Yakima Valley Museum

 The Roaring 20's: Yakima's First Decade
February 15 - June 1997


Yakima's First Decade?  The 1920s?

This certainly sounds strange when 1885 is the actual date for the community's founding.  However, the city was originally chartered as North Yakima, to set it apart from nearby Yakima City.  From the beginning these two towns-adjacent to each other and with similar names-caused confusion.  In 1917, the United States Post Office formally requested the two towns adopt new, more distinctive, names.  Thus, the larger and the newer North Yakima became Yakima, and the older Yakima City became Union Gap.
Technically, therefore, the 1920s was the first complete decade for a city named Yakima.  But more importantly, today's live theatrical and music performances, professional sports, local media stations, colleges, and the vast fruit and vegetable industry of the Yakima Valley all have roots in the 1920s

Exhibit PHoto

The 1920s In America

Women, who were eager to adopt fashionable--but "scandalous"--knee-length skirts, obtained the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1922. 

KDKA, operated by Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing in Pittsburgh, began the first commercial radio broadcasting, and by the end of the decade millions of Americans were tuned in to their favorite programs. 

All liquor sales had been prohibited by the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1919; this led to the establishment of "speakeasies" (illegal nightclubs) and the rise of a powerful underworld that controlled the distribution and sale of "bootleg" liquor. 

Charles Lindbergh captured the imagination of the world when he became the first person to successfully fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.   Many people invested in the booming stock market, hoping to turn lifetime savings into a fortune.

Also in the 1920s, two major events dashed the dreams of many Americans and set the stage for hard times ahead.  There was disillusionment and despair for farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and other Midwestern states, when a prolonged drought and poor farming practices turned productive farmland into dry dusty fields.  And in 1929, the stock market crashed, spelling immediate economic disaster for some and sending the entire country into the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Today, in the 1990s, that America of the 1920s still captures our imagination. 

Exhibit Photo


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