Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Clean Up Week

Back in 1919, the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce began an annual "clean up and plant" campaign in April. As described in The Hartford Courant (April 18, 1920), it would have been called a "city beautiful" campaign, but that sounded too high-brow.

The campaign was broken into two parts, one week each. During the first week, everyone in the city was expected to make sure their front and back yards were clean and tidy (and to make sure their neighbor's front and back yards were also clean and tidy). This first week was Clean Up Week.

The second week, beginning right around April 18, was Spring Planting Week.

The two-week campaign was sponsored by the Chamber's City Improvement Committee, chaired by William T. Manning.

Advertisements in the 1920 City Directory.

During Spring Planting Week, the Committee distributed thousands of seeds, shrubs and trees to city residents for planting in their yards. Some of the plantings were donated to the Chamber for the cause, others were purchased with money donated by the city's wealthier residents, who wanted to encourage the success of the program.

Trees, shrubs and seeds were distributed from the Chamber's headquarters on Field Street. The only condition for receiving the free plantings was to agree to follow the printed directions for the care of the plants.

The first year of the program (1919), the Committee handed out 10,000 shrubs, 6000 packages of flower sees and 3000 trees. Just imagine! Three thousands trees, ten thousand shrubs, free! This goes a long way towards explaining how our city became so filled with greenery.

The second year (1920), there were 12,000 evergreen trees, 6000 shrubs and 50,000 packages of flower seeds. Each applicant was restricted to a choice of two evergreens, one other tree, two shrubs, one rose bush and two packages of flower seeds.

 An old pine tree on Wolcott Street--could it have been one of the Chamber's free plants?

Available plants included evergreens, white spruce, koster spruce, white pine, Austrian pine, Scotch pine, Lombardy poplar, arbor vitae, forsythia, honeysuckle, red twig dogwood, flowering currant, overgreen vine, purple and white lilac, apple tree, barbary, aralia shrub, kerria shrub and Boston ivy.

Not all of the plants were good choices for the long run--for example, today arborists caution against the Lombardy poplar, because it is prone to many problems and does not last very long.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am glad you wrote about Clean up Week regarding the Chamber.

It gives me the opportunity to remind people that there will be a Waterbury! Citywide Cleanup day on Saturday, May 14(raindate May 21). Meet at Sears Automotive at 8:30. Clean 9-12.
Make a real difference!