1950s EASY-POP Songs and Singers...on the verge of Rock 'n Roll
Vibrant Big Cities
In 1950, a quarter of the U.S. population lived in one of its fifty largest cities. Energetic downtowns included dozens of distinctive retail stores, scores of transportation options, and an explosion of entertainment offerings. People dressed to go to the city. Downtowns had names: Union Square, the Loop, City Center, and Downtown Crossing. Large department stores anchored downtown along with movie palaces, hotels, train stations, and libraries.
The five largest cities in the United States (each with more than a million people) were home to one in every ten Americans. The cities encouraged encounters between all classes and groups. Urban neighborhoods had character. The diverse mixing of people, manners, and learning gave the cities strength. They were seaports, business headquarters, manufacturing centers, and intellectual hubs.
New York City: The ‘Big Apple’ was and is the largest and the most densely populated city in the U.S. The borough of Manhattan is widely deemed the cultural center of the world. Wall Street in New York meant finance, Broadway meant theater, Madison Avenue meant advertising, Fifth Avenue meant fashion, Radio City meant broadcasting, Macy’s & Gimbels meant shopping, and Grand Central Station meant first class train travel.
Chicago: On the shores of Lake Michigan, the ‘Second City’ is often called the most American city in the U.S. In the 1950s, the ‘Windy City’was a major television production center, a railroad hub, and an architectural incubator. The downtown‘Loop’ is a shopping destination and the city remains a worldwide center of commerce and it is home to the Chicago Board of Trade.
Philadelphia: The port ‘City of Brotherly Love’ was a major textile and industrial center, a railroad hub, and a destination for African Americans during the great migration. ‘Philly,’ site of the historic Liberty Bell, was a try-out center for Broadway shows and home to TV’s ‘American Bandstand.’
Los Angeles: The City of Angels, the epicenter of the film industry, is known for its movie theaters, sunshine, creativity, automobiles, and freeways.
Detroit: Just across the river from Canada, ‘Motor City’, is the world’s traditional automotive center. The home offices of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are nearby. Hudson’s, the world’s tallest department store, was on Woodward Avenue, and in the 60s,Detroit was the source of‘Motown’ music.
Largest Cities in the United States in 1950
Population figures are for the city only not the total metro area.
rank in 1950 (1950 population) rank in 2010 (2010 population)