20th Century Nomads In 1959 - a look at the great Migration West in the 1950's, as presented by the CBS Radio series The Great Challenge, hosted by Howard K. Smith on January 4, 1959.
January 15, 2012

The lure was heady - the pressure was high voltage.

There was a time, if you were at a gathering of strangers in Los Angeles, the question would invariably be; "so where are you from originally?" Seemingly no one who lived in Southern California was actually born there - they had all been imported during the Great Migration of the 1950's, where cities east of the Rockies suffered a massive drop in populations and Mecca's like Los Angeles swelled accordingly. It was mostly about the weather, but it was a lot about the freedom - the "wide open spaces" as it was touted in ads. The escape from the rat race of the City, whether it was St. Louis, or Chicago, Detroit or Pittsburgh - the pot of gold was at the end of the road which just so happened was Los Angeles.

In 1959, more or less at the mid-point in the "massive migration", CBS Radio as part of their Great Challenge radio series of documentaries, did an in-depth look at the subject of these "20th Century Nomads", hosted by veteran newscaster Howard K. Smith.

Ironically, it was broadcast on January 4th, 1959 - I wonder if the weather everywhere east had something to do with it.

Maybe a little.

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.

Explore more


We are currently migrating to Disqus

On May 14, 2022, we started migrating our comments from Insticator back to Disqus. During this transition period, some posts will have Insticator and some Disqus. For more information on the transition, as well as information regarding old C&L accounts, please see this post.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.