The Roaring Twenties And Its Impact On America

The end of World War I brought a time of relief, excitement and prosperity known at the Roaring 20’s. President Coolidge was residing in office during this era of mass cultural changes and advances. A few of the more notable advances were in transportation, radios and movies which all impacted the economy. This time embodied entertainment and luxury. The economy was at an all time high. The stock market was climbing at an unprecedented rate. Consumers were buying cars, enjoying the theater ands investing money into growing businesses. Luxuries were no longer just for the rich to enjoy. With the financial freedom of credit and installment buying it appeared as if the sky was the limit. The dream of never ending prosperity was partially caused by credit and installment buying which would wreak economic havoc on an international scope and would become known as The Great Depression.

The roaring 1920’s was a time of innovation and expansion. The 20’s gave us the new and improved automobile and airplane The United States had manufactured 2.2 million automobiles prior to the 20’s and by the end of the decade that number rose to 3.6 million. Airplanes were finding their purpose after WWI. Eventually, they would be used to carry mail and gradually it became a means of transportation for people. As the industry grew so did the need for workers. People were now taking time to travel which created even more jobs as lodging and gas stations had to be built to accommodate the travelers. The manufacturing of cars and planes also created more jobs in factories, in construction to build bridges and roads. Anything that had to do with the auto industry such as oil refining, steel, and rubber production created jobs.The economy was thriving and the middle class was able to afford such luxuries which made owning a car the norm no longer the exception. This made for a booming economy but it would not be able to sustain itself for too long. The roaring 20’s was encompassed by a plethora of excess and a no worry mentality which led to consumers buying on credit which would succeed to an economic downfall of a colossal magnatute.

Radio and Movies in the 20’s brought people together. The first radio broadcast was in 1920, on station KDKA. Not many people actually heard that broadcast because very few people owned a radio. However, as the excitement spread people ran out to purchase a radio for their own households.. The factories had a hard time keeping up with the demand. By 1923, 60 percent of people owned a radio. Families and friends would gather around for nightly entertainment of music and shows. People also enjoyed nights out at the movie theater which was quickly advancing with technology. The economy was prosperous and people wanted to celebrate. “By the end of the decade, there were 20 Hollywood studios, and the demand for films was greater than ever.” Movies had a great deal of influence on people's lives. Movies and actors/actresses influenced fashion, beauty, and created an image that people wanted to emulate. They showed a glamorous world that invited cinema patrons into which allowed an escape from their everyday worries. Even after the stock market crashed the entertainment industry was still thriving. People wanted to forget their troubles and that is what the movies helped to do.

Credit and installment buying began in 1910 and kept the economy running high. The advancement of selling was largely due to, and an essential part of the advancement in mass production. Installment plans allowed for someone to purchase something even if it was above their financial means,with having only a percentage of the money at the time of purchase. It was a formulated system where periodically money was due until the item was paid off completely. In the 1920’s consumers were spending more, then ever before. They could purchase automobiles, appliances, raidos and anything else that they wanted but could not otherwise afford, before credit and installment buying. “ By the end of 1917 as many as twenty-five companies were financing automobiles. By 1925 this number swelled to a peak of about 1,700.” Installment buying in the automobile trade spawned leasing. Leasing was essentially renting a car for two to three years, allowing the consumer to temporarily own a car in a more affordable way. James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase 'American Dream' in 1930. American’s were living the American dream. Unfortunately, it was built on credit and the installments would need to be made.

The carefree living of the roaring 20’s saw its end in 1929. The day the stock market plummeted is known as Black Tuesday. It would culminate into the Great Depression, one of the longest-lasting economic crisis up to that time. Billions of dollars were lost, obliterating thousands of investors. Production slowed down, people could no longer payback their loans and employment dropped. By 1933, when the economy reached its lowest point, about 15 million Americans were faced with unemployed and close to half the country’s banks had failed.”

Economic recovery began around WWII. The War created jobs. During the war, more than 12 million Americans were sent into the military, and a similar number toiled in defense-related jobs seemingly took care of the 17 million unemployed in 1939. Most historians have therefore cited the massive spending during wartime as the event that ended the Great Depression. The 1920’s was an important time in history. New technology filled the era with inventions, Hollywood evolved into a movement of luxury and beauty and credit and installment buying gave the common people the opportunity to afford a better way of life. Today, we still use inventions from that time. They are new and improved but fundamentally the same.  

25 October 2021
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