The year was 1927 and the future had hardly ever looked brighter for the City of Camden. Times were prosperous, business and industry were booming, and the city was full of recently constructed public buildings, civic improvements, schools, the new Delaware River bridge and its new highway to the suburbs. The stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed were in the unimagined future.
It was in these times that Camden prepare for its 100th anniversary, and in this spirit of optimism that the city fathers under the direction of Mayor Winfield S. Price commissioned the booklet whose text you will find below.
A city needs two things location and men.”
“Camden has both.”
Arthur Brisbane, noted publicist had this to say about Camden after he had studied the city and its potentialities.
$2,000,000 BIRTHDAY PRESENT CAMDEN’S GIFT TO ITSELF
Centennial Gift is the first unit of a $6,000,000 marine terminal to be constructed as part of the movement to foster industrial expansion along the Delaware River frontage.
THE City of Camden, situated on the Delaware River, served by two of the nation’s leading railroads and set in the midst of a mighty labor market in a territory second to none in buying power, is essentially an industrial and home city.
“More industries, more homes, more business,” is the ambitious slogan of civic leaders.
There has been here the customary effort on the part of various groups, to foster industrial development. And, there has been development. But, it remained for Camden citizenry to take a step unique in the history of modern municipalities.
Who ever heard of a city making itself a birthday present?
That is what Camden did on the occasion of its hundredth anniversary.
As the important centennial milestone in the life of the community was approached, there were suggestions of various plans for suitably marking the event. But extended and costly celebration programs were definitely set aside.
Camden fittingly marked its birthday with a week of interesting and instructive events. Thousands of citizens participated in the week’s program and its success was unquestioned.
But, Camden also made itself a birthday present- one which will have a mighty influence in spurring the City’s growth.
The birthday gift will cost $2,000,000, but that sum will return to Camden a hundredfold.
The $2,000,000 will be expended on construction of the first unit of a $6,000,000 marine terminal.
The question of appropriating funds for this public project was placed squarely before the citizens of Camden.
Shall we invest this money in Camden’s development, or shall we go along taking for granted a normal growth?
That was the problem and the citizens of Camden were quick to solve it. They went to the polls and Tolled up a large majority of votes in favor of presenting themselves with this birthday gift and dedicating it to the cause of municipal development.
The action of the voters was Camden’s pub lie announcement that the individual citizen as well as the real estate dealer, the railroads, city rulers, and etc., had an active interest in fostering civic growth by increasing the number and size of industries through expansion of port facilities.
Recently there was before a Congressional Committee, the question of appropriating a considerable amount of Federal funds for deepening the channel of the Delaware along the Camden side of the river.
The first question asked was:
“Well, what is Camden doing for itself to justify the Government in undertaking this channel improvement?”
The U. S. Board of Engineers answered the query with a recommendation that the Delaware channel be deepened because Camden had committed itself by referendum, to a comprehensive program of port development.