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The 1920s and the Spread of the Automobile

Although automobiles were developed before the 1920s, this is when the automobiles created a revolution in US life. Almost every American during the nineteen twenties thought driving a car was exciting, and they eagerly listened to the radio to see if any new speeds were broken for that day. This paper will be about how the automobile changed America, and about advertising.

First, it changed the economy. They opened up new companies to meet the growing demand for vehicles. Since the Assembly line was perfected by and used by Ford and others. This made cars affordable to many American families. Also, families didn’t need to pay with cash they could use consumer credit and installment payments. In 1924, Walter Percy Chrysler founded Chrysler Corp. It made an Imperial 80, which was considered the fastest car, and had 112-horse power. They also produced the Royal sedan, which sold for $1,535. Other companies that opened up in the 1920s and are still around today are Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge, Lincoln, and the Olds-mobile. Some that opened up in the 1920s but aren’t around today are Nash, Stanley, and the Packard. The Nash was famous for innovative features such as twin ignition systems. The Stanley was famous for the Steamer that was powered by steam, and it cost $2,000. The Packard was a luxury car with a V-12 engine, and its Boatel speedster cost $5,210 in 1929. The most popular car was the Model A Ford was introduced in 1927. Ford advertised it so greatly that it made almost everyone want one. Henry Ford was going to show the model of the car at a hotel lobby, but the enormous public interest made him move it to Madison Square Garden. The police were even called out to control the crowds. First, it was only made in black, but then it was made in Florentine cream, violet, Arabian sand, and Niagara blue. The invention of cars also produced more crimes since the criminals could now drive away from the scene.

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The automobile also changed family life, leisure time, and cities forever. Now people weren’t restricted to shopping in neighbourhood stores, or attending the nearest church, or living close to their jobs. This made new communities spring up called suburbs. Also made people move across the country. People also changed their leisure time. Families took more vacations like to national parks, or down south to see Florida change, or out west to see the Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino, and Clara Bow. They now took Sunday drives and went on weekend excursions. So, this created more family togetherness. It also made teenagers have more freedom. They are now not restricted to be on dates in their houses with their parents. They can now go watch movies or go to inspirational points on dates. Many cars were built for this; they had seats that folded back to make more room in the car for the dates. Now since more people are travelling, businesses on the sides of the roads started to spring up. Like rest stops, gas stations, food places, tearooms, and camping sites.

The first drive-in restaurant was the Pig Stand in Dallas Fort Worth Texas. It was opened in 1921 and sprung up from California to New York. Also, the first hamburger stand opened up in 1921. It was called the White Castle and hamburgers only cost 5 cents. The cities were also changed forever. Before cars, the cities were inhabited with horses. Which created one of America’s worst health problems by what they exuberated. It also made the streets wider, and now traffic patterns are regulated.

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This also created the invention of parking spaces. The cities were also transformed by the invention of highways. The nation spent over $2 billion, annually building and maintaining roads in the 1920s. By 1929, there were 852,000 miles of roads in the United States, compared to just 369,000 in 1920. The car also brought with it pollution, congestion, and nearly 30,000 traffic deaths a year.

Another thing that made people buy vehicles was the advertising. It changed how businesses were operated. Back then the advertising was usually informative, and they describe the product interestingly. Testimonials also came up during this period. Which is a person that has used the product, tells the buyers about the product usually in a positive way. One of the best advertisers that didn’t follow what was traditionally done was Jordan. Who created an ad for the Jordan Motor car. He just told about the pleasant feeling of freedom, the adventure, and the romance of the car. This ad worked really well, and it changed advertising. Now advertising is more into the psychological insights of the buyers.

How were things advertised back then? By 1925, magazines and newspapers owed 70 percent of their total income of 1.3 billion to ad revenue. So, that was a good way to advertise. Another way was the radio, which was invented before the 1920s, but mostly used by hobbyists. But in 1920 KDKA, Pittsburgh said it would make reruns of the Harding-Cox presidential election. Which made people want to tune in, and listen. SO, KDKA started to regularly schedule the news, church services, and music. So, by the end of this decade six hundred and eighteen radio stations were in business, and regularly broadcasting coast to coast. CBS and NBC all started out on the radio before going to television. At first Radio, broadcasting had no commercialism in it. But in 1922, a real estate corporation announced itself as a sponsor. They didn’t even say a word of praise to its house lots. But this innocent thing sprung open advertising. So now, this is another great way to advertise your product.

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So as you have read you can see that even though cars were invented before the nineteen twenties. They created a revolution in the nation’s economy, family, and leisure time. So that’s how America came to be what it is today.

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The 1920s and the Spread of the Automobile. (2021, Feb 16). Retrieved February 8, 2023, from