This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

An amazing example of inflation in Phoenix in the 20th Century


I collect old photos of Phoenix, and one of my favorite things is to find old postcards. I'm interested in history, and architecture, and cars. So the pic up there of the Montezuma Motel is a real gem to me. The postcard had the exact address, and one of my experts on Facebook identified the car parked in front as early 1960s. So I posted it to my Facebook page. It's wonderful to have other eyes looking at these photos!

Then someone commented on the price of rooms - $5 to $8, which seemed surprising. As of this writing, I'd say that you'd be lucky to get a decent motel room for less than fifty dollars. And I got to wondering what an old-timer would have thought of the price. You know, someone who had seen the price of a hotel room in 1909.

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1909 ad for the Gold Hotel, 3rd and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona. A nice hotel.

So I found an old ad, from 1909, which listed their price for a room as 50 cents and up. Fifty cents for a room. From fifty cents to five dollars is quite an increase! I'm no expert in math, but if I picked up something at a garage sale that was fifty cents and was asked to pay five dollars for it, I wouldn't believe it. The old-timers must have hated it!

Of course, to our modern eyes, it all looks amazingly cheap. That five dollar room in the 1960s hotel just seems absolutely ridiculous. Ridiculously cheap. But to someone who had seen hotel rooms go for fifty cents, it would have looked ridiculously expensive.

Image at the top of this post: The Montezuma Motel in the 1960s, 1890 E. Van Buren, Phoenix, Arizona