1920 vs 2020 in Georgia: What a difference a century makes

It's cliche to say a lot has changed since 1920, but it's true nonetheless.

It's been 100 years since the Roaring '20s, an era marked by Prohibitionmass culture and flappers.

Atlanta and Georgia have obviously changed in the past century, but how much? Let’s jump in our wayback machine and take a look at how life in 1920 compares with today.

One hundred years ago, the state had a population of 2.926 million people, with 200,616 of them in Atlanta. That's a lot more elbow room than we have today, considering the state is now home to 10.4 million people, with 498,044 of them in the capital city.

Another view of Five Points in downtown Atlanta in the 1920s.
Another view of Five Points in downtown Atlanta in the 1920s.

Credit: AJC file

Credit: AJC file

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It cost a lot less to live in here in 1920, even when prices are adjusted for inflation. If you needed a new car, you could expect to shell out $260 (about $3,500 when adjusted for inflation) for a Ford Model T. Ford's least expensive car nowadays is the Fiesta, which will set you back $14,790 for just the base model. The average new car price, however, is at its highest level, surpassing $34,000.

And those adorable 1920s bungalows that sell for nearly half a million dollars in Atlanta? You could have scooped one up when built for about $4,000 to $6,000 ($53,171 to $79,757, when adjusted).

But the ’20s weren’t just about lower prices. The 18th Amendment, which was ratified in 1920, outlawed the manufacturing, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. Could you imagine Atlanta without its more than 40 breweries and brewpubs that serve their own craft beers in the metro area?

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If Prohibition had not been repealed in 1933, we also wouldn't have the Anheuser-Busch facility in Cartersville. Opened in 1993, it brews more than 20 of Anheuser-Busch's brands and is the original producer of emergency drinking water for the company's disaster relief program.

Also ratified in 1920 was the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote after nearly 75 years of protests. Although women could vote in elections, only about a dozen were elected to public office as of 1920. Only one of those was at the federal level. Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, was the first woman elected to Congress. She served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1917 to 1919.

The first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate — even though it was for just one day — was Georgia Democrat Rebecca Latimer Felton.

Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (C) poses with Democratic women of the 116th Congress on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Jan. 4, 2019.
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (C) poses with Democratic women of the 116th Congress on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Jan. 4, 2019.

Today, women hold 126, or 23.6%, of the 535 seats in the 116th U.S. Congress — 25 in the Senate and 101 in the House. Among those is Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia.

It’s too soon to tell if this decade will be as “roaring” as the one a hundred years ago, but it’s sure to make its own history.