Timeline and Contexts

1931: Empire State Building completed

  • Cab Calloway’s orchestra replaces Duke Ellington’s at the Cotton Club
  • Ziegfield Follies closes
  • Al Capone indicted
  • Pair-o-Dice, the first Las Vegas casino, opens for business

1933: Repeal of Volstead Act ends prohibition

  • Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers appear in first of ten films.
  • Billie Holiday’s recording debut (at age 18, with Benny Goodman)
  • United States v. One Book Called Ulysses finds Joyce’s novel is not pornographic

1935: First night game in Major League Baseball

  • Penguin publishes first paperback (Andre Maurois’s Ariel)
  • United Auto Workers (UAW) forms and immediately organizes strikes
  • Monopoly introduced by Parker Brothers
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

1937: The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

  • Joe Louis becomes heavy weight champion
  • The zipper gains ascendancy over the button in men’s pants as Lana Turner popularizes “the sweater girl” look
  • Minetta Tavern opens on MacDougal Street

1938: German annexation of Austria (the Anschluss)

  • Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall concert
  • Superman introduced in Action Comics #1 (followed by Batman a year later)
  • British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain confirms “Peace for our time”
  • Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre

1939: Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  • First commercial transatlantic flight (by Pan Am)
  • Blue Note records established as Charlie Parker settles in NY
  • “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland
  • Einstein-Szilard letter alerting Roosevelt that Germans are working on an atom bomb