The 1920's were notorious for the flappers, the jazz music, the economic prosperity, and the newly found freedom that was presented in the American lifestyle. The 1920's was nicknamed "the Roaring Twenties" because it was a time of exceptional economic and social well-being. America's total wealth practically doubled between 1920 and 1929, leading to the citizens of America to feel the economic prosperity. There was a large advertising industry in the 1920's as well, stimulating consumption of goods, which, in turn, stimulated the economy. The stock market sky rocketed, which also gave Americans the feeling that the 1920's were economically stable and successful. The 1920's seemed to be all about getting rich as quickly as possible. Money and big spending led to the glamorous and luxurious lifestyle that the 1920's is famous for today. Urbanization happened when most of America's population moved to urban cities in the 1920's; over 50% of Americans lived in urban cities now that the industries ans cities were booming.
Radios were very popular among the younger and older generations that lived in the 1920's; about 12 million radios were bought within the 1920's alone! Jazz music was one of the most popular types of music in the 1920's; some of the iconic jazz musicians of the 1920's were Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, and Willie Smith. Along with jazz being introduced to the popular culture of America, many movies influenced the 1920's as well. Like radios, movies were a form of mass entertainment that came in to major popularity in the 1920's. One of the most well-known movies of the 1920's was The Jazz Singer, a movie which greatly reflected the lifestyle of the American citizens. Another popular film was an animated film directed by Walt Disney called Steamboat Willie; thus, in the 1920's, Mickey Mouse was born and has stayed in the hearts of Americans throughout the generations. Along with the birth of Mickey Mouse, new roles for women were born. The Ninteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1920, gave women the right to vote. This changed the way that women acted, as well. Women began to abandon the traditional values that their previous generation held; they also changed their wardrobes. The flapper represents this type of change in women during the 1920's. Flappers were young women in the 1920's who defied the traditional ideas of proper dress and behavior; the flapper also represented a lifestyle of independence and freedom. This image became popularly associated with the Roaring Twenties.
In the classic novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the 1920's is the setting of the fictional work. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald expresses his disillusionment in the prosperity of the 1920's through the use of symbolism and the personalities of his characters. They all want one thing. Money. Thus, Fitzgerald portrays that the American Dream was disintegrating through the material excess of the 1920's. F. Scott Fitzgerald was not the only American that thought the Roaring Twenties weren't very "roaring". Some Americans, like Sinclair Lewis, found that the 1920's caused many people to "conform to society". Some Americans, usually the Americans of the older generation, felt that the 1920's was the "Lost Generation" because they had lost their morals and traditional values. Also, Prohibition slandered the greatness of the 1920's; Prohibition was widely unpopular because it led to organized crime, violence, and illegal acts, such as bootlegging and creating speakeasies. Thus, the Roaring Twenties was impressive to some and disappointing to others.
Schultz, Stanley K., and William P. Tishler. "H102 Lecture 15: The Politics of Prosperity: The 1920s." American History 102: Oldest American History Site on the Internet -- Established in 1996 --. 1999. Web. 12 May 2010. http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture15.html.