The buzz

What was life like when Brood XIII cicadas last emerged? Take a trip down memory lane

Cicadas sit on a branch in a forest.
Cicadas at Hickory Creek Preserve. (Photo by Anthony Schalk)

For some of us, 2007 seems like a lifetime ago. For some of us, 2007 was a lifetime ago. In the 17 years since our Brood XIII cicadas last emerged from underground, plenty has changed. But as the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And there are some things about life in 2024 that don't seem so different than in 2007.

Here's a brief look at what life was like in 2007 — the biggest headlines, what was popular and more — so you can see for yourself how much has changed in the 17 years the Brood XIII cicadas were busy underground preparing to emerge this spring.

In the news

The last time the Brood XIII periodical cicadas made their way above ground in northern Illinois, George W. Bush was in his second term as president and Rod Blagojevich was in his second term as Illinois governor — and more than a year away from being arrested on the federal corruption charges he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for. (His sentence was commuted to time served by President Donald Trump in 2020.) Our U.S. senators for Illinois were Dick Durbin, who remains in office today, and Barack Obama, who resigned his Senate seat in 2008 when he was elected president.

In 2007, the U.S. was fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a troop surge in Iraq began early in the year. The world was also teetering on the brink of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. Other major headlines included the following:

  • U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, became the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2007. 
  • A student gunman killed 32 people on the Virginia Tech campus in April 2007. It was at the time the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.
  • Wildfires ravaged communities in Southern California.
  • An interstate bridge spanning the Mississippi River collapsed in August 2007, killing 13 and injuring nearly 100.
  • Oil prices hit then record highs, reaching nearly $100 a barrel.

In popular culture

All those cicadas emerging from underground right about now are about the same age as the first edition of the iPhone, with the phone that revolutionized the world first sold on June 29, 2007. And while many of us were already on Facebook and Twitter in 2007, with the social media giants launching in 2004 and 2006 respectively, we might not have had the foresight to realize just how prevalent social media would become in our lives. How many social media apps do you have on your phone right now? 

The way we consume media has certainly changed enormously since our last cicada emergence. In fact, 2007 was the exact year that Netflix changed the world by debuting its brand-new streaming service, switching its focus away from its until-then popular DVDs-by-mail subscription service. Now we stream movies, TV shows, music and more. How many subscriptions do you have to streaming services today?

Back in 2007, we went to movies a lot more than we do today too. The top grossing movies in the United States that year were "Spider-Man 3," "Shrek the Third" and "Transformers." On the small screen, competition reality TV shows were popular, with "American Idol" and "Dancing With the Stars" the two most watched shows of the 2006-2007 TV season (September 2006 to August 2007). "The Sopranos" also aired its series finale in spring 2007.

In the music world, the top 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2007 were "Irreplaceable" by Beyoncé, "Umbrella" by Rihanna featuring Jay-Z and "Sweet Escape" by Gwen Stefani featuring Akon.

In the sports arena, those of us in northern Illinois might still be feeling the sting of the Chicago Bears' loss to the Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl following a stellar 2006 season anchored by a top-rated defense. Elsewhere in the sports world, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, the San Antonio Spurs were victorious over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals, the Anaheim Ducks bested the Ottawa Senators to win the Stanley Cup and the Houston Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution to win the MLS Cup. In women's sports, the Phoenix Mercury were crowned the WNBA champions and Germany defeated Brazil to win the Women's World Cup. At Wimbledon, Venus Williams and Roger Federer won the women's and men's singles titles. Tiger Woods won the 13th of his 15 major championships when he won the PGA Championship in 2007. 

Baby names is another trend we like to keep an eye on from year to year, and the U.S. Social Security Administration makes it easy to do with their baby names data. In 2007, the top baby names were Emily and Jacob. How many Emily and Jacobs (or maybe Jakes) do you know who are in high school today? 

Dollars and cents

We also tend to think of the past in terms of how much things cost, and a dollar in 2007 has the same buying power as $1.83 today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' inflation calculator

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Illinois in May 2007 was $2.68, compared with $3.90 in the state now. Remember, too, that oil prices in 2007 reached what were at the time record highs. At the grocery store, the average cost of a pan loaf of white bread was $1.19 in May 2007, compared with $2 today, and bananas were 50 cents a pound, compared with 63 cents today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. A dozen eggs costs an average of $1.50 in May 2007, compared with $2.86 today, and at the meat counter, a pound of 100% ground chuck was $2.77 a pound, compared with $5.28 today.

How about the cost of big-ticket items? The average price for a new car was $23,892 in 2007. Earlier this year, the average price for a new car was $47,338, which is down from the price peak of $48,516 reached in December 2022, PBS reports. The median sale price for a home in the United States in May 2007 was $217,579, compared with $405,614 in February of this year (the last month for which data is available).

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