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The 1920's

Updated on June 4, 2015

The Roaring Twenties

The decade of the nineteen-twenties was an era of great exhuberence and enthusiasm with strong parallels to today, and is often referred to as the roaring twenties. The current decade is almost a re-run of the 1920's. The Stock Market crash of October 1929 and the following great depression are distant memories or considered ancient history by many people today. When we forget the lessons of history then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of our forefathers, and so it is today, although many are yet to become aware of the fact despite the increasing amount of parallel evidence.

This is both a celebration of the 1920's and a warning, that as a result of the credit boom and financial excesses of today, we are on the same path to economic depression, leading to war, that our ancestors followed during the roaring twenties and the following thirties. History is being repeated 80 years later without most people recognizing what is happening.

Stepping back from the doom and gloom - the 1920's featured beautiful cars, along with lovely houses, clothes, hairstyles, music, and dance so lets also focus on the beautiful things. It was also a time of expansion in world travel - due the newly invented aeroplane, dirigible airships (zeppelin etc.), and competition between the luxurious ocean liners.

Digital Copies of 1920's Books on eBay - Purchase reproductions of 1920's Fashion and Hairstyle Books on eBay

These digital books on 1920's fashions and hairstyles are available for immediate download. You could be reading and benefiting from them in just 2 minutes time!

NOTE: eBay has changed the rules on selling eBooks so they are currently unavailable. However you can buy 1920s fashion and hairstyle books here

The 1920's Bungalow

Description of a Typical 1920's Bungalow Style House

The Bungalow House Style

The Bungalow was a popular style of house that appeared in the early 1900s and reached its peak development in the 1920's. Not only was it very popular in North America but also in countries like Australia where it also became a dominant housing style during this period.

Typical 1920's Bungalow - pictured above (see description below)

THIS bungalow, 26x41, has a concrete block foundation under the entire house. The exterior walls are of narrow siding and shingles in gable, with green stained shingles on roof. The interior is exceptionally well planned, as well as convenient. It is a plan which can be adjusted to meet the requirements of a fairly large family, by using the room, designated as sun room, as a chamber. On the other hand, if only two chambers are desired, this room is admirably situated for a sun room. If it is used, you can eliminate the door and have either arch opening or French doors. Besides this sun room, you can have a cozy porch, screened in summer and sashed in winter. The living room and dining room are of good size, with plaster arch between them. The kitchen, has a breakfast nook, kitchen cabinet with refrigerator space for outside iceing, also grade entry to basement.

The center hall, leading to kitchen, chambers, bathroom and dining room is another admirable feature in this plan.

The woodwork may be fir, birch or oak, finished walnut, old ivory, mahogany, or old English. Chambers should be white enamel with doors stained mahogany.

The bungalow's basement has laundry tubs, vegetable room and coal bin. Hot water or hot air heat may be used.

Learn to Dance the Charleston

The Charleston dance craze had it's birth in the 1920's

Dancing "The Charleston"

The dance that is best remembered from the 1920's era is the Charleston. The Charleston was introduced to the general public in the Ziegfield Follies Broadway Show of 1923 by the Afro-American musical "Running Wild", making the charleston so popular that even today, it is still represents the 1920s Jazz Age.

The Charleston is characterized by kicking back the heels while bending and straightening the knees to the beat of the music. There are instructions on how to dance the Charleston on the 1920-30.com website.

Flappers with their knocked knees, crossed over hands, and long strings of beads danced the Charleston, and a dance called the "Black Bottom", after seeing them danced in a 1926 Broadway production. Within the year, the charleston swept through America, and most countries of the world.

Learn about 1920's Fashions for Women

If you are interested in 1920's fashions for women, then be sure to take a look at our fashion page listed in the "Featured Lenses" module. There was too much 1920's fashion information to include here so we've built a new page just on ladies fashion from the twenties. Check it out now!

Excessive Credit Created Boom and Bust

The folly of Fiat Money and Fractional Reserve Banking

From Boom to Bust

When the Federal Reserve Bank was created in 1913 it set the stage for a move away from the gold standard (a currency backed by gold) and a huge increase in unbacked fiat (paper) money and credit. The explosion in credit facilitated the creation of financial bubbles in the stock and housing markets in particular.

The money supply was steadily ramped up which created an appearance of growth and prosperity. Federal debt which had remained at relatively low levels from the end of the Civil War until Woodrow Wilson's first year in office exploded from $2.9 billion to $25 billion between 1913 and 1920. Consumer credit in the form of payment by installment for what had previously been luxury items that were the province of the rich enabled the middle class to live beyond their means.

The stock market set new records year after year and it appeared that all one had to do to get rich was borrow and invest in shares. Brokers loans increased from $3.5 billion dollars at the end of 1927 to nearly $6 billion dollars in 1929, the extra credit adding more fuel to the rise in the stock market.

Daily share transactions increased from a record high of 3,875,910 on March 12, 1928 to 4,790,000 on March 27, 1928 and by a year later on March 26, 1929 transactions had risen to a giddy 8,246,740.

The low limestone building near the corner of of Wall and Broad Streets which still displayed scars from the bomb explosion of 1920 became the center of the undisputed financial capital of the world by the late 1920's.

Real Estate prices rose year after year as speculators invested in land (and swamps!) in Florida and elsewhere. As reported in "Only Yesterday" written in 1931, "Yes, the public bought. By 1925 they were buying anything, anywhere, so long as it was in Florida. One had only to announce a new development, be it honest or fraudulent, be it on the Atlantic Ocean or deep in the wasteland of the interior, to set people scrambling for house lots."

When the property bubble eventually burst in September 1926 following a devastating hurricane in Florida, house prices declined by an average of 30%, but up to 80% in some areas, leaving many speculators broke, and a Florida landscape littered with abandoned projects.

Wall Street bonuses set new records. Executive salaries increased faster than share and land prices, and wages of the factory workers. Private Equity Funds used borrowed money for leveraged buyouts of major businesses.

However, not everyone benefited from the prosperity of the Coolidge years. Farmers of every sort in particular suffered badly, as did coal-mining, textile manufacturing, and shipbuilding to name but a few.

Eventually the share market ran out of momentum and share prices started to decline. Many investors had to sell shares to meet "margin calls" which caused share prices to drop further, increasing the problem and leading to the Share Market crash of October and November 1929.

A record 16,410,030 share transactions took place on October 29, 1929 as the share market crash started to unfold. Investors panicked and huge amounts of stock were thrown into the market for whatever price they would bring.

The large and devastating losses experienced by the majority of investors created a loss of confidence that rippled through the U.S. economy and spread to overseas markets.

In 1933 the private ownership of gold was banned because it was in direct competition with government bonds for funds. The consequence of this was a deepening economic depression and a long and gradual fall in interest rates.

All attempts by prominent businessmen and politicians to restore confidence failed and America slipped into the depression years, with the rest of the world following suit. Despite huge amounts of debt being purged from the system through bankruptcies and business failure it took rearmament and the second world war to create conditions that led to economic prosperity.

Cars of the 1920's

1920's Automobiles

1920's Cars

The 1920's saw huge developments in the automobile industry. Mass production brought the cost of cars down and along with rising wages made cars affordable for the rising middle class. This increase in car buying supplied volume to the assembly lines leading to lower unit costs and an ever increasing cycle of reduced retail prices.

Balloon tires, shock absorbers, and closed in waterproof bodies with heaters made cars a lot more comfortable, especially in winter. Beautiful color co-ordinated paint schemes decorated the outside, while quality materials like mohair were used in the interiors.

Four wheel brakes, safety glass, and lighter vehicles made cars easier to stop and increased safety for drivers and passengers.

I recently had the opportunity to drive a 1920's car and while it was great fun to drive on the open road it was a lot more stressful in the city. The main reason was the huge amount of muscle power required for braking. This was pre power-assisted brakes, so matching the road speed of modern cars wasn't a problem, but I had to allow space for braking safely. I hate to think what cars were like when they only had 2 wheel brakes!

Pictures of 1920's Cars - Mostly stylish coupes as they appeared in magazine advertisements.

Illustrated 1920's Car Advertisements - See some of the beautifully illustrated automotive advertisements crafted by America's top illustrators of the nineteen-twenties.

Vintage Car Books - A selection of Vintage Car Books on Amazon

A wide selection of Vintage Car books covering 1920's cars.

The Atwater Kent Radio of 1927

From the days when Radio was King!

Atwater Kent Radio Advertisement

A million people can't be wrong about this.

THERE are lots of kinds of radio, aren't there? Is it hard for you to decide? Will this help you:

More than a million families who faced the same problem are now enjoying Atwater Kent Radio in their homes. They listened to all the arguments, just as you are doing-and then put their money in the radio with the reputation backed by experience.

The reason for Atwater Kent Radio's long lead is its all-round efficiency under all sorts of conditions. It works-and keeps on working.

Now that the Atwater Kent ONE Dial Receiver is here-the true ONE Dial that gets all Stations within range without secondary tuning devices-the public is buying twice as many as it did before.

All the radio makers have had their say. Isn't it time now to stop listening to arguments and listen to programs?

Write for illustrated booklet telling the complete story of Atwater Kent Radio

ATWATER KENT MFG. COMPANY

Model 35, six-tube receiver illustrated, with ONE Dial. Speaker Model H.

1920's Hairstyles

The decade when long hair gave way to short hair

Mens and Womens 1920's Hairstyles

Mens hairstyles were short (short back and sides) and often cut using a razor. Electric hair clippers were just coming in to use but most professionals preferred razors.

Ladies hairstyles started off the decade long but ended up short.

The 1920's was the decade the "Bob" hairstyle reigned supreme. Despite the austere appearance of early bobbed haircuts, they were embraced by women seeking relief from maintenance of long hair. Early bobs used straight cuts but by the mid to late 1920's stylish tapered bobs were common. Toward the end of the twenties and the early thirties, curls and waves added variety to bobs and they reached the pinnacle of their development.

Other hairstyles of the 20's included the very short Eton crop, shingling, various types of waves including the introduction of permanent waves, and plaits.

More information on 1920's Hairstyles

Travel by Airship

Dirigibles competed with Ocean Liners for upmarket Travellers

Trans-continental Travel in Giant Passenger Airships

Air Travel was a big new adventure in the 1920's due to the advances in aviation that allowed passengers to travel comfortably in closed-in planes and airships like the well known Zeppelins.

Airships like the Graf Zeppelin allowed air travel between continents in splendid comfort and offered competition to the luxurious ocean liners. Airplanes were still very restricted in the number of passengers they could carry and the inflight facilities they could provide. Dirigibles had a much higher load carrying capacity and so could carry many more passengers and service crew in spacious gondolas suspended below the cigar-shaped body.

A series of dirigible crashes in the 1930s ended the reign of airships. By this stage the passenger carrying capacity of planes had improved significantly and the modern era of air travel was ushered in.

This is your big opportunity to ask questions about the 1920's and get answers. I will consult my 1920's library and add the answers to this page.

1920's Questions and Comments - Do you have a question about the 1920's?

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    • profile image

      erikzind1321 5 years ago

      Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it's really informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

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    • profile image

      erikzind1321 5 years ago

      It's the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

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    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 6 years ago

      Nothing beats the Roaring Twenties. Great lens.

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 6 years ago

      Delightful! Oh for a time machine to see this for myself!

    • profile image

      outsource123 6 years ago

      Cheers, that lense was pure awesome.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      It was just so different back then

    • profile image

      CreditRestoration1 7 years ago

      I am waiting for your next post. Since you have the 20's, hope you may also have on my time, the 80's.

    • profile image

      CreditRestoration1 7 years ago

      That was the time of my great grandmother. I love the fact that we're not practicing on their beliefs nowadays.

    • TimothyArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 7 years ago from Chicago area

      The 1920s was an interesting decade. Old-fashioned in so many ways, and yet the first truly "modern" decade, with "women's lib," a new affluence, the love affair with the automobile, the beginnings of modern technology, the rise of pop culture, the dominance of mass media, and yes, many of the weapons of modern warfare. The 1920s were the "bridge" between the "olden days" and modern times.

    • blue22d profile image

      blue22d 8 years ago

      Very nice lens. I love the 20s; the clothes, hair styles, jewelry and the cars. Five stars and a lensroll to my lens called: Goodyearblimp. Hope you will stop by and visit.

    • msbaby profile image

      msbaby 8 years ago

      An excellent reminder that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. The government bailout is perhaps the only thing that broke (or delayed?) the repetitive pattern.

    • profile image

      Aika 9 years ago

      stylish and elegance. Great job to you Mr. Robert.

    • Karendelac profile image

      Karendelac 9 years ago

      I am passionate about the 20's and your lens is a solid 5 stars. I have a State-of-the-Art Titanic Lens ~~ It leaped to #24 in the first 5 days ~~ Please click on Karendelac above, to view it.

    • belhop profile image

      belhop 9 years ago

      marvelous, we need more lenses like this!

    • profile image

      Forgiven 10 years ago

      Wow! What a great lens! 5 Stars from me! Please visit my faithography lens when you get time and rate it if you would.

    • Classic LM profile image

      Classic LM 10 years ago

      Hi Thanks for submitting your lens to my Elegance and Style group. Warm welcome! Please don't hesitate to send in more as you create them. I rated your lens 5*s.If you have time, please visit / rate mine. Thank you!

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 10 years ago from Detroit

      Really excellent lens! Just needs more, more, more information! Great topic.