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A city filled with the glowing lights of skyscrapers and electric streetlamps

Downtown Chicago at night, Chicago, 1930. NYWT&S Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress



Hello, my name is Darius Danyluk and I am a Gallery Attendant at the museum. I will be reading The Era section for Unlocking an Art Deco Bedroom by Joseph Urban.

In 1919, America emerged newly prosperous from the devastation of World War I and plunged into a decade of heady consumption and social change. Cars, radios, and telephones proliferated, industry and cities grew, and young women embraced new freedoms. But just a decade later, the stock market crash of 1929 sent the country into a severe economic depression that would last until its entrance into World War II. The period in between was one of great contrasts: cultural expression and social progress were tempered by a conservative backlash, a deepening wealth divide, and racial oppression. While the Wormsers’ affluence may have shielded them from some of the era’s turbulence, they would have encountered its cultural and technological changes at every turn—in transatlantic travels on steamships and in palatial cinemas, department stores, and the modern bedroom they commissioned for their home.

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