How did the consumer system develop to pervade the whole of American culture? The rise of American mass culture helped to spread consumerism, turning the country into a nation of consumers. This volume examines the consumer way of life in America as it unfolded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It traces how Americans came to value the pursuit of status objects and to rely on accumulating goods to measure cultural identity. Art, literature, advertisements, amusements, furnishings, fairs, hotels, museums, schools and shops tell a story of cultural change and the figures, events and institutions that projected new visions of what was desirable.