Boom to Bust - Tragedy's Impact of the Human Experience By Christopher Michael Cano

Economy, the Role of the Government, Home Life, and Leisure Time were the 4 main aspects of society during the Great Depression. Each had existed during the 20s before the depression, and still survived in the 30s. Of course,each aspect had changed such as the government's role with the people, and the leisure time of Americans.

Leisure time is an important aspect to humanity. It helps us deal with troubles and problems by bringing our minds away for reality, or rather lets the view experience something new and fascinating in their life. In the 20s, movies and radios were becoming popular ways to relax, due to convenience items making life faster than normal. African Americans embraced the 20s, with the Harlem Renaissance. New forms of music gave way to more groups enjoying life. Girls also took this time as an advantage to show that they could also be free. After the depression started, people often went to these relics of a better life and used them to escape the harsh reality. The cinema had all sorts of films that would address a social issue, provide some laughs, and overall distract people into these wonderful artistic worlds. African Americans still had Jazz, which would lift spirits and help those cope by boosting morale. The technology used between the times was fairly the same, with radios and sometimes a trip to the cinema. This allowed anyone who still had a radio to have the ability to use it later during the depression for free. Entertainment had also innovated, in an attempt to remove the viewer from their everyday lives and into another one until the program was over.

The Radio

A family sits in front of the radio during the 20s as a form of entertainment

The Cinema

Another thing famous in the 1920s, the movie theater. With these, an audience could be transported into another world of visually told stories, from adventure to action


King Kong was one of the movies made during the 1930s with the goal to take the audience to another world, distracting them from the present.

A Family Listening to a Radio Story

Radio use in the Great Depression substituted the cinema, as it was free and had all sorts of programs to listen to.


Jazz was made famous by African Americans

Home life is a rather odd aspect of the 20s, as it had sort of split in half between modernists and traditionalists. The two groups taught different ways; Traditionalists would respect religion deeply and follow customs, well modernists would rebel against traditionalists and follow newer, modern beliefs. There were some valuable innovations to the 20s, such as the washing machine which cleaned clothes faster. Women’s rights had began during the 20s, with the 19th amendment allowing women to vote. Not all was well unfortunately. Farmers and African Americans were beginning to suffer, losing money and jobs due to large amounts of surplus. When the 30s came, not all Americans could afford to keep their homes and jobs. This became quite difficult for African Americans, who suffered under racism, and women, specifically widows, which were seen stealing a “man’s job”. There were wealthy families that weren’t affected by the depression, but the middle and the working classes had to adjust to change. They attempted to spend less money, they would make their own clothes rather than purchasing, and their average lives were impacted in a way that would most likely affect them forever. The poor were jobless, lived in hoovervilles, and sometimes rode the rails to try and find a better home.

A Radio

A radio in the 1920s, one of the new household items which would provide entertainment through the 1930s.

Farmers' Unfortunate Lifes During the 20s

This farming family is already beginning to suffer during the 1920s before the depression hits. It shows some hardships and the extra crops grown (in this case potatoes) that would become surplus.

Boys Hopping a Train

Those who could not afford to live in the same place often hoped on Freight Trains illegally in hope that the destination would have a better life.


Those homeless sometimes found themselves living in hoovervilles

The economic aspect of life is a very powerful and important one, which must be dealt with correctly, or could have some disastrous consequences. The economy had began to rise during the 20s with the help of credit, a way of loaning money and then slowly paying it back. Factories had produced like never before with the assembly line, a quick way of producing something. Bankers and Business owners prospered. Everyone had invested in stocks and business owners had become rich. When a quick panic on Wall Street began the crash of 1929, the economy suffered very deeply. Bankers and Investors had failed. There was no more money in banks, leading many jobs to die off along with business owners being forced to lay off workers. It was until the New Deal that things began to recover, with the bank holidays and the promise of the banks always being supplied with money. However, Business owners did not approve of all programs, such as the Social Security Act which would require employers to match payroll and tax payments. However, it was the second World War that fully pulled America out of the economic depression. Both decades had continuity and change, as farmers were struggling during the 20s and 30s, but FDR’s New Deal changed the impact the government makes to the American people.

The Sudden Hit of the Crash

This sudden and unexpected crash did not directly start the Great Depression, but did affect bankers and business owners into situations sometimes bad.

The Bank Failures

After the crash, many banks ended up failing. Because banks loaned off money deposited and the fact that people couldn't pay off the loans, many banks shut down due to a lack of money.

Food For the Jobless

People without jobs crowded in soup kitchens which were free.

The final aspect is another major one, the role of the government. Before the great depression, the government was laissez-faire based. Warren G Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover were the three Republican presidents at the time. They kept away from businesses as much as possible. This meant when banks failed, nobody could resupply them with money, and there were no regulations to farming which could have prevented the storms in the dust bowl. Even during the Great Depression, Hoover did not support individuals. He believed it was the jobs of charities to give money and supplies to the suffering, not the government's. This angered many people, so they started using his name in such ways. A good example of this is the Hooverville, a collection of small shacks built by the homeless as a small home. When the new deal came along from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, things had changed in the country. Relief programs such as the Emergency Banking Act, the CCC, and FERA brought immediate attention to required issues in the country that wouldn’t have happened with Laissez-faire. Other programs like the NIRA and WPA brought recovery, which did not constantly last. Reform programs like SEC, FDIC, and the Social Security Act are still to this day helping prevent further disasters. Without FDR, the government wouldn’t have changed from laissez-faire to a government working with the people.

Without government support, many people became jobless and eventually homeless.
FDR sits down for a fireside chat, a message to the American people to deliver hope that things would get better.

Franklin D. Rooseverlt's New Deal

FDR's New Deal changed the roll of government in the United States by greatly supporting and helping the people, rather than ignoring it.

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