Luxuries in the 1920s

The affordable automobile was perhaps the most influential and coveted luxury of the 1920s.
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The Roaring 1920s, one of the most unique and distinctive decades in American history, is as memorable for its domestic dramas, its art and technological innovations, as it is for the luxuries that set a foundation for the comforts so widely enjoyed today.

1 The General Prosperity

America's involvement in World War I afforded a tremendous boost for domestic industry as the country hastened into the production of weaponry, uniforms, vehicles and other instruments of war. Jobs in the manufacturing of these products were widely available.

Mass production, also referred to as assembly line production, helped facilitate the blossoming employment rates. Assembly line production was where, in the production of a product, different workers would manage different parts of the process. This way, more good could be produced at a quicker rate and sold at lower prices than they had in the past. American products be put out and purchased en masse kept business from going abroad.

Americans from every economic class were beginning to enjoy some of the same luxuries, small and large.

2 Technology Moves Forward

One of the most persistent symbols of luxury in the 1920s was also one of the great symbols of economy: the Ford Model T. Although it was originally produced in 1908, and sold steadily through the 1910s, its increasing affordability and ubiquity made Henry Ford's "car for the great multitude" a powerful symbol of American innovation for the 1920s.

It was accompanied, on the pedestal of technological advance, by the radio. the first radio news report was broadcast on August 31, 1920, and prompted a near-manic excitement in the United States. An estimate by the National Association of Broadcasters set the number of radio owners in 1922 at roughly 60,000; by 1929, more than 10 million.

So too did cinema, with its advent of sound and -- more sparingly -- color, become a great influence on the culture

3 Luxury in the Kitchen

Some of the most readily useful luxuries in the 1920s were those that cast their influence over domestic life. Since more than 30% of families in America had electricity by 1924, home appliances became widespread commodities.

Eclipsing the popularity of the ice box was General Electric's Monitor Top refrigerator. It was small compared to today's refrigerators, with just enough freezer space to hold two ice trays, but advertisements stressing its safety, alluding the everyday hazards of spoiled food and the potential for poisoning, the Monitor Top refrigerator became

4 The Wristlet Route Indicator

The Wristlet Route Indicator was a wristwatch that, rather than telling time, carried in its face-plate a small map through which prospective drivers could scroll while in the car without having to distract themselves with a map. A forerunner to satellite navigation, the Wristlet Route Indicator, which came out in the mid-1920s, was a little ahead of its time, and is said to have never caught on with the public on account of the still relatively modest number of drivers on the road (see reference 4).

Alex Sorondo is a 2013 graduate of Florida International University, where he majored in English. His short fiction has appeared in "First Inkling" and "Jai-Alai Magazine."