It was a time of prohibition, black migration, and new "talkie" movies.
The 1920s and 1930s may have brought liberal freedoms for some Americans - but in the conservative rural heartlands many others were determined to resist change.
Through this collection of archive photographs, Professor David Reynolds, presenter of Radio 4's landmark series America, Empire of Liberty looks at what happened when the jazz age hit Main Street.
Warning: Slideshow contains graphic images.
Click 'show captions' for photograph information.
Music: Louisiana Stomp / Prohibition Blues, performed by the Missourians / One of these days, performed by Louis Armstrong / Swampland Blues, composed by Steffan Grossman. Photographs courtesy Getty Images / AFP.
Slideshow by Paul Kerley. Publication date 20 February 2009.
Professor David Reynolds presents America, Empire of Liberty- a landmark series on the history of the United States. This slideshow features extracts from the episode The Jazz Age Hits Main Street, which broadcasts on Friday 20 February at 1545 GMT on BBC Radio 4.