1920’s- Did it truly roar?
The roaring twenties were a period of excitement and wealth which also served as a façade that covered all the negatives which are often ignored. These negatives included a growing loss of civil liberties, massive amounts of xenophobia and racism, crime as a result of religious fundamentalism, and the abandonment of progressivism and a movement towards isolationism.
The 1920’s were a period of economic boom, new culture and emerging technologies. New ideas surfaced because people who previously had limited access to money suddenly gained access. Between 1919 and 1920 the value of the top 200 American businesses doubled from 43 billion to 81 billion. One of the major businesses that emerged was the automobile industry which became huge and spurred other industries. Automobiles resulted in the creation and expansion of the rubber, steel, oil, glass, and road building industry along with the creation of many gas stations, diners, and motels. It also affected the world socially as people began to live out in the suburbs which also resulted in more construction. All these new industries resulted in more jobs being available to people which resulted in one of the highest average incomes for American workers-681 dollars. People started to see that paying workers more can result in higher production. New production techniques were introduced by people like Henry Ford. The assembly line allowed each person to build a certain piece of the machine at an incredible pace. Besides the emergence of the automobile industry the advertising industry grew immensely. It was focused on youth and sex and was centered in New York which was now a center of media. From 1918 to 1920 spending on advertising grew from 1.3 billion to about 3.4 billion and it continued to grow from there. The automobile industry spurred on other industries and the same is true with advertising. Due to advertising Newspaper circulation grew from 27.8 million to about 40 million between the period of 1920 and 1930. Newspapers were affordable to many because advertising revenues kept the cost down. Along with an increase in businesses new products were also emerging. Although simple these products resulted in massive culture changes due to the freedom it gave and quick access to world wide information. One of the major inventions was the radio which by the end of the 20s was broadcasting on a major level and was able to spread international news and sports. Also tools, such as vacuum cleaners were perfected to allow women to not have to work as hard and freed them up for other activities. But people could not afford all of these new amazing products immediately so the idea of payment plans came about which allowed people to get products right away but pay back the seller over time. Besides the expansion of the economy, culturally the 1920’s were tremendous. Because of all the free time women now had many of the younger women embraced a new image, this was the Flapper. Flappers were women who took on the identity of promiscuity and scandalous lifestyles. They smoked, wore tight skirts, had bobbed hair, drank, went out without chaperones, and would kiss and be sexual in public. Some women embraced their new freedom by being a flapper while others took on skilled jobs now that they no longer had to be stay at home mothers. Along with these new freedoms the 19th amendment passed in 1920 which gave women the right to vote. As mentioned earlier sports began to grow, along with the sports the stars associated with them became big. People like Babe Ruth helped make baseball big again after the Black Sox scandal, Red Grange from the University of Illinois was larger than life and went on to help legitimize football as a sport, and Jack Dempsey was a monster in the boxing world. There was no bigger star than Charles Lindbergh though, he helped show that science can overcome nature. Lindbergh was a boyish Midwestern man and in the eyes of the...
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