COVID-19 isn’t the first infectious disease to have a major impact on the way we live, and it won’t be the last. Illnesses like tuberculosis, typhoid, cholera, and the 1918 “Spanish” flu have impacted everything from the popularity of upholstered surfaces to the construction of spacious suburban houses with their own gardens.
The Rise of the Half-Bathroom
These days, it’s hard to imagine living in a city where raw sewage flows straight from homes and businesses into the streets. Prior to the 1850s, most people blamed foul odors and evil spirits for spreading disease (though early forms of scientifically sound germ theory were proposed and ignored as early as 1025 by Persian polymath Ibn Sina). Advances in microscopy confirming that microorganisms are passed person-to-person and through contaminated drinking water finally led to a sanitary reform movement, establishing the basis of indoor plumbing.