Friends of Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County, TN

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Nashville A Hundred Years Hence

This article appeared in the "Nashville Spectator" in May of 1896. It was written during the Tennessee Centennial festivities.

On next Monday and Tuesday during the opening ceremonies of the Tennessee Centennial many curios old people will be looking forward, and for their benefit I venture a brief catalogue of prophesies extending to the close of the next century.

First (which should make no one sad), we, who take part in this Centennial, will have long since gone back to dust. The babies of to-day will then be great great-grandfathers and mothers. The five millions of citizens claiming citizenship of Nashville will be strangers to us, and we (except a very few) will be unknown to them.

Nashville will include in its corporate limits Gallatin in the east, Franklin in the south, Kingston Springs in the west and Springfield in the north.

Families of immense wealth will live in palatial residences on the ridges and hills of the city.

All the streets and alleys will be paved and kept so clean that a pedestrian may walk through the city and not soil his slippers.

As the destruction of the family would be the destruction of religion and civilization, families will live to themselves in houses as they do now, but the conditions of living will be radically changed. There will be no cooking done in any private house. Firms for furnishing meals and also for furnishing light and heat will be established and regulated by law in every block of the city. There will be firms conveniently located for training and hiring of servants. All the necessities of life will be furnished very cheap.

Cleanliness will not be an optional as it is now, but all families will be forced to keep their houses and premises in perfect order. People who have rats will be severely punished and dogs will be heavily taxed.

There will be no more hotels or boarding houses in proportion to population than now, but they will be smaller and conducted on the European plan.

The law will forbid the herding together of a great number of persons in schools and factories, but as the size of public institutions and industries is reduced, the number of buildings will be increased.

As to education, only the ordinarily English branches will be taught free of charge.

There will be no contagious diseases or fevers of any kind, and, instead of the citizens going to the country for health, the country people will come to the city for cure and recuperation.

As the fuel used in the city will make no smoke, all the house-tops will be utilized as flower gardens and dormitories in the summer, so that at a distance the city will appear as a vast flower bed.

Electric towers placed at convenient points will illuminate the whole city and surrounding country. The city will be governed by retired business men of ample means and honest report and not under sixty years of age.

There will be no saloon or bar where liquor is sold by the dram, but any kind of strong drink may be purchased from druggists and grocers in a package with the proviso that the package must not be broken in a public place or given away in whole or in part. The churches will be more numerous in proportion to population than at present, but smaller and more attractive. The largest membership of a church will be 400, for the reason that religious people will then be very practical and pastors will not assume the care of a greater number of souls than they can employ in charitable work and know personally.

As to the courts, I prophesy only a few changes. A drunken, profane, dishonest and unclean judge will be unknown in our city. Trial by jury will have been abandoned and all criminal cases will be tried at the expense of the State.

As to transportation in the city, one can go anywhere in the corporate limits of Nashville for one cent.

Electric engines will be used on all the larger railways and the Cumberland River, with it locks and dams, will be navigable all the year from Point Isable to Smithland.

No business will be transacted in the city before 9 a.m. nor after 5 p.m.

As to the burial of the dead, our present system of graveyards will be unknown. Cremation will be practiced by many, besides great vaults, beautiful in construction, will be erected in the numerous city parks. The thick walls of these death temples will be honey-combed so that bodies may be inserted and sealed. Every ten or twenty years these vaults may be renewed by cremating all the unknown and unclaimed bodies.

One hundred years hence our children’s children will laugh till they cry when they see our pictures in an old yellow "American," and when they are told how we dress and how we live, they will say, "It is so funny," they cannot see how we lived at all under such circumstances and "so ignorant of every thing." Never mind! Let them laugh! We know that the girls and mothers of that day cannot be any sweeter or more charming than our own blessed maidens and mothers without whom our Centennial would be a mockery and life not worth living.

Who will say that what I have prophesied is false? I am not willing to swear to it, and yet every word of the above may be true. Is it not just as easy for 5,000,000 in the same length of time to come out of a 100,000 as for 100,000 to come out of nothing?

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