This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the old city of Philadelphia, some half a dozen plots of ground of six or eight acres each were set apart for the " health and recreation of the people forever." Money enough to keep them decent has always been voted, but they have reeked with filth, and have been scarcely decent. The clamor for something better has led to an expenditure of some $30,000 each on several, and the "improvements" turn out something like those which the Londoners are giving the celebrated Burnham Beeches.
Franklin square was eminently a people's square. The walks which led around the square have been taken away and the whole area sodded, and the people are huddled like crowds of sheep around a fountain in the centre. The neat iron fence which surrounded the plot has been taken' down, and a granite edging about a foot high set up around it. At the entrance to the avenues, square granite pointed posts have been set up, which are already greasy and dirty beyond description at the apex and sides, and striped and fragrant with attar de chien from around the base. The removal of the boundary walks and thus curtailing the seating capacity, leads the poorer classes to use the granite curb, and the writer has seen as many as sixty poor wretches thus resting themselves; reminding one of the way side beggars of Continental Europe. The gravel walks which once absorbed the filth of the tobacco chewer, have been removed, and asphalt walks which keep it all for the public view, put down in place; and the whole affair reminds one of a badly kept cemetery.
We believe that those who have engineered the matter through have done so under an earnest impression that the result will be improvement. But we are sure that when the uses of a public square are fairly considered, and compared with what has been done here, the verdict will be "money thrown away." The squares are in the Department of Markets and City property. It is not necessary to the successful management of this department that its controllers should have any knowledge of landscape engineering, - and parks and public gardens should form a separate department or sub-department before the public has any right to expect better results from these expenditures.