As the year 1933 dawned, the Great Depression was worsening, the U.S. was facing a near 25 percent unemployment rate,Â dust storms raged in the plains states,Â and businesses and banks were failing in large numbers.
In his inaugural address, the new president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, told the country, â€œOnly a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.â€ But in his first hundred days, he employed sweeping reforms in an effort to get the country back on track. â€œThe New Dealâ€Â included a farm relief bill, a four-day bank holiday to address the banking crisis, financial reform, and repeal of Prohibition, among other things.
Roosevelt also created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed thousands of young men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four in various conservation projects, including forest fire fighting and prevention, erosion control (particularly vital during these Dust Bowl years), the protection of wildlife and habitats, and perhaps most notably, reforestation.
Roosevelt also established the Tennessee Valley Authority, which dealt with the problems of flooding, deforestation, and erosion in the Tennessee River Basin, as well as harnessing water power to create energy.
In Chicago, the Century of Progress International Exposition drew crowds despite the hardships faced by many.
Around the world, other countries were also engulfed in depression. In Germany, the poor economic conditions helped pave the way for the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party. Along with Hitler’s rise to power, events of the year 1933 included the burning of the Reichstag, book burnings, and the creation of Dachau–the first Nazi concentration camp. You can read an article about Hitlerâ€™s appointment as Chancellor of Germany in the The Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, Ohio).
Movie-goers tried to forget their woes as they went to see movies like Duck Soup, Morning Glory, Little Women, King Kong, and The Invisible Man. Popular songs were Stormy Weather, Gold Digger’s Song (We’re In the Money), and Forty-Second Street.
The Sheyboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin), from 25 April 1933, advertised a five-pound box of soap chips for $.22, eggs for $.09 per two dozen, and Idaho potatoes for $.24 per fifteen lb. cloth bag. You could buy a new Frigidaire for $96.00 and Firestone tires for around $5.95.
Photograph courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce. “Effect of Dust Storms on Health,” U. S. Public Health Service, Reprint No,. 1707 from the Public Health Reports, Vol. 50, no. 40, October 4, 1935.