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By an act of Congress, which was approved and became law July 1, 1898, the Commissioner of Labor was called upon to make an investigation annually into the statistics of the cities of the United States having over 30,000 population. The paragraph of the act referred to is as follows:
The Commissioner of Labor is authorized to compile and publish annually, as a part of the Bulletin of the Department of Labor, an abstract of the main features of the official statistics of the cities of the United States having over 30,000 population.
In accordance with this act a compilation was attempted from the printed reports of various cities, but owing to lack of uniformity in these reports, and in many cases to the lack of reports themselves, it was found impossible to make such a classification of the various items relating to the governmental, financial, and other conditions of these cities as seemed necessary for a satisfactory comparison. A schedule of inquiries was therefore prepared and the work taken up by the special agents of the Department. This required personal visits to the various officials of the cities coming within the scope of the investigation. These officials in many ways manifested the utmost interest in the investigation, and contributed freely of their time and labor in compiling the data desired and in making the report a success. The results were printed in the Bulletin of the Department of Labor for September, 1899.
As will be seen by reference to the language of the law which has been quoted, provision is made for a similar inquiry each year. In the second report, which appeared in the Bulletin of the Department of Labor for September, 1900, an effort was made to enlarge somewhat upon the first, and to slightly change some of the inquiries in order to secure fuller information on the subjects covered. The present report is the third of the series, and while it has not been thought necessary to repeat the investigation of last year relative to the nonmunicipal libraries, charities, etc., it has been deemed desirable to somewhat increase the scope of the inquiries and modify certain classifications in the interest of a more ready comparison from year to year of the cities included in the report. The thanks of the Department are due to the officials of the various cities which were visited for their cordial cooperation in the effort to reduce the official records to such form as seemed necessary for satisfactory comparison. It is hoped that experience will render this task easier each year.
The first report, contained in the Bulletin for September, 1899, included 140 cities, this being the number in the United States which were at that time believed to have a population of 30,000 or orer. The results of the Twefth Census regarding the population of cities were not available when the data were collected for the second report, which appeared in the Bulletin for September, 1900, but according to the best estimates that could be secured the Department considered itself justified in including but 129 cities. Joliet, III., however, was wrongly included, it being shown by the corrected census returns to have less than 30,000 population; while several cities, which were supposed, when the data for that report were collected, to have less than 30,000 population, were shown to have more than that number. This information, however, came too late to permit their inclusion in the report. The following cities were thus omitted: Montgomery, Ala.; Fitchburg and Newton, Mass.; Bayonne, N. J.; Schenectady, N. Y., and Chester and York, Pa. The present report includes 135 cities-all of the cities shown by the results of the Twelfth Census to have a population of over 30,000.
The titles of the twenty-three tables embraced in the present report are as follows:
TABLE I.-Incorporation, population, and area.
TABLE XI.-Care of streets, food and sanitary inspection, and disposal of garbage and other refuse.
TABLE XII.-Number and kind of street lights.
TABLE XV.-Cost of water, gas, and electric-light plants owned and operated by cities.
TABLE XVI.-Debt and legal borrowing limit.
TABLE XX.-Expenditures for maintenance and operation.
TABLE XXIII.—Per capita debt, assessed valuation of property, and expenditures for maintenance.
These tables, which immediately follow the discussion of the same, will be taken up in order and a short analysis and explanation of each will be presented. At the same time there will be given information as to the changes from last year which have been adopted in the preparation of this year's report.
Table 1.- Incorporation, population, and area. In this table, as in the remaining twenty-two tables, the 135 cities in the United States having a population of 30,000 or over are presented in the order of their population, the largest being placed first. The date of incorporation of each of the cities is first given, followed by the population at the Twelfth United States Census, June 1, 1900. In many cases it was found that the city had been reincorporated. In each of such cases the date given is the one on which the city was first incorporated, the date of reincorporation being given in a foot-note. The great difficulty of securing reliable estimates and the fact that so short a time had elapsed since the official enumeration by the Census Office seemed to justify the Department in attempting no estimate of population for January 1, 1901. Instead, the official figures for June 1, 1900, have been used. This table also presents information as to the area in acres of each of the cities, subdivided as to land and water wherever possible. Lack of official records as to area rendered anything but an estimate impossible in some cities, but the greatest care has been exercised in such cases to have these estimates approximate accuracy as closely as possible. No subdivision of the area of cities into land and water was made in the two preceding annual reports on this subject.
Table 11.-Dutes of ending of year's covered.--As regards the dates of ending of the years covered, it is necessary to say that in most of the cities investigated the various departments of the city government, such as fire, police, street, etc., made their reports for a different year, one department having December 31 as the end of its statistical year, while the others had their years end on other dates. It was thought important, in connection with the study of the data included in the various tables, to furnish a statement as to the dates of ending of the years for which the information is given. Where but a single date is given under this heading all the various city departments close their year on the same day. Where the year of the various departments ended on different dates all the necessary information as to the ending of the same is furnished in this column. All data in the tables (with the exception of those which are noted) cover one year's transactions, and that the last year for which the facts were obtainable. It is interesting to note in this connection that in but 13 of the 135 cities included in this report have all of the various departments of city activity had their business year end on the same day. In all of the other cities business years ending on two or more different dates have been used. Not only would the labor of collecting and compiling the data necessary to these reports be greatly lessened in each city by the adoption of a uniform business year by all of its departments, but it is believed that the accounts and transactions of the city itself would be much simplified thereby.
Table III.- Police, retail liquor saloons, and arrests, by causes. This table shows the number of policemen in each of the cities, the number including not only patrolmen but officers, such as sergeants, lieutenants, etc. Persons employed as messengers, matrons, janitors, drivers, etc., are not included. In this table are shown also the number of licensed retail liquor saloons, together with the amount of the license fee, and, immediately following, the number of arrests. The licensed retail liquor saloons reported do not include clubs, drug stores, etc. The arrests are classified according to the causes for which persons were arrested, as drunkenness, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, homicide, vagrancy, housebreaking, and larceny. The arrests for other causes are given under “all other offenses,” which is followed by a column showing the total arrests for all offenses. It was found that there was no uniform classification of offenses causing arrest in the various cities, different cities entering a different charge for a similar offense. Hence the following statement is given to show what offenses were combined in each item of the classification in the table: Drunkenness includes “common drunk,” “drunk and disorderly," and all cases where drunkenness in any form was the primary cause of arrest; disturbing the peace includes all cases of disorderly conduct not attributable to drunkenness; assault and battery includes all cases of assault; vagrancy includes arrests of beggars, tramps, loafers, loiterers, and all persons without apparent means of support; housebreaking includes burglary and all cases of breaking and entering, and larceny includes pocket picking, robbery, and all cases of theft.
Table IV.–Firemen, fire equipment, and property loss from fires.The number of firemen in each of the cities is given in this table, classified as to whether they are regulars, call men, or volunteers. These numbers include the officers of the fire department in the different grades, as well as the actual firemen, but do not include messengers, janitors, etc. This table also goes quite fully into the equipment of the fire departments in the various cities, showing the number of steam, hand, and chemical engines, the number of hand fire extinguishers, fire boats, hook and ladder trucks, hose reels and hose wagons, fire hydrants, water towers, and horses. In addition to this information, data are also given as to the total length of ladders and hose belonging to the various fire departments of each of the cities investigated. The table closes with statements showing the number of fire
alarms, the number of fires, and the total property loss from the same. The number of fire alarms does not include duplicate alarms sent in from different points, and a first and second alarm for a single fire have been considered one alarm. It should also be stated that two or more buildings burned as a result of one fire have been considered one fire.
Tuble V.--- Marriages and births. This table is in all respects similar to that used in the report for last year, with the addition of a column showing the number of marriage licenses issued. The table, in addition to this information, shows the total number of marriages, the number of male and female births, the total births and births per 1,000 population, and the number of stillbirths. The figures showing the birth rate per 1,000 population are based on the population at the Twelfth United States Census, June 1, 1900, as shown in Table I. In bringing the figures for the various cities into comparison, it will be noted that in some cities the number of marriages is largely in excess of what might naturally be expected. This in some cases is accounted for by the fact that the city is located near the border of another State in which the marriage-license laws are more exacting, and that many persons consequently repair to the city for the purpose of being married in order to secure the benefit of the more liberal conditions offered there. The reverse of these conditions accounts in some cases for the small number of marriages in other cities.
Table 11.-Deaths, by causes.-It was found during this investigation, by an examination of the various city reports, that in almost every city a different classification of the causes of death was used in making the official statement of deaths. It was apparent that these classifications, differing so widely, could not be used, inasmuch as the value of the data concerning this feature of city supervision consists mainly in the comparison afforded as to the number of deaths from the same cause in each of the cities investigated. In the two previous reports on statistics of cities a uniform classification was of course adopted, but as this was not entirely satisfactory for the purpose of
parison with other collections of statistics of mortality, the Department has this year adopted a modified form of the Bertillon classification. This classification was officially approved and adopted by the International Congress of Hygiene and Demography in August, 1900, and is now being used by a number of cities in this country and by some States in the classification of their mortality statistics. As its more general adoption is probable, not only in this country but abroad, it has been deemed wise to adopt this classification here. The full official nomenclature upon which the modified form is based has been published as a supplement to the Public Health Reports (Vol. XV, No. 49, December 7, 1900) by the United States Marine-Hospital Service of the Treasury Department.
The proportionately large number of deaths in some of the Southern cities is undoubtedly accounted for by the fact that the population is