Originally published on Pottermore
Published on Jan 17th 2017
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them introduced us to a new era of the wizarding world: the 1920s. Even aside from the wonders inadvertently released by Newt Scamander, the decade was full of fantastical sights.

Here are 20 things that the Muggles and No-Majs of the era experienced for the very first time…

1. Prohibition

Although the 1920s would later become known as a period of prosperity, for many Americans they didn’t start well. In January 1920 the so-called Prohibition Amendment went into effect, banning the production and sale of liquor across the US.

2. Votes for women

Women had been fighting for the vote for years, and while some countries made gains as early as 1755 (good going, Corsica), it was in the 1920s that it began to catch on. American women won the vote in 1920, while most of their British counterparts had to wait until 1928 – although women in the UK and Ireland who were over 30, university graduates and/or property owners had been allowed to vote since 1918.

3. Commercial radio

On 20 August 1920, the country’s first commercial radio station – WWJ (AM) in Detroit, Michigan – began broadcasting. Then called 8MK, the station operated under a standard amateur radio licence. Its first known news programme was broadcast on 31 August 1920.

4. The NFL

The year 1920 also saw the foundation of the National Football League (NFL), initially known as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). The NFL aimed to raise the bar for professional American football, and today its 32 teams play to the highest standard in the world.

5. Agatha Christie

In the UK, a woman with high standards of her own was preparing for publication. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was released in 1920, and within a few years Agatha Christie and her hero Hercule Poirot were as familiar a sight on British bookshelves as Harry Potter is now.

6. Charlie Chaplin

Another name now synonymous with the 1920s took his first (bumbling) steps towards stardom in the early part of the decade. Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, released in 1921, was his first feature film. He produced, directed and starred in it, and it helped bring his instantly recognisable Little Tramp character to worldwide attention.

7. The New York Yankees win

In October 1923, one of New York’s baseball teams, the Yankees, won the World Series. It was their very first title, and they’ve gone on to win it 26 more times.

8. The Winter Olympics

It’s quite possibly the closest thing the No-Maj world has to a Triwizard Tournament: in 1924 France hosted the first-ever winter Olympics, a celebration of sports played on snow and ice.

9. The New Yorker

In 1925 – a year before Newt rolls up in New York with his suitcase of wonders – journalist Harold Ross unleashed another fantastic beast upon the city. The New Yorker, which Ross envisaged as a publication of ‘gaiety, wit and satire’, survives to this day.

10. Television

Scottish inventor John Logie Baird pioneered the introduction of TV to the masses, demonstrating the first colour television system to the world in January 1926. The rest, as they say, is history.

11. Winnie-the-Pooh

The Bear of Very Little Brain first popped up in 1926. Winnie-the-Pooh was based on the real life teddy bear belonging to author AA Milne’s son, who was himself the inspiration for Pooh’s owner Christopher Robin.

12. Gertrude Ederle swims the English Channel

In 1926, 19-year-old American competition swimmer Ederle became the first woman to swim the Channel, completing it in 14 hours and 34 minutes.

13. The first movie soundtrack

In 1926, Warner Bros.’ Don Juan – based on Lord Byron’s epic poem of the same name – became the first feature-length film to include an instrumental musical score and sound effects.

14. The first talkie

A year later, in October 1927, Warner Bros. secured another movie first. The Jazz Singer was the first film to feature sound. A ‘part-talkie’, it features several synchronised musical numbers performed by the cast, and some speech.

15. Transatlantic flight

In 1927, American aviator Charles ‘Lucky Lindy’ Lindbergh became the first person to fly a plane across the Atlantic. He completed the journey in his plane, the ‘Spirit of St Louis’, flying from New York to Paris in 33-and-a-half-hours. Who needs magic, eh?

16. Music for the masses

In 1928, a device that would later become known as the jukebox first appeared on the scene, allowing music fans to play their favourite track from a choice of eight records.

17. The first all-talking film

In 1928 Warner Bros. completed a hat-trick with the release of The Lights of New York, the first all-talking film, complete with full synchronised dialogue, music and sound effects.

18. Mickey Mouse

Walt Disney’s rodent character made his first appearance in 1928. Steamboat Willie was the movie that launched Mickey, and the animated mouse with the red shorts hasn’t looked back since.

19. The Oscars

In a decade of firsts for the film industry, it’s probably not surprising that the end of the 1920s saw the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences host its inaugural awards ceremony. First held in 1929, this annual celebration of the movie industry would become known universally as the Oscars.

20. The Museum of Modern Art

Although the American economy well and truly tanked in 1929, there was one ray of hope in a city and a year that would become synonymous with the Wall Street Crash. Just days after that momentous occasion, New York became home to the Museum of Modern Art, which opened in Manhattan on 7 November.

In celebration of Fantastic Beasts, Pottermore will be delving into the history of the 1920s each week. Stay tuned for more!


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