One hundred years. It seems such a long time, but it is not. Remember when you turned 25 and your friends delighted in pointing out that you were now a quarter of a century old? It made you feel ancient, didn’t it? Only three more quarters to go for you, and you’re 100.
In the last hundred years there have been astounding changes in the world. We went from the 1st transcontinental airplane flight (NY-Pasadena in 82 hrs 4 min) to landing men on the moon and building a space station. We went from a mostly static population to one that moves regularly from place to place (the automobile was probably the biggest contributor of all time to a more diverse gene pool in humans). In the USA and many other countries we went from mostly agricultural societies to mostly urbanized societies.
Yet still, in this age of science and rockets and sophisticated warfare, more than 50% of the world’s population has never made nor received a phone call, and there are still isolated peoples who don’t have an alphabet.
In 1911: Las Vegas was incorporated on March 16. Still just a remote desert community inhabited by a handful of ranchers and their families, the population stood at 800.
In 1911: the first old-age home opened in Prescott, AZ.
In 1911: Studebaker Corporation was formed; electric vehicles were dropped so the firm could focus on gas-engine automobiles.
In 1911: the world’s first combat aerial bombing mission took place in Libya during the Italo-Turkish War. Second Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti of Italy dropped several small bombs.
In 1911: a newly passed bill provided for the election of state Senators by direct popular vote in the USA, which went into effect in 1913. One hundred years later there are calls from some quarters to return to having Senators appointed by State Legislators.
In 1911: New York City police introduced a new prosecutor’s tool, latent-fingerprint evidence, to prove Caesar “Charley Crispi” Cella’s presence during a burglary. He was convicted.
How much have things really changed in the last one hundred years?
In 1911 in the USA:
- Life expectancy was 50.9 years for men, 54.4 years for women
- There were 46 stars on the US flag. Arizona, New Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.
- The average wage was 22 cents per hour. The average US annual income was $983.
- The US population was 93,863,000
- The new-home median price was $2,625
- The new-car average price was $1,130
- Milk cost 8¢ per quart
- Bread was 5¢ per loaf
- Steak was 20¢ per pound
- A postal stamp cost 2¢
- The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph
- More than 95% of all births in the United States took place at home
- 60% of the population lived in a town of fewer than 2500 or less.
- There was no income tax, no social security, no unemployment insurance and no public housing for the elderly or the handicapped.
- About 33% of Americans were farmers or farm laborers. Today, that figure has fallen to just 2%.
- The average work week in 1910 included six 12-hour days.
- Less than 20% of 15 – 18 years olds were enrolled in a high school; less than 10% of all American 18 year-olds graduated; less than 3% of the population graduated from a school of higher learning
- Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
- California’s total population was 2.4 million residents, whereas in 2011 the population of Los Angeles County alone is 9.8 million.
- Republican rebels bolted the party and formed the National Progressive Republican League, with Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette as their leader. The Progressive party’s platform included abolition of monopolies, endorsement of collective bargaining by unions, and public control and conservation of natural resources. One hundred years later those issues all belong to the Democratic Party.
- Ford’s Model T got a new body and prices were cut to as low as $650; sales doubled and market share hit 35%
- Chevrolet Motor Company was formed.
- There were more than 130,000 automobiles, besides some 35,000 motor trucks, delivery wagons, etc., and 150,000 motorcycles and tricycles.
- The price of gasoline was 7¢ per gallon
- Plutonium, insulin, and antibiotics hadn’t been discovered yet
- Scotch tape, crossword puzzles (as we know them), stainless steel, water skiing and canned beer hadn’t been invented.
The five leading causes of death in the US were:1. Tuberculosis2. Pneumonia and influenza3. Diarrhea4. Heart disease5. Stroke
And what will they be saying one hundred years from now when they compare 2111 to 2011? What can you imagine…?
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