Books Should Be Free
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

Some Cities and San Francisco, and Resurgam   By: (1832-1918)

Book cover

First Page:


By Hubert Howe Bancroft


There had been some discussion as to improving and beautifying the city of San Francisco prior to the catastrophe of April 18th. Landscape architects had been consulted, proposals considered, and preliminary plans drawn. Therefore when on that day the city was swept by fire, obviously it was the opportune moment for the requisite changes in the rebuilding. For a brief period enthusiasm waxed warm. It helped to mitigate the blow, this fencing with fate. Let the earth shake, and fires burn, we will have here our city, better and more beautiful than ever and more valuable an imperial city of steel it shall be, and thus will we get even with the misfortunes of this day.

Reform in the rebuilding was needed, whatever should be the scale of beauty or utility decided upon. Fifty years ago the elevating influences of tasteful environment were not so highly appreciated as now, and all large cities are fifty years old or more. All large cities, as a rule, had their beginning with narrow, crooked streets and mean houses. In Europe and Asia there are aggregations of humanity whose domiciles have remained unchanged, one might almost say uncleansed, for hundreds or thousands of years, or ever since their mythical beginning, save only for the covering of the debris of dead centuries.

These ancient towns, mostly offspring of feudalism, begun under castle walls and continued after walls and castle had crumbled, as their area enlarged, with some improvement, perhaps, in the suburban parts, still retained this patch of mediaevalism, until obliterated by war, or fire, or later by modern progress. Look at Edinburgh, for example. With all its Scotch thrift and neatness, there yet remains the ill conditioned and once filthy quarter, beside which rise the old time ten story houses built into the hillside, while in the modern part of the city in sharp contrast are broad streets and open squares and fine buildings.

In America the birth of towns is quite different. Here are no plantings of trembling poverty under lordly walls, but bold pioneering, forecasting agriculture and commerce; no Babel building, with "Go to, let us build here a Cleveland or a Cincinnati," but rather, "Here for the present we will abide." If, however, serfdom and mediaevalism were absent in New World town planting, so also were aestheticism or any appreciation of the beautiful apart from the useful. Old cities require reconstruction to make them what modern taste and intelligence demand; settlements in their incipiency are dominated by their sturdy founders, who usually have other things to think about than beauty and adornment.

In this day of great wealth and wonderful inventions we realize more and more the value of the city to mankind, and the quality of the city as a means of culture. Cities are not merely marts of commerce; they stand for civility; they are civilization itself. No untried naked Adam in Eden might ever pass for a civilized man. The city street is the school of philosophy, of art, of letters; city society is the home of refinement. When the rustic visits the city he puts on his best clothes and his best manners. In their reciprocal relations the city is as men make it, while from the citizen one may determine the quality of the city. The atmosphere of the city is an eternal force. Therefore as we value the refinement of the human mind, the enlargement of the human heart, we shall value the city, and strive so to build, and adorn, and purify, that it may achieve its ultimate endeavor.

Civic betterment has long been in progress among the more civilized communities through the influence of cultured people capable of appreciating the commercial as well as the aesthetical value of art. Vast sums have been spent and great results accomplished, but they are nothing as compared with the work yet to be done work which will continue through the ages and be finished only with the end of time... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books