On June 20 2022, Twitter user @glory_manz shared a purported old advertisement for “Westwood Lake,” featuring houses priced at $7450:
They really had it easy back then 😪 pic.twitter.com/VQmizZlO5R
— King Glocky (@glory_manz) June 20, 2022
A day later the image was shared by the Facebook page “Housing is a Human Right,” where it seemed to strike a nerve, at least by share count — it racked up 84,000 shares in about 48 hours. On June 21 and 22 2022, the image was featured on two of Reddit’s subreddits, the latter of which described it as a 1955 ad:
Google Trends data on searches related to “$7450” and “Westwood Lake” indicated “Breakout” levels of interest; “inflation calculator” was listed as a related search. Reverse image search was not helpful in tracing the source of the image, which was first crawled via the June 22 2022 Reddit post.
Readers also seemed quite interested in the two prices seen on the advertisement ($7450 and $7900) from dollars in 1955 to 2022. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, $7450 was equivalent to $81,558.25 in May 2022, and $7900 in 1955 would be $86,484.58 in 2022.
Different iterations rendered differently, but the version shared on Twitter was far more detailed. It included a business name, “The Mackle Co.”
A website for themacklecompany.com appeared to match the company in the advertisement, and its landing page described the company’s history in eras. A section for 1945 to 1954 included an advertisement for Westwood Lake, and it read:
1945 – 1954
The Mackle Company
Following World War II the Mackle Brothers, operating as The Mackle Company, Inc. became the leading builder of post war housing in Florida.
Over the period, The Mackles built over 10,000 homes in many subdivisions in Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
The largest of these were Westwood Lakes in west Miami, Pompano Beach Highlands and Pompano Shores in north Broward, and the fabulous island community of Key Biscayne, a causeway drive from the city of Miami.
On Key Biscayne, the Mackles also built and operated – for twenty five years – the Key Biscayne Hotel and Villas, a favorite retreat of entertainers, business leaders, political leaders (including Richard Nixon) and many others.
The site featured a chronological index of The Mackle Co.’s history of building and selling homes. On the ninth indexed page (“Key Biscayne and Westwood Lakes,”) the advertisement appeared at the end of the page, with adjacent text reading in part:
There would be one more project in Miami – Westwood Lake – planned for 3500 homes – which opened at the end of 1954.
Now the economy, the expanding demand for low cost housing, the second Florida boom of the century, the Mackles growing success and reputation, their effective organization and Dad’s ambition all combined to set the stage for the greater opportunities … Westwood Lakes was the last project opened that was not a part of the Florida Canada ventures.
In addition to the huge home building opportunity the Mackles – for the first time – entered the utility business with the construction and operation of Westwood Lakes Utilities, Inc. and a franchise to service the project from Dade County.
Westwood Lakes – by far their largest project in Miami – opened on December 5th 1954.
An article in the Miami Daily News – the day after – headlined
“48,000 see new homes opened by Mackle Co.”
No information about the date or placement of the viral Mackle Co. advertisement appeared on the page, but “1955” was written on the clipping in pencil. A separate advertisement for 1952 mentioned monthly payments of $29.44 in 1955, equivalent to $322.29 in May 2022. (Monthly payments on the $7450 advertisement were $47.92 in 1955, or $524.60 in May 2022.
In June 2022, a vintage advertisement for homes costing $7450 and $7900 in a development called Westwood Lake spread virally. The advertisement was published to the website of The Mackle Co. in March 2022, on one of several pages detailing the company’s history. Searches for “inflation calculator” trended alongside it; $7540 worked out to $81,558.25 in May 2022, and $7900 to $86,484.58. Although the advertisement was authentic, information about where or precisely when it was published was not immediately available.