Overview
Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Art, Literature and Music
Daily Life
Key Personalities

Fashion

At the advent of the Edwardian era, the shape of women's fashions transitioned from the popular "hourglass" figure to dresses designed with an "S" curve. The new style allowed women to cast away the confining corsets of the Victorian age and embrace the new "health corsets" that supported the spine and abdomen. The curvaceous clothing line of this period resounded with the curving lines of Art Nouveau style. In addition, ladies' hats became larger, a trend that continued steadily until 1911. The Art Nouveau style also invaded women's jewelry styles, as peacocks, dragonflies and moths created out of dazzling enamels and gold filigree became standard adornments for ladies' combs and brooches.

Throughout the Edwardian period, women's fashions were highly influenced by the advancing feminist Suffrage movement. Women modeled their behavior and appearance upon the "Gibson Girl", the popular image of the "New Woman". Designers soon borrowed from men's clothing styles such as the suit, shirt, hard collar and tie, to create fashions appropriate for women entering professions formerly occupied by men.

During the later half of the Edwardian era, fashions once again transitioned from the "S" curve dresses to the pre-flapper, straight-line clothing of the late 1910s. As women began participating in athletics, casual and comfortable "sport clothing" also became popular. Women's fashions also generally became lighter in construction and materials, as epitomized by the "lingerie dress", a feather-light white cotton dress inset with strips of open-work lace and net. In sum, women's fashions became progressively more comfortable, practical and aesthetically pleasing during this era, such that the period from 1890 to 1914 is remembered as "la Belle Epoque" ("The Beautiful Epoch").


Food and Cooking

The Edwardian era saw the beginning of the modern American food industry, largely due to inventions such as the steam tractor, which transformed farming into a grand-scale operation. The United States passed its Food and Drug Act, giving the government increased control in regulating food quality in the marketplace. Self-service grocery stores and supermarket chains opened for the first time in history. A host of brand-name foods emerged in these newfangled grocery stores, including Crisco oil, Oreo cookies, and Kellogg's cereal. Finally, the invention of the refrigerator, pyrex dishware, and toaster oven brought time-saving convenience and efficiency to the modern kitchen.


Sports, Games and Leisure

In America, the period from 1894 to 1915 allowed workers more leisure time than in previous times. One reason for this was that industrial employers began to decrease working hours and institute a Saturday half-day holiday, which gave workers more free time for leisure activities. Employers also began to offer vacation time, albeit unpaid. The monotony of specialized industrial work and the crowding of urban expansion also created a desire in the worker to have leisure time away from his or her job and away from the bustle of the city. The Progressive movement was another factor, as workers began to pay greater attention to their health and well-being. Yet another factor was the installation of electric lighting on city streets, which made leisure activities after dark less dangerous for both sexes.

Within cities, people attended vaudeville shows, which would feature a multitude of acts. Shows often ran continuously so that theatergoers could come and go as they pleased. Vaudeville shows crossed economic and ethnic boundaries, as many different social groups would mix in the audience. Other popular shows of the time included circuses and Wild West shows, the most famous of the latter being William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody's.

Motion pictures also served as entertainment during leisure time for urban audiences. Initially the movies were novelties in kinetoscope viewers, until they became acts in their own right on the vaudeville stage. As motion pictures became longer, they moved into storefront Nickelodeon theaters and then into even larger theaters.

Outdoor activities remained popular as people attended celebratory parades and county fairs, the latter featuring agricultural products, machinery, competitions, and rides. Some workers with limited budgets went to the countryside or the beaches. Towards the latter part of the nineteenth century, resorts opened in the outskirts of cities, such as the beach area of Asbury Park in New Jersey, which was founded in 1870. Amusement parks opened in places like Coney Island, New York, founded in 1897, offering rides, fun houses, scenes from foreign life, and the latest technological A Glimpse of the San Diego Exposition breakthroughs, such as motion pictures. National parks were created by the federal government to preserve nature and many began to tour these areas on vacation. One such example was Yellowstone Park where people camped or stayed at the hotels built there in the late 1880s.

World's fairs and expositions held in different U.S. cities offered Americans a chance to "tour the world" in one place. The fairs celebrated progress and featured exhibits of science and technology, foreign villages, shows, rides and vendors. The first major one was the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, which was followed by fairs in Chicago (1893), Atlanta (1895), Nashville (1897), Omaha (1898), Buffalo (1901), and St. Louis (1904).

After the Civil War, the popularity of sports as leisure activities grew as people began to see the importance of exercise to health. While initially only the wealthy could partake of most sporting events, the opening of publicly available gymnasiums, courts, and fields allowed the working and middle classes to participate also. Basket Ball, Missouri Valley College Athletic clubs such as the New York Athletic Club were organized and the YMCAs began to institute sports programs. These programs mostly focused on track and field events, instituted by communities of Scottish and English descent, and gymnastics, heavily influenced by German athletics. Gymnasiums, which featured exercises using Indian clubs, wooden rings, and dumbbells, were opened in many Eastern cities.