Mayor Scott W. Lang’s New Year’s Eve Reflections 2010

One hundred years ago, The Evening Standard, under the headline “New Bedford’s Hopeful Outlook for 1911” reported a year of great growth in New Bedford. The City had grown to 110,000 people. The Port had a record year in the number of vessels coming through the drawbridge, and in tonnage of both cargo and coal shipments.

New Bedford was the number one cotton textile city in the United States with 11% of America’s spindles operating in New Bedford.

New Bedford’s sizeable fishing industry had a down year as a result of the vineyard trap fishing season having caught only one-half of the previous year’s catch, which had also been down.

Whaling voyages continued to sail out of New Bedford with whale oil and whale bone landings valued at $860,000.00

The cordage business in New Bedford had a fine year, as did the Continental Wood Screw company, as well as the glass manufacturers industry reported by Pairpoint Glass and Blackmer Cut Glass Company.

E.F. Taylor, the well-known men’s shoe factory, doubled in size.

The Acushnet Saw Mill had suffered a devastating fire and was shut down for six months, but was beginning to rebound.

New Bedford’s banks and financial institutions were doing very well with their collective business exceeding any year in the City’s history.

The New Bedford Gas and Edison Light Company had a record-breaking year. New Bedford enjoyed the lowest gas and electric prices in all of New England. Miles of gas mains were laid in the City in 1910, and the most modern home heaters and kitchen gas ovens and ranges were being installed throughout the City.

The Southern Massachusetts Telephone Company reported that the City had 5,560 telephones in New Bedford, an increase of 850 over 1909, as New Bedford’s residents began to experience communication in their high-tech age.

The Union Street Railway company carried over 14 million passengers, an increase of 44% over 1909! The numerous ferries and rail lines all showed strong increases in passenger and freight. Automobiles and trucks were appearing more frequently on the streets of New Bedford as stables began to be replaced by garages. New Bedford Free Public Library opened its doors in its most magnificent building, the former City Hall, and our most famous Mayor, opened an insurance company that continues to thrive.

Yes, 1910 was a good year for our City, and I am proud to report, as Mayor of New Bedford, 100 years later, that 2010 was a good year for our City as well.

We experienced strong, substantial growth throughout our City. Mills have been reclaimed for 21st Century use. Land has been remediated for future development. Commercial and residential building is steady and our working waterfront is one of the most diverse and active in the country.

Whaling is gone, but replaced by the number one fishing port, and while the textile industry has by and large left our shores, we continue to maintain our place in producing the finest textiles and finished products in the world. New advanced industries have been established in New Bedford to replace the old, and alternative energy and life science industries are developing rapidly. Our City is on an upward trajectory in the areas of neighborhood revitalization, public safety, education, and we are the fastest growing Gateway City in New England, impressive momentum and progress, while managing our way through the worst recession in our country’s history.

A sounding of our City shows stability, confidence and pride and a new-found respect for our people from those throughout our region and America.

As on New Year’s Eve 1910, The Standard-Times could today display the headline “New Bedford’s Hopeful Outlook for 2011.”

Three hundred sixty-four pages of the calendar have been turned, and as we are now in the early evening of December 31st; the year has only a few hours remaining. We gather here, in the Seamen’s Bethel, which has witnessed 178 New Year’s Eves, and countless lives entering and leaving its doors, some out of historic curiosity, but most who come to reflect and pray.

Reflection is something we do each day, it involves looking at ourselves while at the same time, thoughtful self evaluation.

On New Year’s Eve, we reflect on the past year and all years before. We take stock in our lives and vow to change for the better. We remember the ones we love here and now, and the dearly departed.

New Year’s Eve thrusts each of us forward into a brand-new day, a new start, a new year. With the New Year comes hope, excitement, a rekindling of the positive spirit. The calendar may repeat the days, but each new day is a blank canvas upon which we can do our best work individually and collectively.

The year 2011 will invite our best work. The times require our renewal of a commitment to our families, to our friends, to our City and Country—in essence, to each other.

Over the first decade of the 21st Century, we have been through many difficult trials and faced many challenges as a country. We have been at war for most of this decade. We have seen American civilians, public safety officers, and thousands of members of the armed forces cut down in their prime, in attacks which are directed at our nation’s core belief in freedom and democracy. Let us pray for those we have lost; pray for their families, and say a special prayer for the safety of the courageous men and women who serve our country at this hour; offer your personal intentions for their families as well.

While a century of change separates New Bedford’s citizens of 1910 from our citizens of 2010, the key to a successful vibrant City is still linked to the spirit of our City’s people. New Bedford’s soul is caring, giving and selfless. In these trying economic times, there is an undeniable fact, an outpouring of benevolence by our citizens in every house of worship, to the Standard-Times/Salvation Army Neediest Families Fund, and every charitable organization in New Bedford. For these acts, we are very grateful.

As the clock winds down, the year 2011 looms. I have faith it will be a great year for our City and Country; optimism requires an unmovable belief in the greater good, an unflinching faith in the human spirit, the knowledge that we have the ability to shine with divine goodness each day of our lives. Eternal liberty and justice for all, requires each of us to possess unyielding faith, hope and optimism for 2011 and the future.

Happy New Year New Bedford; great health and happiness to all.