The New City Government January 1, 1898 Part IV


The Public Health

The care of the public health is committed, in the first instance, to a board composed of the president of the police board, the health officer of the port and three commissioners, one of whom (not a physician shall be president of the board, and receive a salary of $7,500 a year, and two others, resident physicians of at least ten years' standing shall each receive a salary of $6,000 a year. All three are appointed by the mayor to serve for a term of six years. They are charged with the enforcement of all laws relating to the public health, have powers to erect hospitals for contagious diseases upon North Brothers' Island and at other places, and to manage same. They may enforce repairs to houses and other buildings, and are given full control of all public markets. They will prepare and keep on file statistics regarding conditions existing in tenements and lodging house, reporting upon the same, twice every year, to the State Board of health. Any building, or excavation or even any business occupation which the board may consider dangerous to the good health of the city must be removed or abated immediately upon notification from this department. The department will organize two bureaus, one a sanitary department, under the management of a physician of ten years' experience, who will be known as the sanitary superintendent, and will have charge of the enforcement of all sanitary regulations, and the other a bureau of records, in charge of a register, who will keep all records of births, marriages and deaths, and all inquisitions of coroners. Branches of these bureaus will be established in the Borough of Brooklyn, and it may be mentioned in regard to the one last specified, that no charge may be exacted for the recording of births, marriages or deaths.

Fifty sanitary inspectors are placed at the disposal of the board, which may increase the number to seventy if it sees fit, and each of these will be a man of experience in such matters, thirty of the number being physicians. The inspectors who served either the City of new York or the City of Brooklyn up to the end of the year 1897 will be continued, and are appointed by the act itself. Every inspector will act under orders from one of the superintendents or assistant superintendents, and will make a full report at the end of each week to the health Board.

Before proceeding to hold an inquest, the Coroner, who has been called upon, must first notify the board, which may give authority for the immediate burial of a body after an examination by the Coroner's physician, it deems such a course desirable.

Special rights are conferred by the act giving the Board of health power to destroy the whole or part of any cargo which may have been brought into port, and which may be in a putrid condition, or otherwise dangerous to the public health, and not only is the owner of such cargo without legal remedy, but he is compelled to pay the cost of the labor involved in such destruction.

Nor will it pay any citizen to cavil at the decisions of the board of health, for in the event of refusal to immediately comply with the regulations, he will be summarily tried for misdemeanor, and if convicted will be liable to a fine of $1,000 or two years' imprisonment, or both.

Penalties are also provided in the case of those who fail to promptly report births, marriages or deaths. Physicians are not only obliged to immediately report each and every case of contagious disease; but, furthermore, the board may compel any doctor, upon notice of three hours, to take affidavit as to whether he is treating any patient who is sick of an infectious disease. Boarding and lodging house keepers and masters of vessels may also be ordered to report in like manner at any time that the board may deem necessary.

Educational Facilities

Great care was exercised by the framers of the charter in regard to the provision made for the education of the young. All the property used for and held by school boards existing prior of January 1, 1898, is taken over by the Board of Education, to which reference will be made later. There will be four school boards, one jointly for the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, and one each for the Boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens and Richmond. In the cases of Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn, the members of the respective Boards of Educations will serve out their terms as members of the school boards of their respective boroughs, while in the cases of Queens and Richmond the Mayor will appoint nine members of the school board for each borough; three for one year, three for two years, and three for three years each. As their terms expire, the mayor will name their successors, as also he will name the successors to those members who as members of the former Boards of Education of the cities of New York and Brooklyn, who are serving in the Boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, when their terms expire. Thus Manhattan and the Bronx boroughs have twenty-one members between them, Brooklyn has forty-five and Queens and Richmond nine each.

These bodies will choose delegates to serve on the central board of education for the enlarged city, which will consist of the chairmen of the borough boards, ten delegates from the school board of the Boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, and five delegates elected by the school board of the Borough of Brooklyn__nineteen in all, and will be known as the Board of Education. The main office of this board will be the hall at the corner of Grand and Elm streets, formerly used by the New York board, and in Brooklyn Borough the old quarters of the Board of Education will also be used.

By establishing bureaus in each of the boroughs the chief governing body in this important branch of municipal life expects to be able to plan and erect new buildings and prosecute other desirable work, with little, if any, delay. A city superintendent will visit all the schools and report to the board regularly and he will render each year a lengthy report, offering suggestions and outlining the progress made during the twelve months. He may not, however, directly interfere with the management of any school.

An efficient board of examiners of teachers is provided for and licenses to teach will only be issued for one year, but which may be renewed if the teacher satisfies the borough authorities.

Once a year the Board of Education will make a detailed report to the state superintendent of public instruction and likewise to the mayor. The salaries of borough superintendents, principals and teachers will be fixed by the borough boards themselves; they need not be uniform in any two boroughs and do not require the approval of the central body. The separate boards may also not only conduct evening classes and arrange for free lectures to workingmen, etc., but they have also the power to provide special classes for the instruction of any persons who cannot readily use the English language.

In each borough attendance officers will be nominated by the borough superintendent to enforce the compulsory education law. The school board of the Borough of Brooklyn will continue to manage the public school teachers' retirement fund and all payments by teachers, even if they have been transferred to another borough, will be made to the board of this borough.

As in the case of the members of the Police and Fire Departments all principals and teachers, who have served other municipalities now made part of the City of new York, up to December 31, 1897, are transferred to the service of the new board.

The College of the City of New York and the Normal College are declared distinct and separate organizations, and will participate in the benefits which accrue to them as such. The first mentioned institution is charged to give gratuitous instruction to any pupil of the common schools who is able to pass the necessary entrance examination and is authorized to confer degrees in arts.

A new feature is the direction of the Board of Education to establish a nautical school for the training of pupils in the art of navigation and authority is given to apply to the United States government for the requisite use of vessels and supplies.

Other provisions of this section of the act secure the advantages of common schools to two private institutions, the five Points House of Industry and the Ladies' Home Missionary Society's School in Park street, while still another excludes all sectarian teaching and all dogmatic books from the public schools, with the exception of the Bible, which may be read without note or comment.


Website: The History
Article Name: The New City Government January 2, 1898 Part IV
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


The Brooklyn Daily Eagle January 2, 1898
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