The Roaring '20s

Booze, Booteggers, Flappers and Adventures Mark Decade -- Until 1929

The Roaring '20s were marked by prosperity after World War I, drastic changes for women that included the right to vote and freedom from corsets and long, structured clothing to a more modern style of dress. And they bobbed their hair and displayed a more liberated demeanor. Prohibition brought the age of speakeasies and bootleggers, and everyone did the Charleston. The frivolity and excess ended with a loud crash -- of the stock market in October 1929, which was the first signal of the Great Depression to come.

01
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1920

19th Amendment victory
Suffragettes hold a parade to celebrate the passing of 19th Amendment. Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

Women won the right to vote in 1920 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment, the first commercial radio broadcast aired, the League of Nations was established, and the Harlem Renaissance began.

There was bubonic plague in India, and Pancho Villa retired.

Prohibition began in the United States, and though it was intended to eliminate the use of alcoholic beverages, it resulted in an abundance of speakeasies, bathtub gin and the rise of the bootleggers.

 

02
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1921

Bessie Coleman
Bessie Coleman was the first African-American woman to hold a pilot's license. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

In 1921, the Irish Free State was declared after a five-year fight for independence from Britain, Bessie Coleman became the first female African-American pilot, there was extreme inflation in Germany, and the lie detector was invented.

The  "Fatty" Arbuckle scandal caused a sensation in the newspapers. The comedian was acquitted, but his career as a comedian was destroyed.

 

03
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1922

Tutankhamen
Howard Carter, an English egyptologist, inspects the golden sarcophagus of Tutankhamen in 1922. Apic/Getty Images

Michael Collins, a prominent soldier and politician in the Irish fight for independence, was killed in an ambush. Benito Mussolini marched on Rome with 30,000 men and brought his fascist party to power in Italy. Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey, and the tomb of King Tut was discovered. And The Reader's Digest was first published, all in 1922.

04
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1923

The Charleston Dance
Everyone did the Charleston. General Photographic Agency / Getty Images

The Teapot Dome scandal dominated front-page news in the United States, the Ruhr region of Germany was occupied by French and Belgian forces, and Adolf Hitler was jailed after a failed coup in Germany.

The Charleston swept the nation, and Time magazine was founded.

 

 

 

05
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1924

Charles Jewtraw
Charles Jewtraw became the first American to win a gold medal in a Winter Olympic competition. George Rinhart / Corbis via Getty Images

In 1924, the first Olympic Winter Games took place in Chamonix and Haute-Savoie, France; J. Edgar Hoover was appointed the first director of the F.B.I.; Vladimir Lenin ​died; and the trial of Richard Leopold and Nathan Loeb shocked and riveted the country.

 

06
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1925

Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf.". Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

The Scopes (Monkey) Trial was 1925's top news story. Flapper dresses were all the rage for modern women, and those women were called flappers; the American entertainer Josephine Baker moved to France and became a sensation; and Hitler's "Mein Kampf" was published, as was F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby."

 

07
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1926

Gertrude Ederle
In 1926, American competition swimmer Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

In this year mid-decade, actor Rudolph Valentino died suddenly at the age of 31, Henry Ford announced the 40-hour work week, Hirohito became the emperor of Japan, Houdini died after being punched, and mystery writer Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days.

Richard Byrd and Roald Amundsen began their legendary race to be the first to fly over the North Pole, Gertrude Ederle swam the English Channel, Robert Goodard fired off his first liquid-fueled rocket, and Route 66, the Mother Road, was established across the United States.

Last but certainly not least,​ A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" was published, which brought the adventures of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Christopher Robin to generations of children.

 

 

 

08
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1927

Babe Ruth
On Sept. 30, 1927, New York Yankee Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season and set a record that lasted 70 years. B. Bennett / Getty Images

The year 1927 was a red-letter one: Babe Ruth sets a home run record that would stand for 70 years; the first talkie, "The Jazz Singer," was released; Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean in the "Spirit of St. Louis"; and the BBC was founded.

Sensational crime news of the year: Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were executed for murder.

09
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1928

Sir Alexander Fleming
Renowned bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic powers of penicillin in 1928. Davies / Getty Images

 

 

 

 

That great thing, sliced bread, was invented in 1928, along with bubble gum. If that wasn't enough, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon was shown,  penicillin was discovered, and the first Oxford English Dictionary was published.

Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of China, and the Kellogg-Briand Treaty outlawed war.

 

 

 

10
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1929

Black Thursday
The New York stock market crashed on Oct. 24, 1929 ("Black Thursday"), leading to the Great Depression. Bettmann / Contributor

In the last year of the '20s, Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett flew over the South Pole, car radio was invented, the Academy Awards made their debut, and the murder of seven members of the Moran Irish gang in Chicago became infamous as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

But this was all dwarfed by the October crash of the stock market, which marked the beginning of the Great Depression.