A Clean Sweep on Lawrence Avenue

April 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

When I overheard a woman talk about preparing for her subdivision’s garage sale this week-end, I was reminded that today’s neighborhoods organize for garage sales, watch programs, and even advocacy, but they do not have to deal with an issue that Susan and her neighbors tackled.   A headline in the April 16, 1910, Illinois State Journal read: “Spotless Streets Aim of New Club.” The accompanying story explains:

Property owners and residents along Lawrence Avenue, between Second and Third Streets, have formed an improvement club for the purpose of keeping the thoroughfare fronting their homes properly cleaned.  It is expected to begin work for the season this morning.

Those who originated the street cleaning scheme have hired a man who will sweep and clean the pavement twice each week.  The street sweepings will be removed from the pavement and deposited in a suitable place to await hauling away by the city authorities…The property owners will also see that the street is sprinkled regularly.  It is estimated that the cleaning will cost the property owners about 1 ½ cents a foot.

Among those who are interested in the plan are…Mrs. Susan Lawrence Dana…It is probable that the example of civic spirit shown will be emulated in other parts of the city, and organizations similar to those in larger communities formed for the purpose of extending a helping hand to the municipal street cleaning department.

Of course, with the loss of horse-drawn transportation because of the advent of the automobile, the need for street sweepers faded.    I don’t know if the practice caught on in other Springfield neighborhoods as the reporter predicted, but thanks to the “civic spirit” of this neighborhood, one block on Lawrence Avenue had no horse droppings in the spring and summer of 1910.

Street Sweeper, Green Bay, Wisconsin 1915

Street Sweeper, Green Bay, Wisconsin 1915

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You are currently reading A Clean Sweep on Lawrence Avenue at Susan and Me: Two Women in a Wright House.

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