Popular Science Monthly/Volume 56/November 1899/Scientific Literature

Scientific Literature.


The comparison between the United States in 1790 and Australia in 1891, with which Mr. A. F. Weber opens his essay on The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century[1] well illustrates how the tendency of population toward agglomeration in cities is one of the most striking social phenomena of the present age. Both countries were in nearly a corresponding state of development at the time of bringing them into the comparison. The population of the United States in 1790 was 3,929,214; that of Australia in 1891 was 3,809,895; while 3.14 per cent of the people of the United States were then living in cities of ten thousand or more inhabitants, 33.20 per cent of the Australians are now living in such cities. Similar conditions or the tendency toward them are evident in nearly every country of the world. What are the forces that have produced the shifting of population thus indicated; what the economic, moral, political, and social consequences of it; and what is to be the attitude of the publicist, the statesman, and the teacher toward the movement, are questions which Mr. Weber undertakes to discuss. The subject is a very complicated and intricate one, with no end of puzzles in it for the careless student, and requiring to be viewed in innumerable shifting lights, showing the case in changing aspects; for in the discussion lessons are drawn by the author from every country in the family of nations. Natural causes—variations in climate, soil, earth formation, political institutions, etc.—partly explain the distribution of population, but only partly. It sometimes contradicts what would be deduced from them. Increase and improvement in facilities for communication help the expansion of commercial and industrial centers, but also contribute to the scattering of population over wider areas. The most potent factors in attracting people to the cities were, in former times, the commercial facilities they afforded, with opportunities to obtain employment in trade, and are now the opportunities for employment in trade and in manufacturing industries. The cities, however, do not grow merely by accretions from the outside, but they also enjoy a new element of natural growth within themselves in the greater certainty of living and longer duration of life brought about by improved management and ease of living in them, especially by improved sanitation, and it is only in the nineteenth century that any considerable number of cities have had a regular surplus of births over deaths. Migration city-ward is not an economic phenomenon peculiar to the nineteenth century, but is shown by the study of the social statistics and the bills of mortality of the past to have been always a factor important enough to be a subject of special remark. It is, however, a very lively one now, and "in the immediate future we may expect to see a continuation of the centralizing movement; while many manufacturers are locating their factories in the small cities and towns, there are other industries that prosper most in the great cities. Commerce, moreover, emphatically favors the great centers rather than the small or intermediate centers." In examining the structure of city populations, a preponderance of the female sex appears, and is explained by the accentuated liability of men over women in cities to death from dangers of occupation, vice, crime, and excesses of all kinds. There are also present in the urban population a relatively larger number of persons in the active period of life, whence an easier and more animated career, more energy and enterprise, more radicalism and less conservatism, and more vice, crime, and impulsiveness generally may be expected. Of foreign immigrants, the least desirable class are most prone to remain in the great cities; and with the decline of railway building and the complete occupation of the public lands the author expects that immigrants in the future will disperse less readily than in the past, but in the never-tiring energy of American enterprise this may not prove to be the case. As to occupation, the growth of cities is found to favor the development of a body of artisans and factory workmen, as against the undertaker and employer, and "that the class of day laborers is relatively small in the cities is reason for rejoicing." It is found "emphatically true that the growth of cities not only increases a nation's economic power and energy, but quickens the national pulse.… A progressive and dynamic civilization implies the good and bad alike. The cities, as the foci of progress, inevitably contain both." The development of suburban life, stimulated by the railroad and the trolley, and the transference of manufacturing industries to the suburbs, are regarded as factors of great promise for the amelioration of the recognized evils of city life and for the solution of some of the difficulties it offers and the promotion of its best results.

Dr. James K. Crook, author of The Mineral Waters of the United States and their Therapeutic Uses,[2] accepts it as proved by centuries of experience that in certain disorders the intelligent use of mineral waters is a more potent curative agency than drugs. He believes that Americans have within their own borders the close counterparts of the best foreign springs, and that in charms of scenery and surroundings, salubrity of climate and facilities for comfort, many of our spas will compare as resorts with the most highly developed ones of Europe. The purpose of the present volume is to set forth the qualities and attractions of American springs, of which we have a large number and variety, and the author has aimed to present the most complete and advanced work on the subject yet prepared. To make it so, he has carefully examined all the available literature on the subject, has addressed letters of inquiry to proprietors and other persons cognizant of spring resorts and commercial springs, and has made personal visits. While a considerable number of the 2,822 springs enumerated by Dr. A. C. Peale in his report to the United States Geological Survey have dropped out through non-use or non-development, more than two hundred mineral spring localities are here described for the first time in a book of this kind. Every known variety of mineral water is represented. The subject is introduced by chapters on what might be called the science of mineral waters and their therapeutic uses, including the definition, the origin of mineral waters, and the sources whence they are mineralized; the classification, the discussion of their value, and mode of action; their solid and gaseous components; their therapeutics or applications to different disorders; and baths and douches and their medicinal uses. The springs are then described severally by States. The treatise on potable waters in the appendix is brief, but contains much.

  1. The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century. A Study in Statistics. By Adna Ferrin Weber. (Columbia University Studies in History, Economics, and Public Law.) New York: Published for Columbia University by the Macmillan Company. Pp. 495. Price, $3.50.
  2. Mineral Waters of the United States and their Tlierapeutic Uses, with an Account of the Various Mineral Spring Localities, their Advantages as Health Resorts, Means of Access, etc.; to which is aided an Appendix on Potable Waters. By James K. Crook. New York and Philadelphia: Lea Brothers & Co. Pp. 588. Price, $3.50.