What the mayor from 1901 wants you to know today 

click to enlarge Former Mayor John Robinson
  • Former Mayor John Robinson

In his 1901 letter to the future, then-Colorado Springs Mayor John Robinson describes the city's progress in the first 30 years of its existence, as well as his hopes for the 20th century and beyond. He was young, charismatic, modest and visionary — someone to admire and emulate. Below are brief excerpts from Robinson's letter. — John Hazlehurst

To the Citizens of Colorado Springs of the Twenty-First Century ... When you read this letter the writer will have long since entered "the mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death." It is possible that this letter may be the only link connecting my name with the next century. I hope however that the influence of some act of mine may live carrying with it some good to you who enter the new century ...

None of our streets are paved but the mayor in his last annual message to the council recommended paving the streets in the business section ... We have now about 80 miles of streets. Stone sidewalks are scarce, but I have recommended progress in this line ... A new bridge has just been completed across the Monument. Our water system is the pride of our city ... In my two last annual messages I have recommended that every available source of water supply of value to the city be procured and also all valuable reservoir sites ... To storage we must look for the solution of the water supply as I believe the growth of the city will be limited only by a lack of water. We must soon inaugurate the meter system as under the present management too much water is wasted ...

It is probable that nothing will astound the people of the Twenty-First Century more than the expenses of the cities of this age in the maintenance of health. An epidemic of smallpox has this year cost us about $5,000. The advances made in medical science the past century gives basis for the belief that smallpox and other contagious diseases will in your age no longer trouble civilized peoples. We are now negotiating the sale of bonds for the erection of a new City Hall to cost not less than $100,000. This much needed improvement I hope to see completed during my administration.

The Parks now owned by the city are "Acacia" Park, South Park in which is now being erected the County Courthouse, the Antlers Park and the Cheyenne Cañon. "Dorchester Park" is owned but at present not used by the city. The same is true of certain lands lying along the "Monument" Creek ... I wish that we owned South Cheyenne, as well as North Cheyenne Cañon. I hope that the former may at an early date be procured by the city. The writer since his election to the mayoralty conceived the idea that the tract of land lying north-east of the city and known as "Austin's Bluffs" is the ideal site for a large City Park. Indeed it is now a park of some beauty. He recommended its purchase by the city but public sentiment seemed to be antagonistic or indifferent and the council did nothing ... I interested our public spirited citizen General Wm. J. Palmer in my plans and a few days since he informed me that he had decided to purchase the tract and present it to the city ... In securing this park to the city I have accomplished one of the chief ambitions of my administration and if I accomplish nothing more that will live, I believe something has been done for future generations worthy of the effort that I have made. To General Palmer is due the consummation of my ambition to secure a park for Colorado Springs that I predict will yet become as famous as is now the Garden of the Gods.

I have already written too much and have dealt in prosaic details. It is profitless to indulge in prophecy but I believe Colorado Springs will be a great city. My grandchildren or great grandchildren may know of this letter, and because of its crudeness (it has been penned hastily) and because their ancestor has done so little that is worthy, they may prefer to conceal their identity, or the fact that they are my descendants. Hoping that I may yet accomplish something that under God's blessing may add to the moral, intellectual, and physical well being of the future residents of this city, the residents of which have twice honored me by electing me its chief executive, I am with greetings to those yet unborn.

J.R. Robinson


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