Saturday, April 9, 2011

The 1920s

A posting project for this blog that I've been pondering for a while is to take a decade over the last century and decide what the best thing a person could be in that decade. For example, the 1950s might have been the besthttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif time to be a baseball fan (that's not what I came up with for the 1950s, however). Much of this is simply perception and history and is not meant to be a thesis-level treatise of American culture. Still, it's been fun to come up with something for every decade.

I'm starting with the 1920s, a decade I believe was the best time to live in Chicago.

Carl Sandburg wrote his classic poem "Chicago" in 1916 about the gritty nature of my hometown. I wonder what he thought about Chicago once it got into the Roaring Twenties. The city grew up, grew out and grew crazy during the decade. Before the 1920s, Chicago really was the key for goods going east and west, but it went beyond that in a short time. Immigrants flooded in to give the city an even more unique character, while the city's commercial base moved beyond stockyards and railroads.

One other thing, prohibition turned Chicago into one giant, albeit sometimes violent, party. I'm guessing the Twenties truly roared in Chi-Town.

I wonder if Chicagoans of the 1920s realized what was occurring as their city turned into a metropolis. Chicago's transformation led to the World's Fair in 1933, highlighting the city's ideal vision (even in the face of the Great Depression, that must not have been fun in Chicago in the 1930s).

I almost picked New York for the 1920s (rest assured, it gets another decade), and I'm sure a number of other cities prospered during this decade. And an argument could be made for the 1990s as the best Chicago decade (or even the 1980s, but I think living in Chicago the the 1980s might taint my judgment). I do know this -- if I could be dropped into any city in 1925, or could be dropped into any Chicago decade, this time and place are where this fiction would intersect.

No comments: