Social Changes During 1945-1960

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

Social Changes, 1945–1960

The two biggest changes in everyday life in the United States after World War II were the migration to the suburbs and the invention of television. Suburbs were planned communities outside major cities. Developers bought large tracts of land and built entire communities. One of the most famous of these was Levittown, Pennsylvania, just across the Delaware River from the city of Trenton, New Jersey. Levittown was a community of more or less identical houses with garages, driveways, wide streets, and spreading lawns. Other Levittowns sprang up throughout the region. Newly- or recently-married veterans and their spouses thought the suburbs were ideal places to raise children. Because houses and cars were affordable in the postwar era, it was possible to live in the suburbs and work in the city. Racism also played a role in the white flight to the suburbs; thousands of African Americans had settled in northern cities during the Depression and World War II, and many whites refused to accept them as friends and neighbors. By 1960, almost one-third of the U.S. population—including only a very few black people—had moved to the suburbs.

The other major change was the habit of watching television. This “radio with pictures” was universally popular. People could watch a variety of programs on television: news broadcasts, comedies like I Love Lucy, sporting events like baseball games, game shows like The $64,000 Question, and dramas like Playhouse 90. Since anyone who owned a television could turn it on for free at any time, television networks could not charge audiences money. Instead, they paid their expenses by selling airtime to advertisers, who knew that their commercials would be viewed by thousands, perhaps millions, of people in their homes.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The United States in the Post World War II Era Practice Test

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