E is for Electricity and Expenses

April 5, 2016

E

This year for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I’m writing about the 1800s. In particular, I’ll be focusing on the events surrounding Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world in 1889 in celebration of my new novel based on this adventure, Liz and Nellie.

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Electricity

The late 1800s saw the dawning of the electric age. Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb in 1879, and in September 1882, the world’s first commercial power station supplied electricity to 59 homes in New York.

Early on there was a war of solutions: AC (Alternating Current with Nicola Tesla) vs DC (Direct Current with Thomas Edison.)

1893—Chicago World’s Fair; Tesla wins the bid to light up the fair, winning over public opinion to AC
1896—The Niagara Falls experiment vaulted AC to the forefront when it successfully sent power miles away to Buffalo, New York.

But back in 1889-1890 when world travelers Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland were racing around the world, they were still talking about gas lights (at Jules Verne’s house), but mention modern electric call buttons on board the Oceanic steamship and electric bells at the Grand Hotel in Japan. They lived in that Victorian transition zone, an interesting period of history as the world began to make the switch to electricity.

 

Expenses

How much did it cost to travel around the world in 1889? According to Nellie Bly, $805 for travel expenses; $300 for conservative personal expenses.

“It is not possible to quote my fares and expenses as a criterion for prospective tourists, as I was traveling for a newspaper, and what it cost is their secret. Not counting the extra train, if first-class tickets had been bought from New York to New York it would only have cost $805. By using economy, outside expenses should not exceed $300.” -Nellie Bly Around the World in 72 Days

For curiosity…how much would it cost today? A quick internet search brought up these quote (but note that these were not races, but sightseeing trips.):

1. Round the World Expenses: http://www.rtwexpenses.com/ 

Total 3 year expenses:
Days on the road: 1096
Overall daily average: $70.50
Total spent: $77,192

2. Airtrekshttp://www.airtreks.com/ready/how-much-does-an-rtw-trip-cost/

It’s a general consensus from people who have done these trips that a year on the road costs somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 total.

Let’s just say $25,000 for the sake of argument. If you break that down monthly, a Round the World trip will cost one person around $2000 per month accommodating everything. For many people it is cheaper to be on the road than staying at home.

2 responses to E is for Electricity and Expenses

  1. Fascinating posts about the 1800s. I’m looking forward to learning more about the 19th century and the race between Liz and Nellie.

    Dan Miller
    http://www.impressionevergreen.com