(From “St. Paul Location-Development-Opportunities” by F. C. Miller, Ph. D., Webb Book Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, 1928)
Cities have been a lamp of light along the pathway of humanity.
—Rev. Dr. Guthrie
As we are making a study of our own city, it will be interesting to learn something about the growth and character of other cities. First, what is the explanation of the city? How do cities start, and why do they grow?
Long, long ago cities—they were only towns or villages then—afforded, in the numbers that assembled in them, a strong means of common defense. The principal activities were in the fields. Shelter and safety were found in the community center. Often strong walls were built around a town. The famous ancient wall around the city of Home is still in existence, and even Paris is still surrounded with a wall.
But there were other reasons for the rise of cities. As far as history dates back, there has been commerce by land and sea. Naturally the places most fitly and conveniently situated were selected as the sites of cities. Constantinople has, perhaps, the most unique situation in the world. Examples of other foreign cities are London, Hamburg, Stockholm, Cairo, Hong Kong, Calcutta, and Rio de Janeiro. In America, there are New York, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Duluth, and the cities on the St. Lawrence.
As manufacturing increased and commerce expanded, the cities that were naturally the best ports of entry and departure grew rapidly. Business opportunities multiplied. Men were both needed and attracted to these centers, just as in our country the West has been regarded as the land of opportunity.
The largest number of cities is, therefore, on the coast of their respective countries or easily accessible by rivers or lakes. Since the building of railroads, inland cities, such as Pittsburgh and Kansas City, have grown rapidly. Pittsburgh is located in the center of a great mining and manufacturing section, and Kansas City in the center of a productive agricultural region.
Some cities have grown very rapidly while others have been ages in attaining their size. Of course, the cities of the new world in which we live are much younger than those in the older countries. Many of the large cities of Europe were founded by the Romans more than two thousand years ago, as, for instance, London, Cologne, Paris, Vienna, and Constantinople. Compared, however, with the cities of India, China, and Japan, these European cities are young. These three countries had many large cities at the time our European forefathers were barbarians or savages, hardly more advanced in civilization than the North American Indians at the time of the discovery of America.
On account of their steady growth, the ancient cities grew in a natural way, receiving and retaining the mark or impress of the many generations of people that lived in them and gave them the distinguishing characteristics by which they differ greatly from other cities. Some of these cities have acquired distinct personalities. One city becomes known as the shipbuilder and another as the patron of art.
Oxford becomes a synonym for learning, Florence for painting, and Rome for law. Philadelphia has been called the city of brotherly love. It was the home of the Quakers, who have left on the city the firm impression of their quiet, staid, conservative, charitable, and moral character. New York still retains features of its Dutch founders. The tolerant spirit of Lord Baltimore has not died out in the city he founded.
The cities on our eastern and southern coasts were the first to be founded, as they lie in the territory that was first discovered. They are, generally speaking, of different and distinct types, retaining the characteristics of the diverse peoples that built them. Thus there are cities with English, French, and Spanish traditions and architecture. The cities of the West are more alike, because they have, for the most part, been settled by the various descendants of a later generation. As these are far younger than cities of renown in the old world and even than many others in our own country, they have not yet had sufficient time to develop individual distinction or the culture of older cities. While cities may not have been founded for the express purpose of promoting learning or art or other characteristics that have distinguished them, along with their material development has arisen a taste for beauty, and art, and learning. The very size of a large city makes possible the greater and more beautiful park, the taller building, the better transportation system, the finer libraries and galleries of art, and a multitude of other advantages and attractions that ever invite the visitor and citizen. As a result, about one half of the people of the United States live in the larger towns and cities.
The country appeals to those who love nature, but the city has a greater attraction to others. It is said that to be out of the streets of Florence was exile to Dante, and that Socrates never cared to go beyond the bounds of Athens. The city is a little world within itself. It is more varied and complete than the country. It is not strange that it has become a magnet to men. The greater the group the more contact of mind with mind and the greater the creative urge and development. Culture also comes from contact. The cities have, therefore, been the centers from which civilization has radiated, as, for example, Athens and Florence.
The history of the Roman world is the history of the city of Rome. The ideals of learning and art and law established by these cities are still the standards of the world. We have now seen some of the reasons for the location and development of cities, for their original and traditional differences, and for their numerous advantages. In the next chapter, we shall call attention to the unique location and surface features of St. Paid, and in other chapters to its development and opportunities.
How do cities start and grow?
What docs the situation of a city have to do with its development?
Explain the advantages of an old city.
How do cities of Europe and Asia differ from ours?
What are some of the oldest cities in our country?
What advantages are there in a large city?