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To what extent did the US change socially and economically in the 1950s?. A Society on the Move. A Society on the Move. America Moves to the ‘Burbs Between 1940 and 1960, more than 40 million Americans moved to the suburbs Lack of urban housing forced people to look elsewhere

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a society on the move
A Society on the Move
  • America Moves to the ‘Burbs
    • Between 1940 and 1960, more than 40 million Americans moved to the suburbs
    • Lack of urban housing forced people to look elsewhere
    • After World War II, Americans married and had families creating a massive demand for housing
a society on the move1
A Society on the Move
  • “Levittowns”
    • William Levitt used the idea of “mass production” to build homes in a rapid fashion
      • Homes built in weeks rather than months
      • $58 per month ($8000 mortgage)
      • 17,000 homes built on Long Island in 2+ years
a society on the move2
A Society on the Move
  • Government Assistance with Housing Industry
    • Thousands of miles of highways and roads were built that linked urban areas to new suburban locations
    • Mass Transit: local governments built subways or train systems to aid people in getting to the cities
    • FHA (Federal Housing Administration): guaranteed loans of new homebuyers allowing buyers to pay as little as 5% down payment and pay over 30 years
    • GI Bill: gave veterans low interest loans to purchase new homes
a society on the move3
A Society on the Move
  • “Car Culture” Takes Over
    • Americans became increasingly

dependent on cars as the suburbs


      • Number of registered automobiles
        • 1945: 26 million
        • 1960: 60 million
  • Interstate Highway Act: Eisenhower and Congress approved the creation of 41,000 miles of highways to connect America’s major cities
    • Largest Public Works project in American history!
    • Bigger than any of the New Deal programs during the Great Depression
a society on the move5
A Society on the Move
  • Automobiles and the Interstate Highway System also boosted the travel and vacation industries
    • Disneyland opened in 1955
    • Franchises: Business system which allows a company to sell its products through independently owned and operated retail outlets
      • Holiday Inn opened in 1952
      • McDonald’s opened in 1948
a society on the move6
A Society on the Move
  • Migration to the Sunbelt
    • Appealing Climates and availability of jobs attracted people to the south and west in the 1950s
    • California: added more than 5 million new residents in the 1940s and 1950s
      • Political Power moved away from Northeast and Midwest
      • California’s representation in the US House of Representatives more than doubled between 1948 and 1998
a society on the move7
A Society on the Move
  • American Economy Changes Focus
    • Service Sector Growth
      • 1947-1957: “Blue-Collar” (Manufacturing /Construction) jobs declined by 4% while White Collar jobs grew rapidly
      • Computers became regular tools in government and private industry
        • ENIAC: The first computer (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) took up 18,000 square feet!
    • Women in the Workforce
      • The number of women in the workforce doubled between 1940 and 1960
      • Most worked part-time in clerical services (secretarial, switchboard operation, etc.)
      • “Pink Collar” jobs did not pay much compared to male jobs
a society on the move8
A Society on the Move
  • Multinational Corporations: companies that produced and sold goods and services all over the world
    • With national economic expansion, companies were able to expand and sell goods/services in western Europe and Latin America
      • General Motors: automobiles
      • General Electric: household appliances
      • IBM: computers
      • Coca-Cola: soft drinks
mass culture and family life
Mass Culture and Family Life
  • The US economy boomed in the 1950s due to wave of “consumerism”
    • Consumerism: process of buying as much as they could, mostly on credit
  • Median Family Income: rose from $3319 to $5417 in the 1950s
    • Installment Plans made goods affordable
    • 1st Credit Card (Diner’s Club) was introduced
  • Home Appliances topped the list of goods purchased
    • Washing machines and dryers, refrigerators, and ranges
    • Supermarkets appeared
    • Shopping centers sprouted up all over the suburbs
mass culture and family life1
Mass Culture and Family Life
  • Televisions: Record Numbers of TVs were purchased
    • 1946: fewer than 6000 TVs produced
    • 1953: 7 million purchased!
    • 1960: 90% of all households owned a television
the television revolution
The Television Revolution
  • Television created a national culture
    • Children’s programming influenced the new generation
      • “The Mickey Mouse Club”
      • “Howdy Doody”
    • Family sitcoms became the most memorable of all programming
      • “I Love Lucy”
      • “Leave it to Beaver”
      • “Father Knows Best”
mass culture and family life2
Mass Culture and Family Life
  • The “Ideal” Family
    • In the post-war years, the American “nuclear” family (dad, mom, & kids) was portrayed as the backbone of American society
    • Women had to accept their roles as homemakers for this model to work
  • Dr. Benjamin Spock’s Book “Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care”
    • Nurturing children became the focus of family and industry
    • Spock’s book became extremely popular for decades
mass culture and family life3
Mass Culture and Family Life
  • Improved Healthcare Benefitted the Baby Boomers increasing their life expectancies dramatically
    • 1954: Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine to end polio
      • In 1952 alone, thousands of kids were crippled and 1400 killed
    • Antibiotics (like penicillin) became more readily available
      • Controlled numerous infectious diseases like whooping cough and tuberculosis
    • Improved diet also contributed to longer lives
mass culture and family life4
Mass Culture and Family Life
  • Rock and Roll traces its beginning to 1951when radio began broadcasting “race music”
    • Originated from the Rhythm and Blues music of African-Americans
    • As Blacks moved North during and after World War II, they brought their music with them
    • First Superstar: Elvis Presley became famous with his song “Heartbreak Hotel”
    • Very Controversial because of passion and emotion it seemed to bring out of American youth