|Island Notes: Ebb and Flow - The Twentieth Century (1900–1949)|
|Wednesday, 29 February 2012 08:01|
This is an extract from the introduction to Chapter 12 of the historical novel ‘Bahama Saga’ by Peter Barratt published by Authorhouse in 2002.
CHAPTER 12 – Ebb and Flow: The Twentieth Century (1900–1949)
Can it be possible that the Bahamas will not turn up in the centre of things, adventurous and glamourous? - H.M.Bell
Although Queen Victoria died in 1901 the first fourteen years of the new century could be said to belong to the old. Nevertheless, little by little some of the wonders of the new age appeared and changes were slowly introduced into the island colony. Shortly after the turn of the century the motorcar made a debut on the dirt roads of the capital city. A submarine telegraph link between Nassau and Florida was instituted and finally in 1907, a telephone system for Nassau was established by the government that was a full two years before there was a reliable supply of electricity.
In the first half of the twentieth century two major wars enveloped the world and the Bahamas rallied to the cause of Empire. The period between the wars was marked by Prohibition which, as in the American Civil War, turned the Bahamas into an entrepôt for boats running the United States blockade. But this time, instead of arms, the cargo was liquor. The end of the Second World War surprisingly did not bring the expected depression, instead tourism started to flourish. At the same time there was an emergence in the Bahamas of political awareness.
Demographic statistics tell an interesting tale of incipient metropolitan dominance in the Bahamas. The population of the Colony at the turn of the nineteenth century was around 50,000 people, 11,000 of whom lived in Nassau (New Providence) and only fractionally less on Eleuthera (including Harbour Island and Spanish Wells). One hundred years later the population of New Providence had increased 500% while the population of Eleuthera and adjacent islands remained about the same. The population in the rest of the Bahamas for the next hundred years also remained fairly constant except for Grand Bahama which, because of the development of Freeport, enjoyed rapid growth in the second half of the twentieth century.
© Peter Barratt
Island Notes is contributed weekly by Peter Barratt, an architect/town planner formerly in charge of the development of Freeport, and author of a number of books including FREEPORT NOTEBOOK and GRAND BAHAMA. His books are available in Grand Bahama at Oasis drug store, the Rand Nature Centre, Bahamian Tings and the Garden of the Groves shops. In Nassau you can find his works at most bookshops on the island.
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