Predictions of the Year 2000
The Ladies Home Journal from December 1900, contained predictions by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. of “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years”. Mr. Watkins wrote: “These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible. Yet, they have come from the most learned and conservative minds in America.” I have trimmed the entries a bit, but no editing. Remarkable — but where are the giant strawberries?
Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next.
Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.
Prediction #3: Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.
Prediction #4: There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities. All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.
Prediction #5: Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned.
Prediction #6: Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today. A one-pound motor in one of these vehicles will do the work of a pair of horses or more. Children will ride in automobile sleighs in winter.
Prediction #7: There will be air-ships, but they will not successfully compete with surface cars and water vessels for passenger or freight traffic. They will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations.
Prediction #8: Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities. Submarine boats submerged for days will be capable of wiping a whole navy off the face of the deep. Balloons and flying machines will carry telescopes of one-hundred-mile vision with camera attachments, photographing an enemy within that radius.
Prediction #9: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.
Prediction #10: Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. Thus the lips of a remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.
Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated.
Prediction #12: Peas as Large as Beets. Plants will be made proof against disease microbes just as readily as man is to-day against smallpox. The soil will be kept enriched by plants which take their nutrition from the air and give fertility to the earth.
Prediction #13: Strawberries as Large as Apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large. One will suffice for the fruit course of each person. Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless. Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States.
Prediction #14: Black, Blue and Green Roses. Roses will be as large as cabbage heads. Violets will grow to the size of orchids. A pansy will be as large in diameter as a sunflower. Prediction #15: No Foods will be Exposed. Storekeepers who expose food to air breathed out by patrons or to the atmosphere of the busy streets will be arrested with those who sell stale or adulterated produce. Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.
Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. Spelling by sound will have been adopted, first by the newspapers. English will be a language of condensed words expressing condensed ideas, and will be more extensively spoken than any other. Russian will rank second.
Prediction #17: A university education will be free to every man and woman. Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. The very poor will, when necessary, get free rides to and from school and free lunches between sessions. In vacation time poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world. Etiquette and housekeeping will be important studies in the public schools.
Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. A husband in the middle of the Atlantic will be able to converse with his wife sitting in her boudoir in Chicago. We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn. By an automatic signal they will connect with any circuit in their locality without the intervention of a “hello girl”.
Prediction #19: Grand Opera will be telephoned to private homes. Automatic instruments reproducing original airs exactly will bring the best music to the families of the untalented. The piano will be capable of changing its tone from cheerful to sad. Many devises will add to the emotional effect of music.
Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity.
Prediction #21: Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to city houses in the same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.
Prediction #22: Store Purchases by Tube. Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver packages and bundles. These tubes will collect, deliver and transport mail over certain distances, perhaps for hundreds of miles. They will at first connect with the private houses of the wealthy; then with all homes.
Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today. Food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile wagons. The meal being over, the dishes used will be packed and returned to the cooking establishments where they will be washed. These laboratories will be equipped with electric stoves, and all sorts of electric devices, such as coffee-grinders, egg-beaters, stirrers, shakers, parers, meat-choppers, meat-saws, potato-mashers, lemon-squeezers, dish-washers, dish-dryers and the like.
Prediction #24: Vegetables Grown by Electricity. Winter will be turned into summer and night into day by the farmer. He will also grow large gardens under glass. At night his vegetables will be bathed in powerful electric light, serving, like sunlight, to hasten their growth. Electric currents applied to the soil will make valuable plants grow larger and faster.
Prediction #25: Delicious oranges will be grown in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Prediction #26: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs needed by the lungs, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs through the skin and flesh. They will be carried with the electric current applied without pain to the outside skin of the body. The living body will to all medical purposes be transparent. Not only will it be possible for a physician to actually see a living, throbbing heart inside the chest, but he will be able to magnify and photograph any part of it. This work will be done with rays of invisible light.
Prediction #27: There will be no wild animals except in menageries. Rats and mice will have been exterminated. The horse will have become practically extinct. Food animals will be bred to expend practically all of their life energy in producing meat, milk, wool and other by-products. Horns, bones, muscles and lungs will have been neglected.
Prediction #28: To England in Two Days. Fast electric ships, crossing the ocean at more than a mile a minute, will go from New York to Liverpool in two days. The bodies of these ships will be built above the waves. They will be supported upon runners, somewhat like those of the sleigh. Ships with cabins artificially cooled will be entirely fireproof. In storm they will dive below the water and there await fair weather.