Boston Chamber of Commerce v. City of Boston

Decision Date04 April 1910
Docket NumberNo. 99,99
Citation217 U.S. 189,54 L.Ed. 725,30 S.Ct. 459
PartiesBOSTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, the Central Wharf & Wet Dock Corporation, and the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank, Plffs. in Err., v. CITY OF BOSTON
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. Charles A. Williams and Charles S. Hamlin for plaintiffs in error.

[Argument of Counsel from page 190 intentionally omitted] Mr. Thomas M. Babson for defendant in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 191-193 intentionally omitted] Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a petition for the assessment of damages caused by the laying out of a public street over 2,955 square feet of land at the apex of a triangle between India street and Central Wharf street, in Boston, the latter being a private way between Milk street and Atlantic avenue, laid out by the same order, as part of the same street. The chamber of commerce had a building at the base of the triangle, and owned the fee of the land taken. The Central Wharf & Wet Dock Corporation, which owned other land abutting on the new street, had an easement of way, light, and air over the land in question, and the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank held a mortgage on the same, subject to the easement. These three were the only parties having any interests in the land. They filed an agreement in the case that the damages might be assessed in a lump sum, the city of Boston refusing to assent, and they contended that it was their right, as matter of law, under the Massachusetts statute, Rev. Laws chap. 48, §§ 20-22, and the 14th Amendment, to recover the full value of the land taken, considered as an unrestricted fee. The city, on the other hand, offered to show that the restriction being of great value to the Central Wharf & Wet Dock Corporation, the damage to the market value of the estate of the chamber of commerce was little or nothing, and contended that the damages must be assessed according to the condition of the title at act date of the order laying out the street. It contended that the jury could consider the improbability of the easement being released, as it might affect the mind of a possible purchaser of the servient estate, and that the dominant owner could recover nothing, as it lost nothing by the superposition of a public easement upon its own. The parties agreed that if the petitioners were right, the damages should be assessed at $60,000, without interest; but, if the city was right, they should be $5,000. The judge before whom the case was tried ruled in favor of the city, and this ruling was sustained by the supreme judicial court, upon report. 195 Mass. 338, 81 N. E. 244. A judgment was entered in the court where the record remained, and then the case was brought here.

We assume in favor of the petitioners, the plaintiffs in error, that their only remedy was under the statute; and we give them the benefit of the doubt in interpreting the decision of the court, so far as to take it to mean that the statutes of Massachusets authorize the taking of land held as this was, with no other compensation than according to the principle laid down. In short, we assume in their favor that the constitutional question is open, and that the case properly is not to be dismissed. But we are of opinion that upon the only possible question before us here the decision was right.

Of course, we accept the construction given to the Massachusetts statute by the state court. Maiorano v. Baltimore & O. R. Co. 213 U. S. 268, 272, 53 L. ed. 792, 795, 29 Sup. Ct. Rep. 424. The only question to be considered is whether, when a man's...

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212 cases
  • New England Estates v. Town of Branford, No. 18132.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • February 16, 2010
    ...owner under the takings clause is on "what has the owner lost, not what has the taker gained." Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 195, 30 S.Ct. 459, 54 L.Ed. 725 (1910).26 the owner "is entitled to be put in as good a position pecuniarily as if his property had not been tak......
  • Hall v. State, A16-0874
    • United States
    • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • March 7, 2018
    ...owner's loss rather than the government's gain." Brown , 538 U.S. at 235–36, 123 S.Ct. 1406 ; Bos. Chamber of Commerce v. City of Boston , 217 U.S. 189, 195, 30 S.Ct. 459, 54 L.Ed. 725 (1910). That is, a private party " 'is entitled to be put in as good a position pecuniarily as if his prop......
  • George Simpson v. David Shepard No 291 George Simpson v. Emma Kennedy No 292 George Simpson v. William Shillaber No 293
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1913
    ...market value of the property; as to what the owner had lost, and not what the taker had gained. Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U. S. 189, 195, 54 L. ed. 725, 727, 30 Sup. Ct. Rep. 459. The owner would not be entitled to demand payment of the amount which the property might be dee......
  • Phillips v. Washington Legal Foundation
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 15, 1998
    ...putative property interest as it was or would have been enjoyed in the absence of IOLTA, cf. Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 195, 30 S.Ct. 459, 460-461, 54 L.Ed. 725 (1910), and consequently would measure any required compensation by the claimant's loss, not by the gover......
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9 books & journal articles
  • Criminalizing Property Rights: How Crime-free Housing Ordinances Violate the Fifth Amendment
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 70-6, 2021
    • Invalid date
    ...by the Fifth Amendment is measured by the property owner's loss rather than the government's gain."); Bos. Chamber of Com. v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 195 (1910) ("And the question is what has the owner lost, not what has the taker gained.").121. See CHEMERINSKY supra note 64, at 719.122. See ......
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    ...barred from putting land to a use that is proscribed by . . . ‘existing rules or understandings’”); Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 195 (1910) (Holmes, J.) (“the question is what has the owner lost”). Gove’s argument is not furthered by the Greniers’ tentative offer to p......
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    • United States
    • The Path of Constitutional Law Suplemmentary Materials
    • January 1, 2007
    ...Union of United States, Inc., 466 U.S. 485, 104 S.Ct. 1949, 80 L.Ed.2d 502 (1984), 1150, 1466 Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 30 S.Ct. 459, 54 L.Ed. 725 (1910), 964 Boston Sand & Gravel v. United States, 278 U.S. 41, 49 S.Ct. 52, 73 L.Ed. 170 (1928), 305 Page 1662 Bo......
  • Tcl - Eminent Domain Law in Colorado - Part Ii: Just Compensation - November 2006 - Government and Administrative Law
    • United States
    • Colorado Bar Association Colorado Lawyer No. 35-11, November 2006
    • Invalid date
    ...(Civ. 4th Ed.). 52. Williams v. City and County of Denver, 363 P.2d 171, 173 (Colo. 1961), quoting Boston Chamber of Commerce v. Boston, 217 U.S. 189, 195 (1910). 53. Fowler Irrevocable Trust 1992-1 v. City of Boulder, 17 P.3d 797, 802 (Colo. 2001). 54. Colorado's valuation approach for par......
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