One of the most often overlooked areas of modernization in the United States during the 1920s is the introduction of the teenager culture and the growth of entertainment. Amusement parks were one of the growing industries that impacted the culture and played an important role in changing the landscape of America. As Americans saw an increase in money and leisure time, business-minded investors saw it as an opportunity to generate revenue.
In the book Amusing the Million, historian John F. Kasson explains that amusement parks like Coney Island led to the unification of a “nationalistic mass culture,” while also providing an escape from society and work. This eventually ushered in new technology and modernizations like radio and movie markets (pgs. 4–8). Modernization also took place with newer technologies that made thrilling rides and attractions possible, like the Ferris wheel. Amusement parks and the entertainment culture also ushered in the modernizing of towns, as amenities like hotels, restaurants, and parks increased to accommodate travelers. Add to that the modernization of roads and mass transportation that linked towns to the parks.
While amusement parks, and entertainment in general, became a destination conducive to all people, there were plenty of critics who saw the rise of the independent teenager as a threat to traditional values linked to staying home. The shifting culture of entertainment only continued in the next decade with the ushering in of movies and, eventually, affordable cars.