Blog Exercise Five

This collection of images shows many of the factors that allowed for the postwar growth of cities in North America. The top and bottom images on the left show airplanes and airports, which were crucial in this process. Airplanes (especially jets) allowed corporations to change their basic structure. Along with the telephone, airplanes facilitated long distance communication, allowing corporations to integrate vertically by acquiring other firms at different levels of the production process. Additionally, corporate conglomeration caused most corporations to concentrate their headquarters in the largest cities, like New York or Chicago. Thanks to the development of roads like the Eisenhower Interstate System, people could live outside of the city in suburbs and commute to work. Only the most important jobs would be kept in the headquarters in the city center. Jobs like data entry, for example, would be relocated to the suburbs, where housewives could work for a lower salary in such pink-collar jobs. Similarly, research and development jobs were located on corridors between major universities, as workers in this field usually did not want to leave the university area. Eventually, these high tech corridors would become well known, like Silicon Valley.

The North American postwar landscape was fundamentally shaped by certain policy actions taken by the US government. Suburban seas of homes, like the one in the top right picture, began to explode thanks to these policies and have now become commonplace across the entire continent. The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 attempted to protect American farmers by raising tariffs on imported agricultural goods. However, all it really did was start a tariff war that caused foreigners to stop buying American goods, putting the US and the globe on course towards the Great Depression. The Housing Act of 1934 created the Federal Housing Administration, which attempted to decrease the number of foreclosures occurring and increase home ownership. For the most part, homes purchased through the FHA had to be new homes in the suburbs due to the strict requirements of the loans. New Deal projects like the CCC built critical infrastructure, like the Hoover Dam, which created a reliable water supply for cities in the southwest. This allowed massive urbanization in an area where it was previously impossible. At the end of World War II, many veterans qualified for low interest, low down payment VA mortgages. Housing acts in the 1940s and 1950s further expanded FHA loans. Combined with Federal Highway Acts in the 1950s, these housing policies encouraged rapid suburbanization in the United States. By getting people to own houses and thus be personally invested in the national economy, the US government hoped to prevent any spread of communism or socialism into the country. The government had witnessed the spread of socialism into Western Europe, and wanted to prevent it at any cost during this time of the Red Scare. Thus, it created these policies to encourage home ownership. Plus, when people buy a house, they need to fill it with lots of stuff, causing an economic boom.

All the bairns o' Adam

Blog Exercise Five

Usual rules; reblog, 500 word commentary, remember to actually reference the images in your response…

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