As wild and crazy as the 1920s were the next decade was, well, depressing. So it is no wonder that the 1930s were labeled The Great Depression. It is well documented what happened to the U. S. Stock Market in late October, 1929. (The economic problems were not confined to the United States. The entire world suffered. Due to poverty around the world, political extremism including Fascism, Nazism, and extreme Communism gained followers.)
The resulting economic downturn was epic. The reasons for the crash are legion and have been debated ever since. After the initial panic subsided there was plenty of finger pointing to go around. But what the country really needed was an honest assessment and a plan to get through the hard times. With the election of Franklin Roosevelt to the presidency in 1932 the country had a leader who was willing to make the tough decisions and forge an alliance between the disheartened people. One of his most difficult tasks was to change the banking and stock market securities systems.
The first few years were not easy for Roosevelt. His ideas were radical and not quickly accepted by fellow politicians. But eventually his reforms began to show results. The people viewed him as a real leader. So much so that by 1942 he was elected to an unprecedented fourth term in office. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, more on that on the next page. First, let's open up a can of "Alphabet Soup" and get the country back to work.
December 2, 1930 - In order to combat the growing depression, President Herbert Hoover asks the U.S. Congress to pass a $150 million public works project to increase employment and economic activity.
March 3, 1931 - The Star-Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key, is approved by President Hoover and Congress as the national anthem. The lyrics of the anthem were inspired during the bombing of Fort McHenry by British ships at the head of Baltimore harbor in September of 1814.
December 31,1931 - The Oakland car company would cease production at the end of 1931. The company maintained the Marque's name until April 1,1932 when the division was officially renamed Pontiac Motor Car Company.
January 22, 1932 - The Reconstruction Finance Corporation is established to stimulate banking and business. Unemployment in 1932 reached twelve million workers.
November 8, 1932 - Democratic challenger Franklin D. Roosevelt defeats incumbent President Hoover in the presidential election. The landslide victory, 472 Electoral College votes to 59 for Hoover began the era of FDR that would lead the nation through the vestiges of the Great Depression and the ravages of World War II.
March 9 - June 16, 1933 - The New Deal social and economic programs are passed by the United States Congress in a special one hundred day session to address depression era economics.
March 31, 1933 - The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is authorized under the Federal Unemployment Relief Act. It would provide work for two and one-half million men during the succeeding nine years and help construct many national parks and other projects across the United States.
December 5, 1933 - The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, ending prohibition.
June 6, 1934 - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is established with the signing of the Securities Exchange Act into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt
August 14, 1935 - The Social Security Act is passed by Congress as part of the New Deal legislation and signed into law.
August 1, 1936 - The Summer Olympics Games open in Berlin, Germany under the watchful eye of German leader Adolph Hitler, whose policies of Arian supremacy had already begun to take shape. The star of the games was Jesse Owens, a black American, who won four gold metals at the Berlin Games.
May 6, 1937 - At Lakehurst, New Jersey, the German airship Hindenburg bursts into flames while mooring. The fire consumes the largest airship in the world, 804 feet long, within one minute, causing the death of thirty-six people.
May 27, 1937 - The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic and one day later, after a ceremonial press of a button from Washington, D.C. by President Roosevelt, receives its first vehicles. It created a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County.
October 30, 1938 - A nationwide scare develops when Orson Welles broadcasts his "War of the Worlds" radio drama, which included fake news bulletins stating that a Martian invasion had begun on Earth.
August 2, 1939 - Albert Einstein alerts Franklin D. Roosevelt to an A-bomb opportunity, which led to the creation of the Manhattan Project. Einstein had arrived as a fugitive from Nazi Germany six years earlier on October 17, 1933.
September 5, 1939 - The United States declares its neutrality in the European war after Germany invaded Poland, effectively beginning World War II after a year of European attempts to appease Hitler and the aims of expansionist Nazi Germany.
The country and the world went through much change during the Thirties. Between 1933 and 1939 dozens of federal programs, often referred to as the Alphabet Agencies, were created as part of the New Deal. With FDR's focus on "relief, recovery and reform," the legacy of the New Deal is with us to this day. Some of the more well known ones were:
CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps)
FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority)
FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
FHA (Federal Housing Administration)
SEC (Securities Exchange Commission)
SSA (Social Security Administration)
WPA (Works Progress Administration)
It was the WPA that most affected the average citizen. The WPA, which lasted from 1935 to 1943, was the largest and most comprehensive New Deal agency, affecting every American locality. It employed more than eight million people to build roads and highways, bridges, schools, airports, parks, and other public projects. In total, the WPA built 650,000 miles of roads, 78,000 bridges, 125,000 buildings, and 700 miles of airport runways. It was on these new roads and bridges that the following automobiles would have traversed.
1930 Oakland Ambulance V8
1932 Pontiac - Sports Coupe
Rock Hill, SC.
1932 Pontiac Coupe
Joe and Sandy Stout
1933 Pontiac 5 Window Coupe
1935 Pontiac 4dr Sedan
Mills River, NC.
1937 Pontiac Model 2549
1938 Pontiac Touring Sedan
1932 Pontiac 402 Coupe
New Bloomfield, PA.
1934 Pontiac Coupe
Lou and Paula Calasibeta
1936 Pontiac - Business Coupe
Mason City, IA.
1938 Pontiac Wagon
1939 Convertible Coupe 8 cyl.
Ed and Debbie Symonds
Port Murry, NJ