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100 Years Ago: January 1919

This is the forty-eighth installment in my series of short reviews of National Geographic Magazines as they reach the centennials of their publication.

The first, and main, article in this issue is entitled “Chicago Today and Tomorrow” and was written by William Joseph Showalter, author of many National Geographic articles including “New York – The Metropolis of Mankind”. This is the second in a series articles on the great American cities. The article contains twenty-eight black-and-white photographs of which sixteen are full-page in size. The article also contains a sketch map of the planned Chicago downtown on page 40.

Photo Courtesy of Philip Riviere

Mr. Showalter begins his monograph with the discovery of the site where Chicago now stands. When the French explorer, La Salle, surveyed the site he exclaimed prophetically “This will be the gate of empire, this the seat of commerce”. Chicago is the fourth largest city in the world, and the youngest of cities with populations over one million. Chicago has two and a half million residents.

Geography made Chicago. Its position at the foot of the Great Lakes made it the farthest inland terminus on the inland sea. All railroads in the early northern Mississippi Valley converge on this one point. Made by geography, Chicago soon returned the favor by helping geography transform other regions. Its slaughtering and meat-packing industry has changed the center of gravity of the meat-producing world. Its agriculture implement industry has revised the economic status of half of earth’s population. Its sleeping car industry has entirely revised the geography of travel.

Situated at the very heart of the most fertile and prosperous valley, at the very crossroads between the industrial East and the agricultural West, the ore producing North and the cotton growing South; possessing the cheapest water transportation on earth and the finest railway facilities in the world, it was inevitable that Chicago should grow; and it is equally inevitable that it will continue to grow.

It only took ninety-five years to transform Chicago from a village of sixty inhabitants into a metropolis of two and a half million. By the middle of the twentieth century Chicago’s population is expected to double to five million people.

While fourth in population, Chicago leads the world in butchered meat, machinery built, cars manufactured, furniture built, grain sold, and lumber handled. It is America’s principle piano market, its chief mail order center, and its leading stove market. The city has the busiest street corner in the world, the most travelled bridge, the largest department store, and the largest art school in the world. If you could place all of Chicago’s buildings in a row, they would stretch from New York to San Francisco. And the city is growing at a rate of ten thousand houses a year.

Thirteen States have fewer churches than Chicago; thirty-seven have smaller populations; many States have fewer roads than the Windy City has streets. It has more telephones than Montana has people. Its post-office handles more mail than many countries. More freight moves in, out, and through Chicago than on some continents.

Having added two million people in the last thirty-five years, innumerable problems needed solving. The whole business section was raised fourteen feet to ensure drainage; the flow of a river was reversed to secure proper sanitation; and an entirely new water system was established to meet ever-growing needs. As the city grows it is facing harder and harder problems.

With the Chicago river reversed, the drainage canal encircles two sides of the business district with the lake covering the third. A massive railroad complex dams in the district on the fourth. In addition, an elevated railway loops around the district thus creating “a ring of water and a loop of steel”. While the residential area outside the business district is vast offering room for growth; the business districts confines threaten the prospects of the city’s growth in the future.

To meet the need for development that will provide for double the present population and beyond, the Chicago Plan was drawn up and the Chicago Plan Commission was established. Realizing the need for early action to prevent growth to outstrip the facilities, a two-year study was commissioned and a report was published. The plan was accepted by the City Council, which authorized the Mayor to appoint the commission.

The Chicago Plan Commission is non-partisan and non-political. It has a membership of 325, representing every section of the city. It has advisory but not executive powers. In order to provide continuity Charles H. Wacker was made its permanent chairman. City administration come and go but the plan stays the same. It is a pet project of the people. In November a referendum passed on an improvement of Michigan Avenue. The project had been approved years ago but due to the war the cost had more than doubled. In spite of the increase in taxes the bond passed overwhelmingly.

In an effort to address traffic flow in and out of the loop district, a traffic census was undertaken. Not just counts of cars in and out of the district, but every vehicle was tracked. Several lawsuits were litigated before the results could be published and a bond for improvements could be put to the people.

To alleviate the space limitations placed on the business district, a plan was drawn up to have the railroads refurbish, and in some cases move, their terminals. The Northwestern has already finished its monumental depot, and the roads entering Union Station, led by the Pennsylvania, have laid out a terminal system and prepared plans for the finest railroad structure of its kind in the world. Likewise, the Illinois Central is preparing to build a magnificent new station. These plans include construction of streets and viaducts.

The south branch of the Chicago River is being straightened. This will redeem 194,000 square feet of real-estate and permit the extension of four principal north and south streets through the railroad district. The lake front is also being developed under the Chicago Plan; as is the construction of diagonal avenues to permit every quarter of the city to reach each other without going around two sides of a square.

Michigan Avenue connects the North Shore to the South Side. The section that crosses the Chicago River, an old fashioned single-span drawbridge, is the busiest bridge in the world. To alleviate this congestion a large double-decker bridge is planned. The lower deck will host truck traffic while the upper level will handle motor cars. Parts of the avenue will be doubled-decker as well, with traffic up top and freight handling, etc. below.

A third important project is that of doing away with the produce market on South Water Street. Since the Federal Government has ordered all bridges spanning this part of the Chicago River to be raised, the city is buying the land south of Water Street to the river. There they will build a wide two-level thoroughfare along the riverbank thus alleviating the sadly overworked Loop District.

Being a commercial and manufacturing as well as an inland Atlantic City is impressive enough, but it also has a waterfront that would make many seaside resorts envious. With beaches and three great lakeside parks, Chicago already had a beautiful waterfront. The Plan went further. The city is expanding and connecting the parks to make a continuous stretch of green along the lake. Part of the project includes reclaiming nearly 1,300 acres from the lake to make an 850 acre outer park and a 432 acre inner park separated by a 600-foot wide lagoon. When the project is finished Chicago will have a fourteen-mile-long lakeside playground.

With Chicago acting as the country’s hub, the growth of postal traffic is far outpacing the expansion of the city’s post office. While the new, two-block post office is twice the size of the original one, mail has gone up fourfold. To meet the growing need, and to address the limited space in the business district, Chicago has asked the federal government to build a new post office of adequate size outside the Loop District. The Loop District, being only a quarter of a square mile, is entered daily by 20,000 street cars, 130,000 vehicles, and 1.5 million people. Getting the post office out of this jammed district is one of the prime requirements of the Chicago Plan.

The city spends five million dollars annually for park purposes. More per capita than many cities. All recreational facilities are free except the boats in the lagoons. There are two golf courses. Twice as many people play the course at Jackson Park as play the course at St. Andrew. No charge is made for playing and there are locker accommodations for three thousand. There is a “swimming hole” within walking distance of every boy in Chicago. Mid-city park lagoons supplement the beaches on the lake.

Sanitation in a rapidly growing urban area is of extreme importance. Early on it was realized that to avoid outbreaks of typhoid fever, the city’s sewage could not be discharged into the lake, i.e. the city’s drinking water. Through a canal system, the flow of the Chicago River has been reversed and now the city’s sewage flows to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico instead of the St. Lawrence and the North Atlantic Ocean. The drainage canal stretches 36 miles to the Illinois River at Joliet. The canal is so wide and deep it also serves a triple purpose of drainage, power development, and navigation. It connects the Mississippi to the Great Lakes. While the canal’s flow has an ultimate capacity of 14,000 cubic feet per second, it is currently capped at 5,000 feet by the Secretary of War for fear of lowering the lake’s level. A law suit is being judicated at this time.

42,000 horsepower generated by the hydro-electric plant near Joliet supplies power to one county, twelve municipalities, and the city itself. This energy is used to pump water into the city mains and canal, and to light the 14,000 arc lights in the municipal system.

The result of the canal was immediately noticeable. Typhoid had reached an alarming degree of prevalence prior to the opening with Chicago being the unhealthiest principle city in America. They said the new drainage would cut the Typhoid rate in half. It actually cut it by 90%.

Transportation is another area Chicago needs to address sooner rather than later. Nothing short of major extensions to the surface and elevated lines plus the addition of a subway, with universal transfers among the systems, will suffice.

Even with half of New York’s population, Chicago uses more water due to its heavy industry. The water and sewer lines in the city are longer than the combined length of the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri rivers. The volume of water flowing through this system each year would fill a cistern a thousand feet in diameter and 8 miles deep

There are 22 local governments in the metropolis, each having no central control and no central responsibility. There is much duplication and little cooperation. There are five separate court systems. Because of all this, the city governments’ annual payroll is $39 million. With such matters as these pressing, Chicago voted overwhelmingly in favor of a State constitutional convention to simplify her government machinery and to concentrate responsibility.

Here the author shifts from discussing the city’s problems and its Plan to the many aspects of the city’s activities. After touching on the facts that the city hosts two conventions per day, and the fact that the city has over thirty distinct nationalities living within its confines, Mr. Showalter discussed the harvest-machine industry. Chicago builds the machinery that feeds the world. A single agricultural machinery plant covers 229 acres, has a floor space of 4,000,000 square feet, employs 9,000 workers, makes 200 tons of twine a day, and turns out a farm machine every thirty seconds.

More than 150,000 tons of twine are required to bind the world’s grain. The bulk of this twine is made from sisal fiber from the henequen plant in Mexico. The remainder is made from manila fiber from the Philippines or a mixture of the two. The author describes the making of twine from harvesting in Mexico to manufacture in Chicago.

Chicago is also the slaughterhouse of the country, if not the world. One fourth of all the meat animals in the United States head to the butcher’s block by the lake. The animal army’s annual march to sacrifice comes to two and a half million head of cattle, seven million hogs, and around three million sheep. More than 60,000 people are employed in Packingtown, and the stockyard’s trade is valued at $1 million per day.

It is no great distance between Packingtown and Pullman either on the map or in relation to one another. Packingtown would be a strickly local affair without the refrigerator car, and Pullman would have no place on the map but for the sleeper car. A total of 26 million passengers per year ride, and sleep, in Pullman cars. These sleeper cars are built in Chicago and the Pullman shop is reminiscent of a shipbuilding plant with girders 81 feet long weighing nine tons each. Once the Pullman car was made of wood, but now it is almost entirely built of steel.

Chicago also hosts the greatest mail order business in the world. Selling goods to six million customers a year, and handling a hundred thousand orders a day, twice that volume in rush times, the main plant covers fifty acres. Orders pass through endless conveyor belts, each being filled within ten minutes, 1,200 to 2,600 orders go through each minute. Total sales last year were nearly $200 million.

Chicago’s leading department store boasts 46 acres of floor space. The main building is 13 stories high with four basements and is still inadequate. A second building across the street houses the man’s department store. It has 77 passenger elevators and 16 freight lifts, all sadly overworked. It employs 10,000 and adds 3,000 extra workers during rush season.

Chicago’s education system follows the same lines as the New York system. No other city has done as much in the fitting of its deaf children for normal life. Chicago’s system leads the nation in implementation of the method developed by Alexander Graham Bell at 100% enrollment.

When you consider that fourscore years ago Chicago had little more than a name, with no railroad or canal, and could not boast a sewer or a paved street, it is amazing to see the splendid city today. One who studies Chicago cannot escape the feeling that Hill was a modest prophet and that the city’s wonderful accomplishments auger the fulfillments of plans for tomorrow.

The second article in this month’s issue is entitled “The League of Nations” on the cover. Its title above the article’s first page is a bit longer reading “The League of Nations, What It Means and Why It Must Be”. It was written by William Howard Taft, Ex-President of the United States. It contains fifteen black-and-white photographs (the cover claims sixteen). Twelve of the photos are full-page in size.

President Taft describes the beginnings of the plan to create the League of Nations in this address delivered to the National Geographic Society on January 17, 1919 in Washington D.C. On June 17, 1915 in Philadelphia a convention was held on the subject. They called themselves a League to Enforce Peace. They declared it to be desirable for the United States to join a League of Nations, binding its members: to submit justiciable questions to a tribunal, to submit all other questions to a tribunal, to use economic and military force against members who make war against another before submitting it to the court and/or council, and hold conferences of nations to formulate and codify rules of international law.

The program was enlarged at a meeting on November 24, 1918 including enforcement of international laws, determining what action to take on recommendations from the council, and having authority to act if world peace is endangered. It was also determined that the nucleus of the League should be the winning nations of the war and “backward regions” of the world should be protected.

Following America, Britain formed the British League of Free Nations Association with the ultimate goal of forming a League of Nations. Late in 1918, a French Association for the Society of Nation was formed. It recommended that the Society of Nations should be open to all nations who agree to respect people’s rights and resort only to judicial solutions.

While justiciable questions will be cut and dry following soon to be written international law, non-justiciable questions will be weighed in light of conventional rules of decency, courtesy, neighborly feelings, and morality. An example of a non-justiciable claim would be the Monroe Doctrine. It was developed and enforced for the interest and safety of the entire Western Hemisphere.

Every nation has the absolute right to admit who it will and exclude who it will, or from the privileges of citizenship. However, neighborly feeling, good-fellowship, and international brotherhood require this nation to admit other races. Items like the Monroe Doctrine and the Oriental exclusion laws would go to the council for recommendations.

President Taft uses an example of international law where the court, after ruling against the United States, acted as the council would, by recommending a compromise. Russia ceded the Prybiloff Islands in the Bering Sea to America. Upon the islands was the breeding ground of the largest herd of fur-bearing seals in the world. Canada started hunting these seals at sea. The U.S. seized some schooners and Great Britain sued and won. The court however recommended a solution. Accordingly, Great Britain, Russia, Japan and the United States made a treaty ensuring that fur proceeds would be shared.

The American, English, and French plans all have the allied nations as a smaller League as the nucleus of a larger League. They all look to the enforcement of judgements, and leave open to the League the question of what shall be done with reference to compromises recommended and not acquiesced to.

The American plan has no provision for the reduction of armaments. The purpose of the war was to defeat the military power of Germany and to destroy any possibility in the future of her instituting a war of conquest against the world. It was to make the world safe for democracy.

The allies pledged to launch many new republics. If they can follow President Wilson’s fourteen points, the Ukraine, the Baltic provinces, Finland, Poland, the Czecho-Slovaks, the Jugo-Slavs, Palestine, Armenia, and the Caucasus will all be free republics. These countries will be taken under the wing of the allies. Our experience with self-government in Cuba has shown that there can be fits and starts, as after two years of independence we needed to take the island over again for another two years before again granting full independence.

With so many “Cubas” under our parental care we must maintain an organization of the League and an active agency of the League to prevent their self-destruction. Boundaries are being drawn in the Balkans as has been done in the past. Those previous boundaries have not lasted long. The bitterness among the Bulgarians, the Slavs, the Romanians, the Greeks, and the Italians has often manifested itself in the past. Boundary questions need to be settled authoritatively by the League court. A military must be maintained to enforce these rulings.

Another reason for the League to maintain a military is Bolshevism, that enemy of human civilization. In his January 8th message the President promised to enable Russia to get on her feet and establish a government. The Bolsheviks are preventing a constituent assembly through which alone a democratic form of government can be established.

The German colonies suffered greatly under her occupation, so Germany has forfeited her right to possess them. But should Britain or France take over trusteeship of them? What is true of the German colonies is also true of Constantinople. It should be internationalized. The Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmora, and the Bosporus should be under the guardianship of the allies.

All of these facts demonstrate the need for a League of Nations such as the American, English, and French plans suggest. The organization of the League requires a core governing body. Too many smaller nations in the decision process and nothing would get done. Also, their representation on the court would turn it into a town hall meeting. Instead, all nations should be represented in the general congress, but the representation should be determined by the charter members in accordance with the population, political importance, and responsibilities of each applicant.

What are the objections to a League of Nations? The first objection is that the United States ought not bind itself to make war upon the decree of the executive council in which it has but one vote out of four or five. Why should we object to contributing to a police force to maintain peace by enforcing a judgement of an impartial court?

Another objection is that the United States cannot through its treaty-making power bind itself to make war in any future contingency. The Constitution requires that congress declare war. The treaty would only make a promise of war. Congress would either approve or repudiate the obligation and dishonor the promise of the nation.

The third objection is that it would make the Monroe Doctrine international. Instead of undermining the Monroe Doctrine, it extends its principles to the entire world. By assigning the United States the Western Hemisphere as its region of enforcing the League’s justice, nothing will have changed.

The biggest fear in the creation of a League of Nations is the loss of sovereignty. It is believed that by entering a League of Nations we are parting with the sovereignty of the United States as a nation. But what is sovereignty? It is the right of a government to do what it pleases. It is quite analogous to the liberty of the individual. Just as the liberty of an individual is regulated by law, international law is the rule limiting national sovereignty. The rules of international law are those of decency, moral conduct, and good form.

Serious men should disregard the bugaboo of losing sovereignty. The fact is a League to enforce peace is vastly desirable to another war. Even if we were to remain neutral, our nation, with its vast resources of food and munitions, would be resorted to by all belligerents. The Atlantic Ocean doesn’t separate us from Europe. It is a means of communication and transportation. In Washington’s day we were a month to six weeks from Europe. Today it is a week to travel and a few minutes to communicate.

We are the greatest nation in the world: greatest in population, intelligence, natural resources, and potential military power. It is a very narrow view of our international duty which would prevent our keeping the rest of the world out of the danger of war.

The last article this month is entitled “Medicine Fakes and Fakers of All Ages”. It has the subtitle “Strange Stories of Nostrums and Kingly Quacks in Every Era and Clime”. It was written by John M. Foote, M.D., author of “The Geography of Medicine” [September 1917 issue]. The article contains fourteen black-and-white photographs, six of those photos are full-page in size.

Cure-alls are as old as civilization. We have always had them, and the drug fakers and those who substitute ingredients. The slogan of “something just as good” is perhaps as old as Egypt. It is a weakness of human nature to believe in miracles, possibly in our primeval instinct to live. No one wants to die. Until recently magic and medicine were closely associated. The Greek word “pharmakon” meant not only drugs, but also magic.

Ponce de Leon sought the fountain of youth while alchemists searched for the Elixir of Life. Many nostrums start as a secret formula and in the course of less than a generation become recognized drugs. There are many such children of pharmacopoeia. The oldest is hiera, a powder of aloe and canella with aloe as the active ingredient. Sixty centuries old, today this compound is called hiera-picra in England. Aloe was used by Ptah Hotep, of Memphis, Egypt 6,000 years ago. Popular through time as a cure-all, hiera passed from Egypt through Damascus and on to Rome. With demand far outstripping supply many quacks started substituting other ingredients for the “curative” aloe.

Another health product with an ancient lineage is cold-cream. While most people think of cold-cream as a modern product yet “Unguentum Refrigerans”, cold-cream comes down from the Roman days. The first formula is attributed to Galen, who lived in the second century.

During the Renaissance, many new poisons were being discovered. This led to a new market for quacks to exploit. Many new nostrums were invented with the purpose of neutralizing any poison that may be taken internally. Mithradatium was the name of the great antidote of Roman times. It had 40 to 50 vegetable ingredients, few of which had any medicinal value except opium, and these drugs were blended with honey. Nero’s physician, Andromachus, put the finishing touches to this compound by adding viper’s flesh. He called it Theriaca. When Venice perfected its monopoly of the drug trade it was known as Venetian Treacle. In Queen Elizabeth’s time there were complaints in England of spurious treacle sold by nostrum vendors.

On September 28, 1668 Laurence Catelan, Master Apothecary of Montpellier, prepared a batch of Theriaca before an assembly of physicians. During the time-consuming preparation, he entertained his audience with the tale of King Mithridates rumored to be immune to all poisons, and the story of how Alexander the Great was saved from poisoning by an act of Aristotle’s. The manufacture of English theriana was as much due to the prevalence of adulterated products in the market as to the high price of the imported article.

From the point of view of medicinal value, the false product was probably quite as effective as the true, both being almost worthless. It took until 1788 for English pharmacopoeia to rescind it recognition of this compound. Around 1240 Emperor Frederick II of Sicily published the first pure food and drug act. The practice of medicine was also regulated. A physician was required to have a diploma from a university before he could study medicine. He took a three-year course in medicine and then a one-year apprenticeship under a practicing physician. Special postgraduate work in anatomy was required if he was to do surgery. All this was in the so called “dark ages”.

Another cure-all was the Bezoar stone. Bezoar stones acquired their reputation in the East, among Arab practitioners. Avenzoar, a great Arabian writer on medicine, who lived in Seville about the year 1000, was the first European practitioner to write about these stones. A century ago, the Shah of Persia sent his brother monarch, Emperor Napoleon, three bezoar stones as a precaution against the effects of poison. The stones were used as a general antidote against poison, four to ten grains being given at a dose. Externally these stone were used for a variety of ailments from fevers to leprosy.

Many kinds of bezoar were sold, but the most valuable were the Oriental kind, lapis bezoar orientale. They come from the intestines of Persian wild goats. A certain Oriental ape also yields bezoar stones. Similar stones were obtained from the llamas of Peru, and from the Swiss chamois. But the Eastern product commands the market and sells for ten times its weight in gold. Because of this value, it is natural that they would be imitated.

Ambroise Pare, a great military surgeon, did not believe in the virtues of bezoar stones. When King Charles IX received a bezoar stone from a Spanish nobleman, the king asked Pare if it would protect him from poison. Pare said no, and the king decided to test the stone’s efficacy by poisoning a condemned criminal. The prisoner died and Pare was proven correct.

The patent medicine business in England, viewed as a distinct trade monopoly, really took definite form during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Applicants began to be required to list their methods and ingredients. As secrecy was an important element in the success of nostrums, this rule tended to discourage the patenting of medicines. Today the property right is protected by copyrighting the label or registering it as a “trademark”, thus preventing the competition in the use of the name of the preparation.

The oldest patent preparation still made in large quantities in Great Britain is probably Anderson Scot’s Pills, patented in 1687. Duffey’s Elixir, invented in 1675, is still advertised and sold. Haarlem Oil, a turpentine compound, was first made in 1672, and Godfrey’s Cordial, a preparation of opium, advertised first in 1722, are still bought by the public.

Animal products were much used in medicine from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Dried mummy was a favorite remedy. Several writers of the day cautioned against the use of spurious mummy. One Jewish dealer was found to have done an extensive trade in bodies dried in imitation of the genuine article.

A more modern charlatan is St. John Long, a handsome and clever Irish quack. He practiced in London early in the nineteenth century. He was tried for manslaughter twice. Once he was required to pay a fine, and the other time he was acquitted. He died in 1837, at age 37, of pulmonary tuberculosis, a disease he was purported to have cured.

Even the English Parliament has been galled by the “cure-all” vendor. In 1739 an act was passed “providing a reward to Joanna Stephens upon the proper discovery to be made by her for the use of the public of medicines prepared by her for the Cure of the Stone”. The concoction was made from egg shells, garden snails, and some burned vegetables.

Other notable quacks were the Taylors, known as the Whitworth Doctors. They invented the Whitworth Red Bottle and the Whitworth Drops. Duchesses, princesses, and bishops all came to the Whitworths. Some of the most notorious quacks have been favored by royalty. John Ward, who manufactured Ward Pills and Ward Drops was thought of so well by George II that the king opened a dispensary at Whitehall and paid Ward to treat poor patients there.

The history of nostrums in America, of the fortunes made on it, and the frauds practiced on the credulous public, has been well told by other writers, so well told that we are ceasing to be the greatest nostrum users of the world. The alcohol medicines, the cocaine medicines, the opium medicines, and their less harmful associates have had their day, and their use has declined in every section of the country.

Today, despite flare-ups of nostrums like Friedman’s tuberculosis turtle cure, the exploiting of specific remedies is on the decline. Through standards of regulation of the purity of drugs, rigidly enforced ethical codes among physicians, and standardized formulas, the United States has sounded the doom of the nostrum and the “cure-all”. As modern medicine is becoming, more and more, an exact science, the magical lure of ancient pharmacy has departed.

Tom Wilson

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interesting that "Medicine" is a topic on the cover for both January 1919 + 2019 !!

Yeah, unlike last month's review.  The "Race" issues are Dec. 1918 & Apr. 2018.



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