The Great Depression introduction

The Great Depression is probably the most famous crisis in the history. It had shaken the foundations of the United States economy, as well as the economic stability of the European countries. Because of the agonizingly slow recovery, the entire decade of the 1930s is often referred to as the Great Depression period.

Before the crisis a period of incredible worldwide boom called "The Roaring Twenties" occurred, which lasted almost for a decade. The 1920s were an era of great economic growth and widespread prosperity by government growth policies, a boom in construction, and the rapid growth of consumer goods such as automobiles.

The United States became the richest country in the world, with industry aligned to mass production and society adopted to consumerism. In Europe, the economy did not start to flourish until 1924, when capital cities like London, Berlin and Paris flourished. Everything seemed to be feasible through modern technology. New technologies, especially automobiles, moving pictures and radio became accessible to a large part of the global population.

Road construction, automobile industry and mass production
Unprecedented need for new infrastructure in the United States was largely funded by the government. Road construction was crucial to the motor vehicle industry, old roads were upgraded to highways and new expressways were constructed. A class of Americans emerged with surplus money and a desire to spend more, spurring the demand for consumer goods, including the automobile. Keep in mind that low production costs of the Ford Model T kept the price at $260 in 1924. The automobiles practically became necessities. Most industries switched from coal power to electricity.

Electrification progressed greatly, telephone lines also were being strung across the continent connecting people, new power plants built all over the world. Indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems were installed for the first time in many regions, raising health standards at a higher level.

Mass production in factories made technology affordable to the middle class. The automobile, movie, radio, and chemical industries skyrocketed during the 1920s. Many Americans have spent their extra money on consumer goods such as ready-to-wear clothes and home appliances like electric refrigerators.The automobile industry's effects an new drivers’ needs contributed to developement of industries as highway building, motel businesses, service stations stops, used car dealerships and new residential housing outside the city limits.

Mass culture and social changes
Mass marketing was invented with the radio advertising. Radios were expensive, but undisputed source of entertainment. Radio was the first mass broadcasting medium, and proved revolutionary for the cultural development. The first commercial radio station in the United States, Pittsburgh's KDKA started broadcasting in 1920. At the end of the 1920s, there were radios in more than 12 million households. At the same time, jazz and dancing greatly rose in popularity. The Charleston, the cake walk, the black bottom, the flea hop were just some of the popular dances of the time.

In 1925, electrical recording, one of the greatest advances in sound recording became available for commercially issued phonograph records. Over 100 million of phonograph records were sold in 1927 alone. Music was being played in dance halls and roadhouses everywhere. Louie Armstrong attained fame as did Joe "King" Oliver and several other artists. Hollywood movie industry boomed as well, because watching a movie was cheap and accessible. The production of full-length, non-silent films was in demand especially from 1926 onwards. Different film genres emerged during this time.

With the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women finally attained the political equality that they had so long been fighting for. In 1927 Charles Lindbergh achieved instant fame with his transatlantic flight and advances in aviation followed. Alexander Fleming's study of penicillin was laying the groundwork for commercial use of these important products in the 1940s. These are but a few of the most important changes of the era known as "The Roaring Twenties".

It seems quite hard to expect after such a strong period of growth and prosperity in basically every social, technological, industrial and international sense, a crisis on a worldwide scale. Nevertheless, the growing crisis was lurking on the horizon. The United States was about to be hit with one of the hardest stock market crashes in the history, which caused a domino effect throughout the national economy.

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