The New Era – 1920’s to 1945
HIS204 – American History Since 1865
October 18, 2010
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The New Era of the 1920’s brought a booming economy and modern times to the
United States. The 20’s is largely known for the “jazz age” which accompanied an
explosion of art, music, and culture in America.
This era accelerated the forces of change – government, productivity, technology,
and consumerism. When the stock market crashed in 1929, the economical outcome
was devastating. With the “crash” came the end of the New Era.
It can be argued that one’s understanding of the preceding decade leading the
Great Depression is important because it shaped American history like no other era.
This writer will explore five key events that molded American history: The roaring
economy of the 20’s, a car culture, managerial elitism, a consumer culture, and a
stock market recovery. The brief economic boom of the 1920s had a dramatic impact
on the U.S. economy and this paper will connect the dots with spending too much on
credit which proved to be the New Era’s undoing.
A Car Culture
The primitive versions of suburbanization began with the rail lines extending
outskirts of cities and with those who could afford to get a car and a country house in
1920s and 1930s. The suburban settlements via rail lines still maintained a centered
structure. They were formed by clustered and mixed-use developments.
Suburbanization as we know of today - centerless and made up of detached one
family houses, began and got established with the rapid rise of car sales to ordinary
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Americans (Kellar, 1973).
However, manufacturing techniques changed over time. By the early twentieth
century, many American industries were using mass-production methods. Still,
businesses had not yet attained the level of efficiency we are familiar with today.
Henry Ford applied the concept of efficient production to the automobile industry. In
doing so, Ford significantly lowered the cost of the automobile, making it affordable
for most Americans.
Ford used a number of different techniques to increase efficiency at the Ford
Motor Company. The public and the factory at large were exposed to the concepts of
interchangeable parts and Taylorism, both of which were used in the Ford plant.
Ford's most important innovation, however, was using the assembly line in automobile
Production (Davidson, et. al, 2008).
Other carmakers followed Ford's ideas, and during the 1920s, car ownership
became the norm for middle-class and even many working-class families. One can
conclude that the social and cultural effects of mass automobile ownership changed
the era. Some historians have focused on changes in dating practices as a result of the
automobile. One can really imagine how young men and women met and socialized
before most people owned cars. One can determine that in fact, before the
automobile, "dating" as the students know it did not exist. Instead, young men would
"court" young women. A boy and a girl would meet at the girl's house and talk under
the supervision of a chaperone. The automobile introduced mobility and privacy into
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the equation. Now, boys and girls could...