About a century after the push westward, where everyone wanted new opportunities and plenty of land to sprawl out and pursue their ventures, there was a shift in philosophy. The 1920’s became known as a time to move into cities, and pursue technology and other advancements that would make life easier for all. No longer were citizens desiring to own land, and farm off this land to feed their families, it was now all about living the city life and being a part of enormous economic growth. Between 1920 and 1929, the nation’s total wealth more than doubled what it was prior, and the consumer culture began to take over in an era that would become known as “the roaring twenties”.
With the advancement of economic growth, there became a much bigger emphasis on advertising and the spread of chain stores. This meant that for the first time in American history, people from various areas around the country were buying the same items, hearing the same music: Jazz in particular, learning the same dances (The Cake Walk, The Charleston, the Black Bottom, etc.) , and even enjoying similar slang vernacular. Obviously, this created an entire American culture that was so widespread, many Americans grew uncomfortable with this mass culture that many deemed “racy”. For many, this wasn’t ideal, and the era brought more conflict than pleasure, but for groups of young people living in the big cities, the 1920’s were certainly “roaring”.
Because of the economic boom, many Americans had extra money to spend on luxuries such as home appliances, radios, and of course: ready-to-wear clothes (the “flapper” or young racy women attire is still referenced and worn in modern times). The most important consumer product of the era though was Ford’s Model T, the first massively produced automobile that could be bought commercially. With the consumer products came an advancement into the modern age, which presented a lot of opportunity for women in America. The 1920’s allowed for more freedoms, such as being present in the big cities, receiving the right to vote through the enactment of 19th amendment, and allowing many to work white collar jobs.
The final major cultural impact of the roaring 20’s were the introduction of Speakeasies, which were under cover bars that were used to sell alcohol against the Prohibition legislation of 1919. The issue of Prohibition was one of quite a few sources of social tension throughout the decade. Everything from the issue of drinking, music, and the ever present race card were used to separate people into the modern thinking youth, and the conservative old timers, leading to a “Cultural civil war” of the era. In the end, the Roaring twenties was a time of prosperous economic conditions, a shift in American ideals, and one of the more prominent youth movements in American history.
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