How do Americans name different eras?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by tekno, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. tekno, Jul 6, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012

    tekno macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2011
    In England we name eras after the monarch - for example, a house built between 1837 and 1902 would be referred to as Victorian. Or people might comment on how amazing Elizabethan dress was.

    So, what do Americans say when referencing different eras?

    [Sorry, I mean 1837-1901 of course]
  2. Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Roaring 20s, Great Depression, Rock N Roll, Space Era, Cold War, Baby Boom, Technology Boom...

    I'm not sure they're as used / defined out here.
  3. tekno thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2011
    So someone would say "I love Baby Boom architecture"?!
  4. Big-TDI-Guy, Jul 6, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012

    Big-TDI-Guy macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    No, it depends on what aspect you're referring to. The era seems to be defined depending on what you're trying to identify. You'd say a Baby Boomer, or Boomer when referring to a generation or subculture of that generation.

    For government, political bodies - I've seen "Regan Era" or "FDR Era".

    For places / architecture I think that's harder to call. We use Victorian Era in describing buildings / homes. We have Colonial Era, (second) Industrial Revolution, Post-War Era...

    To be honest, the culture here seems to only reside in the "now". If you were to show an old factory steam engine to a random stranger, I doubt you'd hear a correlation of what "era" it hailed from. They'd probably just tell you it looks old. Whereas someone on your side of the pond would have a stronger tie to heritage and history, and could name an era.
  5. tekno thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2011
    Ok, a bit more complicated then.

    I got thinking when on Family Guy last night Peter Griffin commented on a Victorian ghost coming to dinner. I was surprised as I thought the wider American population wouldn't understand what Victorian meant.
  6. mobilehaathi macrumors G3


    Aug 19, 2008
    The Anthropocene
    There is quite a bit the wider American population doesn't understand.
  7. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Interesting thread.

    In my my experience, Americans generally refer to things by the year.
    "That house is from the 70's"
    "That dress is from the 30's"

    Unless they are big events such as TDI guy mentioned.
    "That house was built during WW2"
  8. Renzatic, Jul 6, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2012

    Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    Or by the decade, rather. Things tend to drift and change roughly every 10 years since the turn of the 20th century, and we tend to define styles and the cultural zeitgeist by them.

    The eras are generally defined as such...

    18th century: Founding of the country, generally referred to as the Colonial or Federal era.

    19th century: The industrial revolution, the Civil War (which is always capitalized, because it was our civil war), and expansion into the Wild West. Victorian usually refers more to style and architecture of the era rather than the era itself.

    The 20th century starts getting more specific.

    When you see flapper girls, speakeasies, hear mention of The Prohibition, and the resulting gangster wars, you immediately think of the 20's.

    The dust bowl, soup lines, and all around miserable people looking miserable in every picture taken? The 30's.

    WWII made enough of an impact for it to be referred to directly, so you rarely ever hear anything looking like the 40's. It's always the WWII era and postwar era.

    The 50's? Rock 'n Roll, all the trappings of the Lost Generation (I think, need to check on that), generic brightly colored but otherwise generic houses, neon signs, and slickers. The Cold War started kicking in around then.

    The 60's? Hippies, Woodstock, the Summer of Love, all around political strife, the moon, and the Equal Rights movement. The Cold War was in full force by this point.

    The 70's? EVERYTHING WAS MADE OF WOOD! Also punk music and Kiss towards the end of the decade. And The Cold War.

    The 80's? Cocaine, new wave, hair metal, big, big, BIG hair (which I think was why hair metal was so popular), corporate power and the love of money, fear of the Japanese taking over the country. The Cold War got really scary, then ended with a cheer rather than a mushroom cloud.

    The 90's had a transitional phase. The earlier part of the decade was all about bright colors, still big hair, and cheese...

    (Pure era example right here. Laugh all you want. You know we all looked like this between '89-'92", also Australian style, circa 2006)

    ...with the later half being overtaken by grunge, a mainstream explosion of "the underground", a brief but bright English alternative music scene invasion, and the widespread birth of the internet. It also marks the last time the country was generally in what could be considered a decent state.

    The 21st century? Everything after September 11th, 2001. Everyone is bitchy, whiny, polarized, stubborn, and unemployed. I think the current era hasn't seen any huge transformation since we've segued into the first decade of the century.

    And that's a good rough outline of The American Eras.

    I expect to get an A- on this at least. :mad:
  9. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    Pfffffft. We all watch Downton Abbey, we know Victorian!!! Though I guess the show takes place right after the Victorian years, but whatever.

    There's a lot of ways to discuss time here for different or the same times. Just blame a politician, journalist, or author most likely for the naming.
  10. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    So what happens when you get a monarch with a duplicated name, like Elizabeth II?
  11. Fed macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    I would have imagined this as well. But to be fair, here in England, if it's not Georgian or Victorian, I'll usually opt for a century and decade in my descriptions.
  12. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Sorry, but LOL!

    "I'm going to a 40's dress-up party next week!! Want to come?"
    "Fantastic! I'll go as Himmler. I have this amazing green suit that I haven't worn since St. Patrick's Day. Who are you going as?"
    "Hmmm.....probably a Jew, but I'll need to lose a lot of weight."
  13. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    That 40's army party was fun as hell, son! First time I ever got to wear a trench coat without being made fun of for looking like one of those creepy Matrix dorks!

    Plus, I've updated my original post with the most appropriate picture ever.

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