A Look Back Through Our Club's Eyes
This year is the 110th Anniversary of The Transportation Club of St Louis, Section of Transportation Clubs International. This anniversary falls in the same year as the anniversary of the founding of St. Louis by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau in February of 1764. As we celebrate and look to the future, a look back at our history can give us some perspective to the possibilities in the next 100 years.
The year 1914 was arguably known as the beginning of the “modern era”. With the start of World War I, the world saw a bloody beginning to a period of unfathomable change. This era, our era, has seen two world wars, the Cold War, the beginning of the Space Age and the Information Age, and the rise of world “Superpowers” (and the collapse of one).
A few key events that occurred in 1914 in addition to the start of World War I, Woodrow Wilson signed the Mother’s Day Proclamation, the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States officially opened for business, the last known passenger pigeon died in the Cincinnati Zoo, the US unemployment rate was 7.9%, George Washington Carver began experimenting with peanuts as a new cash crop for Southern farmers, the Panama Canal is inaugurated with the passage of the steamship USS Ancon, and most importantly, Wrigley Field in Chicago opened.
During the past 110 years, the US population has grown from 99 million to over 300 million, the world population has grown from 1.8 billion to over 7.2 billion, federal government spending has grown from $0.73 billion to $1.1 trillion, life expectancy has gone from 54 years to 78 years, and the Cubs still haven’t won a World Series; some things never change. The rise of electronics included the birth of radio, television, computers, the internet, and digital imaging of the human body and the outer reaches of the universe.
What we have seen in our lifetime is truly remarkable. What we will see in the next 100 years is unfathomable. The big question is, what can we expect, and how are we going to adapt to the future, both as individuals as well as members of the world society.
The use of computers will undoubtedly continue to increase in our private lives and careers. Modeling of systems and information, and integration of design, manufacturing and construction will blur the lines of design and construction. Projects that are modeled, designed and analyzed will be electronically transferred directly to fabricating machines, and even site construction machinery. The complexity of codes and manuals almost demands the use of computers to perform design and modeling tasks, but if everyone uses the ‘black box’ to perform analysis and design, who will be left to write the software? This same question can be applied to other areas such as medicine.
Our productivity increases daily, what took days to send information with a letter, now takes seconds to send via email; what took weeks to analyze by hand, can be done in minutes by a computer; what took days for research of materials, manufacturers, and products, can be done on the internet instantly (well if you can find it). The future folds an integration of analysis, communication, and research into a seamless stream.
The infrastructure of our world will not be limited to the surface of this earth. We are already tunneling at great depths, laying cables across oceans, and connecting every part of the planet. In the future, infrastructure will include complex networks for power, communication, and transportation. Water and wastewater management will require a man-made water cycle in order to conserve and reuse all available fresh water. We will have to learn how to manage systems, provide innovative solutions, and lead the way down this path of interconnectivity.
As we enter into this next 100 years, we will all need to hang on tight. If the past 100 years is any indication of the pace of change, we are in for one serious roller coaster. Yet as Homer’s concern for the future of mankind was based on the antics of the youth of his time, things seem to have progressed quite well. My hope is that man-kinds future will be even brighter, presuming that we do not run out of beer.
Please take a moment and click on the Officers page. At the bottom you will find a list of all past-Presidents. These people have dedicated themselves to this club and sheparded its well-being. Give them a a cheer, because all of the above is only accomplished because people care and are willing to spend their time to make things happen. Hoist a beer to them.
James Labit, Webmaster
The Transportation Club of St. Louis