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Street Pavements

cities, population, city, average, total and block


Good pavements are necessary to the highest develop ment of the commercial, sanitary and esthetic life of the city. The large proportion of people now dwelling in cities makes the subject of pavements an important one at present; and the fact that the urban population is increasing much more rapidly than the rural, and also the fact that the public is awakening to the necessity of ameliorating the condition of life in the city, will make pavements of increasing concern in the future.

The importance of pavements as an element in municipal finance seems not to be fully appreciated, and this subject has not received from municipal engineers and city officials the attention and study its importance merits. Whether measured by their influence upon the commercial, sanitary or esthetic life of the city, or by the amount of money invested in them, street pavements belong in the first rank of importance in municipal affairs.

Until quite recently no attempt has been made to collect statis tics concerning Amerian pavements. Bulletin No. 24 (September 1900) of the U. S. Department of Labor contains statistics as to the number of square yards of pavements in each of the one hun dred and twenty-nine cities having a population of 30,000 or over, but gives no data concerning the -cost of these pavements. An approximate estimate of their cost may be arrived at by assuming an average price for such work. The total number of square yards of each of the principal kinds of pavements and their approximate cost is as follows: Under "other kinds" in the above table is included sandstone and limestone block, rubble, shell, tar distillate, granolithic, and per haps telford—at least a number of cities separate macadam and telford pavements in their official reports. A number of cities have large areas of sandstone block, and from private investigations the author concludes that of the "other kinds" at least 9,553,000 square yards are sandstone block, and this has been entered sepa rately in the above summary.

From the preceding table it appears that the pavements in these cities have cost $400,812,576; and as the total population is 19,036,845, the pavements have cost 121.06 per capita of their present population. The area of pavements per capita varies greatly in the different cities, being practically independent of the size and location of the city; and this average seems to agree fairly well with the area of pavements in a number of very much smaller cities investigated by the author. Therefore it will be assumed that the above average is representative of the entire country. According to the U. S. Census for 1900 there are 24,992,199 people dwelling in cities of 8,000 population or over. Therefore the investment in pavement in these cities amounts to $514,836,179. Measured by the money invested, street pave ments are probably the most important of any single class of engi neering construction except steam railroads.

According to Bulletin No. 100 of the 1890 census, the average annual expenditure for pavement construction and repairs in the cities of the United States having a population of 10,000 or over, was $1.72 per capita, beirig *1.54 in the cities having more than 100,000 population and $2.04 in cities from 10,000 to 100,000. If the same rate of expense obtained in 1900, the total annual ex penditure for pavements in cities of 8,000 or more population was $43,000,000.

The first cost of pavement and also their annual cost is of such magnitude that merely as a financial question street pavements deserve the most careful attention and systematic study.