Unit 3 years of prosperity 1919-29

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Unit 3: The years of prosperity, 191929
Where was there growth and development growth of suburbia, cars,
consumer goods, electrical power, new forms of entertainment?
The reasons for the economic growth new technology, development of
credit, advertising
The role of the government in the economy laissezfaire but also
protection. The impact of these, did they create and perpetuate the
boom?
Winners large number but also losers agriculture, particularly share
croppers, old industries, e.g. coal and textiles, Did all Americans share
the effects of the boom? What was the extent of the boom?
Key Dates
1919 troops return
1920 first radio station begins broadcasting in Pittsburg
1921 Warren Harding takes over as president and Andrew Mellon
becomes Treasury secretary
1922 FordneyMcCumber Tariff
1923 Harding dies, replaced by vice president
1924 Peak year for Ford's Model T
1926 NBC established as a nationwide broadcaster
1927 First Talkie
1928 23 million cars on the roads of the USA
1929 Herbert Hoover takes over as President.
Boom Years
General mood of optimism after the war, many believed that life could only get
better. With the changes, under lay the process of urbanisation.
Urban Development
o USA= changing rapidly in terms of where people lived. 1920 census=
more people were living I the USA's urban areas than in the country.
o Large cities were growing rapidly, 15% of population living in cities of
more than half a million people. E.g. New York= over 5 million people.
o There were new features, which marked the process of urbanisation.
The drive to build evertaller skyscrapers was the most visible,
especially in the New York skyline. Empire state building was 382
metres high.
o Cities themselves were increasingly home to large numbers of black
Americans, who migrated North from Southern states. Black Population
of NYC rose from 91,709 in 1910 to 327,706 in 1930, many of which
were concentrated in the Harlem district. In the 1920s, 118,000 whites
left Harlem and just over 87,000 blacks arrived. The growth of the black
urban population was thus linked to the third notable feature, the White
population moving into Suburbia.
o The spread of Suburbia was partly fuelled by the automobile revolution.
Queens in NYC, doubled in population. In the suburbs the quality of

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Between 1920 and
1930, the numbers of families wit inside flush toilets rose from 20% to
51%.
o For those who benefitted from the boom, the development of consumer
production In the 1920s meant that their standard of living saw a visible
improvement. The lives that many Americans began to lead in the 1920
were to set the standard for many aspects if modern living all over the
world.…read more

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Sears also opened its first department store in Chicago in 1925.
o One of the most important stimulants to demand was the use of
consumer credit, which began in the motor industry.
o Motor manufacturers would set up finance companies to help dealers
buy their cars when demand was slow. In order to buy a car outright, it
would take an average family 5 years to save sufficient funds for the
purchase.…read more

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By 1920, there were 20,000 cinemas in the USA.
o Cinema going was essentially a luxury pastime. It needed the
disposable income that came with the prosperity of the 20s in order to
thrive and indeed it did!
o 20s and 30s= the heyday of the America cinema with about 8001,000
films being made each year, compare to the 500 a year today.…read more

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Ford changes the conditions of employment in his factory: 5th January
1914= wages more than doubled making them increase to $5 per eight
hour day as well as introducing a profitsharing scheme. All having an
immediate impact: labour turnover was removed and workers who were
trained were now retained. This reduced Ford's costs of production as he
was no longer spending so much money on training new employees,
production also rose as a result.…read more

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Increase in car use created mobility= people were now able to travel far
more easily, making the distance between Urban and rural lives to begin
to break down. People had access to more activities in their leisure time.
o Increased growth of suburbs as travel became easier.
o Ford left a legacy and embodied much of what was typical of the 1920s,
through his hard work and innovation.…read more

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Coolidge generally supported business and acted and legislated only on
what he believed to be absolutely necessary during his years in office.
o The years of his presidency coincided with the height of the economic
boom and did not run for the 1928 election, leaving behind a fairly secure
legacy.…read more

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Lower tariffs would mean lower prices for consumers but could leave
American industries competing with cheaper foreign products.
o Republican Politian's= concerned that higher levels of imports would
threaten economic prosperity
o Idea of protectionism that this embodied sat comfortably with the
isolationism of withdrawing from the League of Nations.
o Emergency Tariff Act 1921 = taxes on a range of imported agricultural
products like wheat from Canada, in order to protect the prices that US
farmers would receive.…read more

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American farmers= competing in the world market again and their profit
margins dropped.
o 19191921, value of farm products more than halved from $10 billion to $4
billion.
o Farming did not share the boom of the 20s and remained depressed.
o Debts and foreclosures on farm mortgages became common.
o To deal with the issue, farmers increased production, but this just
increased the supply and drove prices down.
o Tariffs= tried to help farmers by restricting foreign competition but they
only had limited success.…read more

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