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This 4-page letter was handwritten in black ink on slightly yellowed paper by James E. Scripps who was the President of the Evening News Association. The letter is printed with light blue lines and a double red line for the left margin. The text of the letter has been transcribed as follows:
"Detroit December 31st 1900
Hon. Wm. C. Maybury
My dear Sir
You invited me to indulge in a prophecy for Detroit as a Metropolis. By metropolis you mean I presume a chief or leading city to which all others for a long distance around will be more or less subordinate and tributary.
I fully believe in such a distinction for Detroit in the century upon which we are entering. I base my belief upon certain historical precedents and upon peculiar advantages which the location possesses favorable to a great concentration of population.
With all the civilized world open to him the Emperor Constantine the Great in AD 324 chose as the site for the capital of the Roman Empire a precisely analogous location on the banks of the Bosphorus. The advantage of location enjoyed by the City of Constantinople has been universally conceded, and yet the Black Sea of which it forms the key can never for a moment compare in its commercial possibilities with the great lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron with their rich mines of iron and copper, their vast tracts of valuable timber and their numerous natural outlets for the grain crops of the richest and most productive country upon earth. If a great metropolis were possible at Constantinople how much more so at Detroit.
When in the 17th century the famous French explorers LaSalle, Tonty, Hennepin, DuLuth, Cadillac and others penetrated to every part of the wild northwest they shrewdly hit upon the Detroit River as the most peculiarly advantageous point for the location of a colony with view to French domination of the entire region. It had previously been the favorite gathering place of the indians and Cadillac found no difficulty immediately upon his founding the post of Detroit in collecting around it a native population which made it at once one of the most populous cities on the continent. I have no doubt that the same influences still govern and that the vicinity of the Detroit River possesses at once strategic advantages for the domination of a wide extent of country and also attractions for the concentrating of vast population.
I believe in no other in the entire country are greater advantages for homes offered. The climate in winter is far less bleak than that of Chicago, Milwaukee, Cleveland or Buffalo owing to our remoteness from the great ice fields which cover the larger lakes and chill the breezes which sweep over them. In summer there are few cities which enjoy such advantages for boating, yachting, extended excursions by water, fishing and hunting. The sources of amusement are unsurpassed. With adequate drainage and abundance of pure water there should be no healthier city than Detroit. The locality which possesses such natural advantages for homes must ultimately attract a great population.
No other city on the whole chain of lakes enjoys so perfect a harbor as Detroit. Never exposed to storms from any quarter, with a practically unvarying depth of water and depth sufficient for the largest vessels, and with a shore line for wharves and docks sufficient for all the commerce of the world superior commercial advantages would be possible. With the experience of Manchester an inland city being made a sea-port by means of a ship canal and with the certainty of a system of ship canals of the largest size being constructed in the near future connecting the great lakes with the Atlantic there can be no doubt that a few decades will see ocean vessels loading and unloading at our wharves. Detroit will become as distinctively a seaport as Boston or Philadelphia.
Detroit's decennial increase of population for the past forty years has averaged nearly sixty per cent. At this opening of the 20th Century it is without doubt growing faster than ever before. Suppose for the next 50 years the decennial increase to be but half what is has been in the past 40 years and we shall have in 1950 a population of 1,077,000 souls. Halving this ration again for the second half of the century and we shall have in the year AD 2000 a population of over two millions, a larger population than any American city has today except the consolidation known as Greater New York. I think it far more likely that the population of AD 2000 will be greater rather than less than this estimate, and if no war, pestilence, or other destructive influence intervenes I think it not improbable that the ration of 30 percent decennially will be kept up through the century in which case Detroit will enjoy a population of fully four millions.
I prophesy that a century hence the belt embraced between the 38th and 43rd degrees of north latitude and extending from the Atlantic sea board to the Mississippi will be the most densely populated region in the world.
Very sincerely yours
James E. Scripps"
Scripps, James Edmund
|Extent of Description||8" x 12.625"|
Evening News Association
1901 Time Capsule
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