6 min read
Are you excited for 2021? The people of 1921 sure were!
As we enter this new year, full of hope and trepidation and the scars of 2020, I thought it would be helpful to see what people from a full century ago envisioned for us. They’d recently survived World War I and the Spanish Flu of 1918, and they were witnessing a technological revolution. Electricity, commercial aviation, radio, and many other innovations were new. How, they wondered, would these things transform their world?
To find out, I searched for the phrase “the year 2021” in the newspapers of 1921. Articles of the day were full of predictions—some right, and some very wrong.
The mistakes are intriguing, of course. (For example, the Evening News of Harrisburg, PA, predicted that Mexico will be “a greater power than any in Europe.”) But I prefer the correct predictions. The people of 1921 imagined fanciful conveniences that today we take for granted—like controlling the temperature in our homes, cooking more easily, and flying around the world. These were fantasies of theirs! And they’re our reality.
It should make us think: For all the real hardships we face, we are also living in someone else’s dream world… and we now get to build towards our own future dreams.