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An Age of Innovation Previous Next
Digital History ID 3312


The late 19th century witnessed the birth of modern America. These years saw the advent of new communication technologies, including the phonograph, the telephone, and radio. They also saw the rise of the mass media: of mass-circulation newspapers and magazines, best-selling novels, million dollar national advertising campaigns. These years witnessed the rise of commercialized entertainment, including the amusement park, the urban nightclub, the dance hall, and first motion pictures. Many modern sports, including basketball, bicycling, football, and golf were introduced to the United States, as were new transportation technologies, such as the automobile, electric trains and trolleys, and, in 1903, the airplane. They also saw the birth of the modern university.

In the span of a single decade, the country underwent a decisive series of shifts. Between 1896 and 1905 the economic depression of the mid-1890s ended and the Populist movement collapsed. A great merger movement consolidated American business. The Republican Party achieved dominance in national politics that it largely maintained until the Great Depression. A new immigration from eastern and southern Europe altered the nation's ethnic and religious composition. Laboratory based science reshaped the practice of medicine. The United States emerged as a world on the international scene. Improved communication facilitated the rapid rise of national organizations, complex bureaucracies, and professionalization. At the same time, communication, entertainment, and transportation were revolutionized.

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