What Should We Say to the Future Generation of Boston?

A new time capsule is going up on the Old State House, to be opened in 100 years, and Boston was asked to write a letter to posterity to be included in the box.



If you could tell the people living in Boston 100 years from now one thing to best describe life in the city in 2014, what would you say?

In the next two weeks the Bostonian Society, the non-profit organization that unveiled the contents of the time capsule inside the lion statue that sits atop the Old State House, which contained relics dating back to 1901, will place their own box stuffed with present-day memorabilia back into the copper animal bust to be opened next century.

Part of that bundle of items, which will be secured inside a newly made container fabricated out of copper material, will include three letters to posterity written by a select few news organizations that covered the celebratory excavation of the 113-year-old time capsule, and Boston magazine has the honor of being on that list.

“We are hoping that people will write about what they think the future generation will want to know, including predictions [about the year 2114],” said Heather Leet, director for development for the Bostonian Society. “We would like to do the same thing they did in 1901.”

It was then that George Litchfield, the business manager of the Boston Traveler, typed up his own prognostications for his predecessors to read, before folding up his letter and stashing it inside the box that was recently discovered in the lion sculpture’s crown.

The letter, titled “Outlook for the Twentieth Century,” which can be read in full below, contained some hits and misses. In it, Litchfield predicted the accessibility of intercontinental flight, and said one day we would have the capacity to communicate with one another, face-to-face, without being in the same room.

“We shall speak around the world,” he said, “We shall see the face of him with whom we talk.”

Litchfield also imagined a world without warring nations, something that clearly hasn’t come to fruition just yet.

Besides the three letters to posterity similar to Litchfield’s, the Bostonian Society has plans to place a slew of other timely items inside of their capsule.

Leet said the box, which will be placed inside the lion on November 17—this time it’s going in the base of the statue, rather than the crown—will hold a photograph and letter from Mayor Marty Walsh, a picture of late mayor Tom Menino, a baseball signed by the Red Sox, a medal from the Boston Marathon, an iPhone, and a personalized letter from Brian LeMay, president of the organization, detailing the list of and addressing the historians who happen upon it.

The capsule will also contain tickets from the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, a copy of the Boston Globe, a letter from the Council and General of Great Britain, and an image of the prime minister of England with Governor Deval Patrick.

The lion statue, and with it, the unicorn, are being fabricated at Skylight Studios in Woburn, by artist and studio owner Bob Shure. The Bostonian Society will hand off their time capsule to Shure in the coming weeks, before the two sculptures are hoisted up to the top of the Old State House on November 23, weather permitting, to look over the city once more.

“The goal is to get them up before the winter sets in,” Leet said.

Boston magazine is crowd-sourcing ideas from our readers about what to say to future residents of the city. So, Boston, what should we include in our own letter to posterity, to paint the most accurate picture of the life today, while also predicting what the future may hold? Leave a comment below, tweet us with the hashtag #Boston2114, or email sannear@bostonmagazine.com.

Boston Traveler letter page 1

Boston Traveler letter page 2 copy