What a Difference a Century Makes

A friend passed along this interesting list of US statistics for the year 1905. You can find the list reproduced in several places around the Web, and I have no idea about the original source. For that matter, I can’t swear that any of it is even accurate, although most of it seems about right.

Anyway, the point was to illustrate how much things have changed in a century. To be sure, these stats paint a picture of a world far different from USA circa 2k6. However, I just don’t feel like whoever compiled the list did a good enough job connecting the dots. So I’m taking the list – most of it, anyhow – and adding in the 2006 analogue so that it’s a little clearer what the numbers mean.

Here we go (and apologies in advance for the totally uncalled-for cheap shots):

1905: The average life expectancy in the US was 47 years.
2006: The average age children born in the 1980s and 1990s can be expected to leave home and get a place of their own is 47 years.

1905: Only 14 percent of the homes in the US had a bathtub.
2006: 14 percent of Americans have sex at work.

1905: Only eight percent of the homes had a telephone.
2006: Over 115 million Americans have cell phones. About 7.5 million Americans now rely on their wireless phone as their only phone. Over 80% of college students have cell phones, and 37% say they use them to order take-out food.

1905: A three-minute call from Denver to New York City cost eleven dollars.
2006: A three-minute cell call from Denver to New York City costs… duh, three minutes.

1905: There were only 8,000 cars in the US, and only 144 miles of paved roads.
2006: The National Automobile Dealers Association says over 14 million cars a year are scrapped. There are now 4 million miles of paved road in the US. If you drive across Nebraska from Iowa to the Colorado border, it feels like you just drove 3 million of them.

1905: The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
2006: The Buick-driving bluehairs in my neighborhood seem to think the speed limit is still 10 mph. (Many of them remember 1905.)

1905: Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California.
2006: California is more heavily populated than all but 33 countries in the world.

1905: With a mere 1.4 million people, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
2006: 1.4 million Californians move to Colorado each day.

1905: The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower (324 meters).
2006: The Burj Dubai, now under construction, will be roughly 800 meters tall.

1905: The average wage in the US was 22 cents per hour.
2006: The average wage at Wal*Mart is 22 cents per hour.

1905: The average US worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
2006: The average foreign worker, who’s now doing the job that US workers used to do, makes between $200 and $400 per year.

1905: A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year…
2006: Beginning teachers in many states make $2000 per month.

1905: …a dentist $2,500 per year…
2006: The median expected salary for a typical Dentist in the United States is $117,251.

1905: …a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and…
2006: Depending on the specifics of the job, a vet can earn well over $100,000 per year.

1905: …a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.
2006: The median expected salary for a typical Mechanical Engineer V in the United States is $94,879.

1905: Ninety percent of all US doctors had no college education. Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as “substandard.”
2006: If the government condemns your operation as substandard, it means you aren’t contributing enough to PACs and re-election campaigns.

1905: Sugar cost four cents a pound.
2006: “Sugar,” of course, is slang for LSD, which costs $5-10 a hit. Texas Instruments estimates that their drug testing program costs roughly $100 per employee.

1905: Eggs were 14 cents a dozen.
2006: At Texas Fertility, P.A. the expected cost of having your eggs artificially fertilized is $9,000.

1905: Coffee was 15 cents a pound.
2006: A cup of coffee costs $3.50.*

1905: Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
2006: It’s still that way in France.

1905: Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from entering into their country for any reason.
2006: Canadian immigration policy centers on attracting young, skilled workers (especially technical) who like short growing seasons and skunky beer.

1905: Five leading causes of death in the US were pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, diarrhea, heart disease, and stroke.
2006: According to highly placed government sources, the five leading causes of death are September 11, global terrorism, al Qaida, Saddam Hussein, and the liberal culture of death.

1905: The American flag had 45 stars. Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska hadn’t been admitted to the Union yet.
2006: We’ll keep these five if you’ll take back Texas.

1905: The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30.
2006: The population of Wyoming is 30. The population of Las Vegas, Nevada includes 30 hookers per square mile.

1905: Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea hadn’t been invented yet.
2006: Nonsense. God invented iced tea on the day he created barbecue and the South.

1905: There was no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.
2006: Now we set aside one day each year to love our parents.

1905: Two out of every 10 US adults couldn’t read or write and only six percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
2006: Six out of every 10 Americans who graduate from college can’t read or write as well as most 1905 high school graduates.

1905: Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacist said, “Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind, regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.”
2006: Now you can get a prescription for a drug that gives you a four-hour erection.

1905: 18 percent of households in the US had at least one full-time servant or domestic help.
2006: 18 percent of senior business executives are boinking the nanny.

1905: There were about 230 reported murders in the entire US.
2006: There are around 15,000 murders each year. Of course, some of the victims probably needed killing.

I hope this helps provide some perspective.

(Some salary numbers ganked from Salary.com.)
* Swiped from meryddian.

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