160 years of human development – How self storage could have helped the 1850s

The past 150 years have been tumultuous for our little blue planet. We’ve gone from a basic ‘horse-drawn’ low energy existence to a global, high-speed, high energy population. In this series of ABC ‘what-if’s’ we look at inventions and human progress – and ask where Self Storage would have fitted in – had it been around.

First up the 1850s…

Darwin’s Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. The book recounted his observations and experiences from his Beagle expedition in the 1830s and subsequent experiments.

Of course, that expedition collected field samples – the majority of which are housed in the collections of the Natural History Museum. Darwin was lucky in that he had a state sponsored facility in which to keep his specimens, but could he have used self storage? In a modern day storage facility you aren’t allowed to store any living or perishable objects, so Darwin would have needed the services of a decent taxidermist.

Fashion gets confusing for outfitters of Jackets and Coats
In general Coats are long, Jackets are short, but in the 1850s the definition between the two became blurred. Not a big deal if all you really wanted was something that would keep you warm. But if you had a clothes shop or tailors and someone ordered a Coat, they’d be cross if you gave them a Jacket. There was no Primark back then. Of course, if you owned one of those shops – and Self Storage had been around – then you could have used it to store all those lovely rolls of cloth that were destined to become coats (or jackets).


Life gets a lift

Over in New York, at the Exhibition of All the Nations Industry in 1852, Elisha Otis demonstrated his invention of the safety elevator (or ‘lift’ as we’d call it). It was a big success and by 1857 he had installed his first commercial elevator at 488 Broadway. Self storage would have been the perfect solution for expanding the business across the world’s cities as somewhere to store the hardware and spares. Given that most self storage centres these days feature a lift (and Otis is still the most popular brand), we’re sure there would have been plenty of reciprocal business!

The other origin of species

Back in 1856, in a place called Neanderthal, Germany (now Belgium) a man called Johann Karl Fuhlrott found some pieces of fossilised bone – a skull cap, two femora, three rights arms, two left arms, an ilium and fragments of scapula and ribs.

The specimens became known as Neanderthal 1.

They were identified by Hermann Schaaffhausen and the two of them published their findings in 1857. Preceding Darwin’s book by a couple of years the two men are widely considered as the founders of the study of Paleoanthropology (the study of the ancient evolution of humanity).

These days the range of Paleoanthropological artefacts amounts to over 400 specimens across the world. That’s quite some pile of fossil bones and a self storage unit would have been the perfect place for the prolific collector.

Tune in next time for part 2, when we’ll take a look at – 1860 – 1890.

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