This blog is all about looking backward at Chicago of the past. But, in a Chicago Tribune article on December 12, 1897 we get a unique glimpse of the predicted 1997 future of the city from that vantage point.
The article is lengthy, a full page of the paper, so I've pulled excerpts. If you have the opportunity, look up the article in the Chicago Tribune Historical Archives. Anyone with a Chicago Public Library card can easily find it. If you are interested in reading the entire article and can't access it through your library or school, drop me an email (see my profile for email address) and I will be happy to send you a pdf file of the piece. It's fascinating!
CHICAGO AS IT WILL BE ONE HUNDRED YEARS FROM TODAY, A CITY OF WONDERS UNBELIEVABLE
(The following "introduction" to the article is a classic example of Chicago boosterism. Click for a larger, readable image.)
CHICAGO IN 1997
Chicago a Century Hence!
At the end of the twentieth century, Chicago will be a city of 10,000,000 souls. It will cover all of Cook County, all of Du Page County, and the nine northern townships of Will County. Chicago will thus cover a tract of 1,600 square miles.
The city of today will have disappeared, for the most part, from the map, for nearly all of the buildings will be superseded. Great public monuments alone will remain.
Buildings that today are called "skyscrapers" will be dwarfed by immense structures of fifty to sixty stories, towering 700 feet into the air.
(Note: Following is a drawing of their predicted "immense structure."
Mmmm...not so much.
Rapid transit will have been solved by the substitution of the pneumatic tube for the present modes of conveyance. The elevated structures of today will have become boulevards.
(Note: Many of the comments in the article are from County Surveyor Enright. Obviously, a very forward looking public servant.)
The homes of the people will not be so pent in as now. There will be more light and more air. The interior of the house will be more sanitary. Upholstering will practically disappear. Wooden buildings will disappear...The city will be clean. Smoke will disappear, for the consumption of coal will be too costly. Electricity will furnish heat, light and power. Hence the atmosphere will become clear and the air more healthful.
Water meters will be taken out and their use discontinued. The people will be encouraged to use water for every purpose and the sanitary effect will be highly beneficial.
There will be many more parks and boulevards, for the cemeteries will then be turned into parks. By that time the sentiment against cremation will have died out and the bodies of the dead will be disposed of in great crematories.
There's much more:
Chicago will have an auditorium with perfect acoustics that will seat 125,000 people.
The Chicago River will no longer be needed and will be turned into a great boulevard.
Traveling sidewalks will be in use. Probably similar to the one used at the Columbian Exposition.
Last, but certainly not least, Chicago will have become so vast, so important, so large in proportion to the rest of Illinois, that a call for the creation of a separate and independent State of Chicago will go forth. Of course, it will include Northwest Indiana.
Picture, if you will, Mayor Daley on the bow of a ship in Lake Michigan doing his best Leonardo DiCaprio imitation...
CHICAGO IS QUEEN OF THE WORLD!!!!
Photo Credit: Sears Tower: Wikipedia