One person interviewed for the classic study, Middletown, by Robert and Helen Lynd (1929) said: "I'd rather go without food than give up the car." Another interviewee said that the biggest change in America could be explained in just four letters: A-U-T-O.
Mass production of automobiles and the urbanization of America also led to a new culture and a whole new way of organizing cities, towns, and markets as cars made it possible for millions to live in suburbs, some with their own shopping centers.
There was no national highway system in the 1920s. Roads were still better suited to horses and buggies than to automobiles. Motorists faced frequent mechanical breakdowns, flat tires, and getting stuck in mud holes. When traveling long distances, they often found it difficult to find lodging or rest rooms, stopping at campsites and then small tourist cabins, since motels as we know them today did not exist.
Automobile congestion in cities contributed to a mass exodus to a new place to live -- the suburb. The growth of suburbs eventually caused the decline of inner-city business districts as suburban shopping centers began to replace older concentrated business districts.