Thursday, 20 April 2017

1885 - City Hall and Market Square Conditions

The Palladium of Labor, a weekly newspaper published for the interest of Hamilton workingmen was a place where frank opinions on civic matters could be placed.

The following appeared in the September 19, 1885 issue:

“While art associations and other nobby enterprises are engaging that attention of a certain class of citizens, a little common sense might be wasted on the propriety of making improvements in the Market Square in the way of obliterating the disgraceful sheds and tables that now occupy that central space of ground in the city.

“It is a well-known fact that these sheds and stalls are reeking with vermin, that on a quiet day or Sunday, myriads of rats may be seen venturing forth from their holes and sewer haunts to gambol and frisk like so many kittens up and down these sheds.

“These sewer-bred rodents have free access to the provisions left in the stalls for future sale, and the public who would turn up their noses at second hand victuals or dirty plates, are compelled to eat after animals that have just emerged from floundering in the nauseating contents of the public sewers.

“What gain to the health of the city are all the scavengers, health officers and others who draw pay from the public pocket if the victuals that are catered out to the people are allowed to be gnawed and trodden over by the filthiest animals known to the natural historian.

“The nuisance has existed for years, and it is probable that if some of the infectious maladies that have destroyed life in this city could be properly traced, it would be located in the meat and provisions that have been purchased from some of these stalls.

“The whole square is a disgrace to any community making a pretense to decency, and should be swept clean of sheds or other obstructions, and the stall butchers should be compelled to take their places around the city the same as the corner butchers. Why should the stall butchers be allowed to retail meat without a license more than Bill Bunsby, who keeps a shop on Ray street, or elsewhere. True, they rent stalls from the city, but Bill Bunsby rents a house and that house bears its proportion of responsibility as much as the market shed that is only an obstruction in a public place.

“The City Hall, too, requires rejuvenation. The tower is a monument of ignorance and folly to its projectors; the building is old and decayed; the roof is leaky; the foundation is giving way, and the whole structure is only useful as a conservatory for the owl and bat.

“The concentrated wisdom of the civic skull should be pointed to a project for the reorganization of the City Hall. The site of the building should be ‘ungreelyized’ – it should go east, and there is no better spot for it than the Gore on King street. A nicely-designed building would be an ornament to that street, and it would help to fill up the vacuum of the Gore. But we will have more to say about this on a future occasion.

So far as the market sheds are concerned, the case has gone forth that they must go; they must be swept from the vision forever. The whole square must be cedar-blocked, and more room must be given for the traffic that concentrates there.”1

1  “Improvements in Market Square.”

Palladium of Labor.   September 19, 1885.
                   Hamilton City Hall Tower as it appeared in 1880s

                    Hamilton Market Square in 1890s showing sheds
          Both photos courtesy PreVIEW,
                   Local History and Archives,  Hamilton Public Library


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