The main theme of this decade was the idea of the roaring 20’s leading into the depression. The country was full of good times and rebellion with things like the stock market, Jazz, bootlegging, flappers, high spirits, and a supposed strong economy. This effected people then in many ways then. Role models were a big part of commercials and the new attitude for Americans. People like Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey gave people someone to believe and look up to. The Jazz Age created new music for people to dance to. New untraditional styles of dancing were also created by people like flappers, who rebelled by creating new styles like short hair, shorter skirts, and make up. More economic freedoms and ideas started getting more Americans than ever before investing in the stock market, buying on margin, and using credit. This was all highlighted by the bootlegging and rum running that kept America wet during prohibition. All this came to a catastrophic end though in 1929 when the stock market crashed.
Some of the effects of this decade are with us still today. Like makeup, dancing without chaperones, credit, and people that are more cautious about money usage. Because of the stock market crash in 1929 and another drop in 1987, the government has put computer blockers on the stock market to stop it from ever dropping that low again. All this combined made the 1920’s one of the most important and pivotal decades of the 20th century.
ART & ARCHITECTURE
Early modernism in art, design, and architecture, which began at the turn of the century, continued through to 1940 and the war.
- Skyscrapers (first in 1870s) were erected and hundreds of architects competed for the work.
- The first successful design was the Woolworth Building in New York.
- In Chicago, the Wrigley building was designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst, and Whitewhile the Chicago Tribune Tower was designed by Howells and Hood.
- The Art Deco design was exemplified by the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings (depression projects – the Empire State Building completed early 1931.)
- Art movements included the modernist movement [George Luks, Charles W. Hawthorne], abstract expressionism [Willem de Kooning], surrealism, and dadaism [Georgia O’Keeffe, Morgan Russell, Man Ray], realism [ Thomas Hart Benton, Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, Leon Kroll] and landscape [Aldro Thompson Hibbard, N.C. Wyeth]. Horace Pippin is considered one of America’s foremost primitive or naive painters. The best museums featured shows by these important artists.
HISTORIC EVENTS AND PEOPLE
- Thanks to Henry Ford and mass production, one could buy a ford for $290.
- The Volstead Act became effective Jan 16, 1920 and made the sale of a drink containing as much as one half-ounce of alcohol unlawful. This one unsuccessful act brought about much of the flavor of the Jazz Age or Roaring Twenties as we know them.
Important Historic and Cultural Events
- First Transatlantic flight: Charles Lindbergh , James Doolittle first one-day.
- Air flying companies outbid the railroads for transporting the mail (1926)
- Business travelers took to the skies on scheduled coast to coast flights
- Women vote for the first time in a national election (1920)
- Stock Market Crashed | October 24, 1929, bank closed – panic on Wall Street.
THEATER, FILM RADIO
- The first talking picture, Don Juan, starring John Barrymore premiered on Broadway in 1926.
- This made movies big business.
- The first Oscars were given in 1927. First Oscar movie was a Paramount Picture, Wings. Emil Jennings and Janet Gaynor won best acting awards.
SOME IMPORTANT DATES:
June 1920-The Ku Klux Klan launches a recruitment campaign using mass marketing techniques to gain 85,000 new recruits by October. August 18, 1920-Women win the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. 1920-The Women’s Bureau is formed within the Department of Labor.
1921-A Reparations Committee ruled that Germany owed $33 billion in payment for the war.
July 21, 1921-A joint resolution to officially end World War I in the U.S. finally passes.
1922-The Cable Act is passed in the U.S.
1922-Filmmakers set up their own organization so they can censor their own movies.
1923-The popular Jazz singer Bessie Smith records her first jazz album.