United States Economic Chronology: The 1950s

Figure 1.--The 1950s brought unprecedented propsperity to the United States. This financed an exoduc from the inner-cities to the growinhg new suburbs. A new subrban home and a flashy new car became American center pieces. Here a boy is cutting the front lawn during summer 1958. Notice that the photograph dad took focused on his 1957 Chevy with lots of chrome trim and tailfins. Also notice the red Keds (sneakers).

The 1950s were a time of affluence in contrast to the preceeding two decades. The 1930s had been a disater for many Americans as a result of the Depression. Unemployment rose and jobs were very hard to find. Than their was the trevails of World War II. After the War, the United States was one of the few combatant countries that emerged undamaged and stronger than before the War. Americans after World War II, especially working-class Americans thanks to the GI Bill, for the first time had generally open access to university studies and professionsal careers. The moddle-class broadened considerably. And even high-school graduates could earn good livings in factories. Their children thus grew up in middle-clas affluence, knowing nothing of what their parents went through. Most American teens in the 50s had not only the basic neccesities, but unrivaled material wealth. They had nice wardrobes, portable record players, transistor radios, and lived in comfortable homes. Many teenagers had cars and could enjoy 15 cent hamburgers and shakes at the new McDonalds. There were cultural consequences. Thus there was unprecedented feedom. Even younger teens no longer had to listen to the music mom and dad picked out on the family radio as was the case in the 1920s-40s. They had their own phonographs and radios. And older teens had cars which gave them physical indeprndence. Few had the concerns about the future that their parents had. Getting a job after school was not the concern it was for their parents. American was booming. Cars had tail fins, An expression of both needless opulence and optimism about the new jet-age. This all occurred in a world that at the beginning of the decade was still recovering from the War. Many pursued their economic dreams. There was an exodus from the inner cities into the expanding new suburbs. Others dropped up and launched the Hippy Movement of the 1960s.


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Created: 9:32 AM 10/7/2011
Last updated: 9:32 AM 10/7/2011