After reading some data on 1900 costs vs todays costs, I think you have to have at least 40-50 million today to have the same buying power and true wealth as then. This is interesting to look at and I think Bear has some more info on this kind of thing. True Inflation (Unsourced) Cost of Living A comparison of the cost of living today and the cost of living in 1900 is not readily available. Homer Hoyt suggests that older houses in the more fashionable neighborhoods rented for $25-60 per month. Apartments were being built for the upper class along the fashionable boulevards which were to be rented for $100-300 per month, or even $1,000 for certain Lakeshore Drive palaces. Apartment or flat living was becoming popular because of increasing difficulties in getting servants to maintain large detached residences Cost per pound : Rib Roast $.13, Chuck Steak $.08, Sirloin $.14, Corned Beef $.06, Butter $.22, Cheese $.17, Coffee $.14, Flour $.02, Lard $.10, Mutton $.08, Pork Chops, $.10, Rice $.06, Sugar $.06 Other prices: Dry Beans—quart $.09, Bread—1 pound loaf $.05, Eggs—dozen $.18, Milk—quart $.06, Molasses—gallon $.60, Irish Potatoes—Bushel $.39 Housing costs were often among the most crippling items in the family budget. It is difficult to find data on costs in 1900, but below are some representative figures. Robert Hunter in Tenement Conditions in Chicago p.46 cites a tenement in which small dark 2-3 room apartments rent for $4-7 per month. The Chicago Budget for 1900 gives an idea of the wages paid in the public sector. Some sample annual wages: Janitors (male) $720, (female) $540 Coal passers $720-780 Firefighters $840-1,134 Patrolmen $1,000, Police Matrons $720 Laborers $600 Stenographer (female) $900, male clerks generally earned $900-1200 Mayor $10,000 Department Heads generally earned $3,000-6,000. A quite numerous class of assistants, chief clerks, lawyers, police and fire supervisors, etc., earned a comfortable middle class income of $1200-3000 per year.