AN ESSAY ON THE FUTURE
PROGRESS AND PROSPECTS
BY SIMON SNYDER
GAZETTE POWER PRESS PRINT
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I propose to contemplate the future progress and prospects of Dayton. That our far-famed, beautiful city is destined to attain a population which will entitle her to rank as a second, if not a first class city, I do not entertain a doubt. Her situation at the confluence of four respectable stream—the Mad River, Miami, Stillwater, and Wolf Creek, which may be said to approach her from three points of the compass, East, West, and North—indicates her to be the heart of a considerable territory.
It would be superfluous to speak of the fertility of this territory to persons living, as it were, in its very center, as its quality in this respect, has passed into a proverb, and is recognized as far as it is known.
Where will you find the various grains, and vegetables, and fruits, suitable for human food, grow in greater perfection or abundance? Echo answers, WHERE. Indeed I think it may be questioned whether there is a spot on the face of the earth, equal in size to the Miami Valley, capable of supporting a more dense population. I am now only speaking of the agricultural capabilities of our Eden of a Valley—that which furnishes the lifeblood as it were, of a people. I will presently speak of her manufacturing advantages—those brain-stirring things, which by a sort of friction process, seem to give strength, and power, and energy to bones, and sinews, and muscles and may I not add, activity and impulse to mind.
But first, of her agricultural capacity. This abundant “lifeblood,” or to use a more popular figure of speech, this “staff of life” evidently was the first aid to Dayton’s growth, not merely on account of the liberal quantity with which he was supplied for her own consumption, but by means of the excess of the country which was manufactured, or brought here in a manufactured state, to be shipped to distant markets.
This may be said to have been her first impulse to rise and advance on her future pathway. And yet, paradoxical as it may seem, the cause which produced the strength to rise—the extra-ordinary fertility of the soil—was that which for a long time made her comparatively weak and puny, and slow of growth.
I have alluded to the fact that Dayton stood at the confluence of four streams, and was the heart of a considerable territory.—These streams, sometimes, sent down their fertilizing treasures in a very crude state, and to the extent of inundation. This naturally sent forth a strong growth of vegetation which was decomposed periodically in nature’s great work-shop—the refining institution of sheep, hogs and cattle not having been put in practice to any great extent by the few early inhabitants. The miasma given off during the aforesaid chemical process, caused much sickness and lethargy, and wearing out of the mind and body. Much the largest portion of ground now built over in Dayton, frequently overflowed; perhaps, before the levee was built, as often as twice a year, on the average. After the building of the levee, the low places were gradually filled up, and now we frequently see the remains of this filling up, in the shape of great logs, where a cellar or a trench for gas pipes, is being dug. It seems a sort of sacrilege to exhume these old natives of the forest, after having rested quietly for a quarter or two fifths of a century, in what seemed to be intended as their last resting place; but if their removal serves to remind us of our former condition, and the progress we gave made, and lights us on our future pathway, the desecration may well be allowed.
It was not alone here, at the heart of the country, where rank miasma and its bitter consequence were to be seen; but all along the streams, not withstanding their general rapidity and clear gravel bottoms, drift-wood and small vegetable matter would collect and dam them up, causing the banks to overflow, thus filling up all the low places with water, which became stagnant pools when the streams receded within their ordinary boundaries. I say all this, notwithstanding their general rapidity; for it is estimated that at least one of these streams, will afford fall enough for a mill power, on an average of every half mile, for forty miles above its junction with the Miami, and they are all of more than ordinary rapidity. These drift piles and stagnant pools have generally disappeared, and in their stead may be seen levees, fences, corn-fields, meadows, and that most important institution, in view of the end to be accomplished, before alluded to –sheep, hogs and horn cattle. These have been the great doctors of the country; the doctors of Physic, of Divinity, and to some extent of Law, too. One of the English Poets has said:--
“There’s no philosopher but sees,
That Rage and Fear are one disease,
Though this may burn and that may FREEZE
They’re both alike the Ague.”
Now, whether “rage and fear” are the same “disease,” or not, I will leave subtle metaphysicians to settle; but I do not hesitate to say, that if these human, distempers have any thing to do in producing the ague, the earlier settlers of the Miami Valley had cause enough to be frequently afflicted with this meanest of all diseases, “that flesh is heir to;” for they had frequently cause to fear that their land would be overflowed, and too often realizing their fears, what more likely than that they should get in a rage at seeing their fences swept away, their herds of cattle fleeing to higher ground at a distance, or huddled together on some small knoll surrounded by the watery element, there to perish, or to be rescued at the risk of the owners’ lives! This is no mere fancy sketch, but a reality, too true and serious even to make a joke of, as some who read this no doubt know but too well.
But the causes producing this sad state of things throughout our rich valley having mainly disappeared, the effects have essentially vanished, and no spot perhaps in the whole valley has undergone a greater change than Dayton, both in its material and immaterial aspects.
While the causes producing noxious miasma have gradually diminished, a new element, (smoke) which is claimed by physiologists, to be a great purifier of the atmosphere, has constantly been on the increase. I should here remark, by way of parenthesis, that this purifying quality attributed to smoke, has its limit, and also that it depends upon peculiar atmospheric features which belong to a country. For instance, too great rarity, or humidity will cause smoke to descend and roll along the ground, or hang over a city like a pall, oppressing its citizens at times, to such a degree as to render them little more than walking corpses, and causing them almost to pray for the time when they shall be wrapped in the sable covering which I have used as a figure of speech. This atmospheric feature pervades England, to a remarkable degree; so much so, that the extensive manufacturers in many of their large cities, are compelled by Legislative enactment, to burn their smoke, which is done by some chimney arrangement, of recent invention. So that while to us, in our purer atmosphere, smoke is a positive good, to some of our transatlantic brethren, it is an unmitigated evil, thus once more verifying the truth of the maxim: “what is one man’s meat, is another man’s poison.”
I think facts will bear me out, when I say that we have now nearly out-grown, or rather that we have essentially dispelled the causes which have produce the disease which may be said to have been incident to our valley in its rude state. At any rate, I should like to see a true statistical table, exhibiting the mortality of our own and other cities, dating back ten years; as I feel well assured, that such an exhibit would appear eminently favorable to us. It is about half a score of years, since we have got rid of the Longworth ponds, and the stagnant and ague-breeding ditch, better known as “Seely’s folly;” from which time, we may date our steady improvement and prosperity. Our population has doubled, and most of our citizens who own land within or adjoining the corporation, and who may lay out new plats or additions, as occasion may require, follow the wise and noble example of the proprietor of our city, in regard to size of blocks and regularity of streets, we may reasonably expect that ours will be the one of the most healthy cities in the world. Cleveland is the only city in our State, that can pretend to vie with us, in regard to this matter, and I know of no other place in the United States, or any where else, but that would suffer by a comparison with us. Cleveland however, is a fair rival in width and regularity of streets, but when we come to consider some of the objects for which these features are, or should be especially noticeable, she too suffers by comparison with us. She is pretty near as noted for alternate seasons of mud and dust, as we are for freedom from either; so that instead of the Scotchman’s reply to the question: “does it always rain in Glasgow?” “Na sometimes it snaws;” a Clevelander might answer the question, “is it always muddy, in your city?” “No, sometimes it is dusty.” But it may be said, “notwithstanding alternate seasons of mud and dust, Cleveland has far outstripped us in population and general progress, during the last twelve years.” This is just one of the points to which I wish to call the attention of my fellow citizens for a few moments. It is true, that in 1840, if my memory serves me, there was less than an hundred differences between the two places, since which time, Dayton has only a little more than doubled, while Cleveland has nearly quadrupled. Each had at that time, a little over six thousand inhabitants; now while we number about fourteen thousand, Cleveland has, say twenty-four thousand. How is this to be accounted for, except upon the supposition of some local advantage over us, the essential features of which, however, are but of a temporary character; while we too had our local advantage, though not matured so as to make it available, but which once fully developed, will be of an entirely permanent character. I will proceed to consider these points in the order I have introduced them. Cleveland has on of the best harbors on Lake Erie, and occupies a good commercial position in reference to the shipment of western produce to New York, and merchandise from thence to the west. This commercial feature rapidly increased in importance, upon he completion of the New York and Buffalo Railroad, and was fairly electrified upon the nearly simultaneous completion of the New York and Dunkirk and Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland Road. These were crowning trophies to her prosperity, which were partly won from Wheeling, Pittsburgh, and more eastern cities. She fairly leaped from her former comparative lethargy, and expanded like a rose ready to blow; and from that time up to the present, has increased in population, at an almost unprecedented rate. She suddenly found herself too large for her habiliments, while those of some of the other cities named, and hinted at, seemed to dangle and set loosely about them. But will not Cleveland soon have to change her garment to a smaller pattern—relatively at least—while these other cities will have to enlarge theirs? I think so. When the fruit is ripe, which will produce this change, Dayton will steadily advance on Cleveland till she overtakes her, and eventually leaves her far behind. My reasons for this, perhaps bold assertion, are derived from the following data: Another system of Railroads, to reach the Atlantic cities is fast approaching to competition. This will assuredly divert much of the produce, which now finds its way to market by the way of Cleveland, into another channel. So alive to the importance of this fact, are the New Yorkers, that they are now contemplating the project of an airline Railroad of six feet gauge from Dayton to Olean, and thence to New York, with the view no doubt, of retaining their present advantage over Baltimore and Philadelphia. This would be a still sorer blow to Cleveland, than the mere completion of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the various branches running into it. I do not say this with any ill feeling towards Cleveland, but only to state facts, bearing upon our own approaching importance and position, in reference to the great Railroad systems now progressing and which in a short time will completely metamorphose the whole aspect of the Ohio and Mississippi Valley.
But having exhibited Cleveland’s weakness, I must not fail to point out Dayton’s strength, which is a much more agreeable task. First and foremost then, Dayton is in the heart, or, perhaps more properly, is the heart of one of the most fertile Valleys in the world. She is surrounded by a dense, independent, and most worthy farming population; among whom serfdom and slavery are only known to be hated, and most of whom occupy and till their own soil. This secures to her a large and thriving retail trade. Dayton has a water power equal to between one and two hundred run of mill stones, which is, and has been for some time all occupied, in powers for grist mills, saw mills, oil mills, paper mills, cotton and woolen factories, and various machinery of less magnitude. Our position for supplying the merchants in the great west, with goods at wholesale, is far superior to Cleveland, to which I may refer again. But our most important though undeveloped interest, at which I before hinted, is locked up on the bowels of the earth, some hundred miles distant; the key to which will be our so called coal and iron road. The finishing of this road, will be as much a starter to Dayton, as the New York and Dunkirk, and Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland Roads were to Cleveland; and this will be no temporary advantage, but a permanent and enduring, and humanly speaking, a never ending source of prosperity.
Yes, with coal at from 7 to 8 cents per bushel, and our other advantages of health, easy accessibility from all points of the compass, etc., and we can compete successfully with any city west of the Alleghany Mountains. But the question is frequently asked, “what assurance have we that coal can be delivered here at a cost of 7 to 8 cents a bushel, when our coal road is finished.” I will dwell for a few moments upon this point. It is estimated in England, that they can carry coal on their Railroads—which it must be borne in mind, cost a great deal more than ours, perhaps not less than five times as much on an average—at two cents per ton a mile. A bushel of coal I understand, will weight seventy pounds, which would give exactly thirty-two bushels to the English ton (2240 lbs.) The cost of freight per bushel, therefore it will be seen, will be a small fraction more than 6 cents per hundred miles. We are not more than about one hundred miles from the coal region; so that taking the highest estimate in the aforesaid data, as our basis of calculation, cost of carriage should not exceed 6 cents a bushel. Coal can be furnished at the pit’s mouth, from 2 to 3 cents a bushel, and therefore here at an average of between 8 and 9 cents. But, as I before said, English Railroads cost at least five times as much as ours and therefore coal should, and I am informed upon good authority, can be carried considerably cheaper here. As corroborating testimony on this point, I may state, that the price of coal at Baltimore, as I am credibly informed, ranges from 7 to 8 cents a bushel, and no small portion of the article supplying that city, is taken from the base of the Alleghany Mountains, a distance of 180 miles by Railway. If it can be brought 180 miles over a R.R. that cost perhaps at least, double per mile that ours will, and be sold at 7 to 8 cts. A bushel, it would be strange indeed, if we could not get it at that price from a distance of 100 miles. In short, it will be our own fault, if we do not get it at these rates, and any adverse difference that may happen to the people of Dayton, must find its way into the pockets of the stockholders, in the shape of exorbitant profits. To prevent any such untoward result to our city and citizens, I would earnestly urge upon all who feel any interest in the general prosperity of our city, to take as much stock in our coal road, as their means will allow. I feel well assured that it will prove a first rate money investment; but it is not upon this score that I now make the appear, but upon the score of benefiting themselves, and adding greatly to the general prosperity of our city, by increasing its manufacturing facilities. This is what we want, above all things in the world, to make our city advance in population and attain the position among the cities of this continent, which her natural advantages indicate. But this coal road is not only important to us, as a faucet to tap the coal and iron region, though this I grant, is its brightest and most interesting feature; but it is important to us as a link in the chain, of the most direct thorough fare to the Atlantic cities; especially to Baltimore and Philadelphia. It connects, as is well know, with the Cincinnati, Marietta and Belpre Road, which terminates on the Ohio river, directly opposite the terminus of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
When these three Roads are completed, which it is to be hoped, will be the case within eighteen months from this time, we will be placed 100 and odd miles nearer the eastern seaboard by R.R. than any now constructed or likely to be constructed. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was designed to be the nearest and most direct, practical Road west, over or through the Alleghany Mountains. Continuing west from its terminus on the Ohio river, by the best grade and shortest route to the Metropolis of Indiana and on to St. Louis, Dayton will be found to be a point on the line. The central Railroad through Indiana joining the Dayton and Indiana road at the State Line, will in a very short time be finished, which terminating at Terre Haute on the Wabash, will add about 190 miles of road in a due western direction. I say than that this coal road link is of incalculable value to the citizens of Dayton, and the people through this entire region of country, and they owe it to themselves to see to it, that it be pushed forward as speedily as possible. It is a link with the least possible twist in it too, in a chain of Railway destined to be one of the most direct, the longest, and the most important road, in the world. A glance a the map of our country, with some knowledge of the predominant interest at the eastern and western extremes, and of the impediments to the construction of Railroads in the shape of mountains, hills, valleys, lakes and rivers, will show the force of the remarks made by a correspondent of the Dayton Journal, last summer, that Dayton deserved to be called “the great Railway crossings.” I was the more forcibly struck by the remark, on account of the writer’s declaration that he never was in Dayton, and never nearer than at that moment, when he was writing from Highland county; and that he arrived at his conclusion as to the important position of Dayton, in a great system of Railways, merely from an examination of the maps, and a knowledge of the face of the country, the course of its streams, and range of its hills. Let us turn our attention for a few moments, to an examination of our pretensions to being the heart of a great Railway system. If we draw a line west from either of the large Atlantic cities, to any of the important points on the Pacific and through intervening places of magnitude—such as Indianapolis, St. Louis, &c., it will be found that Dayton will be near, if not directly on that line. Draw another north from Cincinnati, to important points on the Lake, and you again hit Dayton. Pretty good evidence of this, is the fact that a Railway has been in operation from Cincinnati to our city, but a little more than a year, and yet there is another actually contracted for –the short line—to be finished in twelve months, with the exception of the tunnel through the hills at Cincinnati. And the prevailing opinion is, that they will both be good paying roads. The road to Springfield, and from thence to Sandusky, is generally straight, and has a very favorable grade. The Little Miami, Columbus and Cleveland Road is to be tapped in a very short time, by a branch Road running from Springfield to London, in Madison County, thus giving us a direct communication with Columbus and Cleveland. The Dayton, Troy, and Michigan Road, is progressing rapidly, twenty miles of which will be in running order in a few days, and when completed will open up a good trade to us from the rich agricultural country through which it will pass, besides giving us and important connection with the two Chicago Railroads. Our Greenville road, though only open a few months, has given us a faint idea of the important interests we have in that country, known as “the west,” and when the great “central” artery will be opened even as far as to Terre Haute—say 190 miles—which will be the case in a few months—we will still better understand our true position, and the interests we have in that direction. The Roads and branches of roads intersecting and crossing these main trunks which I have enumerated, are so numerous, that even to call them over by name, would be likely to produce a kind of Railroad surfeit. I think it will be admitted, that our claim to the sobriquet of “the great Railroad crossings,” is A. No 1. At any rate I am willing to submit the question to the deliberate judgment of a thinking people with the statement of the facts I have presented. And now, in sailor’s phrase, having ‘boxed the compass’ in my contemplation of first class Roads passing through, or diverging from Dayton, I will again return to notice some further points in connection with our coal Road; as this after all, is much the most important Road to us.
When we consider that the Cincinnatians are congratulating themselves upon the prospect of a Railroad, to bring them supplies of coal and iron—seeing that they are on the bank of the Ohio river, the hills on which a hundred miles or so above them abound in these minerals—have we not caused doubly to felicitate ourselves upon the prospect of accomplishing the same object? By availing themselves of the opportunity to lay in supplies of coal and iron, when the Ohio rover was in good navigable condition—which is the case generally, on the average fully two thirds of the year—they could have them at fair rates. Coal is their manufacturing power, and iron the raw material, from which most of their manufactures is made. As the demand for these constantly increased, on account of the multiplication of their manufactories, the opportunities for speculating in them also increased, and these were greatly augmented by the fluctuation of supply incident to close, or partial close of navigation. I have no doubt that the uncertainty of navigation has been the parent of as unscrupulous a pack of speculators, sharpers and gamblers, as ever infested the precincts of any city.
This gambling spirit, as it may very properly be called, to some extent, pervades almost every branch of business in Cincinnati. As a sort of illustration of this, perhaps severe assertion, I may state the following incidents which fell under my own observation. On a certain occasion, many years ago, the Ohio river suddenly froze up, which suggested to the ever fertile minds of the porkopolisians, a profitable amusement in a game at coffee. This article had for a long time, ranged between twelve and sixteen cents a pound, but by dint of clever playing, it was actually run up to forty and even fifty cents. At another time they commenced a game at sugar, after a long drought and sudden freezing up of he Ohio river, but unluckily for the players, soon after the commencement of the game, it commenced raining in torrents, when the good old sentinel on the watch-tower—Charles Hammond—peace to his ashes—he was an honest man—amused himself at the discomfiture of the sugar party, somewhat after this wise: “Since the setting in of the rain, although not a boat has arrived from New Orleans, the streets and allies of our city, have been literally jambed up with sugar hogsheads. Houses that declared before the rain, they scarcely had an unbroken hogshead of sugar, seem suddenly to have found scores of them in their cellars and garrets, so that what with pulling up and lowering down a man can scarcely pass along the streets in safety. “What a blessing is a rain?” As I quote from memory, I have no doubt I do the veteran editor great injustice, for there have been few persons in our country, who could so well hit off wrongs and outrages with a surer aim, or heavier blow.—This speculating mania showed itself sometimes in port and sometimes in whisky—a legitimate subject, I admit, to be operated upon in this way, as it had much to do in operating upon all of the others. Sometimes coal and sometimes iron with the dice of the gamesters; and all of the time money—that great stalking-horse of jobbers, was considered a fair and honorable game to play at, so that a very large number of Cincinnatians make a business of what some one has called “money breeding.” This speculative, or semi-gambling spirit, I have no doubt, has been very much fostered by the great uncertainty of navigation, and now that this high card is about to be wrested from the hands of the gamesters, the people are congratulating themselves upon the fact, as well they may. But it will be a long time before this game-of-hazard spirit will be modified in Cincinnati, to its general average among the cities of our country; for, it must be admitted, it is met with to some extent, in every city and every country.
Coal, as a manufacturing element, except for the production of gas--has been utterly impracticable in Dayton. As a steam generator, for the propelling of machinery, it has scarcely been thought of, except in anticipation—when we shall receive it directly from the coal mines, over our coal road. When we shall have attained this desideratum, we will be in a much better position, as regards the infinity of interests pertaining to coal and iron—that Cincinnati has been heretofore, and equally as good as she will be when her coal road shall be completed.
Cincinnati has had but two important advantages over Dayton, heretofore; greater facilities for getting the raw material for manufacturing purposes and her situation as a depot for the receipt of the immense quantities of agricultural products of this rich valley. The former will disappear so soon as our coal road shall be completed—the latter has in a great measure vanished since the opening of the Lake Erie Railroad, as much of the produce of the country finds its way to market that way.
Have we not permanent and important advantages over Cincinnati? I answer, most decidedly YES, and I will undertake to enumerate them. First and most important then, our location—now that we have filled up a few ponds and certain ditch, and the surrounding country is cleared and in a good state of cultivation is much more healthy than theirs. Our altitude above the level of Cincinnati, I believe, is about two hundred feet, which, if my memory serves me, according to the authorities, is equal to a degree in latitude, as regards climate effects, and as we are fifty miles directly north of Cincinnati, the difference of climate is nearly equal to what would be indicated by two degrees of latitude. Cincinnati is surrounded by high hills, with the exception of two gorges for the passage of the Ohio river and creek. These hills prevent a free current of air, in comparatively calm weather, while in rough weather they concentrate it, and in nautical phrase produce a “gale,” when we would only have “a half gale.” The latter, thought very disagreeable, is of no great consequence, but the former is a very serious matter in warm sultry weather, especially to persons in delicate health.—These said hills and the comparatively narrow streets of Cincinnati, are no doubt the principal cause of the oppressiveness so frequently felt and complained of by persons visiting that city. We seldom experience any of the oppressive sensation here, which is no doubt owing to our wide streets, and the comparative level country around us. I may remark incidentally, that while the country all around us, is beautifully undulating, it is no where broken by high hills or ridges; and that the slope north, to the “summit level” is much more gentle, than it is south of us to the Ohio hills; and that the whole country has a southern aspect which, no doubt, has much to do with its proverbially prolific quality. Our city then, I think, it must be universally admitted, is well located and admirably laid out for superior ventilation, which is of the very greatest importance to health.
This thing of ventilation has only begun to be appreciated by the nations of the Earth, although a few men of science, perhaps of nearly every age and every nation, have theoretically recognized it, but it can hardly be said, that their knowledge was of any practical use to them. The beautiful Parks of London, are now very properly called its “lungs,” and but for which, its inhabitants would not even breathe so free, and so deep as they do now in their sultry weather, and I have seen them gasping for breath---well I was going to say, “like toads before a rain in June or July.” If the Parks of London deserve to be called its “lungs” may not the beautiful wide streets of Dayton be called its wind pipe and air vessels? The advantage to health and comfort of throwing open the doors and windows of our rooms every morning---especially of our sleeping apartments---is now recognized and generally acted upon by every intelligent family. The doors and windows of Dayton are always WIDE OPEN; everlasting thanks to its liberal and intelligent proprietor.
We have, and always can have pure water by simply digging eighteen or twenty feet for it. The substratum to the earth’s surface at this point, is pure sand and gravel to the depth of several feet, which serves as a filterer for the water percolating it beneath us. So perfect is the filtering capacity of this sand and gravel, that I have been credibly informed, the most filthy water passing the distance of twenty feet through it, would render it perfectly pure and sweet. With cooler and purer atmosphere, wider and cleaner streets, and purer and better water, I think it will hardly admit of a doubt that Dayton must always be healthier than Cincinnati, and perhaps, cannot be surpassed by any city in the world.
In speaking of our advantages I must not forget our inexhaustible quarries of superior gray lime stone, with which the high ground in our vicinity abounds. Our Court House, which is entirely built of this beautiful stone, is generally admitted to be the handsomest building in our State; and I believe the most costly, and perhaps the finest church in Cincinnati is built of the same material.
These are certainly important features and elements, and must ell largely in our favor in the way of drawing capital and capitalists and manufacturing enterprise to our city. I have frequently heard the remark made by Cincinnatians, that “if they could only take their business with them, they would soon remove to our beautiful city, with its wide streets and pure atmosphere for their own sakes, bur more especially for their children’s.” This in a very short time, when our Railroad system is a little more developed, may virtually be done. Health, in the estimation of the wise and prudent, does outweigh the consideration of a few extra thousand dollars, especially when this is only adding to an ample competency. Shall we not shortly see a stampede of this class of persons from Cincinnati, to “pitch their tents” in this, our goodly and well-favored city! We shall see. We do not shrink from a comparison of advantages with Cincinnati, in some other important matters, now that a beneficent Railway system has fairly commenced to dawn upon us. I may here remark, enpassant, that Railroads are the great levelers of he age. And the best of it is, they level up,
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of communication and transit, having changed, I believe even the pecuniary consideration, would now superinduce a preference of our delightful city.
I believe that all we want to succeed in the wholesale business, is capital and energy and will engage in it; the former is fast accumulating among us; the latter is already raising up, in the right quarter, and we may reasonably hope for it to advance.---When our Railway system shall be a little more advanced, the increased demand for all kinds of goods, I have no doubt will take by surprise, the great majority of our citizens. But the time to commence is NOW. He who has a good assortment of goods, and has the first deal with the many new faces, which will shortly come pouring in upon us like a flood, will have a decided advantage, in all future operations; that is, if he is a fair and liberal dealer; and if he is any thing else, so far as the interests of our city are concerned, he had better never begin. Such dealers not only do no good to a place, but they do a positive injury. We want more merchants, mechanics, and manufacturers; but we first must have more business, and dwelling houses, and we should have more banking capital in its legitimate sense; and without wishing to be unnecessarily harsh, or invidious, we can get along better with fewer shaving shops; and with the employment of less capital in shaving operations. I say we want all this to keep up to the times; the clean-faced, new bib and tucker times that are just dawning upon us. But we want something more than all this, to make our city attain rank her natural position indicates as her due. We want to make as well as vend; to make up into fabrics new material as well as sell the products of foreigners. I may here remark incidentally, that a city depending for its support, upon wholesaling may not improperly be said to be merely a depot for the receipt and distribution of the manufacture of other countries, and people? The two essential features in the business, requisite to success, are shipping facilities from the sources of supply and easy accessibility from large scopes of the country, where the goods are needed. Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore, occupy favorable positions for the receipt of merchandise from Europe, differing somewhat in degree; and each has its advantage, in respect of certain sections of country or markets for this merchandise. Taking these two interested together, New York evidently has the advantage, but as it requires several interests to build up a towering colossal city; I have no doubt that Philadelphia will in time, perhaps, even during the present century, surpass all of the others, in the number of its population. Her general sight is not so cramped, her streets are wide and laid out with greater regularity, and therefore more readily kept clean, sweet and healthy, and, above all, she occupies a better position for manufacturing. A comparatively few persons can transact the business of Factors; can receive, vend, pack up, and send off immense quantities of goods, while the number that may be employed in manufacturing, may almost be said to be unlimited. The situation of Philadelphia, in reference to raw material, coal, iron, etc., is pre-eminently good, and her maritime position, as regards aggressions from a foreign enemy, in case of war very fair.
These are some of my reasons for supposing that Philadelphia will some day be more populous than either of the Atlantic cities. But, it may be asked “what has all this to do with our subject?” I answer if the positions I have assumed, be sound, I think very much as going to show what our prospects are for becoming a great city. Our proximity to inexhaustible beds of coal and iron, is nearly equal to that of Philadelphia; while our situation in reference to some other raw material, is superior to hers. The plan of our city is even upon a more liberal scale, in regard to width of streets and size of blocks, and quite as regularly laid out. We have, water power enough to make us rank as a respectable manufacturing city; our site is very good; and we are in the heart of one of the finest, and richest valleys in the world, and which will time, no doubt, be as populous as any other valley in the world. We have to be sure, no maritime advantages; do not occupy a position for the first landing of foreign goods; but the iron horse will bring them to us on his iron high way, in an incredibly short space of time, and when they are here, they are so far on their road to market.---As we extend our manufacturing interest---which we unquestionably shall, and thus induce customers to come to purchase our products, the sale of foreign goods, will naturally increase. Persons coming to lay in a supply of one description of articles, will be disposed to supply themselves with others also, provided they can get them upon as good terms as they could in eastern cities---plus the cost of transportation, and incidental expenses. The will save time by so doing, and avoid fatigue and the disagreeables attendant upon long absence from home.
To conclude, I have long since been of the opinion, that the larges city on this continent, would grow up somewhere in that vast country, familiarly known as “the West.” It may be Cincinnati or St. Louis, or some place still further West; but I honestly declare, that I can see no good reason why we should not contend for the prize, if prize it may be called. It really would seem that the original proprietor must have had a strong presentiment of the future importance and greatness of Dayton, and if still living, he might exclaim with the Poet:
“There’s a divinity which shapes our ends,
Rough hew them as we will.”
Whatever our destiny may be, I think it becomes every true friend of Dayton, to use all the influence he may possess, to have the same liberal, healthful and beautiful plan of the original town plat, observed in all future additions. Our city has a wide spread celebrity for beauty; we can best preserve this by adhering to the plan of Mr. Cooper; and it is even more important for us to do this, with the view to preserving our health. Let any one visit the crowded districts, the narrow lanes, in any of the present large cities of the world, and witness the squalid appearance of their inhabitants, and especially of their youth, as compared with those living in the more open and better ventila-districts; and if he has a mind to comprehend, and a heart to feel, he will set his face against the laying out of any more narrow streets and allies for the habitation of man. These are the festering plaque-spots of all ancient and many modern built cities—the hot-beds of moral and physical disease, which send forth gigantic streams of impurities, contaminating all that come in contact with them. The man who would now lay out a district within the boundaries of our corporation, upon the plan of these cramped “courts,” as they are called in Europe, for the mere sake of making money might truly be said to be “fit for treason, stratagem and spoils.” If anything could bring back the departed spirit of a man, one would think that such an act would induce the spirit of D. C. Cooper, to falsify the soft quoted sentiment of the Poet, about having “passed that bourne from whence no traveler returns,” and that he would haunt the perpetrator through every street of the original town plat.
It may be that it is not our destiny to be great: good and happy, we ought to be, by virtue of the goodly heritage we possess. Let us strive then to preserve our inheritance, and,
“On reason build resolve,
That column of true majesty in man,”
And recollect that
“The triumph of the truly great
Is never, never to despair,
Is never to despair.”