Change in a century
by Lee Bennett | February 4, 2003
You may be interested in seeing some statistics that show how our world and nation has changed in one century.
Just 100 years ago, In the year 1903— The average life expectancy in the US was 47. Only 14% of homes in the US had a bathtub. There was no birth control. Only 8% of homes had a telephone. A 3-minute call from Denver to New York City cost $11. There were only 8,000 cars in the US and only 144 miles of paved roads. The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph. Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The average wage in the US was 22 cents an hour. The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year. A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year, a dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
More than 95% of all births in the US took place at home. 90% of all US physicians had no college education. Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as "substandard." Sugar cost 4 cents a pound. Eggs were 14 cents a dozen. Coffee cost 15 cents a pound. Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax, corn starch or egg yolks for shampoo. Canada passed a law prohibiting poor people from entering the country for any reason.
The five leading causes of death in the US were: 1. Pneumonia and influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke
The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn't been admitted to the Union yet. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.
Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn't been invented. There were no Mother's Day or Father's Day. One in ten US adults couldn't read or write. Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from high school. Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at corner drugstores. According to one pharmacist, "Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and the bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health." 18% of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic.
There were only about 230 reported murders in the entire US. ....What a difference a century makes.
This article first appeared in the February 4, 2003 issue of the Voyageur Press.