To begin with,
in our attempt to anticipate the character of our future development,
it is my judgment that the first great event affecting the course of
our program during the half century ahead will be the establishment
of a greater city, whose area will be the same as that of the county.
This event, as has been said, is now clearly within sight through the
medium of the proposed constitutional amendment for the creation of
a metropolitan government in Allegheny County.
In view of the fact
that the consolidation of contiguous urban areas is under way, and view
of the admitted waste and lack of efficient coordination inevitable
resulting from the existence of 124 independent municipal governments
in Allegheny county, the coming of a metropolitan government here sooner
or later seems as certain as anything human can be.
What it will mean
to every citizen of Allegheny County to be counted as a citizen of a
city of 1,500,000 people every business man knows. The commercial, financial,
and industrial prestige attaching to a city of that size is at least
twice as great as the prestige attaching to a city of the much small
population now credited to Pittsburgh. With the prestige bringing about
an entirely new attitude on the part of the whole country to Pittsburgh
there will unquestionably come new population, new trade, new industries,
which can be secured in no other way. It is no species of day dreaming,
but an exceedingly practical judgment acquired through a long business
experience and acquaintance with the habits of men, which leads me to
the belief that the new rank which will be conferred upon our city by
the metropolitan legislation will benefit us far more in a material
way than anything else that has happened for more than two generations.
It is not only as a
tremendous stimulus to our growth that the metropolitan city will affect
us. It will also operate as a beginning of great community improvements,
of county-wide proportions, which could not hitherto be undertaken because
there was no way of securing the necessary concerted action. I trust
I shall not seem too bold if I predict that the success of the metropolitan
plan, making us the fourth or fifth city of the United States with a
population of 1,500,000 in 1930, will so speed up our development as
to give us a population of over 2,000,000 in 1940.
The next great event
playing a more than ordinary part n the molding of our future will be,
I am bound to believe, a marked development of our water transportation
facilities. It is a rather singular fact that while George Washington
saw the strategic importance of our position at the point where the
Monongahela and Allegheny unite to form the Ohio, we have never enjoyed
full advantage of that position commercially. We are virtually at the
head of the greatest waterway system on earth, for nowhere is there
a greater industrial and commercial region than the Ohio and Mississippi
valleys. We cannot but think that the slackwatering of the Ohio should
have proceeded faster. However, we now have reason to expect that the
completion of the Ohio river improvements, bringing dependable all-the-year-round
river navigation from Pittsburgh to the Gulf, will be witnessed during
the next two or three years.
The recent tour of
nearly four score of Pittsburgh's financiers and industrialists to the
leading cities of the lower rivers was a proper recognition of the enormous
expansion of trade which will without doubt follow in all the river
ports from Pittsburgh to New Orleans shortly after all-the-year-round
navigation begins. The vast river-railroad terminals that some of these
cities have already built clearly indicate what is coming.
Pittsburgh now has
a railroad tonnage of 175,000,000 annually with a river traffic of more
than 30,000,000 tons annually. Our railroads are energetically enlarging
their facilities to meet the demands of our constantly increasing industrial
output, but there is no question that it is in the direction of our
waterways that we must look chiefly for greater power to compete in
the markets with rival cities. The Carnegie Steel Company, the Jones
& Laughlin Steel Corporation, and others of our steel producers
are already shipping considerable quantities of steel by river to the
great southwestern markets. This traffic is only in its infancy. It
is easily conceivable that within the next decade we shall have found
outlets by rive for two or three times the tonnage now shipped in that
way. The strengthening which will accrue to our steel industry from
this more economic form of transportation cannot easily be overestimated.
Furthermore, we have
within our reach the Great Lakes as well as the Gulf. Just as the river
improvements will make Pittsburgh a Gulf port, so the proposed Ohio
river and Lake Erie canal will make it a lake port, enabling us to bring
iron ore from he lake superior mines at such a material reduction of
cost as, added to the natural advantage of our incomparable coal, will
make it possible for Pittsburgh to achieve a more decided supremacy
in the basic iron and steel industry not many years hence than it has
ever had before.
Just when the Ohio
river and Lake Erie canal will be built it is not our purpose to undertake
to say. Its feasibility from both the commercial and engineering points
of view is unquestioned. Its bearing upon our economic future is vital.
While, therefore, we cannot say when it will be built, its building
seems inevitable. And from the moment when Pittsburgh is enabled not
only to ship its finished products but also fetch its raw materials
by water it will enter upon a growth and prosperity to which we would
hesitate to set any limit.
This waterway development
of which we speak will in no sense, in my judgment, be a displacement
of railroad business. We men of business are all aware of the tremendous
additions that the railroads of the United States have been making to
all their facilities and equipment, and the magnificent service which
they render. How many billions of new capital they have invested in
late years the business world knows. They have never been spending larger
sums or giving better service than now.
Within the next decade
or two there will undoubtedly be railroad electrification on a large
scale which will stimulate one of our most important Pittsburgh industries.
The great electric locomotives produced by the Westinghouse electric
& Manufacturing Company will be standard equipment on many thousands
of miles of American railways in no distant future. We have every reason
to suppose that railroad development in the United States will continue
at an accelerated rather than a diminished rate. The great days of American
trade and industry are not behind but ahead.
So enormous will be
the distribution of products throughout our great national domain that
the maximum development of which our railroads are capable will still
not avail to meet traffic demands unless supplemented by some such system
of national waterways as Secretary Hoover is earnestly advocating. Mr.
Hoover's program, let us note, assumes that a major role in his great
drama of water transportation will be played by the river system of
which the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio are a part.
When Pittsburgh has
become not only the head and center of the vast river commerce for which
men of foresight are already equipping their industries, and when we
have also diverted a large part of the commerce of the Great Lakes this
way, we shall be ready for still another far-reaching stage of our evolution.
This next phase, I confidently believe, will be an unparalleled diversification
of our industries. I have already indicated reasons for my faith that
our supremacy in iron and steel will remain unchallenged for a long
time to come, as an editorial writer for the "Wall Street Journal"
not long ago concluded. It is, in fact, within our power to increase
our share of the country's iron and steel production by means of the
waterway improvements to which we have just been giving our attention.
But apart from iron, steel, coal, and glass, the industries which in
a past generation were our staples and with which we were seemingly
satisfied, an expansion of our productivity seems to be an inherent
necessity of our geographical position and that expansion can hardly
help taking the direction of very extensive diversification.
We shall diversify,
not because of any mere resolution to diversity, but because we happen
to have virtually unlimited manufacturing facilities and transportation
potentialities along with a situation within twelve hours' railroad
ride of a larger population than any other city of comparable size in
America. To be specific, within a 500-mile radius of Pittsburgh there
is a population not far short of 75,000,000 or more than sixty-six per
cent of the population of the United States. It is the most highly industrialized
and most prosperous region on the face of the globe. The population
of this part of the United States within the 500-mile radius of Pittsburgh
is nearly twice as large as that of all the rest of the United States.
It includes more than 1,700, or nearly sixty per cent, of all the cities
in the United States and Canada of a population in excess of 2,500.
We have the richest
coal beds on the continent and an unlimited supply of electric power
at lower rates than any other American community with few exceptions,
so we must set all economic laws at defiance in order to doubt the development
of an enormous diversification of industry within the next generation
at this favored spot. Already the departure from the few great staple
lines of production which contented us in the past has reached notable
Considering that the
cost of distribution is a fundamental factor in the success or failure
of enterprise and that Pittsburgh is closer than any other large center
to the bulk of population, we should be astonished if this foreordained
diversification of Pittsburgh industry has not already manifested itself.
Our railroad equipment,
electrical machine, food, aluminum, refractory, by-product coke, chemical,
oil-refining, and oil-field equipment, machine tool, cement, radium
and vanadium industries are among the largest in the world. We have
the largest steel plant, the largest air brake, railway signal and safety
appliances manufacturing plants, the second largest electrical works,
the largest aluminum plant, the largest cork works, and the largest
food-packing plant, in the world. There are already in the Pittsburgh
district no less than 300 lines of manufacture, most of them of a ferro-metallurgical
character, but with scores entirely unrelated to the ferro-metallurgical
Iron and steel are
manufactured in 51 communities of the Pittsburgh district; glass products
in 28; clay products in 16; chemicals in 14; machinery and tools in
12; enameled ware in 11; non-ferrous metals in 9; railroad equipment
in 8; tin and tern plate in 7; electrical equipment in 5; and paint
and varnish in 4 communities.]
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