A look at the historical effect of real estate.
Surprisingly Cheap Real Estate: Answers
Have you priced any real estate lately? Are prices up or down in your area? Have you often wished for a tardis so that you could go back and take advantage of the Homestead Act?
Here's when these places were cheap to own.
- What did the Roman Army have to do with the founding of Cologne? They built a camp there, Oppidium Ubiorum. The Ubii made a treaty, sign on the dotted line.
- How much did Peter Minuit pay the Lenape Indians for Manhattan Island in 1624? 60 guilders. Well, the equivalent in goods. That's about $1000 worth of stuff in modern money, which was a pretty big bargain. (Dutch traders were sharp.)
- Talk about bargains: what did the British trade the Dutch for Manhattan in 1664? The island of Run in the East Indies. Why? Nutmeg. It was worth a lot back then, and with Run in their pockets, the Dutch now had a monopoly and a licence to print money. Of course, Manhattan real estate is worth a bundle these days – too bad the Duke of York lost the receipt.
- More Dutch land acquisition: what in the world is a polder? Homemade land. Sort of. It's land reclaimed from the sea – you may not have to buy it, but boy, do you have to work for it. And it's below sea level, too. But it gives us the saying, 'God created the world but the Dutch created Holland.'
- What did Jefferson pay Napoleon for the Louisiana Territory in 1803? 50 million francs. That sounds like a lot, but it was about four cents an acre.
- What did the US pay for the Philippines in 1898? $20 million. Andrew Carnegie offered them the same amount to leave the Filipinos alone, but the jingoists weren't having any.
- How much did the land for Washington, DC, cost the federal government? Nada. It was donated, by Maryland and Virginia. At the time, they thought it would be cool to have the capital next door. By the time they changed their minds, it was too late.
- Who did the US buy Alaska from? Russia. At two cents an acre, it was a steal – although at the time, Americans mocked 'Seward's Icebox'.
- If you can't buy a city, make one out of patchwork. Why did people originally move to the 117 islands of Venice? They were hiding from barbarians. Cool idea, though: they just built lots of bridges and connected the lagoon. Almost as land-thrifty as the Dutch.
- And now a modern real estate conundrum: why are the Maldive Islanders considering moving the entire population to Australia? Climate change. If the sea level rises, many of those 1,200 islands may be underwater. Maybe they should ask the Dutch how to build a polder.