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The Modernization of America The Transcontinental Railroad was completed in 1869 The telephone was invented in 1876 The first practical system for a radio was developed in 1895 The Wright brothers created a flying machine in 1903 The first gas powered automobile the assembly line and the refrigerator were produced in the early 20th century These are all very important steps in laying the foundation for the modernization of America but I would argue that the first truly modern period in American history would have to be the 1920s The 1920s brought a capitalistic population who as a nation leaned toward isolationism In two main fields the 1920s modernized American society to reflect the America of the 21st century more than any era before it These fields are media and business Along with a new decade came a new attitude from the media By 1922 there were 22 magazines in circulation and by the end of the 1920s 40 of Americans owned a radio The first tabloid magazine appeared in 1919 The media that we know today spawned from this growth in the 20s This new type of mass media permitted the spreading of national trends or obsessions such as flagpole sitting A 21st century equivalent to this type of rather bizarre behavior of national trends could be the Christmas Tickle me Elmo or Furby craze over the last few years The national connection that the mass media provided also allowed for fashion to become important and for heroes in the world of sports to emerge Advertising became a lucrative business and targeted middle class homes The decade brought a new openness about sex and the media did not miss the chance to take part in this revolution The movies were very popular and the film stars who were known for being cute and innocent such as Americas Sweetheart Mary Pickford were replaced by stars who were sexy like vamp Theda Bara Advertising
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