More Predictions From the Past: “Oranges will grow in Philadelphia”

Ronald E. Yates is an author of award-winning historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy.

In my continuing examination of the way people of the past predicted the future, here is yet another look at some interesting forecasts from long ago. May previous post on predictions from the past was posted earlier this week.

Why am I blogging about this? Because, as an author of historical fiction I sometimes wonder what my characters thoughts might be about the future. What kind of world do they envision? What will life be life 100 years hence? How will things like communication and transportation change? What of society, morality, conflict, and warfare?

I think adding those kinds of observations to characters in historical fiction novels adds another dimension to their personas. For one thing, all of us wonder at one time or another what the future will bring. Why not the characters we create in our historical novels?

Recently someone sent me an electronic copy of a Ladies’ Home Journal article from 1901 that talks about future predictions–what the world will be like in the year 2000, just 17 years ago.

Here’s a summary of those predictions. Enjoy:

There will be 500 million people in the USA. (Close, but no cigar. There are 317 million of us in a world population of 7.1 billion)

 The average American will be 1 – 2 inches taller because of better health due to reforms in medicine, sanitation, food, and athletics. (Well done. The average height of American males in 2014 is 5 ft 9.5 in and 5 ft 4 in for females. In 1900 it was 5 ft 7.5 for men and 5 ft 2 in for women. Science says a better diet, better health care, better sanitation are all contributors)

 The letters “C,” “X” & “Q” will be abandoned from the alphabet because they are unnecessary. (The last