The Roarin’ Twenties were a time of prosperity in the United States. Coming down from a victory in World War I and right on the heels of establishing our nation as a true super power, Americans were patriotic, hard-working, and happy. Everyday life was simple, especially in small, close knit towns in Delaware. Take a look at what life looked like in Delaware in the 1920s, and see how it compares to today. There were no Ubers, no smartphones, and no Wikipedia – just Fords and ponies, Main Street, and the town library.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Moraine's Restaurant, Harrington, 1924
Everybody loves oysters, including people from Delaware in the 1920s! Moraine's was a landmark restaurant in Harrington where locals gathered to share good times and good food.
2. White's Cafeteria, Milton, 1925
Catching a ride to the local eatery was a little different back in the 1920s - you couldn't just summon an Uber to get you there. This young kid rode his pony into town, probably to grab a soda and a sandwich at White's.
3. Rehoboth Beach, 1920s
Playing in the surf and jumping waves is still just as fun was it was in the mid 1920s, but luckily bathing suits have evolved quite a bit. I can't imagine how uncomfortable it was to wear a full outfit heavy with sea water in and out of the ocean.
4. Georgetown Train Station, 1920s
The train was the lifeblood of many towns in Delaware in the 1920s. Trains brought goods like food, raw materials, and clothing in from far away places, and it took travelers through the state to the bigger cities on either side of the train line. Many Delaware towns wouldn't be what they are today if they didn't have a train traveling through!
5. Seaford Library, 1920s
You couldn't just search Google or Wikipedia for information in the 1920s. If you needed to do research, you had to head down to the local library, where librarians would help you search through the shelves or archives to find what you needed to know. We certainly take for granted how easy it is now to look up whatever comes to mind!
6. Odessa Bank, 1924
This bank existed before federal banking overhauls during the New Deal. It's crazy to think now about how banks worked without insured money, and the trust and commerce of the town relied on smart banking decisions.
7. Main Street, Odessa, 1925
Shops and shoppers stroll along main street in Odessa in 1925 - shopping for goods, socializing with friends, and catching up on all the neighborhood news. Finally - something that doesn't look all too different from how it is today!
8. Railroad Ave, Delmar, 1925
Another popular downtown pictured here in Delmar in 1925. Delmar is known as the "Little Town Too Big For One State", because it straddles the Maryland - Delaware Border. Delmar was a popular railroad town, with a high volume of travelers traveling in and out.
9. Enterprise Milling Company, Seaford, 1928
An abundance of farm life in Seaford in the 1920s meant that Enterprise Milling Company, seen above, was critical to keeping farm animals fat and happy. Cattle feeds were developed to help calves grow and cows produce more milk, poultry were fed to grow big and strong, and of course, the farm dog had to stay full enough that he didn't go after the farm chickens.
10. College Ave, Newark, 1925
Wow - Newark certainly looks different here! While the University of Delaware has certainly preserved old buildings well, you can't help but marvel at the evolution of College Ave, from this photograph to present day.
11. Smyrna High School, late 1920s
This photograph was taken to show off the newest section of Smyrna High School, built in the 1920s. Education was important even in the more rural towns in the 1920s, and high education rates lead to greater development of the Smyrna area.
12. St. Ann's Episcopal Church, Middletown, 1929
Old St. Ann's Church was built in 1768, and still stands in Middletown today! It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, many years after this photograph was taken. In the 1920s, St Ann's was a place to gather for worship and community - a weekly tradition for many Middletown, Odessa and Townsend residents.
13. Main Street, Middletown, 1929
Middletown has always had a great Main Street, as you can tell by this 1929 photograph! Art, entertainment and shopping have always been important to the Middletown community, and it's great to see present-day Middletown has continued to preserve the history and tradition that's been carried on through the years.
14. Farmer's Bank, Dover, 1926
Farmer's Bank in Dover was so named because of the farmers that would pack up their buggies (or Fords, for the lucky ones) and travel in to town for regular errands - going to the markets, going to church, and of course, going to the bank. Dover was a relatively large city even then, so it was a welcome break from country life.
15. F. Romero & Co Cannery, Dover, 1923
Since Dover was a "big" city and one of the main commerce hubs in Delaware, many factories set up shop on the outskirts of town, making lots of work for Dover residents. Here you can see the F. Romero & Co Cannery, where factory employees worked hard to make livings for their families.
Do you have family stories from the 1920s in Delaware? Share them with us in the comments! If you enjoy reminiscing, check out another collection of
Rare Photographs from Delaware’s Past.