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The Twenties
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The Roaring Twenties Key Events Maps Transcript Webography

Page 123456


Effects of the Automobile

You Decide:  How would you describe the 1920s?  Did they 'Roar' or was it just a big 'Yawn'?
Photo of a Park and Shop.  Exterior of Park and Shop with parked automobiles.


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.



Photo of motorists stopping on a joy ride to repair a tire.


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.



So how would you describe the 1920s?  Did they 'Roar' or was it just a big 'Yawn?'

Here's your final chance to give your opinion: Continue > >



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