Roaring Twenties: Prohibition Exhibition
Here in the United States, the 1920s was a period of dramatic social and political change. This decade saw more and more Americans move from rural agricultural land and into metropolitan areas. During this economic boom, the nation’s total wealth more than doubled between the years of 1920 and 1929. The term ‘consumerism’ soon became part of the English vernacular as national advertising campaigns promoted the latest trends that were now readily available through chain department stores. The era was an optimistic time. People from coast to coast were buying new fashions, cars, and technology. Women danced in stylish new fashions, like the flapper dresses, and were waving their hair.
Though there was a lot of excitement in the nation, many Americans were uncomfortable with this new underground, sometimes racy, culture, but for the younger generation residing in New York, Chicago, New Orleans and most metropolitan cities – the 1920s were indeed “Roaring!”
However, the twenties were not all fun and games. In September of 1929 the world watched one of the most prosperous times in American history quickly slide into the deepest of holes. Stock prices began to fall, and a month later the stock market crashed causing the Great Depression.
From the Great Depression a new era of bank robbing gangsters were created, but even previous to 1929, the 1920s experienced a dramatic rise in organized crime which was born out of the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting alcohol.
The ruthless gangsters of the twenties were well-known for their tailored “zoot suits,” fast cars, and their Tommy guns that were used in bootlegging illegal liquor. Gangsters like Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and George ‘Bugs’ Moran were becoming more powerful than the law enforcement agencies supplying, owning or managing the Speakeasies that provided relief from prohibition laws.
It was in these Speak Easies where the Jazz musical genre exploded. Much of the older generation in America had viewed this type of music as immoral as its common ties to illegal activity. Amid the controversy, some of the most influential names in the history of music rose to stardom during this period. They include Jazz greats like; Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Earl Hines, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Bennie Goodman and many more.