For many, the figure of gang lord Al Capone is a large part of the allure. During the prohibition years of the 1920s, when the consumption of alcohol was banned in the United States, Capone effectively ran Chicago as his own town and went on to become the most notorious American criminal of the twentieth century.

Over the course of the decade, Capone ran his empire from the Lexington Hotel at 22nd and Michigan Avenues in Chicago and profited from the extensive bootlegging racket that permeated the city. The illicit trade in alcohol, and the huge number of speakeasies (establishments used for the covert selling and drinking of alcohol) that sprang up around the city, played an enormous part in the success of Al Capone's nefarious gangs.



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Chicago's gangster history has fascinated world historians and visitors to the city in equal measure since the 1920s. The trauma of gangland Chicago during the legendary Prohibition decade has been immortalised in a variety of Hollywood movies - thrillingly represented in Brian de Palma's 'The Untouchables' and uproariously spoofed in Billy Wilder's 'Some Like It Hot'. But what is it about this decade in Chicago's history that never fails to capture the national imagination?

What's more, the iconic St Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929 - now seen as one of Chicago's most defining moments of the 1920s - has also ingrained itself in the American psyche. This famous incident in Chicago's history saw the shooting of seven people - six of which were gangsters - in the climax of a hefty rivalry between the city's two main gangs: Al Capone's South Side gang and Bugs Moran's North Side cronies.

Ultimately, Al Capone's arrest in 1931 for tax evasion led to his downfall, and this is seen by many as an ironic - and somewhat deflating - end to this nefarious gang leader. Essentially, the all-pervasive element of Chicago's gang warfare during the prohibition years is what makes it so appealing to history buffs - the amazing fact that one man could have had such complete criminal control over one city, and yet be brought down by such a mundane offence.


Prohibition Women protest


Anderson, William H. William Anderson was one of the most successful lobbyists of the Anti-Saloon League (ASL). The "dry warrior" used such tactics as false rumors, forged documents, character attacks, and intimidation. The combative political operative's tactics were enough to "make your blood run cold and your hair stand up" reported one victim of Anderson's machinations, Thaddeus Sweet, Speaker of the New York State The New York Times expressed concern over Anderson's bigotry.

He attacked Jews, Irish, Italians and others whose cultures generally included the consumption of alcohol. However, Catholics were a special target of Anderson's bigotry. Anderson's tactics successfully helped the League and other drys change the United States Constitution.

Anti-Saloon League. The ASL was a non-partisan organization established in 1893 that focused on the single issue of prohibition. From 1948 until 1950 it was known as the Temperance League, from 1950 to 1964 it was called the National Temperance League; since that time it has been known as the American Council on Alcohol Problems.

Association Against the Prohibition amendment (AAPA). The AAPA was established in 1918 and became a leading organization working for the repeal of prohibition.

Barr, Daisey Douglas. Ms. Barr was Imperial Empress (leader) of the Indiana Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) in the early 1920s and an active member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). However, in 1924, the Klan charged that Barr "had amassed a fortune off the dues of Klansmen." Two years later she was replaced in her leadership position in the WKKK by Lillian Sedwick who was a state official in the WCTU.

Blind Pig. Illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition.

Bootleg. To sell illegal alcohol beverage; alcohol that is illegally sold.

Bootlegger. A person who illegally sold bootleg.

Cannon, James. Bishop James Cannon, Jr., chairman of the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals, was one of the most powerful leaders of the temperance movement. Journalist H. L. Mencken said of Cannon that "Congress was his troop of Boy Scouts and Presidents trembled whenever his name was mentioned." However, following evidence of sexual misconduct, financial irregularities, and conspiring to violate the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, this anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic prohibitionist lost most of his power.

Crusaders. The Crusaders was an influential repeal organization founded in 1929 from repugnance caused by the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago which resulted from rivalry among bootleggers. Rather than working at the national political level, the Crusaders chose to devote their efforts at the local level across the country.

Dodge, Earl. Long time leader of the Prohibition Party, Earl F. Dodge was its candidate for vice-president of the U.S. in 1976 and 1980. He then became its candidate for presidency from1984 through 2004. Questions about his honesty and integrity, including charges that he mismanaged party funds and refused to provide any accounting for his use of party funds, led to dissension. After he held an invitation-only meeting in his home and then claimed that it was the lawful nominating committee, he was unseated at a public meeting called by a majority of the members of the Prohibition. He died in 2007.

Doggery. An illegal drinking establishment.

Drug Store Whiskey. Whiskey legally purchased from a drug store with a physician's prescription.

Dry. A person who opposes the legal sale of alcoholic beverages.

Eighteenth Amendment. The amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibited the manufacture, sale, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the only amendment to have ever been rejected by the American public and repealed.

Hunt, Mary. Mary Hunt became one of the most powerful women in the nation promoting prohibition. "By the time of her death in 1906, Mary Hunt had shaken and changed the world of education" with her campaign for coercive temperance education or "institutionalized prohibitionist propaganda." In 1901-1902, 22 million school children were exposed to anti-alcohol "education." In order to deal with the accusation that she profited from reform, she signed over to charity the royalties from her books.

Her never-publicized charity was the Scientific Temperance Association, a group composed of Hunt, her pastor, and a few friends. The association used its funds to support the operations of the national headquarters of the WCTU's Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction, a large house in Boston that was Hunt's residence.

Jimmy. An illegal drinking establishment.

Johnson, William E. Better known as "Pussyfoot Johnson," William E. Johnson was a leader of the Anti-Saloon League and developed some of the tactics widely used by the League. For example, he wrote to wet leaders, claiming to be a brewer and asked them for advice on how to defeat temperance activists. He then published the incriminating letters he received.

Pussyfoot seemed proud of his dishonesty. "Did I ever lie to promote prohibition? Decidedly yes. I have told enough lies for the cause to make Ananias ashamed of himself" he wrote in an article titled "I had to lie, bribe and drink to put over prohibition in America." (Ananias was a notorious liar in the New Testament.)

Joy, Henry B. Henry Joy, past president of the Packard Motor Company, had been a very active member of the Anti-Saloon League. However, after Treasury agents repeatedly came onto his land and destroyed the property of his elderly watchman looking for illegal beer, and after they fatally shot an innocent boater who couldn't hear over his motor the demand that he stop and be searched for alcohol, Joy had seen enough. He became active in the movement to repeal prohibition. He told a Congressional committee that "I do not want my wife, my children and my grandchildren living under such conditions as exist today [under Prohibition]."

Ku Klux Klan (KKK). One of the major supporters of Prohibition was the "second KKK," often called the KKK of the 1920s. The Klan was revived specifically to defend state prohibition in Georgia. One historian has observed that "support for Prohibition represented the single most important bond between Klansmen throughout the nation." Another scholar wrote that "enforcement of Prohibition, in fact, was a central, and perhaps the strongest, goal of the Ku Klux Klan."

Lincoln-Lee Legion. The Legion was established by Anti-Saloon League-founder Howard Hyde Russell to promote the signing of abstinence pledges by children. By 1925, over five million children had signed the total abstinence pledge cards.

Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals. This organization was a powerful force in the temperance movement and promoted the aggressive enforcement of Prohibition and attempted to eliminate any criticism of it. In 1925, it charged that vaudeville acts and comic strips were being used to dispense wet (anti-prohibition) "propaganda" in New York City, which it called "a foreign city, run by foreigners for foreigners according to foreign ideas." The founder of the Methodist Board advocated mandatory five-year imprisonment for anyone who purchased a pint or more of bootleg alcohol. He also urged the government to send the marines to speakeasies and open fire on the occupants if they refused to leave.

Moderation League of New York. The League was founded 1923 to change the legal definition of the "intoxicating liquors" prohibited by Prohibition. This seemed to its members to be an achievable goal, whereas the repeal of prohibition at that point seemed to be an impossibility.

Molly Pitcher Club. The Molly Pitcher Club was founded in 1922 in New York City as an organization of women opposed to the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

Moonshine. Illegally produced whiskey.

Nation, Carry. One of the most colorful members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was Carry Nation. Born Carry Amelia Moore Nation (she adopted the name Carry A. Nation mainly for its value as a slogan and had it registered as a trademark) is best remembered for using a hatchet to smash and destroy bars and their contents. She believed she was doing God's work and was highly intolerant of those who opposed her or her actions.

Mrs. Nation applauded the assassination of President William McKinley because she believed that he secretly drank alcohol and that drinkers always got what they deserved. She exploited her notoriety by appearing as a vaudeville entertainer, charging to lecture, publishing newsletters, selling photos of herself, and marketing souvenir hatchets.

National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act. This organization was established in 1931 by the American Federation of Labour, which opposed Prohibition and argued that it was the only amendment to the United States Constitution that removed the rights of citizens.

National Conference of Organizations Supporting the 18th Amendment. In the face of a growing groundswell of opposition to National Prohibition in the late 1920s, the National Temperance Council met in Washington, D.C., in 1930 to devise ways and means of countering the serious threat it posed. There, the 34 organizations composing the National Temperance Council re-organized to form the National Conference of Organizations Supporting the 18th Amendment.

Prohibition Party. The Prohibition Party was created in 1867 to advocate temperance and legislation prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. It was an important force in US politics during the late 1800s and the early decades of the 20th century. The Prohibition Party is the oldest "third party" in the US and has nominated a candidate for president of the US in every election since 1872. In recent years it has suffered crippling internal dissent. See Earl Dodge entry.

Rockefeller, Jr. John D. Like his father before him, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was a lifelong abstainer who strongly supported Prohibition and believed it would contribute to industrial efficiency and growth. He is believed to have contributed between $350,000 and $700,000 to the Anti-Saloon League. However, after years of observing Prohibition's failure and the problems that it created, Rockefeller came to support repeal of Prohibition. Rockefeller's change of belief contributed significantly to the success of the repeal movement.

Sabin, Pauline. In 1929, Pauline Sabin founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) after the president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) asserted to Congress that "I represent the women of the United States!" Mrs. Sabin originally supported Prohibition. However, with the passage of time she became distressed at what she saw as the counterproductively of Prohibition, the decline in moderate drinking and the increase in binge drinking, the growing power of bootleggers, the widespread political corruption, the growth of mob violence, the increasing public intoxication, the growing disrespect for law, and the erosion of personal liberty at the hands of an increasingly intrusive centralized government.

Thus, Mrs. Sabin and millions of other American women came to oppose Prohibition for the very reasons they originally supported it. They wanted the world be a safer place for their children and a better place in which to live.

St. Valentine's Day Massacre. An infamous mass murder in Chicago which resulted from rivalry among bootleggers.

Shuler, Rev. Robert P. The Prohibition Party candidate who received the highest vote in any election in U.S. history was Rev. Robert P. Shuler. In the 1932 California election for the U.S. Senate he received 560,088 votes (25.8%) and carried Orange and Riverside counties. Following his defeat, Shuler "placed an awful curse" on Southern California and some people attributed a later earthquake in that region to his curse. "Fightin" Bob Shuler owned a radio station but lost its license after his controversial broadcasts attacking Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and the Hollywood elite for their consumption of alcoholic beverages and their alleged dishonesty, corruption, and immorality. Shuler was unrelated to the pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.

Speakeasy. An illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition.

Sunday, Billy. William Ashley "Billy" Sunday was a famous evangelist and major promoters of Prohibition. As public opinion turned against Prohibition, "his sermons became more extreme and reactionary, promoting a specific type of Americanism that excluded those who were not native-born fundamentalist Christians. He amassed a fortune and died a wealthy man in 1935, leaving a substantial estate as well as trust funds for his children at the depth of the Depression.

Twenty-First Amendment. The amendment to the United States Constitution that repealed the Eighteenth Amendment that had created National Prohibition.

Volstead Act. Legislation sponsored by Andrew Volstead. . Officially named the National Prohibition Act, the legislation defined intoxicating liquors as beverages containing more than one-half of one percent alcohol and gave federal authorities the power to prosecute violations.

Volstead, Andrew. Andrew Volstead is often known as "The Father of Prohibition" because he sponsored and facilitated congressional passage of the National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act, which was largely written by Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League. Shortly thereafter, Volstead lost his bid for re-election to Congress.

Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (VCL). The VCL was founded in 1927 by a group of prominent New York City attorneys. With its urging, the American Bar Association called for repeal the following year.

Wet. A person who supports the legal sale of alcoholic beverages.

Whale. A heavy drinker.

Wheeler, Wayne. As de facto leader of the National Anti-Saloon League and its head lobbyist, Wayne Wheeler developed what is now known as pressure politics. He became widely known as the "dry boss" because of his enormous power. As described by one historian: "Wayne B. Wheeler controlled six congresses, dictated to two presidents of the United States, directed legislation in most of the States of the Union, picked the candidates for the more important elective and federal offices, held the balance of power in both Republican and Democratic parties, distributed more patronage than any dozen other men, supervised a federal bureau from outside without official authority, and was recognized by friend and foe alike as the most masterful and powerful single individual in the United States." He died in 1927, touching off a power struggle within the League.

White Lightning. Illegally produced whiskey.

Wickersham Commission. The National Committee on Law Observation and Enforcement, popularly called the Wickersham Commission, was established in 1929. President Herbert Hoover appointed George W. Wickersham to head the group. The Commission consisted of eleven members who were officially charged with identifying the causes of criminal activity and making recommendations for appropriate public policy.

Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The WCTU was founded in 1874 and claims to be the oldest voluntary, non-sectarian women's organization in continuous existence in the world. Its membership peaked at about 200,000 members in the late 19th century and membership still requires signing a pledge of abstinence. It remains active today.

Women's Moderation Union. The Women's Moderation Union helped belie the Women's Christian Temperance Union's insistence that it spoke for American women in regard to Prohibition.

Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). The WONPR was established in 1929 specifically to challenge the long-held assumption that virtually all women in the United States supported Prohibition and its enforcement. content sent in by James hadley.


Votes for women


The Nineteenth Amendment was specifically intended to extend suffrage to women. It was proposed on June 4, 1919 and ratified on August 18, 1920.
The Nineteenth Amendment was the culmination of the work of many activists in favor of women's suffrage. One such group called the Silent Sentinels protested in front of the White House for 18 months starting in 1917 to raise awareness of the issue.
On January 9, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson announced his support of the amendment. The next day, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the amendment but the Senate refused to even debate it until October. When the Senate voted on the amendment in October, it failed by three votes.

In response, the National Woman's Party urged citizens to vote against anti-suffrage senators up for election in the fall of 1918. After the 1918 election, most members of Congress were pro-suffrage. On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment by a vote of 304 to 89, and 2 weeks later on June 4, the Senate finally followed, where the amendment passed by a vote of 56 to 25.


It was ratified on August 18, 1920, upon its ratification by Tennessee, the thirty-sixth state to do so. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920.


On February 27, 1922, a challenge to the Nineteenth Amendment was rebuffed by the Supreme Court of the United States in Leser v. Garnett.


The Dust Bowl of the 1930s


The Dust Bowl of the 1930s lasted about a decade. Its primary area of impact was on the southern Plains. The northern Plains were not so badly effected, but nonetheless, the drought, windblown dust and agricultural decline were no strangers to the north. In fact the agricultural devastation helped to lengthen the Depression whose effects were felt worldwide. The movement of people on the Plains was also profound.As John Steinbeck wrote in his 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath:


"And then the dispossessed were drawn west- from Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico; from Nevada and Arkansas, families, tribes, dusted out, tractored out. Car-loads, caravans, homeless and hungry; twenty thousand and fifty thousand and a hundred thousand and two hundred thousand.

They streamed over the mountains, hungry and restless - restless as ants, scurrying to find work to do - to lift, to push, to pull, to pick, to cut - anything, any burden to bear, for food. The kids are hungry. We got no place to live. Like ants scurrying for work, for food, and most of all for land."Poor agricultural practices and years of sustained drought caused the Dust Bowl.

Plains grasslands had been deeply ploughed and planted to wheat. During the years when there was adequate rainfall, the land produced bountiful crops. But as the droughts of the early 1930s deepened, the farmers kept ploughing and planting and nothing would grow.

The ground cover that held the soil in place was gone. The Plains winds whipped across the fields raising billowing clouds of dust to the skys. The skys could darken for days, and even the most well sealed homes could have a thick layer of dust on furniture. In some places the dust would drift like snow, covering farmsteads.


Art Deco


Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts, and film. This movement was, in a sense, an amalgam of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. Its popularity peaked in Europe during the Roaring Twenties and continued strongly in the United States through the 1930s. Although many design movements have political or philosophical roots or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, functional, and ultra modern.

Americans enjoyed a high standard of living. Food was plentiful and cheap thanks to the vast quantity produced on American farms. More and more people bought their own houses through mortgages. They filled them with all kinds of consumer goods and parked their new cars in the garage. But the "Roaring Twenties" was also the great age of popular entertainment. In the theatres and "speakeasies" (secret, illegal bars) , people were entertained by "vaudeville" acts (music hall) , singers and jazz and dance bands. The period is often called the "Jazz Age". Radio stations mushroomed all over America, the programmes being paid for from advertising.


But above all it was the age of the cinema. (By the end of the 1920s 100 million cinema tickets were sold each week.) Thousands of black and white silent films were made in America in the 1920s, especially in Hollywood, which became the capital of the industry. Actors and actresses like Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Rudolf Valentino became "stars" and were known all over the world. By the end of the 1920s sound and colour had been successfully added on a small scale. In 1928 the first "talkie" was made called "The Jazz Singer", starring Al Jolson.

Many people had enough spare cash to invest in stocks and shares. They often made a lot more money, because as industry's profits went up, so did the price of shares. This is called speculation and an increasing  number of people tried it, often using borrowed money. As we shall see the price of shares eventually began to fall and then collapsed, leaving many bankrupt.


The Wall Street Crash of 1929


The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Crash of 29, was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, taking into consideration the full scope and longevity of its fallout. Three phrases Black Thursday, Black Monday, and Black Tuesday are used to describe this collapse of stock values. All three are appropriate, for the crash was not a one-day affair.

The initial crash occurred on Black Thursday (October 24, 1929), but it was the catastrophic downturn of Black Monday and Tuesday (October 28 and October 29, 1929) that precipitated widespread panic and the onset of unprecedented and long-lasting consequences for the United States.

The collapse continued for a month. Economists and historians disagree as to what role the crash played in subsequent economic, social, and political events. The crash in America came near the beginning of the Great Depression, a period of economic decline in the industrialized nations, and led to the institution of landmark financial reforms and new trading regulations.

At the time of the crash, New York City had grown to be a major metropolis, and its Wall Street district was one of the world's leading financial centers.


Modernism


Modernism describes an array of cultural movements rooted in the changes in Western society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The term covers a series of reforming movements in art, architecture, music, literature and the applied arts which emerged during this period.


It is a trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve, and reshape their environment, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology or practical experimentation. Modernism encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence, from commerce to philosophy, with the goal of finding that which was 'holding back' progress, and replacing it with new, progressive and therefore better, ways of reaching the same end.

Embracing change and the present, modernism encompasses the works of thinkers who rebelled against nineteenth century academic and historicist traditions, believing the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated; they directly confronted the new economic, social and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world.

Some divide the 20th Century into movements designated Modernism and Post modernism, whereas others see them as two aspects of the same movement.


A speakeasy Saloon


A speakeasy was an establishment that surreptitiously sold alcoholic beverages during the period of United States history known as Prohibition (1920-1933, longer in some states), when the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol was illegal. The term comes from a patron's manner of ordering alcohol without raising suspicion a bartender would tell a patron to be quiet and "speak easy".

Speakeasies became more popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed, and also became more commonly operated by those connected to organized crime. Although police and United States Federal Government agents would raid such establishments and arrest the owners and patrons, the business of running speakeasies was so lucrative that such establishments continued to flourish throughout the nation. In major cities, speakeasies were often elaborate, offering food, live bands,floor shows, and strip joints.

The police corruption at this time was notoriously rampant; speakeasy operators commonly bribed police to either leave them alone or at least give them advance notice of any planned raids.
In the United States, there are still 37 standing speakeasies from the 1920s.

There are 23 in New York, New York, 13 in Pennsylvania, and one single hush hush bar in the western portion of D.C. Other slang terms for an establishment similar to a speakeasy are blind pig and gin joint. The difference between a speakeasy and a blind pig is that a speakeasy was usually a higher class establishment, whereas a blind pig was a lower class dive.


1930s gangsters


Gangsters are typically organized criminals who are actively engaged in crime as a group activity or enterprise for power, pleasure, or profit.

The visibility of activities of gangsters can range from the low-level such as drug-trafficking or protectionism, which are prone to be "under the radar", to the in-your-face spectacular, such as the UK's multi-million Brinks Mat robbery. Gangsters often run their operations as businesses insofar as they offer a "product" or "service", albeit an illegal one, or, as is sometimes the case, a legitimate business operating as a front for criminal activity.

From its beginnings as nothing more than a simple trading post on the banks of the Missouri river, to its raucous heyday in the 1920's and 30's, Kansas City has retained the independent spirit of its frontier beginnings. Even though an assortment of colorful characters, cowboys, politicians, criminals, and even wagon trains populate the history of Kansas City, you can forget everything you've ever heard about it being a "cow town." Today, the outgrowth of that colourful history and frontier spirit radiates energetically throughout the city and its populace.



Crime has been a defining characteristic of modern America. It has claimed many thousands of lives and cost billions of dollars. When crime rates began to rise in the 1960s, the “crime issue” occupied a prominent place in the U.S. National agenda, influencing electoral outcomes and spurring debates about the role of race, culture, morality, personal accountability, judicial discretion, and economic inequality. When crime rates were on the rise, discussions about crime often became ideological and polarized.

Everyone agreed there was too much crime, yet there was little agreement about what should be done about it. Despite a lack of consensus on how to address crime problems, by the end of the 20th century, crime rates had fallen to their lowest levels in a generation. Violent crime rates, which rose dramatically in the mid-1980s with the introduction of crack cocaine into U.S. Inner cities, have declined every year since 1993. Property crime rates fell to half the level of a quarter century ago. Violence in families, specifically assaults between intimate partners, had been declining for several years. The steepest drop in violence occurred among young offenders.

As the 1990s drew to a close, new questions dominated the public debate on crime, questions unimaginable 10 years earlier: Why had crime rates fallen so precipitously? Why did crime rates drop more sharply in some cities than in others? Many have taken credit for this decline in crime, among them police officials, advocates of increased incarceration, prevention specialists, and community activists. Others have pointed to a relatively strong economy during the 1990s and broad demographic trends. Few of these experts agreed on next steps in the national effort to increase community safety.

More recently, these debates have intensified as new crime data show that the dramatic decline in violent crime in the nation’s largest cities is levelling off, and some cities are posting new and disturbing increases in rates of violence. With the country now in a recession, law enforcement resources redeployed to reflect a national commitment to combat terrorism, and prison populations stabilizing, many of the large-scale social forces that may have contributed to the crime decline are uncertain allies as communities struggle to keep crime rates low.

It appears that the nation is at a critical juncture in its efforts to bring crime rates down. This report is intended to shed light on the next generation of crime policy discussions by exploring the lessons to be learned from the declining crime rates of our recent past. It is our belief that, even if the decline reverses, as it indeed may, the breadth and consistency of the changes during the 1990s provide an important opportunity to learn from this social phenomenon.

This report presents a discussion of the long-term trends in crime rates as a reminder that there is no single narrative that describes the nation’s experience with crime. The report also presents the views of prominent researchers and practitioners convened by the Urban Institute to reflect on the remarkable fact that crime rates have fallen to new lows.


report is not intended to provide definitive answers to the questions raised by the recent crime decline—that would require more research, new data, and a sustained effort to reconcile every competing claim. We have a more modest goal—to share these insights from research and practice with those who hope to create safer communities in America.


Jazz 1920s poster


Widely regarded as the birthplace of Jazz. KC's early reputation as a "wide-open, anything goes" city captivated and allured the musical performers of the day. It's central location and ease of access via rail were the other components which induced this musical migration. Kansas City became a haven for musicians and fans alike.

The musicians, who interpreted their experiences in KC's permissive environment through their music, were also creating the elastic techniques and musical license, which remain at the heart of Jazz today. The hub of this development was the
18th and Vine district. Many legendary musicians, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Turner and Charlie Parker to name a few, made their way to Kansas City. Their connection to one another and to the Kansas City "scene" brought about a unique musical expansion which enriched the city's history and initiated the genesis of Jazz.

A blind pig, also known as a blind tiger or booze can, is an establishment that illegally provides alcoholic beverages.
The name originated in the United States in the 1800s, when blue laws restricted the sale of alcoholic beverages.

A saloonkeeper would charge customers to see an attraction (such as an animal), and provide a "complimentary" alcoholic beverage, thus circumventing the law. It was during the years of prohibition that blind pigs were most common in the U.S. Estimates of the number of blind pigs in some major U.S. cities in the mid-1920s are: Detroit, Michigan: 15,000 New York City, New York: 30,000-100,000

The blind pig is a classic example of black market economics, and with the end of prohibition in 1933 most blind pigs had to either become legitimate establishments or close shop. Common current examples of the blind pig include the after hours club and the keg party.

The underground economy or black market is a market consisting of all commerce on which applicable taxes and/or regulations of trade are being avoided. The term is also often known as the underdog, shadow economy, black economy or parallel economy.


Hollywood revue of 1929


The Hollywood musical is recognized as a distinguished part of our movie history, playing an integral role in the evolution of movies during the 1920s through 1950s. Today, despite this fact, most people are unaware of how they originally got their start. The development of moving pictures with sound during the 1920s paved the way for the era of Hollywood musicals.

Prior to the development of the musical, as we are familiar with, there were some vaudeville fillers produced in the early 20th century that included music. While accepted by the audience, they were never as popular as the full production Hollywood musicals that America came to love.

During the mid 1920s, Warner Brothers studio began experimenting with something new known as Vitaphone. The Vitaphone provided a method of coordinating a musical soundtrack with film, thereby effectively creating a sound picture. This method, however, overlooked much of the huge potential regarding the adding of sound to motion pictures.

At this time in movie history, Warner Brothers felt it was not necessary to hear the individuals talk, and merely wanted the sound to provide some musical background noise to film. It wasn't until 1927 that Warner Brothers first introduced to the big screen singing along with sound in their release of The Jazz Singer; a remake of the Broadway musical of the same name.

The late 1920s brought difficult financial times to the country. It was during this time that Hollywood came to the publics rescue with the wonderfully entertaining diversion of the Hollywood musical. Hollywood movie studios began to release numerous musicals which offered the movie going public a chance to temporarily escape from the financial issues at hand.

Some of the most popular and highly regarded musicals to come out during the 1930s included 42nd St, Bright Lights, and Gold Diggers. The 1939 musical, The Wizard of Oz is one of these classic musicals that still continues to entertain audiences today.

It was during the 1940s that the Hollywood musical really came of age and their popularity continued right through the 1950s. One of the more popular 1940s musicals was Yankee Doodle Dandy, a film that introduced movie lovers to a young James Cagney who gave a performance that earned him an Oscar. This movie continues to be one of the most famous musicals ever produced. Another popular title that has become a holiday tradition is The Bells of St. Mary's.

The original Hollywood musical is a page out of movie history that can never be duplicated. The memories, however, are forever captured on film and continue to be enjoyed by audiences around the world. 


art deco posters


One of the most bold and dramatic eras of fashion was the period of art deco. Starting in the 1920s and spanning to the 1930s, the fashion of silver jewelry was a huge departure from the previous school of art: art nouveau. Where art nouveau jewellery was centred on natural curvy lines and flowers and insects, art decorated jewelry focused on geometric shapes and were more intricate, due to advances in manufacturing technology. The people of the 1920's wanted art that expressed something new, something that fulfilled society's need for a new form of novelty in jewelry form.

The styles of design found in art decorated jewelry were a breath of fresh air to the public. For a time, the people were captivated with Egyptology, due to King Tutankhamun's tomb being discovered by Dr. Howard Carter, a British archeologist, in 1922. So great was the public's newfound fascination with Egypt, that there was a high demand for reproductions of King Tut's artifacts to be reproduced into jewelry pieces. A few examples of these would be amulets, scarabs, face masks of King Tutankhamen, snakes, along with various other unique items found within his tomb.

But Egypt wasn't the only country to be used for inspiration for art deco jewelry. During the 1920s and 1930s, airplane travel helped bridge the continents and inspired more communication throughout the world, particularly Persia and India.

Greater exposure to these countries wasn't lost on art deco jewelry. Hindu motifs were becoming more popular and sought out, as were the precious stones found in the area, such as: rubies, emeralds, sapphires, diamonds and pearls. As the maharajahs traveled to European cities, their style of jewelry was spread along the continent with them, and served to inspire art decorated jewellery in many ways.

One of the technological advances that helped art deco jewelry come into form was bakelite, a plastic material. Mostly used in small appliances and telephones, bakelite was soon found to be an inexpensive way to manufacture jewelry. Bakelite could be colored and molded into small parts that was perfect for rings and bracelets.

Instead of using pricy gemstones, a piece of bakelite can be molded and colored into just about any shape and hue. The most popular color were shades of amber, but red, green, white and black were also common colors found in bakelite jewelry from the art deco  jewellery period.


One of the most sought-out art deco jewellery pieces are the engagement rings made during this period. Collectors have a hard time finding them, but the rings are well worth the time required to find them. Popular metals in use were white gold and platinum.

These metals were contrasted with crystals and diamonds, both common in art deco jewelry, along with the inclusion of sapphires, emeralds, coral, turqoise and rubies. These rings made heavy use of symmetry, and were usually found to have strong geometric shapes, as well. For newly engaged couples, art deco rings are the most popular antique rings.


Woodrow Wilson


The United States presidential election of 1920 was dominated by the aftermath of World War I and the hostile reaction to Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic president. The wartime boom had collapsed. Politicians were arguing over peace treaties and the question of America's entry into the League of Nations. Overseas there were wars and revolutions; at home, 1919 was marked by major strikes in meatpacking and steel, and large race riots in Chicago and other cities. Terrorist attacks on Wall Street produced fears of radicals and terrorists.

Outgoing President Wilson was increasingly unpopular, and as an invalid could no longer speak on his own behalf. The economy was in a recession, the public was weary of war and reform, the Irish Catholic and German communities were outraged at his policies, and his sponsorship of the League of Nations produced an isolationist reaction.

The Jazz Age describes the period from 1918-1929, the years between the end of World War I and the start of the Roaring Twenties; ending with the rise of the Great Depression, the traditional values of this age saw great decline while the American stock market soared. The focus of the elements of this age, in some contrast with the Roaring Twenties, in historical and cultural studies, are somewhat different, with a greater emphasis on all Modernism.

The age takes its name from and jazz music, which saw a tremendous surge in popularity among many segments of society. Among the prominent concerns and trends of the period are the public embrace of technological developments (typically seen as progress) cars, air travel and the telephone as well as new modernist trends in social behavior, the arts, and culture. Central developments included Art Deco design and architecture. In addition, many amateur artists began to aspire including Duke Ellington, Picasso, etc


The Jazz Age


The Cotton Club was a famous night club in TGF City that operated during Prohibition. While the club featured many of the greatest African American entertainers of the era, such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway, The Nicholas Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters, it generally denied admission to blacks. During its heyday, it served as a chic meeting spot in the heart of Harlem, featuring regular "Celebrity Nights" on Sundays, at which celebrities such as Jimmy Durante, George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Mae West, Irving Berlin, Eddie Cantor, Moss Hart, New York mayor Jimmy Walker and other luminaries would appear. 


Heavyweight champion Jack Johnson opened the Club Deluxe at 142nd Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem in 1920. Owney Madden, a prominent bootlegger and gangster, took over the club in 1923 while imprisoned in Sing Sing and changed its name to the Cotton Club. While the club was closed briefly in 1925 for selling liquor, it reopened without trouble from the police. The dancers and strippers occasionally performed for Madden in Sing Sing after his return there in 1933.


The club reproduced the racist imagery of the times, often depicting blacks as savages in exotic jungles or as "darkies" in the plantation South. The club imposed a more subtle color bar on the chorus girls whom the club presented in skimpy outfits: they were expected to be "tall, tan, and terrific", which meant that they had to be at least 5 feet 6 inches tall, light skinned, and under twenty-one years of age. Ellington was expected to write "jungle music" for an audience of whites.


flapper dance model


Starting in the 1920s, ballrooms across the U.S. sponsored dance contests, where dancers invented, tried, and competed with new moves. Professionals began to hone their skills in tap dance and other dances of the era throughout the Vaudeville circuit across the United States. Electric lighting made evening social entertainment more comfortable, giving rise to an era of dance halls and live music. The most popular dances were the fox-trot, waltz and tango, and the Charleston.


Harlem played a key role in the development of dance styles. With several entertainment venues, people from all walks of life, all races, and all classes came together. The Cotton Club featured black performers and catered to a white clientele, while the Savoy Ballroom catered to a mostly black clientele.

From the early 1920s, a variety of eccentric dances were developed. The first of these were the Breakaway and Charleston. Both were based on African-American musical styles and beats, including the widely popular blues. The Charleston's popularity exploded after its feature in two 1922 Broadway shows. A brief Black Bottom craze, originating from the Apollo Theater, swept dance halls from 1926 to 1927, replacing the Charleston in popularity.

By 1927, the Lindy Hop, a dance based on Breakaway and Charleston and integrating elements of tap, became the dominant social dance. Developed in the Savoy Ballroom, it was set to stride piano ragtime jazz. The Lindy Hop remained popular for over a decade, before evolving into Swing dance. These dances, nonetheless, were never mainstreamed, and the overwhelming majority of people continued to dance the fox-trot, waltz and tango throughout the decade.


1920 flu pandemic


The 1918 flu pandemic (commonly referred to as the Spanish flu) was an influenza pandemic that was first found in the United States, appeared in Sierra Leone and France, and then spread to nearly every part of the world. It was caused by an unusually severe and deadly Influenza A virus strain of subtype H1N1. Many of its victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or otherwise weakened patients.


The Spanish flu lasted from March 1918 to June 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It is estimated that anywhere from 20 to 100 million people were killed worldwide, more than double the number killed in World War I. This extraordinary toll resulted from the extremely high infection rate of up to 50% and the extreme severity of the symptoms.

The massive arms race of the 19th century finally culminated in a war which involved every powerful nation in the world: World War I (1914 1918). This war drastically changed the way war was fought, as new inventions such as machine guns, tanks, chemical weapons, and grenades created stalemates on the battlefield and millions of troops were killed with little progress made on either side.

After more than four years of horrifying trench warfare in western Europe, and 20 million dead, those powers who had formed the Triple Entente (France, Britain, and Russia, later replaced by the United States and joined by Italy) emerged victorious over the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire).

In addition to annexing much of the colonial possessions of the vanquished states, the Triple Entente exacted punitive restitution payments from their former foes, plunging Germany in particular into economic depression

The Russian Empire was plunged into revolution during the conflict and transitioned into the first ever communist state, and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires were dismantled at the war's conclusion. World War I brought about the end of the royal and imperial ages of Europe and established the United States as a major world military power.


At the start of the period, Britain was the world's most powerful nation. However, its economy was ruined by World War I, and its empire began to shrink, producing a growing power vacuum in Europe. Fascism, a movement which grew out of post-war angst and accelerated by the Great Depression of the 1930s, gained momentum in Italy, Germany and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s, finally culminating in World War II , sparked off by Nazi Germany's aggressive expansion at the expense of its neighbours.

Meanwhile, Japan had rapidly industrialized and transformed itself into an aggressive and technologically-advanced industrial power. Its aggressive expansion into eastern Asia and the Pacific Ocean brought the United States into World War II.

Germany was defeated after pushed by the Soviet Union to the east and the D-Day invasion of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Free France from the west. The war was ended with the dropping of two devastating atomic bombs on Japan. Japan has since transitioned into one of the most pacifistic countries on the planet, building a powerful economy based on consumer goods and trade.

Germany was divided between the western powers and the Soviet Union; all areas recaptured by the Soviet Union (East Germany and eastward) were essentially transitioned into Soviet puppet states under communist rule. Meanwhile, western Europe was revitalized by the American Marshall Plan and made a quick economic recovery, becoming major allies of the United States under capitalist economies and free governments. The largest and most devastating war ever fought, World War II claimed the lives of about 60 million people.


1920s Nuclear bunker


The 1920s opened with a “red scare” that began in 1919, which led to the arrest of thousands of radicals, the lynching of a few, and the deportation of several hundred others. This campaign by Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department and local police helped to sustain a rising spirit of anti-radicalism and nativism inspired by the crush of “the new immigrants” from southern and eastern Europe, who began crowding into American ports once again after the interruption caused by World War I.

At the same time, the trend toward increasing urbanization of the native-born American population resumed, spurred by the widespread ownership of automobiles for the first time. Individuals from declining rural America migrated into cities, and cities spread out into the surrounding rural hinterlands.

The old problem of the clash between the special needs of town and country reappeared. Yet this split between rural and urban life should not be exaggerated because small towns had their radicals and immigrants, and a majority of people in cities were from the country or had close ties to it.

The clash between the traditional and the modern was not just a new version of an old conflict but one that seemed to many country people or city-dwellers to be apocalyptic: Freudianism, Bolshevism, evolutionism, and innumerable other new ideas and movements seemed to be in league to destroy traditional life or values.

The pace of change was extraordinary: the nation’s gross national product grew by 40 percent between 1920 and 1930; over ten million households began listening to radios for the first time; movie theatres sold 100 million tickets each week by 1929; the rate of graduation from high school zoomed: those attending college reached one million by 1930. As for family farming, it declined dramatically because agribusiness made it impossible for small independents to compete. By 1930, only 21 percent of the population made its living from the land.


Meanwhile, the country tried to live without liquor from 1919 to 1933, which only seemed to increase drinking, make criminals of many citizens, and make the cities hostage to new crime syndicates that controlled the supply of illegal liquor. Prohibition was in part an aspect of the clash between “dry” moral fundamentalists in the country and “wet” moderns in the city.

The decade neared its end with dramatic events: a Catholic nominee for the presidency was rejected in an anti-Catholic landslide in 1928; unregulated speculation in the stock market led to a crash in 1929; and the country plunged into a depression in which people went hungry in the cities while farmers plowed under their crops.


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