TO WHAT EXTENT WERE THE 1920'S A TIME OF ECONOMIC BOOM IN THE USA?.
TO WHAT EXTENT WERE THE 1920S A TIME OF ECONOMIC BOOM IN THE USA?.
In the second half of the 19th century, the USA had become an industrial giant. The first industrial revolution, based on coal, brought steam engines, steel, railways and mechanisation. The second industrial revolution, based on electricity and oil, was sparked by the First World War. Wartime demands encouraged the development of new materials and new techniques. These new materials and new techniques were then used as the basis of new industries.
Some of the successful industries in the 1920s, like steel and construction, were in fact old industries, which had been modernised. Other industries, like the automobile and aircraft industry had been in a pioneering stage in 1900 and only flourished for the first time after the war. Perhaps the most important development was the introduction of electric power which became widely available for the first time (whilst just 16% of homes had electric power in 1916, 63% of homes had it by 1927). This transformed existing industries and encouraged the development of new industries. Many new products, for example, were developed for the American home. There was a great boom in newly invented labour-saving devices - such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines and toasters. Increasingly, kitchens were equipped with electric ovens and refrigerators, while families were entertained at home by the radio. What all these products had in common was that they were powered by electricity.
Henry Ford set up the Ford Motor Company in 1903. By designing a car with standardised parts (the Model T), Ford was able to keep the cost down. Then, in 1914, the moving assembly line was introduced. Cars were assembled as they moved along a conveyor belt. Workers stayed in one place adding parts. This reduced the time it took to make a car from 14 hours to 93 minutes.