or private house, a public monument or something of the kind. On his right, at No. 6, is an arch crowning an eminence, also a handsome termination to his view. The reader must not start at the mention of arch and pillar and obelisk: I will speak at length of them shortly, and will reconcile him, if not to their present use, at least to provision for them among our posterity. No. 5 is also on an eminence, and has five diverging streets: it is a retired spot, and is suited to a building or buildings requiring retirement; and we have many such--colleges, hospitals, retreats, gymnasia, &c. The remainder of the plan will be explained by the list of references which is attached.(2)

A word on the objects from 8 to 10: their position combines the advantages of both the rectangular and the diverging system, and can be used to produce variety and to prevent the introduction of numerous acute angles, which should be avoided whenever it can be conveniently done. Some of the streets it will be observed are wider than others, a circumstance which builders, on account of their varied means, will find an advantage. Some persons prefer building or living in narrow and retired streets; others seek those more public and open to observation. In this plan, I think regularity will be found combined with variety, simplicity with beauty, and symmetry with a sufficient attention to the multifarious circumstances of man. There is scarcely a street in it that does not present some handsome object to the view: there is scarcely a turn that will not surprise us with something unexpected, and it is at the same time of such a character as to be accommodated to the circumstances of almost every town in our country. If it has not these advantages, as I have remarked freely on the plans of others, I am willing that they should remark freely on mine.

The spots marked 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12, I have reserved for public buildings, churches, banks, and the like. I say reserved, and the word is meant to have a meaning beyond a paper plan. Such edifices are always expected to be ornamental to a city, and the public complain when they are not so. The public act justly, but those who build them have also a right to expect something from the public. Duties are always reciprocal. If the public wish societies to erect handsome edifices, it should give them ground that will shew these edifices to advantage; not compel them to build, as it very often does, in lanes, and amid the very vilest tenements in the city. All this may easily be effected, by reserving ground at the first laying out of our towns. Let this be done: let the public then at proper times offer these desirable situations to those societies or companies that will improve them most, and architecture will take a start among us, of which we can now scarcely conceive. cherished, it will labor hard for us in return; our cities will be ornamented; our towns will follow, and the land will become beautiful as it is blessed.

It will also be a better land. I have already noticed the action of handsome architectural objects both on the mind and morals, refining and enlarging the former, and giving to the latter a more cheerful and a purer cast. Some more remarks of the kind will come in, in connexion with the subject I now take up, which is public monuments, pillars, obelisks, arches, and fountains in a city. There is a well shaded street in Marseilles called le Cours, with a broad raised way in the centre, secured from wheel carriages by the public laws. It is the favorite place for the promenade, and must interest every visiter[sic], if not by its own beauty, yet by that which every evening assembles there. Old age totters to the happy assemblage; childhood is there with its sparkling eyes and full hearty laugh: gain smooths its brow and comes to this holiday of the cheerful feelings, and the whole scene is a most animating and pleasing one; I am sorry we have nothing like it in our country;--but it is of the street I wished to speak. At one end, it ascends an abrupt eminence, and just on the brow of this is placed a marble arch, modelled after the antique. It is well contrasted with the green foliage, and is a splendid termination to the view....

I shall speak of the architecture of arches and columns and obelisks, at another time: at present their position is the object to be discussed. Such objects always appear best on high ground, and situations should there be reserved for them. We may not desire them now but other generations will: let us shew regard to their wants and interests: we are fond enough of making our boast of the future: let us shew that we are proud of it, by giving it reason to be proud of us.

Fountains will do very well on lower ground. They are so rare among us that the reader will be startled at the name. Baltimore I believe has two natural fountains: Philadelphia had formerly a handsome jet in Market street, and I still recollect what cheerful feelings the report of it mingled with my early ideas of that city: but, I believe, it has not played for several years. There may be others in the country, but I have not heard of them. Abroad they are common in every city, producing beauty, health, cleanliness and comfort. Why do we not have them ? Our water companies surely are not so parsimonious that they will not give, or our city treasuries so scanty that they cannot purchase for our poor so essential a beverage. Even the Turks may here teach us a useful lesson. With private means not to be compared with ours, and a revenue not half so well systematized or productive, they have made fountains in their cities, in their meanest villages, and even in their high ways, as common and free as the atmosphere itself. The Turkish fountain is always a pleasing object. The whole structure consists of a wall five or six feet high, wide in proportion, and a foot in thickness: it is curved above, and the edges project a little, so as to form a border. In the face of this is a tube, from which gushes the water: a stone basin below, often a huge plane tree overshadowing it, and a rude bench by the side, are the only accompaniments. In Constantinople the fountain is often in a marble building, adjoining the street: the windows have gilded gratings, and between the bars are polished brass cups, attached by a chain. These are kept constantly filled with water, which all persons are at liberty to take, and for which no compensation is offered or received. Nothing strikes a visitor in Turkey so soon, or affects him so favorably towards the nation, as this universal provision of the rich for the wants of the poor. I wish I could see it in our own country. The lowly in life would come to such spots for the needful beverage, and feel that they were not neglected or forgotten: he, who had thought that society was a constant effort of the wealthy to grind and oppress the unfortunate, would leave such thoughts at the fountain: the rich would feel there the pleasure of doing good; and each exclamation of pleasure from the poor or stranger, as he quaffed the fluid, would rise to heaven to befriend his benefactor when gold shall be a mean and worthless thing. I shall remark at another time on the shape of fountains: at present I leave them, and pass to the consideration of--

Greens or public squares.--These are a beautiful ornament to a town, while at the same time they contribute to its health by promoting the free circulation of air. In the towns north of the Hudson, they are frequent, and are the first thing that strikes a traveller in that region of our country: the church, the town house and the academy are congregated there; and the most solemn and cheerful remembrances of a native of New England are always associated with this interesting spot. Further South, where the great heat makes such openings in a city still more desirable, they are seldom found: in the Western states they are occasionally seen. In Europe they are common; but the practice there is different from ours, and I think is the better of the two. Small breaks, sometimes regular, and sometimes irregular, often planted with trees, and, oftener still, ornamented with a fountain or pillar, are very frequent throughout their cities: but that which corresponds to our " green," is always placed on the edge. This is its proper place. I have no objection to retaining our public squares as they are, for they are certainly a great advantage; but we want something more, and in a different situation. This may be ascertained by a single evening's observation in one of our cities. New Haven, for instance, has two handsome greens nearly in its centre, but the evening walks of its inhabitants are never directed there: the most fashionable walk is to "the avenue," on its edge, and to the wooded hill beyond, where, in the latter case, they make public property of what is private. The wants of the public, as I said in the case of streets, are best learned by attending to the actions of the public. There should be, then annexed to each city a spot of proper size, in a situation neither solitary nor public, and so ornamented and shaded as to present in any of its parts a pleasant walk. The trees should be planted now in avenues, now irregularly, one while forming handsome glades, and at another, thick but natural groups: it should have a carriage road winding through it, for the accommodation of those who might wish to ride: it should have plain but solid stone seats, single or in circles or straight lines, for those who might wish to sit: it should in short be a spot where every one could find something to his taste; to which every one would repair on a pleasant evening; and I venture to affirm, that every one would return from it improved in body, heart and mind. No one works on such an evening: why sit listless at home ? Here is a social retirement provided, so which all may come, which all may enjoy, where we may meet without parade, and from which we may retire just when we please....

Whatever the public may think of the present importance of the subjects hitherto under discussion, all must feel the practical character of the one I now approach, which is burying grounds. Every city must have these, and I shall pass at once to consider their best position and plan, after which I shall depart somewhat from the course I have hitherto pursued, to say a few words on monuments, and monumental inscriptions. There seems to be so little probability that the custom of burying under churches, will become prevalent among us, that it seems scarcely necessary to spend time upon it here....

The custom of having one cemetery common to all denominations, is becoming every year more prevalent throughout the country. In New England it is general; in the Western States it is frequent: Washington has adopted the plan, and I believe it is beginning to be extensively introduced in the Middle and Southern States. I hope it will universally prevail. There is no reason why we should carry our distinctive religious characters to the grave, where speculations or forms can no longer profit us; and there is great reason that the whole public should unite in their regard to one spot, which by greater care and greater common interest, will thus be secured from depredation or insult and may be made also a handsome ornament, as well as a moral blessing to the town. The best situation for such a cemetery is just without the suburbs, in a retired and quiet spot, and at a distance from great public roads: it should border on the more genteel part of the town, that the solemnity of the place may not be disturbed by unpleasant sights and sounds; and, above all, it should be in a part not liable to be encroached upon in the greater enlargement of the town. The lapse of a few years sees our waste places become villages, our villages towns, our towns cities, and our cities double and treble their extent. Should the burying ground then be in a neighborhood desirable for building, it will soon be surrounded, checked in its increase, filled and abandoned: in a few generations the reverence for it will be lost, and bones laid in the earth in hopes of a peaceful rest, will be thrown out on the world to be subject to vulgar insult and derision. No one can think without pain of this in regard to himself or his friends; and we should avoid it, as I have said, by seeking for our cemeteries, spots least exposed to such things....

A burying ground should be at first not very large, else there will be much waste ground; it will be neglected; will become overgrown with rank vegetation, and will be any thing else than the neat clean spot it ought to be. The plot should be divided into small family compartments, with very narrow passages between: alleys should pass through the whole, but these should also be narrow, for the sake of avoiding waste ground as much as possible. Trees should be planted, not in avenues but adjoining the graves. Avenues would be formal here and out of character: sorrow and affection bear rule in a grave yard, and we never expect them to make such provision for public comfort as is shewn in an avenue. There is a kind of selfish character about them: and it is the only instance in which selfishness has not an unamiable appearance. Poplars have been used sometimes in cemeteries, but are going out of fashion, and I am glad to see it so: there are few places they can adorn, and a burying ground is not one of them; their roots are tender, but the sexton's axe or saw will soon make that matter equal in all trees, and the additional expense to each individual will be but trifling. Spreading, but delicate trees should always be preferred: the elm is too robust: the weeping willow is probably the best of all; but it should be intermingled with others of the like delicacy of shape.

Let us now turn to examine the cemetery we have been recommending. We pass to the edge of the city, retiring from its noise, and tumults, and cares: we find suddenly before us a neat little spot with a plain but tasteful enclosure. It is well shaded with handsome and delicate trees. We enter and find ourselves among the dead. The monuments are simple, and suited to the sedate and quiet character of the place. Here are those who once walked arm in arm, and shared the confidence and reciprocated the affection of the multitudes from whom we have just parted, and we find from the words of warm affection and of hope on the tombs, from the clean velvet sod around, from the well trimmed willow that throws its sober shade over the spot, and from the marks of frequent visits, that they are not forgotten. Here too, the living shall soon come to their last, long rest; and they know that their children and friends will then shew their memory the same honorable and virtuous affection. There must be a holy cheerfulness about the death-bed of such a people. To know that we are about going away from the world, to be soon forgotten:--that the rank-grass will soon grow up, and intermingle with thorns over our grave; that the little mound itself will probably soon be obliterated:--that no one will come near to think of us or speak our name,--this is to add bitterness to bitter death. But here the dead and the living seem still to hold kind intercourse. The former, from their low abode, seem to utter words of friendly admonition, warning, or encouragement. The latter shew that affection in them is stronger than death: they here make themselves familiar with his form and character: the world looses its strong hold; virtue is strengthened; religion comes in her majesty and; beauty, and they exclaim in triumph, "O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?"

1. There is a specimen of the curved street in Boston, which is admired by every one who visits that city: the curve however should be admitted cautiously into our plan.


    1. Public green, with a fountain in the centre.
    10. Church.
    2. town house.
    11. Bank.
    3. church.
    12. Church.
    4. Small public building.
    13. Pillar or obelisk.
    5. Large do. do.
    14. Public burying ground.
    6. Arch.
    15. Handsome dwelling, or Public monument.
    7. Fountain.
    16. Pillar or obelisk.
    8. Bank.
    N.B. The dots represent trees.
    9. Church.