Ironies of History: Chinese Communist Party as Land Baron Edition
Randy Kroszner

Getting to Fat Tuesday a Century Ago

Craig Depken writes:

Division of Labour : Mardi Gras Travel c. 1906: From the Jan. 28, 1906 NYT is an advertisement for the Washington and Southern Railway:

MARDI GRAS - NEW YORK TO NEW ORLEANS AND RETURN - $37.75: Tickets on sale February 21 to 27, good returning until March 3, 1906. Extension of limit March 16th can be had by depositing ticket and paying 50 cents at New Orleans.

I don't know how long it would have taken to get from the Big Apple to the Big Easy on a train, but I would figure two days or so. The folks over at estimate the following 2004 values for the $37 round trip:

In 2004, $37.75 from 1906 is worth:

  • $789.69 using the Consumer Price Index
  • $628.95 using the GDP deflator
  • $3,459.73 using the unskilled wage
  • $4,577.43 using the GDP per capita...

Ouch.... Today's cost of flying from NYC Laguardia to New Orleans? Travelocity has reasonably timed flights for around $160. Travel time from NYC to NO is about 2.5 hours. Wow.

Think of it this way: if the price of travel to New Orleans and back had gone up as fast as average prices have gone up, it would be $700 or so. Relative to average prices, long-distance transportation has become cheaper by a factor of nearly five. Plus we have become richer by a factor of seven (or more, taking account of increases in the capabilities invention and innovation have granted us).