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grace Kelly starts work January 19, 1956 with Frank Sinatra on "High Society" AP images life the great life didn’t cost a lot of in 1950, at least at an initial glance.The average home was worth $7,354, a newVolkswagen Beetle could be yours for $1,280, and also tuition at the college of Pennsylvania was $600.

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All that sounds prefer a bargain until you establish the average household took home just $4,237 every year. Minimum wage was 75 cent an hour, and those with tasks in sectors like manufacturing, finance, and also government had actually an average hourly wage of $1.50. As soon as you look in ~ those numbers, $1,200 cars and also college tuition no sound prefer such a bargain.

In hindsight, 1950s-era price look low, but things also out quite a little once you account for inflation. A dissension in 1950 offers you the exact same spending strength as $10 today. So, yes, you may have been able come buy a cup of coffee for a nickel in 1950, yet a nickel was worth considerably much more back then (about 50 cent in today’s dollars). But that’s no to speak some things haven’t gotten an ext expensive in the intervening 60-plus years.

If tuition prices at Penn had actually risen in line with inflation, undergrads would certainly be payment $6,000 come attend; instead, the sticker price for an Ivy League education and learning has ballooned to $42,176. The MSRP for a new Beetle is simply under $20,000; the inflation-adjusted price that the 1950 car would be about $13,000. Real wages because that American workers, meanwhile, have actually stagnated. Is it any type of wonder human being are nostalgic for the good old days, as soon as a dollar might buy you an ext than a cup that coffee at McDonald’s? To gain a sense of how much $1 really offered to go, check out this perform of 7 things you can get for a buck earlier in 1950.


Seattle Municipal Archives

A gallon of gas was 27 cent in 1950, according to historic data from the U.S. Department of Energy. 4 gallons would certainly have cost you $1.08. The sounds nice cheap, yet the 1950 price was tantamount to $2.14 a gallon in 2015, just 31 cents less than 2015’s average per-gallon price the $2.45.



Back in the 1950s, you can pick up countless of the items on her grocery perform for less than $1. Vintage supermarket ads shared by the Houston Chronicle offer you an idea of what it would certainly have expense to stock her pantry, with 5 pounds the flour marketing for 39 cents and 2 packages that spaghetti going because that 27 cent at lucky 7 shop in 1950. Coffee was one of the much more expensive items. You might get a pound of glowing & early on Coffee because that 79 cents, the tantamount of $7.49 today.


Shane snow

Cheap pulp paperbacks v their lurid covers and also salacious taglines were big business in mid-century America. In 1950, you can pick up books like The large Night by Stanley Ellin (“eight savage hours of whiskey and women!”) or The little Back Room by Nigel Balchin (“the story of an poor man”) because that a quarter each. In comparison, best-selling mass-market paperbacks favor Game of Thrones cost around $10 today, or the identical of $1 in 1950.


Wikimedia Commons

Catching the recent hit movie price a lot much less in the 1950s than it walk today. In 1948, the median movie ticket price 36 cents; through 1954 it had climbed 13 cent to 49 cents, follow to the national Association that Theatre Owners. In today’s dollars, that’s less than $5 for a movie. In 2015, the median movie ticket would set you earlier $8.43.


In 1950, a dime gained you a drive on the brand-new York City subway. Commuters that made one round-trip every weekday would have spent $1 every week on subway fares. Today, a single ride subway ticket is $3, the identical of 30 cents in 1950. (Per-ride fares space slightly less if girlfriend buy a MetroCard, which didn’t exist in 1950.)

Getty pictures

A fill of cigarettes expense an typical of 15 cents in 1950, the identical of $1.49 today, follow to an evaluation by Graphiq. In ~ those prices, 6 packs that smokes would cost you 90 cents. You’ll shell out a lot an ext for her Marlboros and also Lucky Strikes today. The typical prices of a pack of cigarettes in the U.S. Is currently $7.26, follow to The Awl.

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This Aug. 22, 1948 document photo reflects Brooklyn Dodgers Jackie Robinson, right, stealing house plate together Boston Braves' catcher bill Salkeld is thrown off-balance ~ above the litter to the plate during the fifth inning at Ebbets field in brand-new York. AP

In 1950, you didn’t have to spend a tiny fortune to view baseball legends Jackie Robinson, Yogi Berra, and Ted Williams pat in the MLB All-Star video game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park. Bleacher tickets because that the big event sold for $1 – or about $10 in 2016 dollars. In comparison, ticket to the 2016 All-Star game in mountain Diego went because that an mean of $506 on the resale market.