As the man said, 'The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there [The quote about the past comes from the opening sentence of HP Hartley's The Go-Between (1953). 1953 was definitely a different country. ] .' This is true of the US in 1900, which was Progressive with a capital 'P'. Progressivism was even the name of a political movement. Just about everyone was interested in Progress, from the 'sewer socialists' of Milwaukee who wanted to clean up the infrastructure, to muckraking journalists who exposed vice and corruption in government and industry, to industrialists who wanted the machinery to hum. The country was only a few years out of the Long Depression (1873-1896), and people who finally had money to spend were interested in new goods, new experiences, and new pleasures.
They believed, too, that when it came to Progress, the sky was the limit. Nourished on the rags-to-riches novels of Horatio Alger, and accustomed to announcements of breakthroughs in technology from the likes of Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla , the citizens of the nation of 1900 looked forward to new wonders in the century to come. So when Mr John Elfreth Watkins, longtimeContinued page 3/11