American Dream

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  • Topic: 1950s
  • Pages : 7 (2532 words )
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  • Published : October 2, 2013
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The American Dream, 1950’s to Now

After WWII, America began going through major changes socially, politically and culturally. Since the Great Depression up to the end of WWII Americans were living very simply and without a lot of things we take for granted today. Once the war ended and the veterans came home American citizens were ready to live the good life.

When the war ended many soldiers were ready to come home and start families, but this was an issue because no new houses had been built in the last 20 years. The cities and apartments were too crowded to house everybody and so the suburbs were created. Suburbs are neighborhoods that sit on the outskirts of the city, where each house is very similar to each other, making production quick and easy. The proposed life of living in the suburbs was popular among many different social classes and pleased everyone. Plus with the newly made GI bill veterans could get a cheap mortgage on their house making it easier for veterans to actually start a civilian life after the war. The suburbs were ideal because they were out of the busy crowded city but were still close enough to have a range of job opportunities available. Plus there was more space, a house to yourself and even a yard. Many suburbs had a real community sense as well and were very neighborly, there was barbeques and cocktail parties, and organizations such as Little League, Girl Scouts, and the PTA were formed in the suburbs as well.

The rides of suburbs also led to a boom in the production and sales of automobiles. Automobiles were a necessity for those in the suburbs so they could commute from their home into the city to get to their jobs, schools, and businesses with ease. The use of an automobile meant you didn’t have to rely on the train to get you to where you need to go on time.

The development of suburbs, automobiles and highways also led to shopping centers. Shopping centers were a cluster of stores with a large parking lot that was located right off the side of the highway making it easily accessible to people who lived in suburbs and didn’t want to go all the way to the city to buy what they needed.

Because life was improving for most Americans many families started to have more children. This time period was known as “The Baby Boom.” There was a population explosion, at the beginning of 1950 there were around 25 million children aged 5-14, by 1960 there was almost 36 million. Family life was now focused on the children and giving them the best opportunities. Schools were built at an enormous rate and parents were expected to give their child any opportunity they could. As the baby boomers began to grow up they became very self sufficient, more so than their parents. They became big spenders because they had not experienced the Great Depression or WWII and had no inclination to save money towards long term goals.

No longer having to save money because of America’s growing economy meant many families began to indulge in new technologies and appliances they couldn’t afford before. One of the biggest purchases was a television set, before the war there was only around 10,000 sets throughout the country, but by 1960 there was over 60 million. Americans loved the TV and all the different ranges of things they could watch, from sitcoms to game shows, sports, and news broadcasts. Although the TV brought the family together, it deteriorated the communication, no longer were families talking to each other about their days they were huddled around the TV together.

There were also many economic changes in the 1950’s, after the war many people felt they deserved to indulge in shopping and luxuries. This boosted the economy and allowed them to purchase even more. The development of credit cards also increased spending, it made it easier for families to purchase an item they didn’t have the money for at the time but could pay for at a later date. The American economy became a consumerism...
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