I choose the topic of the 1920s, more commonly referred to as the Roaring Twenties. This was a time of exciting change and new cultural touchstones. It was also a time in which increased of personal freedom in many areas of society was introduced. The biggest war in history had just ended, and following in this time was a decade of peace and success. The twenties also brought an increase in productivity of things like cars, radios, toasters and Americans had more time for leisure. However at the same time the 1920s was a rebellious and difficult time for many. In my paper I will argue that the New Era in the 1920s reshaped American life.
The 1920s can be characterized as the decade of change. It’s a decade where there were conservative and liberal forces that fought in the arena of politics and culture. By this time more Americans were living in cities than on farms. More importantly the nation’s wealth more than doubled and this created a rise in consumerism. Many Americans bought the latest home appliances and found themselves purchasing new clothing and radios to listen to at home. Some even went to the movies and for many Americans especially those in the cities life was “the bees knees.” With lots more money and leisure time entertainment was in very high demand. The film industry alone exploded and Hollywood was releasing over 800 films each year.
By the end of this era 75 percent of Americans went to the movies at least once a week. The first ever horror films were also introduced at this time, along with the greats of silent comedy including Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin were shown across theaters. Entertainment also began to enter the household of many and radios became a really popular product manufacturers were flooded with orders and demands for more. Interestingly enough during the time of this New Era more than 50 percent of American families bought radios for their household. The twenties was also a very popular time for music and commonly known as the Jazz Age. Big bands were all the rage especially around the younger generation people and they went to music halls and danced. The lives of Americans changed drastically with the popularity of radios and phonographs it made music accessible to everyone.
Literary and visual arts were impacted as well more importantly during a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance which was focused on the arts of African American culture this movement was closely tied to civil rights and brought out racial pride in the African American community. Famous poets like Langston Hughes and Zora Neal Hurston inspired and influenced many African American artist and authors even today.
There were many cultural changes as well especially among the younger generation flappers were young women with bobbed hair and short skirts who drank smoked and were more sexually free compared to the more conservative previous generations. During the 1920s new advancements were also made in transportation and infrastructure one of the most important consumer products was the automobile. Henry Ford had made the first affordable auto mobile name to the model T back in 1908 and by the new era over ten million model Ts had been produced. American lives changed because they for the first time live further away from their jobs and easily commute to work thus creating suburbs.
Political changes were also made at the time prohibition was a constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages which remained in place from 1920 to 1933. This resulted in the creation of speakeasies and gangs that illegally sold alcohol. During the prohibition crime rates increased by 24 percent in 30 major cities, so now this raises the question what caused the roaring twenties? To start off during the time of World War I the United States manufactured and sold a lot of weapons to the allies. Around 17 billion dollars was made by the weapon industries in the U.S. Annual incomes went from $580 in 1914 to more than $1300 by the end of the decade.
World War I dramatically changed the domestic economy which set the stage for the prosperity of the 1920s. The main short term effect of the roaring twenties was the stock market crash of 1929 in which there was an increase in bank credit and loans. These allowed people to buy things without having the money for it and as a result this doubled the consumer debt. The stock market kept rising during the 20s and investors became overconfident and optimistic eventually confidence fell and investors all rushed to sell since they were all heavily in debt. The crash marked the beginning of the great depression the largest economic recession in U.S. history which lasted 10 years.
The roaring twenties had a lasting impact on the modern world lots of inventions from the time are still in use today for example the traffic light, toaster, and most importantly penicillin which is used to treat certain infections. Another important thing to recognize that brought change from the twenties is the increasing use of the assembly line popularized by Henry Ford. This allowed for the mass production of anything and this process is widely used in factories around the world today. The roaring twenties in all was a time of Cultural Revolution which challenged past ideas or customs. Flappers defied the normal ways of being a woman, the Harlem Renaissance revolutionized African American arts, and jazz challenged the structure of older music with different cords rhythms and instruments.
Clearly the 1920s was extremely influential to modern culture in the U.S. It was a time when movies music art and pop culture flourished. Which led to women and African Americans beginning to express themselves more freely and most importantly everyone had a great time. It’s important to learn about our past and how our country has arrived at where we are today. This gives us an identity and brings everyone together