Homework: A History Lesson

I’m working on my last 2-level elective {read: brain and pocket needed a break from some serious photography lessons} for my bachelor’s degree I intend on receiving next year. While doing some homework for class, I learned some pretty interesting things; so I’m just going to post the whole thing here…

Skip this blog if you want. *wink!

First, I’m going to admit it… I. suck. at. history.

When was the Stock Market Crash? 1929… When was WWI? WWII? Korean War? What is the Expressionist period? Where is the St. Mary’s Cathedral? …. ummmm. I plead the fifth. PLEASE. Luckily, I’m getting a second chance at history in my college years and I can actually answer most of these now. {YAY!}

Anyways, I learned that The New Yorker  actually had a cover of the Inauguration of 1933 that never ran… but, you’re going to have to read the article’s interesting facts (in the link^) because I don’t mention it here in my homework.

So, here’s my homework I felt so compelled to share.


Hoovervilles were created by the event of the stock market crash in 1929 as well as the failure of the American banking system (History.com). They had such a devastating effect that many people who were comfortably living in homes or apartments were forced to be evicted for lack of income and depletion of savings. These towns were named for the blame of the economic instability and the uneven distribution of aid/relief supplies said to be created by President Hoover, the current president at the time (United States History).

{Image Link}
Lee. Seattle’s Hooverville. 10 June 1937. Photograph. Web.
Close to 1,000 men were living here at the time.

These Hoovervilles were all across the nation, often finding residence on public land near rivers for the convenient water source (History.com). They varied in size as well as organization; some had unofficial mayors and even churches. Many occupants were World War I veterans and family; in 1932, thousands of veterans set up a Hooverville in Washington, D.C. in the spring and in June, they demanded their government bonuses early to relieve them of financial problems. The government refused saying that their reasoning was due to Depression-era budgeting (History.com).

Arns, Peter. Franklin Delano Roosevelt 1933 Inauguration. The New Yorker, n.d. Web.
The New Yorker’s FDR cover of the 1933 Inauguration that never ran due to the assassin.

Come the election in 1932, Hoover lost re-election by “a landslide” to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Governor for New York. Roosevelt came into presidency and made changes and could realistically be idolized as a hero. He created a recovery program, The New Deal, which helped turn around the unemployment rates, created more stable banking, and reversed the depressive economy with economic programs.

Levittown homes began as homes that were constructed for the need of the returning veterans from World War II. There were so many returning and so many of them were forced to live in relative’s homes, rented attics or basements, even unheated bungalows that the need for housing was unpredicted. Abraham Levitt and his sons had previously learned about building while building the Strathmore development and submitted a bid to the Navy in 1941 to contract the building of homes for shipyard workers. It was here they developed and perfected the pipeline of mass-production. Come the return of the veterans, Abraham purchased cheap land and was able to market the idea of cheap homes with GI loans to the returning GIs and the reaction they received was that 1,000 of the proposed 2,000 houses were rented in two days; the homes hadn’t even been built yet! With such high demand for homes, their proposal tripled.

Their techniques for mass-production homes were perfected; seven years after building homes for the Navy, Levitt & Sons were producing thirty houses per day and still could not meet housing demands. In 1949 they would offer a more lavish, ranch-style home in five different variations to which they would also perfect a mass-production technique. In 1950, Levitt & Sons had built 17,447 homes in Levittown (Levittown Historical Society).

{Image Link}
Hoffman, Bernard. An Early Family Poses in Front of Their 1948 Cape Cod. Life Magazine, 1948.

These homes were eventually modified when the veterans married and had children (who would become the Baby Boom generation) and were established in a well-paying job. Today, there is almost no home that stands as the original did; they’ve been remodeled, expanded upon, or dormered (Levittown Historical Society). This would be the country’s largest housing development and also the largest single development by a single builder (Rosenburg). Levitt & Sons would build three more of these and their building techniques would affect how the whole nation thought of building homes.

Hoovervilles. History.com, 2012. 29 September 2012. Web. http://www.history.com/topics/hoovervilles

Hoovervilles. United States History, n.d. 29 September 2012. Web. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1642.html

Levittown Historical Society. A Brief History of Levittown, New York. n.p., n.d. 29 September 2012. Web. http://www.levittownhistoricalsociety.org/history.htm

Rosenburg, Matt. Levittown. About.com, 2012. 29 September 2012. Web. http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/levittown.htm

Image 1: http://depts.washington.edu/depress/hooverville_seattle.shtml
Image 2: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2012/05/the-fdr-new-yorker-cover-that-never-ran.html#slide_ss_0=1
Image 3: http://tigger.uic.edu/~pbhales/Levittown.html

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s