Ladies Home Journal, "Life in 2000." Legit?

This appeared in a friend’s blog. It appears to be a scan of material published in the Ladies Home Journal at the turn of the century (the last one).

Something about it strikes me as wrong, y’know, too perfectly on the nose in its mix of dead-on predictions and way-off-base modern wish fulfillment. I did some extensive Googling, but found nothing about the article’s actual provenance. Lots and lots of site reprinted it, but I saw no attempts to verify its authenticity.

Anybody happen to be in a library with archives of this magazine on microfiche or something? Or know anything more about it?

NPR referred to this article back in 2001, so perhaps they authenticated it. They merely referenced it in a broader article about predictions, did not reproduce it. Apparently it was written in 1900.

Very interesting stuff there. I especially like the section that claims “everybody will walk 10 miles” and “those who can’t walk 10 miles in a stretch will be considered weaklings.”

Well…as if I didn’t already know…I’m a weakling.

Yes, I happen to work in a library that has these issues available electronically through a database so I could check from home and luckily the name Elfreth is both unusual and was indexed as part of the author’s name. :slight_smile:

This appeared in the December 1900 Ladies Home Journal, Volume XVIII, Issue 1, page 8. From a quick side by side comparison, they look to be the same.

I love the dope!

“Oranges will grow in Philadelphia”

Didn’t Al Gore just predict this for 2050?

It’s a fascinating article, and most of it seems logical for a person writing in 1900–but one “fact” seems wrong to me:-- life expectancy.

The article predicts that people will be taller and healthier–but also that they “will live 50 years instead of 35 as at present”.
I’m trying to imagine the author of this article–how old was he when he wrote it; and (assuming he was, say 26,) was he expecting to die within the next 9 years?


Awesome. Thanks.

Yeah, that makes this about a thousand percent cooler.

Some of those predictions are way off-base. The thing about the mobile fortress, for instance. And airships - nobody uses airships for anything anymore. Horses are nowhere near being extinct and they are still cheaper than cars (though they are less convenient.) Wild animals are still all over the place, and pest insects are a long way from being exterminated.


“There will be no wild animals except in menageries. The horse will be practically extinct…a few of high breed will be kept by the rich for racing, hunting and exercise.”

Hunting? I thought there are no animals in the wild. What are they hunting with those horses?

“All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits…cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.”

If only.

“Everyone will walk ten miles.”

Seeing as how so many people now are overweight and obese, I doubt most people could walk two miles without getting tired.

A lot of the predictions are pretty prophetic, though, especially about communications.

“To England in Two Days”

Well, he was only about a year or two out with the post-9/11 security measures…

We call those “tanks”.

Now that the GQ has been answered, this article is worthy of its own IMHO thread.

I was going to call fake purely on the layout and style. I’d swear I’ve seen that title font somewhere before, but actually, when you compare the A and Y in ‘years’ vs ‘May’, I think it’s fairly clear that the title is hand drawn, so my argument dissolves in tatters.

The wikipedia article on life expectancy (is it to be trusted?) says that in the “early twentieth century” life expectancy was “30-40” years.

However, that’s life expectancy on a worldwide scale, I believe. I would have thought expectancy in the USA was higher.

In any case, I don’t expect to die at age 75 though that’s (somewhere around) the life expectancy for someone of my demographic. That’s because I know that a more predictive way to look at it is to see how old people of particular cohorts can expect to live given that they’ve lived to such-and-such an age. So for example, surviving past 1 year old, especially way back when, was a great sign you were going to live longer than the average.

Nevertheless, the comment you quoted seems to indicate the author wasn’t thinking this way, and did indeed expect to die at around age 35. Or else just wasn’t really thinking things through. Or else was already 82 years old and laughing as he wrote the comment.


With? Who said anything about with? :eek: :smiley:

Bear in mind that life expectancy is for babies born right then, so infant/child mortality can seriously drag down a population’s life expectancy. A life expectancy of 35 might actually be something along the lines of, 10% of people born die before the age of five, but the other 90% can expect to live to, say, 55 or so.

“A trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.”


Maybe they assumed we would release an animal from the menagerie and then go hunt it.

And considering that you can now buy “hunting” passes on enclosed private lands, I’d say that’s not so far off. Heck, can’t you even shoot a gun via remote control from the privacy of your own den and kill things nowadays?

The thing about the telegraphed pictures with all the colors of nature was pretty good though.