1950S: America after War

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The American dream, this phenomenon was established in what is now known as the Post-War Era: the period during the late 1940s and ’50s of great enthusiasm and economic expansion that followed World War II. People started to look to their future with new confidence and a new set of goals and progressive thoughts. These ideas were the start of the American Dream. At the center of the American Dream is personal growth and development. One’s hard work, one’s education growth and attentive planning should be the only road to success and economic prosperity.

There are several standard assumptions of the American vision. Amid them are a good job with the opportunity for growth, ; benefits such as health insurance and vacation time, unrestricted income to be used for travel and relaxation; middle class status; the chance to send their loved ones to college so that they might live the American Dream as well and finally, owning the home of one’s dreams. The American Dream of the post-war United States was in no way simple. Hard work, the values of one’s family, and hope remained the main center of the dream, but you can see how these two decades spread upon the goal. The idea of futurism, the baby boom, housing boom, and uproar in the economy all lead to the concept of a post-war American dream.

After WWII, America stood back and looked amongst itself. There was a new rejuvenated American Dream after the war. By the 1950s the American Dream had enveloped the ideas of futurism and opportunity. The early 1950s brought about an idea that had come from the post-war: futurism. An opportunity was beginning to engulf American’s at every turn, and it was quickly becoming enclosed into the brains of all the American youth. Parents could encourage their children to be whatever they wanted to be and feel that it would happen and could come true.

Futurism went into the American scene in the mid-1950s, American’s started becoming more attentive of the future and what the future could bring about. Futurism remained a popular idea among the American population by transcending common technology forward with better machine products, better refrigerators, new devices for the home and office, and the introduction of computers. These technologies are all relevant because Futurism opened the doors for new concepts and ideas, and new designs of everyday objects.

Underlying all of the trends of the 1950s, including changes in the American Dream Home, was the incredible growth of economic wealth during the period. Since much of Europe’s manufacturing was desolated by war, the United States became a thriving manufacturer in the Post-War years. Phillips explains just how big the US economy was after World War 2 “By 1947, America was bringing forth half of the world’s manufactured goods.” (Phillips 11) America’s days as the curator of democracy were reaching a peak. For middle-class workers, this meant an overabundance of available jobs as well as growing income potential. Over eight million more people had to pay employment by the end of the Fifties than at the beginning. As a result, consumer culture thrived.

Workers put their hard-earned money back into the economy with the purchase of luxuries. With GI loans we see how significant it was in helping American families purchase new things “Americans also purchased twenty-five million new cars during this decade and, thanks to GI loans of one dollar down, most families owned their own homes.” (Satin 17) The suburbs developed into influential market in America, as shopping zones followed their consumers outside the cities and formed the beginnings of our modern shopping malls, also changes in insurance and Social Security, in addition to medical advances such as new vaccine’s this relieved many financial concerns about illness and retirement that had previously troubled families and freed up more of their income for luxury spending.

As Chenoweth talks about in this quote “The broad fascination for consumer goods, pleasure, and immediate gratification that had matured during the Twenties and died out during the Thirties, had once again been revived.” (Chenoweth 56), and one again Chenoweth goes on to explain how important consumer goods were to the American people of the 1950s “Advertisements of the time escalated the idea that prominence, as well as popularity, emotional gratification, and a sense of improvement, could be achieved through the consumption of goods.” (Chenoweth 137).

More and more Americans now label themselves as part of the middle-class Chenoweth gives us a great identifying percentage of this “Even today, while the middle class comprises only 20 percent of the population, 80 to 90 percent of Americans describe themselves as middle class.” (Chenoweth 12). The growth had different causes. The automobile industry was somewhat responsible, as the number of cars that would be produced annually significantly increased. By 1956 a majority of the American people held white-collar jobs, some companies would give annual wage bonuses and work benefits, All leading to a widespread increase in prosperity that helped establish the American dream as genuinely alive and well.

After World War II a vast change took place. The United States was developing faster than ever and had entered the world stage as a new superpower. Successes increased, as industrial advances and a booming economy brought modern conveniences to many families. A housing boom accelerated in part by cheaper mortgages for returning soldiers who were very affordable. The number of homes in the United States more than doubled from 1950 to 1960. A vital part of the movement led Americans out of downtown areas and inner cities into the peaceful suburbs, where they, in turn, hoped to find cheap housing for the larger families that hatched out of the postwar baby boom.

Home Developers like Levitt built new neighborhoods with homes that all resembled one another with the strategies of mass production. Levitt’s houses were partially assembled in a factory rather than having to go to the location of where the home was being built. The homes were humble, but Levitt’s factories cut costs and allowed new homeowners to think they were establishing and living the American dream. Part of that dream included the enjoyment of home ownership and the hope to start a family. Despite the housing boom beginning shortly after World War II, it wasn’t until many million veterans came back from the war that America went on a full-on housing spree. The baby boom was in full effect. By 1954, over four million babies were being born each year in the united states.

WWII ended, and the men and women on duty came home, the American Dream changed. Women still wanted to participate more in the workplace, but now the focus was on getting the “perfect American household.” The perfect American household at the time was a house in the suburbs, a good paying job, being married, having kids, and keeping up with everyday life. The years following World War II are defined as one of the most booming economic times throughout American history. With a victory in the war and money in their pockets, Americans in the 1950s could optimistically pursue the American dream, which they achieved in a newfound sense of prosperity and livelihood. Possibly no other years in American history have been filled with such an expansive and ambitious sense of possibilities, such a grand, inspiring spirit of what Americans could achieve.

Cite this paper

1950S: America after War. (2021, Aug 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/1950s-america-after-war/

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