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Suburban Growth in the 1950s
Transcript of Suburban Growth in the 1950s
Suburban Life in the 1950s
Women and Suburbia
Keeping Up with the Joneses
Women continued to work after the war. However, the media promoted the idea that now that the war was over, women were to return to their former roles as housewives. Many women accepted this; a trend cropped up in which women went to college to find a husband, then got married and dropped out. Just as many women resisted the return to domesticity; they were unsatisfied with the confines of marriage and family life. This created another trend: women told their doctors they were neurotics, causing sales of sedatives to sharply increase.
"Keeping Up with the Joneses" is an idiom to describe comparing one's quality of living and material acquisitions with those of her neighbor. This cutesy phrase was one of the many avenues by which America, throughout its history, has promoted mass consumerism and the idea that no cost is too high for the next big thing. The phrase was coined from a comic strip of the same name, which eventually spawned musical comedies, books, and a TV series.
Many young Americans who had grown up during the Depression and World War II decided to have families as a celebration of the return to peace and prosperity. The "Baby Boom," as it came to be called, lasted from 1945 to 1962. During this time there was steep population growth; in 1957, at the height of the boom, almost 4.5 million babies were born.
by Madelyn Kopp, Yvonne Lee and Lexxie Whittey
graph of population growth in America
A nuclear family, also called a traditional family, consists of a mother, a father, and a few children. This type of family was very common in the 1950s.
Levitt towns were named for Abraham Levitt. The entrepreneur created the first Levitt town in 1947 in Nassau County, Long Island. This was the beginning of a huge cultural breakthrough: suburbs. The American countryside was no longer exclusively divided into cities and rural areas; now there was a middle ground.
In previous years, highways had existed, but were not organized or efficient, and their upkeep was more of a burden than an asset. The interstate highway system changed this in the late 1950s. The interstate system made travel for Americans with cars much easier. It also had an impact on the economy: Costs of raw materials and other goods were lower because they were easier and cheaper to transport. Farmers could transport produce before it spoiled, allowing them to expand their consumer base.