Leaving the Cities -- A Chronological Survey of Ellen White's Counsel

David Westbrook

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The Time Is Not Far Distant 1885


(1885) LDE 121

     The time is not far distant when, like the early disciples, we shall be forced to seek a refuge in desolate and solitary places. As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation, in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath, will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains.--5T 464, 465


 (1889) LDE 150

      Many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ's sake in standing in defense of the truth.--3SM 397


Make Haste to Prepare for the Crisis 1897


(1897) CL 21

     When the power invested in kings is allied to goodness, it is because the one in responsibility is under the divine dictation. When power is allied with wickedness, it is allied to Satanic agencies, and it will work to destroy those who are the Lord's property. The Protestant world have set up an idol sabbath in the place where God's Sabbath should be, and they are treading in the footsteps of the Papacy. For this reason I see the necessity of the people of God moving out of the cities into retired country [places,] where they may cultivate the land and raise their own produce. Thus they may bring their children up with simple, healthful habits. I see the necessity of making haste to get all things ready for the crisis.--Letter 90, 1897.


Leave the Cities 1899


(1899) 10MR 241

     As God's commandment-keeping people, we must leave the cities. As did Enoch, we must work in the cities but not dwell in them. Nothing that savors of extravagance is to be seen in the outlay of means for building or for furnishing because we have a prospect of receiving donations. Find a location that has a favorable atmosphere and carry on your work, but keep away from the residences of the rulers of the land. Exert your God-given powers for the people who need to be uplifted. Place not your institutions in the midst of the homes of wealthy men. If possible we must secure for the sanitarium a site that will not be crowded, where there is ground that can be cultivated. Nothing is to be done for display. By strict economy we are to show that we realize that we are strangers and pilgrims on the earth.


(1899) 6MR 399

     Our youth can be educated far better out of the cities; for where there is so much going on, so many temptations, they are affected by the injurious influences, and learn much that it is not for their best good to learn. The teachers may do all in their power to instruct, but independent of all that is taught in the Bible classes, an influence is constantly at work that molds characters in the wrong direction.


(1899) GCDB 3-06-99

     There is earnest work to be done for the children. Before the overflowing scourge shall come upon all the dwellers upon the earth the Lord calls upon all who are Israelites indeed to serve him. Gather your children into your own houses; gather them in from the classes who are voicing the words of Satan, who are disobeying the commandments of God. Get out of the cities as soon as possible. Establish church schools. Gather in your children, and give them the word of God as the foundation of all their education. Had the churches in different localities sought counsel of God, they would not need to be thus addressed on this point.


(1900) 6T 178-179

     Serious times are before us, and there is great need for families to get out of the cities into the country, that the truth may be carried into the byways as well as the highways of the earth. Much depends upon laying our plans according to the word of the Lord and with persevering energy carrying them out. More depends upon consecrated activity and perseverance than upon genius and book learning. All the talents and ability given to human agents, if unused, are of little value.


(1902) 7T 81

     The Garden of Eden, the home of our first parents, was exceedingly beautiful. Graceful shrubs and delicate flowers greeted the eye at every turn. In the garden were trees of every variety, many of them laden with fragrant and delicious fruit. On their branches the birds caroled their songs of praise. Adam and Eve, in their untainted purity, delighted in the sights and sounds of Eden. And today, although sin has cast its shadow over the earth, God desires His children to find delight in the works of His hands. To locate our sanitariums amidst the scenes of nature would be to follow God's plan; and the more closely this plan is followed, the more wonderfully will He work to restore suffering humanity. For our educational and medical institutions, places should be chosen where, away from the dark clouds of sin that hang over the great cities, the Sun of Righteousness can arise, "with healing in His wings." Malachi 4:2.


(1902) LLM 477

     "The time will come when God's people will have to move away from the cities, and live in small companies, by themselves. If our people regard God's instructions as of value, they will move out of the cities, so that they will not be corrupted by its revolting sights, and so that their children will not be corrupted by its vices. Those who choose to remain in the cities . . . must share the disaster that will come upon them. . . .


(1902) 1MR 250

     The complete plan in regard to the purchase of the Hill Street property was not laid before me till my last visit to Los Angeles. I was then taken to see this property, and as I walked up the hill in front of it, I heard distinctly a voice that I well know. Had this voice said, "This is the right place for God's people to purchase," I should have been greatly astonished. But it said, "Encourage no settlement here of any description. God forbids. My people must get away from such surroundings. This place is as Sodom for wickedness. The place where my institutions are established must be altogether different. Leave the cities, and like Enoch come from your retirement to warn the people of the cities."


(1902) CL 19

     Believers who are now living in the cities will have to move to the country, that they may save their children from ruin. Attention must be given to the establishment of industries in which these families can find employment. Those who have charge of the school-work at ----- and ----- should see what can be done by these institutions to establish such industries, so that our people desiring to leave the cities, can obtain modest homes without a large outlay of means, and can also find employment. In both ----- and ----- there are favorable and encouraging features for the development of this plan. Study what these features are.


(1902) RH 7-5-06

     To parents who are living in the cities, the Lord is sending the warning cry, Gather your children into your own houses; gather them away from those who are disregarding the commandments of God, who are teaching and practising evil. Get out of the cities as fast as possible. Parents can secure small homes in the country, with land for cultivation, where the children will not be surrounded with the corrupting influences of city life. God will help his people to find such homes outside the cities.


(1902) PH094 10-11

     "During my stay in Southern California, I was enabled to visit places that in the past have been presented to me by the Lord as suitable for the establishment of sanitariums and schools. For years I have been given special light that we are not to establish large centers for our work in the cities. The turmoil and confusion that fills these cities, the conditions brought about by the labor unions and the strikes, would prove a great hinderance to our work.


(1902) CH 268

     "Out of the cities," is my message. Our physicians ought to have been wide-awake on this point long ago. I hope and pray and believe that they will now arouse to the importance of getting out into the country.


(1902) 1MR 252-253

     I am told that Dr. Kellogg advised the brethren to go ahead and build in the city of Los Angeles. But did he not know that the Lord has given instruction in regard to the need of getting out of the cities? As far as possible, our institutions should be located away from the cities. We must have workers for these institutions, and if they are located in the city, that means that families of our people must settle near them. But it is not God's will that His people shall settle in the cities, where there is constant turmoil and confusion. Their children should be spared this; for the whole system is demoralized by the hurry and rush and noise. The Lord desires His people to move into the country, where they can settle on the land, and raise their own fruit and vegetables, and where their children can be brought in direct contact with the works of God in nature. Take your families away from the cities, is my message.


(1902) 4MR 75

     It is time for us to take our work out of the cities. Our sanitariums should be furnished with facilities for giving the sick the best of care, and they should be properly conducted; but they should be as far as possible from the cities. The whole world is to be tested, and obedience to the law of God is to be the test.


The Time Has Come to Move Out of the Cities 1903


(1903) 2SM 360

     The time has come, when, as God opens the way, families should move out of the cities. The children should be taken into the country. The parents should get as suitable a place as their means will allow. Though the dwelling may be small, yet there should be land in connection with it, that may be cultivated.--Manuscript 50, 1903.


(1903) LDE 95

     Get out of the cities as soon as possible and purchase a little piece of land where you can have a garden, where your children can watch the flowers growing and learn from them lessons of simplicity and purity.--2SM 356 (1903).


(1903) AH 146-147

     So long as God gives me power to speak to our people, I shall continue to call upon parents to leave the cities and get homes in the country, where they can cultivate the soil and learn from the book of nature the lessons of purity and simplicity. The things of nature are the Lord's silent ministers, given to us to teach us spiritual truths. They speak to us of the love of God and declare the wisdom of the great Master Artist.


(1903) 4MR 82-83

     The crisis is coming soon in Battle Creek. The trades unions and confederacies of the world are a snare. Keep out of them and away from them, brethren. Have nothing to do with them. Because of these unions and confederacies, it will soon be very difficult for our institutions to carry on their work in the cities. My warning is:  Keep out of the cities. Build no sanitariums in the cities. Educate our people to get out of the cities into the country, where they can obtain a small piece of land, and make a home for themselves and their children. When the question arose in regard to the establishment of a sanitarium in the city of Los Angeles, I felt that I must oppose this move. I carried a very heavy burden in regard to the matter, and I could not keep silent. It is time, brethren, that we heeded the testimonies sent us in mercy and love from the Lord of heaven.


(1903) CL 11

     Our restaurants must be in the cities; for otherwise the workers in these restaurants could not reach the people and teach them the principles of right living. And for the present we shall have to occupy meetinghouses in the cities. But erelong there will be such strife and confusion in the cities, that those who wish to leave them will not be able. We must be preparing for these issues. This is the light that is given me.--General Conference Bulletin, April 6, 1903.


(1903) GCB 3-30-03

     I look at these flowers, and every time I see them I think of Eden, They are an expression of God's love for us. Thus He gives us in this world a little taste of Eden. He wants as to delight in the beautiful things of His creation, and to see in them an expression of what He will do for us. He wants us to live where we can have elbow room. His people are not to crowd into the cities. He wants them to take their families out of the cities, that they may better prepare for eternal life. In a little while they will have to leave the cities. These cities are filled with wickedness of every kind,- with strikes and murders and suicides. Satan is in them, controlling men in their work of destruction. Under his influence they kill for the sake of killing, and this they will do more and more. Every mind is controlled either by the power of Satan or the power of God. If God controls our minds, what shall we be?-- Christian gentlemen and Christian ladies. God can fill our lives with His peace and gladness and joy. He wants His joy to be in us, that our joy may be full.


(1903) Ev 76

It is God's design that our people should locate outside the cities, and from these outposts warn the cities, and raise in them memorials for God. There must be a force of influence in the cities, that the message of warning shall be heard.-- Review and Herald, April 14, 1903.


(1904) CL 9-10

     The time is fast coming when the controlling power of the labor unions will be very oppressive. Again and again the Lord has instructed that our people are to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of enemies.--Letter 5, 1904.


(1904) LLM 40

     (61) The buildings secured for this work should be out of the cities, in rural districts, so that the sick may have the benefit of out-door life. By the beauty of flower and field, their minds will be diverted from themselves, from their aches and pains, and they will be led to look from nature to the God of nature, who has provided so abundantly the beauties of the natural world. The convalescent can lie in the shade of the trees, and those who are stronger can, if they wish, work among the flowers, doing just a little at first, and increasing their efforts as they grow stronger. Working in the garden, gathering flowers and fruit, listening to the birds praising God, the patients will be wonderfully blessed. Angels of God will draw near to them. They will forget their sorrows. Melancholy and depression will leave them. The fresh air and sunshine, and the exercise taken, will bring them life and vitality. The wearied brain and nerves will find relief. Good treatment and wholesome diet will build them up and strengthen them. They will feel no need for health-destroying drugs or for intoxicating drink.


(1904) SpM 357

     The Lord was in this school's being established. The Lord helped these brethren as they progressed with their school, and as they were teaching the very principles that were taught in the schools of the prophets. Do you think in the schools of the prophets they went back to all those books that are brought into the school to give an education? Do you think they took the study books that were in the common schools? No, No! What were they taught? To have a knowledge of Jesus Christ. If they have a practical knowledge of Jesus Christ, let me tell you, they understand that they must be partakers of the divine nature in order to escape corruption that is in the world through lust, and come out of the cities. It is the very thing to do today. Get them out of the cities into the rural places, where they may be educated in agriculture and the various lines of business and trade. Do you suppose that when the times are growing worse and worse that you will all be left together here in one company? No, we shall be scattered. If those who are helping educate in this place shall give the right kind of education, these students will be qualified to go out into new places and begin with ABC work to educate others. As the commence, the Holy Spirit of God will stand by their side.


(1904) RH 8-11-04

     Our sanitariums should be out of the cities. One who is unerring in counsel has given this direction, in mercy to suffering humanity. Physicians and ministers are called upon to exert their influence in favor of establishing our sanitariums, publishing houses, and schools out of the cities. And for the sake of the youth in our schools and publishing houses, and for the sake of the patients and helpers in our sanitariums, this should be done.


(1905) MM 267

     We need a genuine education in the art of cooking. . . . Form classes where you may teach the people how to make good bread and how to put together ingredients to make healthful food combinations from the grains and the vegetables. Such an education will assist in creating a desire among our people to move out of the cities, to secure land in the country, where they can raise their own fruit and vegetables.--MS. 150, 1905.


(1905) LLM 98

     I have tried to place before our people the representations given me regarding sanitariums in the country, and I have urged upon them the necessity of establishing our sanitariums outside of the cities. I have had repeatedly presented to me the advantages of securing locations some miles out of the cities. Those who follow the counsel of God in providing places where the sick and suffering can receive proper treatment will be guided to the right places for the establishment of their work.


(1905) CL 29

     Some have wondered why our office of publication should be moved from Oakland to Mountain View. God has been calling upon His people to leave the cities. The youth who are connected with our institutions should not be exposed to the temptations and the corruption to be found in the large cities. Mountain View has seemed to be a favorable location for the printing office.--Manuscript 148,



(1905) LLM 110

     Out of the cities, has been my constant advice. But it has taken years for our people to become aroused to an understanding of the situation. It has taken years for them to realize that the Lord would have them leave the cities and do their work in the quiet of the country, away from the turmoil and noise and confusion. We are thankful to God for Loma Linda. It is one of the best locations for sanitarium work that I have ever seen. At this place the sick can be given every natural advantage for regaining health and strength.


(1905) 19MR 334

     Let centers be no longer made in the cities. Let children no longer be exposed to the temptations of the cities that are ripe for destruction. The Lord has sent us warning and counsel to get out of the cities. Then let us make no more investments in the cities. Fathers and mothers, how do you regard the souls of your children? Are you preparing the members of your families for translation into heavenly courts? Are you preparing  them to become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King? What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? How will ease, comfort, convenience, compare with the value of the souls of your children?


(1905) 19MR 337

     Though stormy times are before us, much missionary work still remains to be done in the cities. This work can be done better now than at any other time in the future. But this does not require the establishment of large business enterprises. Let us not move according to human ambition. We are living in too solemn a time to move impulsively. While missionary work is to be done in the cities and out of the cities, God does not desire His people to invest their means in large commercial interests in the cities. My brethren and sisters, if you have physical force, if you have money, invest them in the work of enlightening men and women, warning them to prepare for what is coming upon the earth.--Ms 76, 1905.


(1905) CL 29

     Some have wondered why our office of publication should be moved from Oakland to Mountain View. God has been calling upon His people to leave the cities. The youth who are connected with our institutions should not be exposed to the temptations and the corruption to be found in the large cities. Mountain View has seemed to be a favorable location for the printing office.--Manuscript 148, 1905.


(1905) 19MR 333

     The Lord has given me a message for some of our brethren and sisters in Melbourne who are acting out, in words and works, the same objectionable things that have been acted out by some of our people in Battle Creek. Had our brethren in Battle Creek followed the Lord wisely, the large sanitarium would not have been rebuilt in the same place. Smaller plants would have been made in different places, out of the cities.


(1905) LLM 111

     Out of the cities, is my message. Those who have had the light, but have neglected to follow the instruction that the Lord has given regarding the location of our health institutions and our schools, will one day see the folly of clinging to the cities. They will realize how kind the Lord was to point out the right way.


(1906) PM 165

     My Instructor said, "This in no case must be." They have had warnings in the past over and over again, for eighteen or twenty years, but have not fully heeded these warnings. There are those who have had no heart in the matter of moving out of Oakland, but have been opposing their resistance to the instructions that have been given; and their unbelief has strengthened with the spirit of opposition to the movement. The Lord's message was, "Out of the cities; break up the continual temptation to engage in commercial business, which has been such a great injury to the work." A failure to heed the messages given, and repeated for years, has been a decided injury to the souls of many.--MS 57, 1906.


(1906) RH 7-5-06

     The cities must be worked. The millions living in these congested centers are to hear the third angel's message. This work should have been developed rapidly during the past few years. A beginning has been made, for which we praise God. Outpost centers are being established, from whence, like Enoch of old, our workers can visit the cities and do faithful service.


(1906) RH 7-5-06

     This was the burden of my message to the brethren and sisters assembled in conference at Los Angeles. On the morning of the San Francisco earthquake, April 18, the second day after the scene of falling buildings had passed before me, I spoke in the Carr Street church, and bore a decided testimony on the necessity of our doing all we can to acquaint the people with the teachings of God's Word. I referred to the great work that must be done in the cities of our land, and of our inability to do this work by establishing institutions in the heart of these cities. We must learn to labor from outpost centers, and to place our dependence, not on buildings or display, but on the power of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will impress the honest heart. Our dependence is in God.


(1906) LDE 118

     Whenever possible, it is the duty of parents to make homes in the country for their children.--AH 141


(1906) 21MR 90 (Regarding the location of health institutions)

     Be assured that the call is for our people to locate miles away from the large cities. One look at San Francisco as it is today would speak to your intelligent minds, showing you the necessity of getting out of the cities. Do not establish institutions in the cities, but seek a rural location. The call is, "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." The very atmosphere of the city is polluted. Let your schools be established away from the cities, where agricultural and other industries can be carried on.


(1906) CL 31-32

     "Out of the cities; out of the cities!''--this is the message the Lord has been giving me. The earthquakes will come; the floods will come; and we are not to establish ourselves in the wicked cities, where the enemy is served in every way, and where God is so often forgotten. The Lord desires that we shall have clear spiritual eyesight. We must be quick to discern the peril that would attend the establishment of institutions in these wicked cities. We must make wise plans to warn the cities, and at the same time live where we can shield our children and ourselves from the contaminating and demoralizing influences so prevalent in these places.--Life Sketches, pp. 409, 410. (1906)


(1906) RH 7-5-06

     The startling and stupendous events connected with the warning of the world are fraught with momentous results. The messengers who proclaim the truth for this time are laboring in co-operation with all the forces of heaven. In tender compassion God himself is speaking to an impenitent world through judgments; and he will continue to speak in this manner. For many years we have known that the great cities would be visited with divine judgments because of long-continued disobedience. In no uncertain words the Lord has warned us not to establish large institutions in the cities. "Out of the cities; out of the cities,"--this is the message that has often come to us. And this is one reason why the Lord has been opening the way so wonderfully for our publishing houses and sanitariums and schools to be located in country places.


(1906) CH 231

     The advantage of outdoor life must never be lost sight of. How thankful we should be that God has given us beautiful sanitarium properties at Paradise Valley and Glendale and Loma Linda! "Out of the cities! out of the cities!"--this has been my message for years. We cannot expect the sick to recover rapidly when they are shut in within four walls, in some city, with no outside view but houses, houses, houses--nothing to animate, nothing to enliven. And yet how slow some are to realize that the crowded cities are not favorable places for sanitarium work!


(1906) CL 24-25

     More and more, as time advances, our people will have to leave the cities. For years we have been instructed that our brethren and sisters, and especially families with children, should plan to leave the cities as the way opens before them to do so. Many will have to labor earnestly to help open the way. But until it is possible for them to leave, so long as they remain, they should be most active in doing missionary work, however limited their sphere of influence may be.-- Review and Herald, Sept. 27, 1906.


(1906) 7MR 85

     It has been plainly presented to me that the sanitarium which you are planning to establish should be located in the most healthful place you can secure. But my warning is that of the angel that, standing in Melbourne, said in a clear, distinct voice, "Establish not schools or sanitariums in the cities."  In the future, cities will certainly feel the terrible results of earthquakes and fires. Cities will be destroyed by flood and by lightnings. Out of the cities, is my message at this time.--Letter 158, 1906, pp. 1, 2. (To Dr. and Mrs. D. H. Kress, May 10, 1906.)


 (1907) RH 8-01-07

     How wonderfully the Lord has wrought for us in the securing of the Loma Linda Sanitarium! He knew that we could not unaided have purchased these buildings and their furnishings. But he opened the way before us, that we might secure the property, and make it a blessing to others. And so he will open the way in other places where sanitariums should be established. These institutions should be out of the cities, yet near enough to make it possible for the workers to give the message of warning in the great centers of population. Let all connected with our sanitariums work under the guidance of our Heavenly Father, seeking to improve every opportunity to reach the hearts of those with whom they are associated. As they do this, they will increase in capability, in judgment, and in the fear of the Lord.


(1907) RH 1-17-07

     Schools and sanitariums are to be established. These should be located out of the cities. Students should be fitted to engage in various lines of God's work. We have been greatly favored in securing land and buildings suitable for sanitarium work, at prices far below the original cost. Through the work done in these institutions, we may reach all classes, high and low. The work in behalf of the sick and suffering was ordained of God.


(1907) PM 184

     Repeatedly the Lord has instructed us that we are to work the cities from outpost centers. In these cities we are to have houses of worship, as memorials for God; but institutions for the publication of our literature, for the healing of the sick, and for the training of workers, are to be established outside the cities. Especially is it important that our youth be shielded from the temptations of city life.


(1907) 2SM 357

     The instruction is still being given, "Move out of the cities. Establish your sanitariums, your schools, and offices away from the centers of population." Many now will plead to remain in the cities, but the time will come ere-long when all who wish to avoid the sights and sounds of evil will move into the country; for wickedness and corruption will increase to such a degree that the very atmosphere of the cities will seem to be polluted.--Letter 26, 1907.


(1908) CL 14

     Who will be warned? We say again, Out of the cities. Do not consider it a great deprivation, that you must go into the hills and mountains, but seek for that retirement where you can be alone with God, to learn His will and way. . . .

     I urge our people to make it their lifework to seek for spirituality. Christ is at the door. This is why I say to our people, Do not consider it a privation when you are called to leave the cities and move out into the country places. Here there await rich blessings for those who will grasp them. By beholding the scenes of nature, the works of the Creator, by studying God's handiwork, imperceptibly you will be changed into the same image.--Manuscript 85, 1908.


(1908) CL 14

     I urge our people to make it their lifework to seek for spirituality. Christ is at the door. This is why I say to our people, Do not consider it a privation when you are called to leave the cities and move out into the country places. Here there await rich blessings for those who will grasp them. By beholding the scenes of nature, the works of the Creator, by studying God's handiwork, imperceptibly you will be changed into the same image.--Manuscript 85, 1908.


(1911) 1MR 249

     Here, you may say, the light has not been shining so long. No, it has not, but still the word has come that sanitariums should be located out of the cities. God has a purpose in that. He told the children of Israel that when the plagues should come they must go out of the Egyptians' houses into their own houses, for if they were found mingled with the Egyptians, they would be destroyed with them. They must be a separate people. So our institutions should have every advantage possible, not as far as grand buildings are concerned, but in location. The buildings are not half as much consequence as the space and grounds around a sanitarium. It is the sanitarium that should have the fruits, the flowers, every advantage to call out--well, I have written it; you have had it; it is just as forcible now as when I wrote it. I see nothing to change my mind in regard to Los Angeles on these points. . . .


(1911) GC 626

     As the decree issued by the various rulers of Christendom against commandment keepers shall withdraw the protection of government and abandon them to those who desire their destruction, the people of God will flee from the cities and villages and associate together in companies, dwelling in the most desolate and solitary places. Many will find refuge in the strongholds of the mountains. Like the Christians of the Piedmont valleys, they will make the high places of the earth their sanctuaries and will thank God for "the munitions of rocks." Isaiah 33:16. But many of all nations and of all classes, high and low, rich and poor, black and white, will be cast into the most unjust and cruel bondage. The beloved of God pass weary days, bound in chains, shut in by prison bars, sentenced to be slain, some apparently left to die of starvation in dark and loathsome dungeons. No human ear is open to hear their moans; no human hand is ready to lend them help.


(1913) CPTS 309-310 (possibly appeared in print earlier)

     In establishing our schools out of the cities, we shall give the students an opportunity to train the muscles to work as well as the brain to think. Students should be taught how to plant, how to gather the harvest, how to build, how to become acceptable missionary workers in practical lines. By their knowledge of useful industries they will often be enabled to break down prejudice; often they will be able to make themselves so useful that the truth will be recommended by the knowledge they possess.




(1905) RH 9-21-05

     So far as possible, these mission schools for colored people should be established outside the cities. But in the cities there are many children who could not attend the schools that will be established out of the cities; and schools should be opened for them.