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North Jersey History Center Online Exhibits


America of the 1920s conjures images of smartly dressed men and women in formal wear, flappers and vibrant jazz bands in speakeasies, fast cars, exuberant stock markets, and the birth of Hollywood’s golden age. However, while modern society changed rapidly for many, this only tells part of the story for the decade that started with the end of the Great War and a worldwide pandemic, and ended with the economic turmoil unleashed by the 1929 stock market crash and the resulting Great Depression.

In many aspects, Morris County was a microcosm of how the Twenties affected Americans. A number of illicit clubs and gambling halls operated downtown with impunity, corrupt officials squared off against good governance reformers, a growing middle-class bought new homes and automobiles on credit, and everyone sought new and exciting entertainment options, which were ubiquitous thanks to the many fads, films, and radio programs.

Life changed dramatically in other areas as well. A rising Black middle class joined the ranks of other new homeowners and exercised newfound economic influence, women enjoyed new careers and less domestic drudgery thanks to labor saving devices and smaller families, while cinemagoers wondered at foreign vistas and others enjoyed traveling to new destinations. In embracing the modern era, Morris County’s residents sought to reform corrupt policies, pursued new business opportunities, searched for novel leisure activities, enjoyed the tranquility of domestic life, and strove for ever-faster means of transportation.

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Chief John J. Cullianan's new car, Morristown Fire Department, 10/12/1926, Morristown, NJ


Destroying bootleg rum, Ridgedale dump, 8/10/1925, Morristown, NJ