Improvement in City Life: Ii. Educational Progress
IN the history of our civic progress, the problems that may be grouped under the head of education early had the advantage of harmonious treatment. The public schools gave a unity to educational effort that was slow in asserting itself in philanthropic endeavor. With the sentiment chiseled on one of the sides of the Boston Public Library, “ The Commonwealth requires the Education of the People as the Safeguard of Order and Liberty,” the public school system has grown, till no American community is too small or too poor to have its schoolhouse, no city district so rich and cultivated as not to need one. All other educational movements dovetail into it. But it sometimes seems as if the excellence of the idea and the magnitude of the machine had dazed us, for we stand aside to watch the wheels go round, with a strange sense of individual irresponsibility. We talk proudly and bravely, and let local shortcomings grow into common abuses. We do more to supplement the work of the public school than to improve it ; and now no problem in the field of civic education is more urgent than reform of the school system by the personal interest of parents.
Fortunately, public spirit is turning to this fundamental problem. In a few cities, the curious spectacle is presented of the teachers summoning the parents to come to the schools and offer criticisms. And these invitations are accepted. In Brooklyn, for instance, in the winter of 1898, it was not unusual for the school halls to be crowded by parents who came in hundreds. But in a number of cities the abuses in the schools have been such as to invite, with a very direct invitation, more vigorous measures. A recent illustration is afforded in Buffalo. A school association was formed. In June, 1896, it appointed a visiting committee, who, at a public meeting in March, 1898, presented a report that was a severe arraignment for bad sanitation and overcrowding, and later published the report in press and pamphlet. Within three years similar investigations have been carried on at Boston, Cleveland, New Haven, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and San Francisco. In Cleveland, where several basements were found to be utilized as schoolrooms, a committee of the common council investigated the matter, and made a rousing statement. In Chicago, an educational commission was recently appointed by Mayor Harrison, which, after studying the school systems of various cities and consulting leading educators, recommended changes and offered suggestions for the management of the schools. In New York, the Public Education Association, composed of women, called a conference, a year ago, of similar associations in other cities, with such success that another congress is to be held in Philadelphia this year.
The common, hasty judgment is that political control is alone responsible for the evils that have crept into the school system. In response to that idea has come the formation of bodies, of which the Independent Women Voters Association and the Public Schools Association of Boston are good examples. It is their purpose to eliminate politics from the School Board, by the election to it of capable men and women who have no interests at heart but those of the schools. The premise, however, is not entirely sound. The appropriation of many thousands of dollars, to be expended for contracts or in the payment of salaries to those who have no vote, does offer strong temptations to politicians. But the investigations by citizens show also that, making allowance for the greater cost of public than of private work, much of the condition complained of is due to the recent very rapid growth of the cities. The fact was pointed out at Buffalo, for instance, that the average growth in population jumped from 4000 a year in the decade from 1870 to 1880 to more than 10,000 a year in the following decade. The former annual provision of new accommodations was, therefore, most inadequate ; and yet, every year, in the absence of definite census returns for an argument, the School Board had hesitated to make the larger demand for new structures which actual conditions required.
The important point is the evidence of the increasing popular supervision of the public schools. No department of city government now receives more earnest attention from city charter reformers. In none are more experiments tried, in an effort to eliminate objectionable features ; nor is there any public work in which women have taken a more prominent part. So closely is the welfare of the child connected with the school that such a condition is natural, and for this task a woman is well fitted. Tradition is nothing to her, since she did not found the system ; her mother love is not dazed by the splendor of statistics; and there could scarcely be a surer way to drive her to a demand for the ballot than the assertion that in one city 2000 women teachers receive smaller pay than do the voting sweepers of the streets. At its meeting in 1896, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs officially adopted, as the cause it would specially work to advance, the system of public education, from the kindergarten to the university. At that time 2000 clubs had membership in the state federations. The larger clubs, if their efforts are diversified, almost invariably have a committee on education. The big Wednesday Club of St. Louis, for example, is credited with having secured the passage of the School Age Bill by the legislature. It established also a free kindergarten for poor children under the legal school age, out of which grew the kindergarten association. The Chicago Woman’s Club, which is said to be the largest of its kind in the country, has done important work through its department on education. For one thing, it raised $40,000 in three months to make the manual training school at Glenwood possible. In good contrast, it gave an illustration of how it thought the schools should be cleaned. The recurrence in many different cities of the club name Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union is properly indicative of the direction which women’s earnest efforts take. Mixed clubs, such as the Twentieth Century Club of Boston, usually include an educational department. In city after city, also, women have worked their way into the School Board.
Aside from this external reformatory force, there has been a strong influence working within the school system itself. It dates from about 1870. Since that time, manual training, kindergarten, nature study, and the study of literature have appeared, the high school has been generally developed, and the whole system has had a new impulse. This is due in part to changes in its urban organization which need not here be specified. Industrial training schools and courses have been grafted on the system of public education, in an effort to make it more practical. In Denver, Washington, Chicago, St. Paul, Baltimore, Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, Portland (Maine), Springfield (Massachusetts), Camden (New Jersey), New York, Cleveland, Louisville, Toledo, Philadelphia, and some other cities, there are, as a part of the public school system, institutions which offer such training. The creation of many of these institutions is interesting, illustrating how individual influence affects urban education. At Louisville, in 1892, the beneficence of an individual presented the lot, building, and equipment of a manual training school to the public school system. At Toledo, the organization of such a school was made possible by the legacy of a citizen, and the supplementary gifts of his sons and others. At Philadelphia, in response to the request of an individual, a course in woodwork was established in 1880 at one school, for classes which met two days a week. The success of the experiment led the Board of Education to take charge of it the next year, and place it on a permanent basis. In 1885 the boys’ manual training school had grown out of it. The result was so cheering that in four years another such school was opened. These schools are ranked as of high school grade. As for the girls, sewing is common, and cooking is by no means rare, nowadays, in the city schools. The general course is again illustrated by Philadelphia, where sewing was introduced in 1880 in the girls’ high and normal schools, and extended to the elementary grades in 1885. Cooking was brought into the girls’ grammar schools two years later. Boston is said to be the leader in the number of cooking and manual training departments in the public schools. Chicago took up the work for girls in the present school year, and is about to try the experiment of a commercial training school as a part of her system. Washington has a business high school, and Philadelphia has just opened a school for commerce.
In several cities are to be found special industrial training schools, considerably advanced, and not a part of the public school system. The first of these was established at Chicago, in 1882, under the patronage of the Commercial Club, and while not free was largely helped by an endowment fund furnished by individuals. Other schools of this kind are the manual training school of Washington, the technical school of Cincinnati, the University of St. Louis, the New York trade school, and the Baron de Hirsch trade schools, also in New York. The facilities of the last are soon to be increased by the expenditure of $2,000,000 or more. Other of these institutions are in the care of philanthropic societies, and even of churches. For instance, the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor, the Children’s Aid Society, and the United Hebrew Charities, in New York, are among those which maintain industrial or training schools. Beyond these, again, are such monuments to individual civic spirit and philanthropy as the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Cooper Union in New York, the Drexel Institute in Philadelphia, and the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago. At some of these tuition is entirely free. At others, as at Pratt Institute, a merely nominal charge is made, to be expended in the advancement of the work. At all, classes by day and by night are opening better and wider avenues of profitable employment to thousands of young men and women of the cities. Still other cases represent the associated effort of so many publicspirited citizens as to be properly looked upon as belonging to the whole community. In New Bedford (Massachusetts), a few months ago, there was laid the corner stone of the first building in the United States especially designed for a textile school, where theory will be offered as well as practice; and Trenton, after years of talk, has now secured an art school for workmen in the potteries.
The extension of the system of public instruction at its base, by the establishment of kindergartens, dates from 1871. In the next year the matter came up at St. Louis, and a committee reported to the authorities that the only “ play school ” that received the direct support of a Board of Education was in Newark, New Jersey. In 1873 one was opened at St. Louis, and carried on by supplementing the city appropriation with private munificence. Philadelphia, which quickly took and has long kept the lead in the movement, was without city kindergartens until 1887. But associated private effort, under the title of the Sub-Primary School Association, had been so active for seven years that the city system was able to start with 32 kindergartens and more than 1100 pupils. The movement has spread very irregularly, but lately with great speed. How irregular was the early kindergarten development is shown by some figures selected from the report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 189596. At that time, Boston was credited with 62, Detroit with only 1, Chicago with 37, St. Louis 95, New York 15, Milwaukee 39, Springfield (Massachusetts) 4, and Denver 25. There are now few cities in the United States without a school of this kind. Kindergartens founded by private philanthropy preceded official schools. Perhaps there is no more welcome instance of that sort than the success which last fall crowned the efforts of the District Colored Woman’s League of Washington, in conjunction with the Columbian Association, to have kindergartens adopted in the city’s school system. For two years the league had maintained a training school for young colored women, so that teachers might be ready when the time came. In most cases, municipal adoption of the kindergarten has not gone so far that private associations do not still find a field for work in supplementing them. In the limits of the old city of New York, for example, where in 1898 the number of public kindergartens was put at only 42, 15 others were maintained by the kindergarten association. Again, at Cleveland, the Free Kindergarten and Day Nursery Association relieved the pressure on the public kindergartens by about an equal number under its own direction. The beginnings of the movement may be studied in Tacoma, where some earnest women, comprising the kindergarten association, conducted one free kindergarten in a room which the School Board lent. Contemporaneously with this effort, the third international kindergarten convention held meetings in Philadelphia. In New York, last summer, kindergartens were opened on the play piers.
It need scarcely be added that in the cities this movement is conducted by philanthropic and even religious bodies, as well as by those whose first object is education. Two concomitant movements have grown out of it: the training schools for kindergartners, as illustrated by the work of the Chicago Froebel Association, and an effort to bring the home and school into closer relationship. In Duluth, for instance, where there were 15 kindergartens in 1897, the Board of Education reported that, during the fiscal year, 45 mothers’ meetings had been held in connection with them, 1827 visits had been made by kindergartners to the children’s homes, and a mothers’ club had been successfully organized, — “ all this for the sake of broader acquaintance and sympathy.” At Dayton, Ohio, each of the 12 kindergartens connected with the public schools has a mothers’ club, and in some cities courses of lectures are offered to mothers. Another interesting development is in the way of coöperation. At Cincinnati there is a kindergarten association which maintains 5 kindergartens (the first founded in the city) and a kindergartners’ training school. To encourage the spread of the system, the association volunteered to organize and supervise kindergartens which might be supported by other organizations or by individuals, and to furnish these with pupil assistants from the training school, free of expense. Fifteen church and charitable associations and 9 private kindergartens promptly availed themselves of the offer.
Many trials, of varying wisdom, have recently been made to improve the intellectual quality of the instruction which is given in the public schools. Of these, none is of greater value than the effort directed toward teachers. It has acted in multiplying normal schools and making a psychological study of childhood. It raises the standard of appointment; it provides lectures, institutes, and summer schools for teachers; and — though only lately, and still in little measure — it encourages higher salaries. Improvement in textbooks and in facilities for instruction, and rearrangement of courses, are other commendable results. But the impulse is not thus exhausted. With a generosity that in some cases is unwise, it adds demands for drawing, music, and physical culture. Against some of these efforts, which the less imaginative of the community tersely blast as “ fads,” protest has arisen. It is pointed out that while doubtless creditable to the heart, and representing a high ideal of education, they would take the scant time of pupils from the essentials of instruction, scatter their attention, and absorb money needed in other ways. In at least two Western cities which have come under my notice, drawing and music were offered in the public schools ; but the school funds ran short during the winter, and the community had the choice of closing the schools or keeping them open by a popular subscription. However advisable the ornamental branches may be, it would seem good sense to provide first for the essentials of education. An example, has been furnished lately by Providence, where, last fall, the school committee, forced to cut their coat according to their cloth, discussed the choice of three propositions : (1) to reduce the school year by two months ; (2) to cut the salaries of teachers ; (3) to discontinue a number of branches of study recently introduced. The third course was chosen.
Possibly, the effort of this nature to which least objection can be made is the now popular one to bring art into the schools by means of casts and pictures. Boston was the pioneer in the movement with a Public School Art League which was founded in 1892. As yet, the universal idea is, to make no demand upon the public funds for the work, but by popular subscription and individual gift to encourage the adornment of the rooms of the public schools, so that the old bareness may give place to a beauty both uplifting and gratifying. The idea is credited to John Raskin ; yet as far back as 1870, ten years before the formation of the Art for Schools Association in London, there had been an attempt on the part of two individuals to bring art into Boston schools. When the league was formed, the movement rapidly radiated from the city, reaching the immediate suburbs, and also Salem and Springfield. At Brookline the movement started the same year as in Boston, with a meeting of parents at one of the schools. So, gaining impetus as it traveled, it spread over the whole country. Books, pamphlets, and catalogues have been published on the subject. In the State Library of New York and in the Public Library at Boston there are permanent exhibitions of such works of art. An exhibition of this sort which was held in Brooklyn three years ago, under the auspices of the Brooklyn Institute, was better than any similar exhibition that has been held in New England. In Philadelphia, in 1896, there was an exhibition under the auspices of the Civic Club. Chicago, St, Louis, Denver, San Francisco, and Milwaukee are notable Western centres of the movement. At Cleveland an Art Education Society has been founded, and at Rochester and some other cities the movement is under the patronage of a woman’s club. Exhibitions are the popular means for awakening interest in the matter. They not only raise money to purchase works of art, but suggest gifts for individuals to make, whence, in some cases, memorial rooms have resulted.
Within a few years vacation schools have appeared. Here the educational purpose is secondary to the wish to take the children off the streets, and to entertain and interest them. The movement has met with large success. In New York city there were half a dozen vacation schools in 1896. In the summer of 1897 there were ten, all in the poorer districts, and crowded to their utmost capacity. At one of them, on the first day, which was insufferably hot, there was such a throng about the doors that it was merely an act of humanity to open them an hour before the appointed time. Then a thousand tickets of admission were issued. In New York this work was charitable, the instruction being paid for by voluntary contributions. With the season of 1898 it became part of the public educational system. All these schools are in the poorer districts, and, to their credit be it recorded, teachers and principals often volunteer to do the work, in continuance of their winter labors and without compensation. Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Newark, Hartford, Cambridge, and Buffalo are other cities in which the movement has started. It is a very interesting one, full of picturesque details ; and here again, as so often, private philanthropy precedes official action.
School savings banks, of which the avowed purpose is “ to teach children to save, ” are educational mainly in the phrase. Two methods are used, — the stamp and the direct deposit. In 1897 the savings bank had been adopted in 280 schoolhouses of 63 American communities, and pupils had deposited $451,211, mainly in pennies ; about one third of this amount was still on deposit.
The School Children’s Street-Cleaning Leagues, inaugurated in New York by Colonel Waring, and since copied in many cities, aim to lead children to a higher sense of civic duty. Object lessons in the principles of city government and the machinery of elections have a similar general purpose. So have lectures on local urban history,1 such larger courses as the Old South course in Boston, and the excursions for school children to patriotic shrines. It is common to extend to pupils of the public schools special privileges in admission to, or use of, many of the things which do much in cities to stir the intellectual life.
Efforts for the intellectual betterment of the public schools, by extension of the course or its refinement, have their counterpart in efforts for its material advancement. A good deal of this is forced on the system. Buildings have been enlarged reluctantly to meet the insistent demands of growing population, and, except in a few new buildings in the larger cities, the sanitary advance has barely kept pace with the general gain in that direction. Yet it is impressive to learn how far the village school has been left behind by the system in our great modern cities. A report of the Board of Education of the metropolis, at the beginning of the fall term of 1897, showed that within three years it had expended $8,000,000 for sites for school buildings. Within eighteen months it expected to open more than thirty new schools, some of which would cost $300,000 each, and would provide for between 1800 and 2500 pupils. In the fall of 1898 the estimates for the coming year asked for $24,500,000 for the schools. The newer buildings, in exterior design and interior sanitary and pedagogical equipment, are equal to the best model schools in the world. But the interest in healthful surroundings is carried beyond the scrutiny of new buildings. The demand that old buildings be improved, though less spectacular in its results, is quite as important. Daily medical inspection of schools, a practice which had its beginning in Boston, has been productive of such important discoveries that other cities are falling into line. In an argument by the superintendent of instruction at Springfield, Massachusetts, for baths in the public schools, an idea appears which is quite new in the United States, but which has been accepted in Germany. At least, it shows with what proper seriousness we are coming to regard the hygienic condition of city schools. To be classed with these movements are the occasional swimming lesson and the familiar fire drill.
Comment on the universities and colleges opens a wide field. We have more institutions, creations of private or state munificence, which take one or other of these ambitious names, than we have great cities. The point pertinent to this review is that nearly all of the larger cities and many of the “ second class ” contain not only institutions of higher technical or manual training, but also schools of higher academic instruction. These, by means of their scholarships, financial aid to worthy poor students, and low tuition fees where any are charged, extend in practice the system of public instruction to the furthest limit. In many of our cities, it is now possible, for one who lives at home, to pass from the kindergarten to the end of the university course without paying a cent for tuition. His instruction will form a harmonious whole, and he will make the progress in perfect gradation. Nor will he feel himself entirely indebted to private munificence even in his later work. The Western universities derive their support from the state ; and in the East it is usual for a city in which a college is situated to own free scholarships in it. At Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania received its magnificent site as a gift from the city. The higher education, though less general, is become little less democratic than the intermediate, and recent years have seen its field opened to girls. Another point to be noted is that the high schools of our cities to-day stand virtually where the colleges stood fifty years ago. They give nearly as good training, and have generally longer student rolls.
It is hard to feel the confidence and enthusiasm for the intellectual chances which cities offer to their adults that one feels for those offered to their youth. But the movement is becoming very characteristic. The majority of those who avail themselves of the instruction of lectures, libraries, galleries, and museums are persons who have profited by the earlier opportunity, and the value does not seem doubtful nor the outlay incommensurate with the work. The success of University Extension lectures, and the wide adoption of the system, make it a feature of urban life. In addition, an interesting experiment in free lectures to the people has been made in New York, under the management of the Board of Education, and is spreading to other cities. They are addressed to adults, are delivered in the evening in the schoolhouses, and are practically a lecture extension of the public school system, or “ a people’s university.” They began at New York in 1889. In 189697 the number of lectures was 1066, in thirty-three centres, with an attendance of nearly 500,000. The cost was only $40,000. In 1897-98 there were fortyone centres and nearly 1600 lectures. The listeners are almost all workingmen and their families. The subjects treated are serious, but of universal interest. A recent annual report says that the intellectual advance is no less remarkable than is the statistical success of the lectures. Courses are now given which eight years ago would have been impossible. Within the last few months, a number of lectures on sanitation, civil government, and American history have been given in Italian and colloquial Hebrew ; and for a course on educational topics some of the most eminent educators in the country were obtained. Chicago, Brooklyn, and a few other cities have since adopted the plan ; the course at Chicago having had the backing of the Field Columbian Museum, Northwestern University, Lake Forest University, and Armour Institute ; that at Brooklyn, of the Brooklyn Institute. Public-spirited citizens, not officially connected with education, have also taken up the work ; in Philadelphia the University Extension Society joined this year with the Board of Education for the purpose, while in Boston the Twentieth Century Club provided, in 1898, a course of six free evening lectures at each of six public schools. Most of the lectures, following the rule in other cities, had illustration by stereopticon, piano, or blackboard ; and at two of the schools all were pertinent to one general Subject. These lectures have been continued this year on Saturday mornings, in a smaller way ; but the city, under the guidance of Mayor Quincy, has taken up the evening lectures in school and other halls. The Lowell lectures at Boston, founded by the bequest of a private individual, have been carried on for about sixty years. Five lectures are delivered each week from October to May, in a hall seating 800 persons. The high praise is bestowed on these that, by their excellence, they have given in America a dignity to the term “ popular lecture ” which is elsewhere unknown. In another city an historical society provided in 1898 a course of lectures ; and it is needless to say of what an endless round of clubs, papers, and lectures, all instructive in purpose, the social life of cities is made up. In New York, again, the Educational Alliance does a great work. It is said that its building is daily visited by nearly 6000 persons, to attend lectures, clubs, classes, etc.
From the lectures one comes to the great public libraries. Their foundation has been one of the earliest and possibly most striking proofs, after the parks, that our cities are outgrowing the first stage of development. In that stage even the large increase in city wealth left little chance for higher demands ; but our public libraries are said to-day to contain more books than those of France, Great Britain, and Germany combined. The libraries of the cities are of various creation. Boston’s splendid building and magnificent administration give evidence of municipal largess and breadth of view. In Chicago, the three great libraries, now working in harmony, show how generously individuals add to official provision. The public library of New York, homeless as yet, illustrates a city’s combination and use of private beneficence. Philadelphia, in her recent vote of $1,000,000 for a building for a public library which has long had corporate existence, is an instance of gradual development ; while St. Louis, which recently paid nearly $500,000 for a site for a library structure which it had not the money in hand to build, represents the effort at an earlier stage. Allegheny City and Pittsburg have received their libraries as gifts from a citizen, on the condition that they be maintained, at least in part, by taxation. Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the donor, said, in emphasizing this condition : “ I am clearly of the opinion that it is only by the city maintaining its public libraries, as it maintains its public schools, that every citizen can be made to feel that he is a joint proprietor of them.”
Libraries have branches which are of great service in nearly every case. In Boston, a department called the Home Library brings books directly to the tenements. A tenement bouse is selected to be the neighborhood library for two or three months. A number of good books and children’s magazines are taken there and lent, and once a week a “ person of sense,” as Dr. Hale has put it, meets the children and talks the books over. When the time is up, the library is passed on to another place. A similar work, though managed a little differently, is carried on in Chicago. The New York Free Circulating Library is also engaging in this work ; and last summer, through the interest of other associations, traveling libraries made their appearance in the vacation schools and playgrounds. In several cities there are libraries in the public Schools. At Buffalo, where ten schools were so provided this year, the libraries are under the direction of the public library. A thousand books are put in a library, and three times a year there is a transfer between the schools, so that the pupils in each have access to 3000 volumes during the year. A writer, in attempting to sum up the civic duty of an ideal librarian, said, in the Century magazine for March, 1897, that it was “ to adapt the contents of shelves and tables to the specific manufacturing, commercial, and artistic needs of a community, as at Worcester ; to name works illuminating the living question of the hour, as at Providence ; to court helpful relations with the schools, as at Detroit.”
Provision of opportunities for the study of art comes later in the cities, whether its impulse be of private or of public origin. New York, Boston, and Chicago have their notable public galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, is the largest in the country. Washington has its Corcoran Gallery ; Baltimore its Walter Collection, to which the public have access ; and Pittsburg, largely through the generosity of a citizen who has given the endowment of $50,000 a year for the purchase of American paintings, has begun to form an interesting collection, and holds annual exhibitions which rank high, and for which there is an international commission of award. As lately as November, 1897, Philadelphia appropriated by popular vote $200,000 for the erection of an art gallery. A collection of paintings belonging to a citizen had been offered to the city on condition that a building be erected to contain them. These works of art, said to represent the expenditure of $1,000,000, enable the Philadelphia art gallery to open its career with paintings valued at $5,000,000, — happily not the only indication of their artistic worth. It also has a large endowment fund (by a legacy) for annual purchases. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, was the direct outgrowth of a public meeting held in 1869. It was ten years later that the legislature permitted the park board to begin the erection of the present building on park lands. The consideration was an agreement by the society to admit the public free on four days of the week and holidays, besides giving special privileges to public school pupils and teachers. But the museum owes its collections to the public spirit of individuals. In New York, the spring exhibitions of the various art societies, of clubs, and of the Academy of Design have also that educational value which belongs to a city’s higher life. In Philadelphia, at the exhibitions of the Academy of the Fine Arts, the Civic Club arranges free evening receptions, the tickets for which are distributed through societies, guilds, manufactories, etc. Attendants in each gallery explain the pictures. In Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has received nothing from city or state save the land on which it stands ; but it grants privileges similar to those of the Metropolitan Museum, and only one fourteenth of the persons who now visit it pay an admission fee. Private generosity has provided it with treasures and furnished a substantial endowment, and annual private subscriptions meet the current expenses.
For instruction in art, opportunities have improved rapidly within a few years. The “ art atmosphere ” is indeed still missing ; but those traditions which contain its subtle suggestion are beginning to appear around the Art Students’ League in New York, while Copley Square in Boston has begun to be likened to the “ Quartier ” in Paris. In New York, the art schools of the Metropolitan Museum, of Cooper Union (free), and of the National Academy of Design (free) perform a different but valuable function. The league, which has been called the most powerful and active academic art school in the country, has some fifteen hundred men and women enrolled in its classes every winter. It is self-supporting. In Philadelphia, the Academy of the Fine Arts has two hundred and fifty pupils in advanced work, and the city pays for free scholarships in the Pennsylvania School of Industrial Art, the Art Academy, and the School of Design for Women. In Washington, the free classes at the Corcoran Gallery are so well attended that the accommodation has been recently doubled. Cincinnati is proud of its Art Academy ; Detroit of the school in its Museum of Art, organized in 1889. Both occupy splendid buildings, and both offer, as do some other art societies, traveling scholarships. In Detroit, Sunday museum lectures for the people have lately become a unique and popular feature. Chicago, besides its large gallery and school, has originated a peculiar and pleasant development of the art purpose in forming a collection of pictures from which the poor can take a picture as one would take a book from a public library. The borrower takes it home and keeps it for two weeks, and then returns it, to renew the loan or to draw another. The Civic Club of Philadelphia also manages a circulating gallery. In each of the larger cities, within the last few years, there have been free loan exhibitions of good paintings in the poorest quarters of the city, the interest in which is sometimes stimulated by asking visitors to name their favorite pictures.
In other museums American cities have thus far made but little progress. The American Museum of Natural History in New York, which is probably the best outside of the national collection in Washington, was organized about the same time as the Metropolitan Museum, on similar lines, and has had a similar history. The additions of 1898 to its structure include a lecture hall to seat twenty-five hundred persons, which is an index to its educational function. The Field Columbian Museum at Chicago is an outgrowth of the World s Fair. The meeting of citizens in the summer of 1893 resolved “ to establish in Chicago a great museum that shall be a fitting memorial of the World’s Columbian Exposition, and a permanent advantage and honor to the city.” Very generous private donations were made, and extensive purchases and many gifts secured large and valuable exhibits from distant lands. The remarkable collection was housed in the Fair’s Art Building. It has already become a great institution, — has inaugurated popular lectures, established a publication series, and sent out some scientific expeditions. In some of the older cities, as Philadelphia and Boston, there are excellent historical collections on public view. Within a few years local historical societies have sprung up, indeed, in nearly all the cities, and have gathered collections of interest and preserved many an historic shrine. The new Philadelphia commercial museums fill an immense building with a collection of natural and manufactured products, to which every city in the United States, it is said, has contributed, and all countries in the world.
Museum exhibits in the department of natural history are supplemented by small collections of flora and fauna in the parks of many cities. These rarely deserve, or assume, the title of botanical and zoölogical gardens. The value, interest, and instructiveness of the exhibits, however, are bringing them rapidly into favor. The Arnold Arboretum at Boston — not strictly a municipal possession — is one of the famous gardens of the world ; Philadelphia is arranging a botanical garden on a strip of river bank that has long been an eyesore ; New York has made liberal provision of land in Bronx Park for a garden, which public spirit is splendidly equipping. In St. Louis, Shaw’s Garden, a unique gift, is just cause for pride. It is not only an exhibition, but a school of botany. The donor gave the land for it and another tract for its endowment, and both scientific botany and market gardening are taught. Philadelphia and Cincinnati have for some years had notable zoölogical gardens. Philadelphia’s garden contains more than 1000 living animals, and was visited in 1897 by nearly 200,000 persons. Chicago has an important collection in one of the parks. New York, which has recently furnished the land (in Bronx Park) for a “ zoo,” found public spirit ready to face the task of raising $250,000 by private gift for buildings and collections. The garden will be by far the largest of its kind in the world. In line with this movement is the city aquarium in New York, which was opened in Battery Park on December 10, 1896, and has gained a popularity measured by 10,000 admissions in a day.
Music has a place in city problems and progress. By unofficial patronage, which is very liberal, New York has become one of the great musical cities of the world. In no European capital is the opera given on a grander scale, and the National Conservatory of Music of America does a large work in the line of musical education. New Orleans has its French opera company ; and many cities have musical societies that, where the foreign element is large, have a distinct effect on the city life. Boston, in maintenance of its claim to culture, does the most for pure music. It has a music commission, officially appointed, to preserve the excellence of public music. It has a permanent orchestra, thanks to the generosity of an individual citizen, who cheerfully meets deficits in the thought that thus he makes it possible for citizens to hear the best music at popular prices ; and the New England Conservatory of Music, which has an expense account of $250,000 a year, enrolls about twentythree hundred pupils. In Baltimore the Peabody Institute does a large work of this sort, and Cincinnati has in the endowed College of Music a conservatory of high worth. Chicago supports a permanent orchestra by subscription ; Pittsburg has one as a detail of the Carnegie Institute, though it has not required a subsidy ; New York was stirred to make a serious effort to secure one, and Indianapolis, thanks to the enterprise of its women, is in a fair way to succeed. Cincinnati maintained such an orchestra some years ago, and Buffalo has had one, largely through the generosity of an individual. In Boston, again, free organ concerts, serially arranged and with instructive programmes, have been tried with success; and in a number of cities there are annual musical festivals.
So, from the kindergarten and the university with its millions of endowment, from the whir of machinery in the technical school and the stillness of the public library, as well as from the crowded lecture hall, comes the impulse of education into the throbbing life of a great city. The improvement within a few years has been very marked. Not all is gained ; much must yet be done in many ways. But it was never possible before, in any land, to chronicle such diverse and earnest activity for the upbuilding of the culture and the character of the whole people. These movements are without precedent in human history.
Charles Mulford Robinson .
- An interestingly liberal example of this is to be found in the City History Club of New York. Started only in 1895, it had risen to the dignity in 1898 of having more than sixty teachers and nearly a thousand members, and it hired a theatre for a rally of its classes. A newspaper, speaking of the club, said: “ Its work is based on the principle that we must know a thing before we can love it. Its hope is to teach the people of New York to know the city—its history, traditions, growth, and conditions—so well that they will not only love it, but will know all about it, and be able to think, talk, work, and vote intelligently and affectionately for it.”↩