Ten 19th century developments that greatly improved life where I live … and in much of the rest of the world

Some of these have already passed into oblivion, but they were still part of the transformation.

  1. Window screening. Maine is loaded with black flies and mosquitos. Somebody still had to go outdoors, though.
  2. Steamships. Not just allowing you to get away or back, but conveying the mail, especially. Think Internet and email for comparison. Remember, Eastport was a major port, including the exportation of canned sardines.
  3. Railroads. Ditto for mail and newspapers. As well as exporting goods to market. Or deliveries back. (Think Amazon.)
  4. Canning. Home canning, of course, but also grocery stores. Out-of-season food options suddenly exploded. Winter wasn’t mostly beans. Not that we’re so fond of it now that we have frozen food choices. But sardine canning also became the economic powerhouse of Eastport.
  5. Sanitation. Let’s start with antiseptics and move on to indoor plumbing as well as the rotary washing machine. Nowadays, that also means the clothes dryer and dishwasher.
  6. Electrical lighting. Especially in those truncated winter nights we have up here.
  7. Linotype. I used to live in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill, where its inventor resided. Daily newspapers and cheap books became commonplace.
  8. Telephone. Did any other invention save more steps? Or do more to relieve loneliness?
  9. Sound recordings. You no longer had to be a musician to have decent music any time you desired.
  10. Automobile. John William Lambert invented the first practical American gasoline automobile in 1891 in southwest Ohio and later moved his operations to Anderson, Indiana. I remember visiting a friend and seeing an old car with an impressive Lambert name in brass across the radiator sitting at an open garage door. “Ann,” said I, “is that car any relation to you?” She replied that her grandfather used to make them but otherwise conveyed no knowledge that he had been so prominent a figure.

And let’s not forget toilet paper to our roll of advances.

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