Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Pocket Flask and Younger Set

By the second year of Prohibition, a generational divide had emerged: young people used hip flasks to consume alcohol, while older people mostly did not.

Something has really happened to cleave the Young Generation of today from the generations that have gone before it. Something specific has happened in the history of sociology to mark the two sides of 1920-21 as the Before and After Taking.

Once in a half century something does really happen that cleanly cleaves the past from the present — something that ushers in a new social era… It is so today, when the hip-pocket flask has got into mixed society.

New Jersey Gov. Edward I. Edwards, a teetotaler himself, noted that the rise of young people using hip flasks should have been an expected consequence of removing drinking out of the public eye.

“Those of us who opposed prohibition through no self-interested motives foresaw just this wild abandon that comes of bottling up the human inclinations. The openness of drinking was what protected it. With their elders and contemporaries sure to be looking on at any results of drinking, moderation was the natural, self-interested thing for the young.”

“They’ve merely succeeded in making a crime and a mystery of drinking. Instead of a responsible hostess serving young girls a glass of wine at her table, young girls are getting off to secret places to be served a surreptitious drink from some young man’s pocket.”

While the heyday of hip flasks is probably considered to have occurred decades ago in the U.S., market research company Transparency Market Research forecasts the product’s sales to increase internationally between now and 2027.

 

Pocket Flask and Younger Set (PDF)

Published: Sunday, February 6, 1921

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 3rd, 2021 at 4:11 pm

Posted in Development,Life

The Rising Tide of Immigration

World War I had significantly reduced U.S. immigration. But by 1920, “they are pouring in as they have not done since 1914,” an article that year wrote. “For America is not merely the land of freedom now. It is the land of peace.”

“As it is, nearly thirty thousand immigrants are being handled at Ellis Island every week. More are coming through the gates in one month now than during the entire war period… And it is only the beginning. Were it not for the lack of shipping accommodations, ten million foreigners would be battering at our doors.”

As it always does, price correlated with demand, as U.S. Commissioner of Immigration Frederick A. Wallis was quoted explaining.

“Before the war a steerage passage could be had for $25. During the war it was possible to cross for $10. Now the rate from Hamburg to New York ranges from $120 to $160, and, in addition, there is a head tax of $18. This is a considerable sum for the European peasant.”

Immigration numbers might have been up for the year 1920 specifically. But over the course of the entire 1920s decade, immigration actually declined relative to the 1910s, though the numbers were still the highest they would be until the 1980s.

 

The Rising Tide of Immigration (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 19, 1920

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

December 15th, 2020 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Development

Brand of the Movies on Babies’ Names

As motion pictures gained popularity in the 1910s and 1920s, baby names changed based on the most popular characters and stars.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks the popularity of baby names over time, starting in 1900. After this quote, I track the the trajectories of some of the names which proved popular around 1920.

And so I knew that it was upon us — the motion-picture name period… Mixed in with the Rosanas and the Giovannis of the imported element came the babies of our good, sturdy American stock surnamed Smith and Jones. Norma and Pearl they were, Madge and Billie, Mae (spelled just as the electric lights spell it) and Blanche (with an “e”). Also a renaissance of Marys. On through the foreign Oscars and Giuseppes, Marys appear in quantities unprecedented.

How did those names fare in the long run?

  • Norma: the #69 name of 1920, peaked at #22 in both 1931 and 1932. Last ranked in the top 1,000 in 2002.
  • Pearl: the #62 name of 1920, actually peaked in the first year of available data (1900) at #24. Seemed to last rank in the top 1,000 in 1986, then disappeared for more than two decades, until reappearing in 2007 and staying there almost every year since, ranking #647 in 2018.
  • Madge: the #303 name of 1920, peaked in the first year of available data (1900) at #232. Last appeared in the top 1,000 in 1948. It’s short for Margaret: the #4 name of 1920, peaked at #3 every year between 1905 and 1911. Ranked #127 in 2018.
  • Billie: the #212 name of 1920, peaked at #79 in both 1929 and 1930. Last appeared in the top 1,000 in 1997, though one wonders if the 2019 breakthrough of pop star Billie Eilish will provide the name a renaissance.
  • Mae: the #99 name of 1920, peaked at #53 in 1902. Seemed to last rank in the top 1,000 in 1969, then disappeared for more than four decades, until reappearing in 2010 and staying there every year since, ranking #554 in 2018.
  • Blanche: the #102 name of 1920, peaked at #58 in 1902. Last ranked in the top 1,000 in 1964.
  • Mary: the #1 name of 1920, and indeed every year between 1900 and 1946. It never even dropped out of the top 10 until 1972. These days it doesn’t even rank in the top 100, at #126 in 2018.

My own name, Jesse, peaked in popularity at #37 among boys born in 1981. What happened that year? Here’s a hint:

 

Brand of the Movies on Babies’ Names (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 22, 1920

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

August 19th, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Development,Life,Movies

Population Centre Moving East, Cities Lead

Several questions about U.S. population trends loomed over the 1920 Census. Here they were, along with their ultimate answers.

Are we entering on a new period in which our proportionate increase in population will be less than in the past?

Yes. The growth rate between 1910 and 1920 was +14.9%, the lowest on record up to that point.

The growth rate now is even lower than that. The population from 2000-10 grew at +9.7%, the second-lowest ever. Current projections for 2010-20 are for a growth rate of +7.7%, which would also be the second-lowest ever.

Is urban population for the first time in the history of the country to take lead over rural population?

Yes. According to the Census Bureau, “The 1920 census marked the first time in which over 50 percent of the U.S. population was defined as urban.”

By the 2010 Census, that number had jumped to 80.7%.

Has the great movement westward, which has been an outstanding feature in every census, slowed up, and, with the vast industrial growh in the East, is the centre of population to be stopped in its westward course and return a few points toward the East?

Yes. The median center of population had moved westward every decade between 1880 and 1910, but moved both slightly east and slightly north in 1920, from eastern Indiana to western Ohio.

It moved slightly east again in 1930, but has since moved both west and south every decade since. As of 2010, it’s located near Petersburg in southwestern Indiana.

 

 

Median Center of Population for the United States: 1880 to 2010

Population Centre Moving East, Cities Lead: Early Figures of New Census Seem to Promise This and Indicate Slowing Up of General Increase Rate to About Fifteen Per Cent. — Effect of Industrial Progress Speeded Up by War (PDF)

Published: Sunday, May 23, 1920

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

May 19th, 2020 at 11:21 am

Project to Make Great Lakes Another Mediterranean

Should the five Great Lakes be connected for transportation and navigation, like the Panama Canal? In 1920, it was being seriously debated.

Pro: the economics.

New exports would be developed. Our export of coal is in its infancy. The United States is said to have half of the world’s coal. It will be called for by the world more and more. But there is no way to get to the seaboard economically from the great producing centres. More than any other product it clogs up the railroads. With a water route open from the lakes to the ocean, our export of coal would grow by leaps and bounds.

Con: also the economics.

According to them, the… project would waste money and help cripple United States commerce. In support of the first objection they assert that the New York Barge Canal, which already exists, is the only economic and feasible method of transporting cargoes from the lake ports to the Atlantic seaboard. No matter how deep or how wide the new waterway is made, they insist that no ship will find it a sound business venture to potter through the innumerable locks and narrow waterways. The greatest speed a lake or ocean steam could make through this waterway would be four miles an hour. The expense entailed, it is asserted, would be too stupendous to make the trip pay.

Although the Great Lakes were connected naturally, it was often too shallow or difficult for ships to actually navigate in practice. Today, the Great Lakes Waterway (GLW) has now accomplished that goal. The Welland Canal, connecting Lakes Erie and Ontario, was completed in 1932. The Soo Locks, connecting Lakes Superior and Huron, was fully completed in 1943.

 

Project to Make Great Lakes Another Mediterranean: Western States Favor Plan, but Many in New York Fear Effect on Barge Canal — Improvement of St. Lawrence Would Yield 2,000,000 Horse Power — Outlet for Wheat Fields (PDF)

Published: Sunday, March 28, 1920

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

March 24th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

First Woman Magistrate Judges Fallen Sisters

In 1919, Jean H. Norris became the first female judge in New York City history. But her name isn’t celebrated today, because in 1931 she was disbarred and removed from the bench.

Upon first rising to the position, Norris’s promotion was trumpeted:

The first few rows of the courtroom were filled with women. A few of them had opened the morning session with congraulatory speeches, a thing as unheard of in the annals of the court as was the occasion which prompted it. A group of fashionable women sat beaming at the proceedings in the last few rows. Their attitude manifested complete satisfaction with the woman who represented them in this high capacity.

By 12 years later, quite the opposite reaction would have occurred. Judge Norris was found to have falsified court records, convicted a girl without evidence, and endorsed a product in violation of judicial ethics.

First Woman Magistrate Judges Fallen Sisters: Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained in Jefferson Market Court at Mrs. Norris’s First Session, but Eloquence of Mere Men Is Curtailed (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 9, 1919

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

November 7th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Development,Politics

Putting American Women “On Another Footing”

A 1919 campaign sought to end high heeled shoes for women. Clearly, it didn’t work.

No other country except China has set itself up seriously as a rival to America in the business of mutilating women’s feet, and China has reformed. Footbinding is obsolete there, or at least obsolescent. In the United States footbinding by a somewhat more modern process, with the aid of high-heeled and pointed shoes, continues almost unabated. The female of the species hereabout is becoming a one-toed, sharp-footed animal.

Sometimes, alas, fashion and style win out over health. I’ve always suspected that for the opposite sex, wearing a tie for 8+ hours a day slightly chokes your throat and may hurt breathing or your respiratory system.

Putting American Women “On Another Footing”: Campaign Is Under Way Against the High Heel and the Pointed Toe, Which Are Accused of Deforming the Female of the Species (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 12, 1919

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

October 11th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Plans for a Roosevelt Memorial at Oyster Bay

Mere months after President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1919 death, memorials were planned at his home in Oyster Bay, New York and also Washington, D.C.

Interestingly, this 1919 article about the man refers to him more than once as “Colonel Roosevelt,” despite his having served as president. This implies the military title was considered the higher honor, especially in that patriotic environment immediately after World War I.

That’s almost impossible to imagine today — even if a general or similar military officer ever becomes president again, surely they would forever more be referred to as “President.”

The New York memorial Sagamore Hill officially dedicated in 1928, while the D.C. memorial became Teddy Roosevelt Island and was not dedicated until 1967. The latter is less than a mile from where I live, and is lovely to walk to, especially around this time of year.

Plans for a Roosevelt Memorial at Oyster Bay: Half Mile of Shore with Elms and Monumental Structures Would Become a Sort of National Grove of Academus (PDF)

Published: Sunday, September 28, 1919

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

September 27th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Development

The World Metropolis: New York or London?

In 1919, London’s long-held title as “the world metropolis” was threatened by the sharp rise of New York City. Which would win out?

There are a few ways to measure this.

By population, it looked like greater New York would soon overtaken Greater London around 1932:

Indeed, today the NYC metropolitan area is much larger than London’s, at 23.8 million versus 14.1 million. However, the NYC area only ranks #10 in the world and London only ranks #29. The Delhi, India area tops the list with 46.0 million people.

Another way is by the size of the area’s economy, or gross domestic product (GDP). New York City’s again ranks higher than London’s, at at estimated $1.71 trillion versus $595 billion. NYC “only” ranks #2 and London ranks #10 by this metric. Tokyo, Japan tops the list with $1.89 trillion.

Another way, even though it is far less quantitative or objective, is just by what “feels right.” For example, even though U.S. News and World Report technically ranked Princeton as the country’s best university this year according to the specific metrics they used in their tabulation, almost anybody in real life would tell you that the country’s best university is either Harvard or Yale.

Similarly, if any international readers will excuse this author’s American bias, New York City just “feels like” the world’s metropolis.

 

The World Metropolis: New York or London?: Twin Wonder Cities Will Tie in Population in 1932, British Journalist Believes, and Wall Street Will Become the Partner, Not the Rival, of Lombard Street (PDF)

Published: Sunday, August 3, 1919

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

July 30th, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Debate,Development

The Laying On of Hands for Fingerprints

In 1919, “The fingerprints of every sailor and soldier serving the United States are on record… In Argentina it is true of every civilian. In time it may be true of all the world.”

Indeed. By 2009, the FBI had 63 million fingerprints on file. Their database started in 1924, just five years after this article predicted the possibility of such a system’s eventual creation.

Whether that was a necessary move for public safety or an unconstitutional violation of civil liberties can be debated. What’s not up for debate is the casual misoginy of the 1919 article’s sub-headline identifying Gertrude Meredith Sullender as a “woman expert.”

 

The Laying On of Hands for Fingerprints: Woman Expert Thinks System Will Not Be Confined to Criminals, but Will Become Universal — Chinese Used It for Identification Sixteen Centuries Ago (PDF)

Published: Sunday, June 29, 1919

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

June 30th, 2019 at 11:53 am