Revelers welcomed 2020 with toasts and fireworks, and many embraced Roaring 20s themes for their festivities, harkening back to a time that is remembered for its prosperity, frivolity and even decadence. Socially and artistically, the mood was daring. Leaps forward in lifestyle and culture included the growth and popularization of automobiles, telephones, movies, radio broadcasting and consumer demand for electrical appliances, along with an appetite for technology. No wonder so many wistfully re-enacted the idealized 1920s in hopes of ushering in exciting times in the present-day decade to come.
Looking back at the last hundred years, history shows our world would not follow a straight line towards prosperity, progress, social equality, stewardship of the earth or peace as past generations might’ve hoped. But through the century of extreme highs and lows, triumphs and devastation, we have persevered, grown, —and at the dawn of this new decade—hold out hope for our children, as our grandparents and their parents did in the progressive time that was January 1, 1920.
While world capitals and big cities welcomed this post World War I boom, the Northshore of New Orleans saw a slower introduction to the new-fangled advancements that higher population centers enjoyed. While tourism from New Orleans was popular at the turn of the century, it experienced a decline in the 1920s. The first bridge across the lake, known as the Pontchartrain Toll Bridge, didn’t allow convenient car traffic from the Southshore until 1928, leaving St. Tammany to grow at a slower pace.
In 1920, St. Tammany’s population was scarcely more than 20,000. Today the parish has caught up and jockeyed ahead of the curve with population estimated at nearly 260,000 and a slot at or near the top of the fastest-growing list in Louisiana. Economic development organization, St. Tammany Corporation, lists many upcoming, promising projects including most recently: Medline Industries’ plans to construct an 800,000 square-foot medical supply facility estimated to create over 460 new jobs; expansion initiatives including projects by Dependable Glass Works and Mechanical Equipment Corp.; and the re-opening of an idle barge manufacturing plant by Arcosa Marine Products, Inc. creating 380 new jobs. Retail redos are in the works including the transformation of the former Kmart building in Mandeville into what will become The Shoppes at Emerald Corner. St. Tammany Corporation also cites plans for hospital expansions including St. Tammany Parish Hospital’s Expansion 2020 Project, a $19 million medical office building at Southern Surgical Hospital in Slidell, and the opening of the Northshore Medical Complex on the former Louisiana Heart Hospital site in Lacombe. Growth continues on the Northshore, from these large operations to the blossoming of sole proprietorships and every size in between. It is these small to mid-sized endeavors that epitomize the American Dream and create a legacy to pass down to generation to generation. They are the heart of our coummunity and contribute to its prosperity and character in countless ways. Even with the 1920s’ climate of optimism, it’s doubtful the residents here could’ve imagined what their small, quaint towns would become and the opportunities that would be available to so many in 2020.
Along with the post-World War 1 boom, 1920 also saw a huge milestone in the feminist movement as the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. Having attained this status, women’s societal roles and opportunities expanded with increased numbers seeking careers, higher education and all forms of equality. Media portrayals of strong, successful women, especially in advertising, helped bolster the movement. Today, women make up 47% of the US workforce and there are over 8,000 women-owned businesses in St. Tammany Parish alone. Sophisticated Woman Magazine is proud to carry the torch of bolstering the growth and efforts of our area entrepreneurs and empowering the next generation of female community leaders as we all embark upon what we envision as this century’s Soaring 20s.