As loyal readers need not be told, what one reads in a newspaper often can be frighteningly prescient.

To illustrate this self-evident truth, we turn the pages 50 years to November 1966 when The Philadelphia Inquirer published a special section to inform readers what life would be like in the year 2000, mining insights from planners and assorted experts.

The speculations were fascinating.

OK, so a few details were off the mark.

POPULATION

Forecast: Spurred by growth in the city and Delaware County, the population in the nine-county area (which includes Salem) would take a substantial jump, from 4.6 million to 7.9 million.

Reality: The 2000 figure was 5.4 million. The planners saw Philly swelling from the 2 million of 1960 to 2.27 millon; the reality, 1.6 million. Delaware County at 553,154 was to grow to 837,000. Instead, it lost some bodies, falling to 551,974.

(Click on 'Original Document (PDF)' link to see page in full)

WOMEN

Forecast: They would constitute half the workforce. How would that happen? Why, life at home would be a technological nirvana with minimal human intervention. Lights dimmed and house vacuumed automatically, dishes washed by "ultrasonics."

Reality: Women, indeed, are about half the workforce these days, but not necessarily for the reasons elucidated above.

(Click on 'Original Document (PDF)' link to see page in full)

MASS TRANSIT

Forecast: How about "rapid transit electric powered trains riding on rubber tires on elevated roadways with service every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day."

Reality: Can you say, "SEPTA?"

TECHNOLOGY

Forecast: Phones "won't even look like the phones we know," with equipment "entirely free of wires, and pocket phones for street use." "Data communications will be incredible."

Reality: Spot on.

This article draws on material found in the digital archives of The Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News. *Search the archives for yourself and subscribe for full access.*