What life was like 50 years ago in America, compared to now in 2023


From songs, movies to haircuts and more, here are 10 ways America changed from 1973 to 2023.

Life is very different compared to 50 years ago. 

From popular music, movies and haircuts to monumental political moments, notable economic statistics and scientific advancements, here are 10 examples of how the U.S. has changed from 1973 to 2023. 

Top song

At the start of 1973, the top song in the U.S. was “You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon, according to Billboard’s Hot 100 list, which was released on Saturday, Jan. 6, 1973. In the last week of 2022, Mariah Carey’s holiday hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” dominated the Billboard Hot 100 once again. The song was originally released in 1987.

Shag haircuts

Shag haircuts, a layered style with varying lengths of hair, was a popular hairstyle for men and women in the 1970s, according to the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook, an online resource that provides media hair and makeup training.

In an overview of 1970s hairstyles, the hair and makeup website wrote that shag haircuts are “a unisex, no frills cut that involved evenly-progressing layers with graduated sides and a full fringe.”

American actress Jane Fonda played the role of Bree Daniels in the 1971 film "Klute."

American actress Jane Fonda played the role of Bree Daniels in the 1971 film “Klute.” (Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Celebrity hairdresser Paul McGregor reportedly created the style for Jane Fonda’s character Bree Daniels in the film “Klute” (1971).

Other celebrities who donned the shag haircut throughout the ’70s included rock ‘n’ roll star Joan Jett, singer Suzi Quatro, the pop boyband Bay City Rollers and “The Partridge Family” actor David Cassidy, according to the Hair & Makeup Artist Handbook’s overview.

Shag haircuts have reportedly made a comeback in pop culture, according to multiple fashion and beauty magazines.

Skylab launch

Skylab, America’s first space station and first crewed research lab in space, was launched on May 14, 1973, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The Skylab reportedly evolved out of the Apollo Applications Program of the late 1960s, which sought to recycle unused hardware from the Apollo Moon landing program, NASA wrote on the Skylab’s 45th anniversary.

The Skylab disintegrated on July 11, 1979, and debris fell into the Indian Ocean and Western Australia, according to History.com.

NASA’s International Space Station launched 19 years after the Skylab’s crash. It continues to operate and is set to decommission and deorbit by 2031, according to the agency’s transition plan. 

Best Picture

The 45th Academy Awards, hosted at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles Music Center on March 27, 1973, honored films that were released in 1972, according to the Oscars website.

The film that won the Best Picture award was “The Godfather,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by Albert S. Ruddy.

Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in "The Godfather," a movie based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, was released on March 15, 1972.

Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather,” a movie based on the novel by Mario Puzo. The film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, was released on March 15, 1972. (CBS via Getty Images)

Nominees for the 95th Academy Awards, which is scheduled for March 12, 2023, have yet to be officially announced. 

The Hollywood Reporter named several Best Picture contenders for 2023 in a recent report, including: “Elvis,” “Emancipation,” “Till,” “The Woman King,” “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” “The Wonder,” “She Said,” “Tár,” “Women Talking,” “Pinocchio,” “Bones and All” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Nope” and “Top Gun: Maverick.”

The Academy Awards will announce their nominees on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Gas prices

On average, the cost of gas in the U.S. in 1973 was 39 cents per gallon, according to data from the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. That average was up three cents from the previous year.

On average, the cost of gas in the U.S. in 1973 was 39 cents per gallon.

On average, the cost of gas in the U.S. in 1973 was 39 cents per gallon. (Getty Images)

Now national gasoline retail prices average around $3.99 per gallon, according to an updated Short-Term Energy Outlook forecast from the Energy Information Administration.

The agency predicts retail gas prices will go down to an average price of $3.51 per gallon in 2023. 

Median income

The U.S. Census Bureau, the median family income was $12,050 in 1973, which was calculated from about 55.1 million American families. The 1973 median was approximately an 8.4% increase from what the agency reported as the national median household income in 1972 ($11,120).

The national household median income has risen to $70,784, according to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of 2021 and its Annual Social and Economic Supplements report of 2022, which both contain the most up-to-date income data the statistical agency has.

In 2020, the national median family income was $67,521, but the Census Bureau says the amount isn’t “statistically different” when comparing 2020 and 2021.

Median cost of a home

In January 1973, the median sales price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $29,900, according to data published by the U.S. Census Bureau. By the end of the year, median home prices rose to $35,700.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Policy Development and Research claims that 35,500 new single-family homes were “actually sold” in 1973, according to figures published in its U.S. Housing Market Conditions Historical Data report.

More up-to-date figures from 2022 state the median sales price of a new home is around $471,200, according to Monthly New Residential Sales data the Census Bureau released on Friday, Dec. 23. 

The agency will reveal the December 2022 median sales price on Jan. 26, 2023.

The Census Bureau’s latest Monthly New Residential Sales report says more than 7.1 million new homes were sold from January 2022 to November 2022.

Roe v. Wade

The U.S. Supreme Court shared its ruling on Roe v. Wade – a landmark case on abortion rights – on Jan. 22, 1973.

The 7-to-2 decision deemed the U.S. Constitution protected a woman’s right to seek an abortion during her first trimester, according to the Library of Congress. Read more about the history of Roe v. Wade here.

Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022, after the Supreme Court issued its opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that centered on the constitutionality of a Mississippi law (HB 1510, the Gestational Age Act) that banned abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court’s latest ruling leaves abortion legislation in the hands of U.S. states, according to American University, Washington, D.C., a private federally chartered research university.

Watergate trial

The Watergate trial began on Jan. 10, 1973, according to the U.S. Senate website. The five men who broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 1972, pleaded guilty and two were convicted by a jury.

“Chief Federal District Judge John Sirica expressed skepticism that all the facts in the case had been revealed,” the U.S. Senate website says. “Judge Sirica urged those awaiting sentencing to cooperate with the soon-to-be-established Senate select committee.”

In February 1973, the Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities was established to investigate the campaign activities related to the presidential election of 1972.

The committee submitted its final report in 1974. The Watergate scandal ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation that year. Read more about the Watergate scandal’s timeline here.

The Senate’s website says the Watergate investigation “remains one of the most significant congressional inquiries in U.S. history.”

Vietnam War

The U.S. ended its involvement in the Vietnam War after signing the Paris Peace Accords on Jan. 27, 1973, according to the United States of American Vietnam War Commemoration, an awareness campaign started by the Department of Defense.

Before the signing, the U.S. withdrew its last ground troops from South Vietnam on Aug. 11, 1972.

The war was officially declared over in the summer of 1975, and a year later, North and South Vietnam unified under the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, according to History.com. Vietnam has remained a one-party Communist state in Southeast Asia.

Source: Fox News