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Suburbia Essay

630 words - 3 pages


The 1950s was a time of great economic prosperity for many Americans and the United States as a whole. During this decade, the middle class became a larger and more powerful force than it had ever been before. Many middle class families moved to the suburbs. Suburbs often were less crowded than urban areas which made it attractive for families to move there. They also offered much larger home than they could hope to find in the cities. These reasons and others contributed to an unprecedented demographic shift. By 1960, a third of the nation’s populations were living in suburbs.
The demands of the Cold War created a culture of conformity for America during the 1950s. Conformity was a central role in suburbia. Houses in suburbia were often built in the same manner as the others in the community- same floor plan, same number of rooms, same color of paint, etc. People living in these communities were often ...view middle of the document...

For women, it meant an increased isolation from the workplace. Many middle-class men considered it degrading for their wives to be employed. Also, much of society thought of women, the majority of them housewives, as people that should stay at home full-time and raise the kids. However, some suburban women wanted to leave the home and go to work. As expectations of material comfort rose, many middle class families needed to a second income to sustain their current standard of living. As a result, the number of working married women actually went up in the 1950s. Suburban life, among other factors, diminished the power of feminism. However, they would create conditions that only a decade later would create the most powerful feminist movement in U.S. history.
There was a growing absorption with consumer goods especially among the middle class. This was a result of increased prosperity, increasing variety and availability of products and growth of consumer credit. Consumer credit increased by 800% during this time. Many bought gadgets such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, stereos and other electronics. Television had a huge impact for suburbanites and was central to the culture of the postwar era. Many suburban families would sit together and have dinner while watching the television. The 1950s were also notable for the viral-like spread of great national consumer crazes. The hula hoop became popular for both children and adults. The popularity of Disney created a national demand for related products such as Mickey Mouse watches or hats. The middle class also produced the stunning success of Disneyland, which opened in 1955.
Vacation travel became widespread for the middle class during the 1950s. The construction of the interstate highway system contributed to the growth of travel. The increasing affluence of workers made it easy for them to buy automobiles and live in suburbs which made it easier for them to garage vehicles. The increasing popularity of travel reflected the same impulses that produced the move to suburbs. Because of these factors, national parks experienced a surge in attendance beginning in the 1950s and continue to this day.

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