|"Hold Tight, Feller" by Archibald Chapin in St. Louis Star, ca. February, 1920|
1920 was a year for the decennial census, mandated by the Constitution as part of keeping our Congress as representative of the people as possible. Crowded onto Archibald Chapin's sled are the seven most populous cities in the United States, none of which were in the west (Los Angeles came in tenth), or the south (unless you count Chapin's hometown of St. Louis, sixth).
|"Census Reports" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1920|
Beginning in 1910, the minimum population threshold to be categorized as an urban place was set at 2,500. 'Urban' was defined as including all territory, persons, and housing units within an incorporated area that met the population threshold. The 1920 census marked the first time in which over 50 percent of the U.S. population was defined as urban.Having just won Congressional majorities in 1918, Republicans realized that going ahead with the constitutionally required reapportionment process would increase the political influence of urban areas where Democratic machines tended to dominate. Reapportionment legislation would stall again and again as rural interests tried to devise mechanisms to blunt the impact of the population shift. Congress would not pass a reapportionment bill until 1929.
|"Just Another 'Bumper Crop'..." by Leo Thiele in Sioux City Tribune, ca. June, 1920|
|"Help" by Bob Satterfield for Newspaper Enterprise Assn., ca. June, 1920|
|"Two Viewpoints" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, June, 1920|
|"How Times Have Changed for 'The Poor Working Girl'" by Leo Bushnell for Central Press Assn., May, 1920|
|"Now, John, When I Was a Young Codger..." by George W. Rehse in New York World, June/July, 1920|
|"Improving the Scenery" by Gustavo Bronstrup in San Francisco Chronicle, July, 1920|
The earliest recorded billboards actually date back to 1867, followed five years later by the founding of the advertisers' lobbying group, the International Bill Posters Association (since renamed the Outdoor Advertising Association of America).
While I appreciate the point he's making about uglifying the scenery, I have some qualms about resurrecting Mr. Bronstrup's cartoon because of its superfluous use of an African-American stereotype on the smokeless tobacco ad — the only face visible anywhere in the cartoon. I can't tell whether he's reflecting a common trope or making a criticism of it; but the thoughtless racism of the day would have rendered such a rude caricature completely unremarkable. Nearly all white cartoonists drew Black people in this way (John Cassel is a notable exception).
Coming around full circle, I'll close with this from Magnus Kettner:
|"The Joyriders" by Magnus Kettner for Western Newspaper Union, ca. July 13, 1920|