Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

Among the most important governmental functions which the cities of the United States perform is the preservation of peace and order. Police administration has always been considered a state function although delegated to the cities. In some cities the police force is under the control of a board appointed by the state government, but this is the exception and not the rule. In most cities the municipal police force has a free hand, and is little subjected to central control. In addition to the maintenance of peace and order, the city exercises many other functions under the general police power which are necessitated by the concentration of population. It suppresses vagrancy and petty crimes; it regulates street traffic; it inspects milk, fruit, meat, and other food products; it regulates the construction of buildings, and inspects plumbing and wiring; it licenses certain trades and occupations, amusements and dangerous pursuits; and it enforces sanitary rules for the prevention of nuisances and the spread of contagious diseases. And in this connection cities maintain courts and prisons.

Protection against fire is also a state function which has been delegated to the cities. Although each locality is particularly interested in an efficient fire department, and one would naturally think fire protection a purely municipal function, it has always been held in American law to be a state function, and no person who is injured through the negligence of the city in this connection can collect damages from the city. But the equipment and control of fire departments have invariably been left to the municipality. Denver, Colorado, is the only city where the state has ever exercised any control. Owing to the rapid growth of American cities, and to the prevalence of wood construction with its accompanying fire risks, American fire departments have been developed both in apparatus and training far beyond those of any other cities of the world.?

The activities of the city in the preservation of the public health, in the administration of charity and poor relief, and in the maintenance and management of the public schools are all conducted as an agent for the state and not as a local corporation. In all these cases the state exercises a more or less effective control and supervision, especially in connection with the health departments and the schools. In many cities poor relief is left entirely to the counties. But in all of these departments the average city goes further than it would be required to go by the state and maintains other facilities demanded by local urban needs. Thus many cities maintain general hospitals. New York maintains a home for dependent children. Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and several other cities maintain insane asylums. Recently Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, and several other cities have started municipal lodging houses. A few have opened municipal employment bureaus. Along educational lines, many cities maintain special schools. New York

1

and Cincinnati maintain universities. Many cities have various normal, vocational, and industrial schools, and every city of any size has a public library, while all the larger cities have art galleries and museums. (2) Municipal Functions. The other

other principal functions of the city may be classed under municipal functions, or those functions which the city performs in its proprietary capacity. In the performance of these municipal functions the city acts as a quasi-private corporation, and like a private corporation can usually be held liable for damages in case of injury through negligence. The field of municipal functions proper has never reached the magnitude in American cities that it has abroad. The industrial functions of many German cities cover not only the usual public utilities such as water, gas, tramways, electric lights, etc., but include stone quarries, cement works, restaurants, pawnshops, abattoirs, sewage farms, savings banks, and many commercial enterprises which the American city has never been permitted to undertake. In many directions, however, the tendency is now visible in this direction in many American cities. (3) Street Facilities. The maintenance of streets

4 is sometimes classed as a state function and sometimes as a municipal function. In those states, such as New York, where the city owns the fee in the street it is classed as a municipal function, while in other states it is undoubtedly a function performed for the state. The maintenance of highways has always been classed as a state function, but in many ways the law of highways is not applicable to streets in cities. In all cities the management of streets is left to local authorities, and the cost is usually borne largely by the abutting property owners. At first the paving of streets was left to the property owners, and when the matter was taken over and regulated by the city, the cost was still assessed against those whose property was benefited. Street intersections are usually paid for by the city. Where street railway tracks are laid in a street, it is customary to require the company to pave between the rails and for a certain number of inches on each side. In the case of sidewalks, property owners are usually required to bear most of the expense.

Street cleaning has now become a function which the city invariably performs. For many years this was also left to private initiative, but the demand for better sanitary conditions in cities led cities to assume control. In all American cities the cleaning of streets is now a municipal function, and with the assumption of this duty by cities, the improvements in street cleaning machinery have been rapid. Various street sweeping machines drawn by horses or propelled by motors have been perfected, and in some of the larger cities vacuum cleaning machines are being used which not only clean the street thoroughly, but which do so without raising the dust. Many cities, particularly in the northern states, also remove snow in the winter time.

5

Street sprinkling is coming to be a municipal function, although not so general as street cleaning. In many cities the sprinkling of streets is still left largely to the people living on the street. Some cities merely look after the streets of the business portion, leaving the residence streets to the residents themselves. In the majority of cities, however, the work of sprinkling the streets is assumed by the municipality and the cost assessed to the property owners on the street. With new and improved methods, dust prevention and street cleaning are being combined. Street Alushers, which literally wash the street, allaying the dust by removing it, are coming to be used on smooth pavements such as brick and asphalt. On macadam and other crushed stone pavements, street oil is being used. Street oiling has grown very rapidly during the last few years. Not only does the oil prevent the dust from rising, but it acts as a binder for the street, preventing the formation of dust and preserving the pavement.

(4) Water Works. Of the industrial functions which American cities have assumed, that of furnishing the water supply has reached the greatest magnitude. Municipal ownership has been more common and more successful in the case of water works than in any other public utility. Boston was the first city to establish municipal water works, having established its plant in 1652, but of the sixteen plants in existence in 1800, only one was municipally owned, the other fifteen being privately owned. At the present time,

« PředchozíPokračovat »