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"And among their dissolving views there I saw the scorched soil of Africa, and upon that soil, Thebes, with its hundred gates, more splendid than the most splendid of all the existing cities of the world-Thebes, the pride of old Egypt, the first metropolis of arts and sciences, and the mysterious cradle of so many doctrines, which still rule mankind in different shapes, though it has long for gotten their source.
"There I saw Syria, with its hundred cities; every city a nation, and every nation with an empire's might. Baalbec, with its gigantic temples, the very ruins of which baffle the imagination of man, as they stand like mountains of carved rocks in the desert, where, for hundreds of miles, not a stone is to be found, and no river flows, offering its tolerant back to carry a mountain's weight upon. And yet there they stood, those gigantic ruins; and as we glance at them with astonishment, though we have mastered the mysterious elements of nature, and know the combination of "levers, and how to catch the lightning, and how to command the power of steam and compressed air, and how to write with the burning fluid out of which the thunderbolt is forged, and how to dive to the bottom of the ocean, and how to rise up to the sky, cities like New York dwindle to the modest proportion of a child's toy, so that we are tempted to take the nice little thing up on the nail of our thumb, as Micromegas did with the man of wax.
"Though we know all this, and many things else, still, looking at the times of Baalbec, we cannot forbear to ask what people of giants was that which could do what neither the puny efforts of our skill, nor the ravaging hand of unrelenting time, can undo through thousands of years.
"And then I saw the dissolving picture of Nineveh, with its ramparts now covered with mountains of sand, where Layard is digging up colossal winged bulls, large as a mountain, and yet carved with the nicety of a cameo; and then Babylon, with its beautiful walls; and Jerusalem, with its unequaled temples; Tyrus, with its countless fleets; Arad, with its wharves; and Sidon, with its labyrinth of work-shops and factories; and Ascalon, and Gaza, and Beyrout, and, further off, Persepolis, with its world of palaces."
The first great cities of the world were built by a race of men inferior to those which now form the dominant civilization of the earth, yet there are many ruins of a mold superior, both in greatness and mechanical skill, to those which belong to the cities of our own day, as found in the marble solitudes of Palmyra and the sand-buried cities of Egypt. It is true, however, that ancient grandeur grew out of a system of idolatry and serf-labor, controlled by a selfish despot or a blind priesthood, which compelled a useless display of greatness in most public improvements. In our age, labor is directed more by practical wisdom than of old, which creates the useful more than the ornamental; hence we have the Crystal Palace instead of the Pyramids.
But, leaving the ancient cities, we are led to inquire, "Where will grow up the future great city of the world?" At the very outset of this inquiry it is necessary to clearly comprehend a few underlying facts connected with the cities of the past and those now in existence, and note the influence of the more important arts and sciences that bear upon man's present intellectual and
industrial interests, and, if possible, to determine the tendency of the world's civilization toward the unfolding future.
The first great fact we meet with is, that the inevitable tendency of man upon the earth has been to make the circuit of the globe by going westward, within an isothermal belt of zodiac of equal temperature, which encircles the earth in the north temperate zone. Within this belt has already been embraced more than three-fourths of the world's civilization, and now about 850,000,000 people. It is along this belt that the processions of nations, in time, has moved forward, with reason and order, "in a pre-determined, a solemn march, in which all have joined; ever moving and ever resistlessly advancing, encountering and enduring an inevitable succession of events."
"It is along this axis of the isothermal temperate zone of the northern hemisphere that revealed civilization makes the circuit of the globe. Here the continents expand, the oceans contract. This zone contains the zodiac of empires. Along its axis, at distances scarcely varying one hundred leagues, appear the great cities of the world, from Pekin in China to St. Louis in America.
"During antiquity this zodiac was narrow; it never expanded beyond the North African shore, nor beyond the Pontic sea, the Danube, and the Rhine. Along this narrow belt civilization planted its system, from oriental Asia to the western extremity of Europe, with more or less perfect development. Modern times have recently seen it widen to embrace the region of the Baltic sea. In America it starts with the broad front from Cuba to Hudson's Bay. As in all previous times, it advances along a line central to these extremes, in the densest form, and with the greatest celerity. Here are chief cities of intelligence and power, the greatest intensity of energy and progress. Science has recently very perfectly established, by observation, this axis of the isothermal temperate zone. It reveals to the world this shining fact, that along it civilization has traveled, as by an inevitable instinct of nature, since creation's dawn. From this line has radiated intelligence of mind to the North and to the South, and toward it all people have struggled to converge. Thus, in harmony with the supreme order of nature, is the mind of man instinctively adjusted to the revolutions of the sun, and tempered by its heat."
Through the ages one increasing purpose runs,
And the thoughts of men are widened with the process of the sun."
It is a noteworthy observation of Dr. Draper, in his work on the Civil War in America, that within a zone a few degrees wide, having for its axis the January isothermal line of forty-one degrees, all great men in Europe and Asia have appeared. He might have added, with equal truth, that within the same zone have existed all those great cities which have exerted a powerful influence upon the world's history, as centers of civilization and intellectual progress. The same inexorable but subtle law of climate which makes greatness in the individual unattainable to a temperature hotter or colder than a certain golden mean, affects in like manner, with even more certainty, the development of those concentrations of the intellect of man which we find in great cities.
If the temperature is too cold, the sluggish torpor of the intellectual and physical nature precludes the highest development; if the temperature is too hot, the fiery fickleness of nature, which warm climates produce in the individual, is typical of the swift and tropical growth, and sudden and severe decay and decline, of cities exposed to the same all-powerful influence. Beyond that zone of moderate temperature, the human life resembles more closely that of the animal, as it is forced to combat with extremes of cold, or to submit to extremes of heat; but within that zone the highest intellectual activity and culture are displayed. Is it not, then, a fact of no little import that the very axis of this zone the center of equilibrium between excess of heat and cold- the January isothermal line of forty-one degrees-passes nearer to the city of St. Louis than to any other considerable city on this continent? Close to that same isothermal line lie London, Paris, Rome, Constantinople, and Pekin; north of it lie New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, and south of it lies San Francisco. Thus favored in climate, lying in the very center of that belt of intellectual activity beyond which neither great man nor great city has yet appeared, St. Louis may, with reason, be expected to attain the highest rank, if other conditions favor.
A second underlying fact that presents itself is that nearly all the great cities of the world have been built upon rivers, whether in the interior or near the ocean's edge: such as Babylon, on the Euphrates; Thebes, on the Nile; Nineveh, on the Tigris; Rome, on the Tiber; Paris, on the Seine; London, on the Thames; New York, on the Hudson; Cincinnati, on the Ohio; St. Louis, on the Mississippi; and Constantinople, on the Bosphorus ; while Carthage, St. Petersburg, and Chicago belong to interior waters, and Palmyra and the City of Mexico to the interior country.
A third fundamental fact is, that the arts and sciences do more to develop interior cities, and multiply population upon the interior lands, than upon the seaboards or coast lands. Steam engines, labor-saving machines, books, the value and use of metals, government, the enforcement of laws, and other means of self-protection-all have tended more to make the people of the interior more numerous, powerful, and wealthy than those who dwell along the shores of the oceans.
A fourth fundamental fact is, that, to all modern civilization, domestic transportation by water and rail is more valuable to nations of large territorial extent than ocean navigation. This fact is founded not only upon the assuinption that a nation's interests are of more importance to itself than to any other nation, and it hence necessarily does more business at home than abroad, but also upon the fact that the exchanges of domestic products within this country, it is estimated, already exceed in value six thousand millions yearly, while the whole value of all foreign exchanges is less than one thousand millions a year. With every year, as the country advances in population and industry, its domestic exchanges gain upon its foreign; and those cities, like New York, which much depend largely upon foreign trade, are overtaken in the race for commercial supremacy by inferior cities more favorably located for transacting the far greater business of domestic interchange.
A fifth fundamental condition upon which to base a high civilization, a prosperous, wealthy, and numerous people, who are destined to build great cities, is a country well adapted by nature with suitable climate and resources of soil, minerals, timbers, water-powers, and navigable advantages.
A sixth and final fundamental fact is, that the most favored and surely to be a prosperous, wealthy, and numerous people, are those who are favored in land and country so far as to be able to organize the producer and consumer, side by side, with full and equal advantages to work out the great problems of usefulness in life, and share the liberty, the happiness, and intelligence which the world affords.
The growth of a city is analogous to the growth of a man, and auxiliary to our six fundamental facts are the three following requisites to human life and individual prosperity:
I. The necessity for food.
II. The necessity for clothing. III. The necessity for shelter.
There can be no civilized life without all of these requisites; and as they are the products of labor and skill, where they can be produced in the greatest abundance and used to the greatest advantage, and the most extensively, will almost certainly be the place where the great city will grow up-where our problem will be solved. Added to these should be ample facilities for the intercommunion of the people, one with another, and for the ready exchange of commodities forming foreign and domestic commerce. These may be enumerated as good roads, railways, and navigable channels, with attendant cheap freights.
Thus, with this statement of fundamental facts, we are enabled to proceed to a discussion of the causes in nature and civilization, which, in their recip rocal action, tend to fix the position of the future great city of the world.
We have seen that the human race, with all its freight of commerce, its barbarism and civilization, its arms and arts, through pestilence and prosperity, across seas and over continents, like one mighty caravan, has been moving forward since creation's dawn, from the East to the West, with the sword and cross, helmet and distaff, to the conquest of the world; and, like a mighty army, leaving weakness behind and organizing power in the advance. Hence, we can easily realize that the same inevitable cause that wrested human power from the cities of the ancients, and vested it for a time in the city of the Cæsars, and thence moved it to the city of London, will, in time, cross the Atlantic Ocean, and be organized and represented in the future great city of the world, which is destined to grow up on the American Continent; and that this power, wealth, and wisdom, that once ruled in Troy, Athens, Carthage, and Rome, and are now represented by the city of London--the precursor of the final great city-will, in less than one hundred years, find a resting place in North America, and culminate in the future great city which is destined to grow up in the central plain of the Continent, and upon the great Mississippi river, where the city of St. Louis now stands.
In this westward march of civilization, we know that the center of the world's commerce, which was once represented by the cities of the Mediterranean, has moved westward to the Atlantic Ocean, and is now represented by the city of London. The tendency is still westward, and that London cannot remain the center for any considerable length of time is universally evident. Human power is moving westward with an irresistible tendency, and is destined to be organized on the American Continent in its most absolute and gigantic form.
There may be those who will assume that New York is to be the successor of London, and even surpass in population and commercial supremacy that great city of the trans-Atlantic shore, before the position of the final groat city is fixed. This is not possible. We have only to comprehend the new character of our national industry, and the diversity of interests which it and our rapidly increasing system of railways are establishing, to know that it is impossible. The city of New York will not, in the future, control the same proportionate share of foreign and domestic commerce of the country that she heretofore has. New Orleans and San Francisco will take some of the present valued trade, and, together with other points which will soon partake of the outpost commerce, the trade to and from our country will be so divided as to prevent New York from becoming the rival, much less the superior, of London, as Mr. Scott has so earnestly contended. Then, in the westward movement of human power and the center of the world's commerce, from the city of London to the New World, it is not possible for it to find a complete and final resting place in any city of the Atlantic seaboard, but it will be compelled to move forward, until, in its complete development, it will be organized and represented in the most favored city in the central plain of the Continent. Besides the diffusion of our external commerce through so many channels upon our seaboard, so as to prevent its concentration at any one of the seaboard cities, there are elements at work in the interior of the country which will more surely prevent the city that is to succeed London from growing up on the Atlantic shore of our Continent. Every tendency of our national progress is more and more to our continental development—a living at home, rather than going abroad to distant markets. There is an inherent principle lurking among all people of great continental nationality and resources, which impresses them stronger with home interests than with external and distant fields of action; and this principle is rapidly infusing itself among the people of these great valley States; therefore, it is needless to look into the future to see our great cities on either seaboard of our Continent, for they are not dostined to be there. But most certainly will they grow up in the interior, upon the lakes, the rivers, and the Gulf; and among these cities of the interior we are to look for the future great city of the world-that which London now heralds, and which the westward tendency of the world's civilization will in, less than one hundred years, build up as the greatest industrial organism of the human race.
Leaving the Atlantic seaboard and coming west of the Appalachian mountains, we at once enter the domain of the Mississippi Valley, which comprises