|Victorian-era water closet: Eventually, it was|
allowed into the room with the bathtub.
(Image courtesy of Plumbing Geek)
While it’s remarkable enough that these conveniences have only been with us for the last hundred forty years, it's even more amazing that all of them harken from the last three decades of the Victorian era, between 1870 and the end of the nineteenth century. It was a time of explosive technical progress in domestic technology—the equivalent of our own end-of-the-century digital revolution.
A host of innovations, including piped-in hot and cold water, indoor bathrooms, central heating, electricity, and telephone all entered the modern home during this brief span of decades.
|Central heating was a huge step forward, freeing floor plans|
from their age-old tether to the fireplace chimney. Since
these furnaces worked by gravity alone, they had to be
located beneath the living area in a basement.
The introduction of pressurized water systems by about 1870 set the stage for running hot and cold water and the advent of indoor plumbing. By 1880, most homes had an indoor toilet, although at first the Victorians, who were obsessed by fears of “deadly sewer gas”, confined it to its own little room—hence the term “water closet”. Later, however, the water closet was annexed to the room containing the bathtub—eventually yielding the now-familiar "bathroom".
|By the end of the nineteenth century, light came at the mere|
push of a button—a big improvement over lighting
a gas mantel, let alone a candle.
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell spoke the famous words, “Watson, come here; I want you,” through his experimental transceiver and, for better or worse, unleashed the telephone on society. By 1900, it was already quite commonplace in homes across America.
|Early electric lighting fixture intentionally flaunted|
naked bulbs fo that they couldn't possibly be mistaken
for old-school gaslights.
Think about that the next time you plug in your computer, monitor, backup drive, printer, phone charger, desk lamp, and shredder.