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The United States’ Early 20th Century Development

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Oil is earth’s most powerful compound that built the modern world today; some call it “Black Gold”. Oil has been underneath seas for over millions and millions of years. In the year 1900, oil was discovered in Texas but only in small wells. Prospectors had a feeling there was much more oil beneath a low hill, east from Houston. As many investors were in desperate hunt for oil, that’s when the Hammill brothers, young, rugged and ambitious oilmen, came into the picture. After several months of failed attempts, the Hamill brothers get a breakthrough. On January 10th, 1901, the day it changed America forever had finally arrived, the Hammill brothers hit the bull’s-eye, Oil shot up almost 61 meters up into the air. The well soon pumped thousands of barrels, making the US the leading oil producer in the world. Within a year, five hundred oil companies were created, including Texaco and Gulf. Price per barrel went from two dollars to three cents, so cheap that it was turned into petrol. The Hammill brothers became legendary.

In Detroit 1908, an engineer by the name of Henry Ford, wanted to build his own car that would be cost-efficient, easy to produce and affordable to buy. There were only 8,000 cars in America in the 20th century, known as expensive play things for the rich. However, these hand-built cars were disreputably unreliable and not standardized. Finally, in 1913, Ford changed the world, he accomplished his mission, builds a car in a revolutionary kind of way, work was standardized, and mass production swept the nation. Car prices also dropped and over 300,000 cars were sold by the end of 1913. By 1920’s, the invention of cars had transformed millions of lives; there wasn’t a need to live close to work any longer, roads were being built and shopping centers started constructing huge car parks.

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During this time, one of the cities that were booming tremendously was Los Angeles, California. Being the center of enormous entertainment industry, investors began constructing dream homes high in the hills of Los Angeles for oil tycoons and actors. To announce their investment, the biggest advertisement sign, “Hollywood Land” with 4,000 light bulbs was put up to show off the name of their luxury development. By 1949, the sign which was supposed to be temporary was left as “Hollywood”, as it sits today.

In 1904, the city of Los Angeles started growing and so did the need of water. The city located in Southern California, the edge of the Great Western Desert was running out of water. William Holland, superintendent of Los Angeles Water Company, started the search and headed northeast of California. He reached a northern area called, Owens Valley, an area with water flowing out of mountains into a massive 280 sq. kilometers lake; locals called it the “Switzerland of California”. Holland was sure he could make the water flow all the way to Los Angeles, but it would take 359 km of steel pipe and power line and 805 km of road. In 1913, Holland was able to pull off the largest water project of the world.

Between 1915 and 1930, millions of southerners, including blacks headed up north (The Great Migration) for better job opportunities. Ford and other companies paid blacks and whites equally but unfortunately there was no equal treatment for the blacks since the white workers felt like they were losing jobs to the them. In the Chicago summer of 1919, a black teenage boy named Eugene Williams skipped church to go swim with his friends at Lake Michigan, without noticing, he crossed the designated area onto the area of the whites, this made a white male upset and started throwing rocks at Williams and his friends, hitting Williams and killing him. Police refusal to arrest the white male and arresting blacks instead, caused anger in the black community; this led to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. The race riot killed 38 and 23 were black, more riots erupted in 24 additional cities (Red Summer of 1919).

Jazz, Saloons and Alcohol were affecting the nation and America had a drinking problem. There were saloons on almost every corner, like there is on coffee shops today. Religious groups rallied, industries said it affected productivity and women campaigned against drunken men beating wives. On January 1919, the government passed the 18th amendment to the constitution, which was the Prohibition; making the manufacturing and sale of alcohol illegal. As Prohibition was in effect, this also created a nation of criminals. Outrunning the law due to illegal alcohol smuggling became the new extreme sport, and it was the beginning of muscle cars existence.

Gangsters ran the world of underground alcohol smuggling, but Al Capone was the most notorious gangster of all time. Crime due to prohibition had gotten really bad but it wasn’t until 1929 when two police officers arrived with a couple of guys with machine guns and shot up Al Capone’s rival George “Bugs” Moran’s headquarters, killing all his men. Calvin Goddard, a clinical weapons expert, for the first time analyzed important traces like bullet casings in the murder scene. Goddard’s forensic work revolutionized the work of the FBI. Although, everything led to Capone, he had an ally who stated he was in Florida at the time. Al Capone was not found guilty for the massacre but sentenced to eleven years for income-tax evasion. Unfortunately, the stock market crash of 1929 left the nation broke and ended the alcohol prohibition in 1933 for the need of money.

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