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A virtual version of an exhibition presented by the Terminale European Section of Lycée Léon Blum, Créteil

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Transcript

The Great Depression

An exhibition by the European section (TG1, 2, 3)

by Abdelaziz O., Vérina T., Sarah Z. (TG2), and Sarah C. (TG3)

After one of the most beautiful periods, arrived one of the most devastating on the world.

Socially, economically and politically, the world changed between the two world wars.

In the 30s in America began the Great Depression — which ruined many lives and regions.

Follow us and discover, through stories and art from the 30s, the disruption that struck the Americans and its consequences.

Welcome to our exhibition!

This work is the result of weeks of study and preparation from the European section class (and especially students from TG1, TG2, and TG3).

Enjoy your trip down American history!

Here is the plan of the exhibition:

0 — Timeline of the important dates of the crisis;

1 — The Roaring 20s, a period of recklessness in America;

2 — The 1929 crash, the stock market crash that shook a whole nation;

3 — Life in the city, living during the crisis;

4 — The Dust Bowl, a disaster that struck the American fields;

5 — Route 66, the road to a new life for American farmers.

[TIP => you can come back here at anytime to get directly to the theme you want to see!]

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After one of the most beautiful periods, arrived on of the most devastating on the world.

Socially, economically and politically, the world changed between the two world wars.

In the 30s in America began the Great Depression — which ruined many lives and regions.

Follow us and discover, through stories and art from the 30s, the disruption that struck the Americans and its consequences.

Welcome to our exhibition!

This work is the result of weeks of study and preparation from the European section class (and especially students from TG1, TG2, and TG3).

Enjoy your trip down American history!

Here is the plan of the exhibition:

0 — Timeline of the important dates of the crisis;

1 — The Roaring 20s, a period of recklessness in America;

2 — The 1929 crash, the stock market crash that shook a whole nation;

3 — Life in the city, living during the crisis;

4 — The Dust Bowl, a disaster that struck the American fields;

5 — Route 66, the road to a new life for American farmers.

[TIP => you can come back here at anytime to get directly to the theme you want to see!]

You can now directly click on the number of one of the themes to access it!

Or you can just click on the arrows at the bottom right of each screen to continue your trip!

Timeline

by Jodie Z. (TG2), Jeanne D. and Jénahé F. (TG3)

The roaring twenties

by Janis B. and Hanna L. (TG1)

The Great Gatsby, Charleston dancing, Josephine Baker, parties and joy...
All of these were part of perhaps the happiest period of the 20th century...

The Roaring 20s ("Twenties") were a period of economic prosperity, with a distinctive cultural edge in the United States and Europe, particularly in major cities such as Berlin, Chicago London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris and Sydney.


During this period, people were open-minded, and they liked going to Paris for its famous parties.


Finally free from the war, all they did was nothing but partying and enjoying life!

Fitzgerald's famous 1925 novel is set in Long Island in the 1920s. It follows Jay Gatsby, a man who orders his life around one desire: to be reunited with Daisy Buchanan, the love he lost five years earlier.

It was adapted into a movie in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but also Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé and Jay-Z for the official soundtrack.


"In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."

The Great Gatsby, F.S. Fitzgerald, 1925


THE 1929 Crash

by Wissam G., Magomed T., Stéphane Y. (TG1) and Antony G. (TG3)


The stock market crisis became an economic crisis: indeed, there were many bank failures, a general drop in production, export numbers were going down …

All sectors of the economy were affected from 1930 onward. For example, we can see on this picture that Americans, fearing to lose their capital, rushed to the banks to recover their money, which further accelerated the crisis.


The economic crisis is spreading around the world. First, from 1929, US banks and businessmen repatriated to the capital they had invested in Europe and Latin America to the USA. This led to the bankruptcy of major European banks, which were very dependent on the US. In May of 1931, the "kredit anstull", Austria's main bank, closed its doors. Mass unemployment followed.


And then to revive the production and the consumption of American industrial products, president Hoover increased the customs duties (droits de douanes) on the importation of foreign products . This protectionism caused a reduction in European and South American exports to the US, and caused the collapse of the international trade. Bankruptcies were developing across the world.


Faced with all these issues, the US government decided to react . Indeed, US president Franklin Roosevelt decided to implement a new policy: the New Deal. It’s a program that aimed at reducing the effect of this economic crisis as much as possible.

The New Deal gave birth to many programs to help the country get back on track. One of the most famous was the F.S.A. (Farm Security Administration), which would for example hire photographs to go and document the situation in the country — some of these photographs can be seen in this exhibtion.

This economic crisis also became a social crisis: the closure of business courses, mass unemployment soon appeared.

In 1933, more than 25,2 % of the population was affected by unemployment, it means that there were about 12,6 million people unemployed.

For example, on this picture, we can see a "sandwich board man", carrying signs presenting his own situation: despite his capacities, no job is available for him at the time.

Many men had a hard time dealing with this situation, especially if they had to feed a family.

After World War I, in the 1920s, the United States experienced significant economic growth. This growth was based in part on an increase in industrial production, the rise of technical progress and more productive work.

At that time, banks easily lent money to entrepreneurs but also to the population who invested it in the stock market: we are talking about a crazy speculative boom! (= buying shares and selling them for a higher price) They thought they would repay their loans with profits.


However, from 1928, the United States showed signs of weakness: there were industrial overproduction and significant speculation. People started to panic, they were afraid that the stock prices would go down. On Thursday, October 24, 1929, the New-York Stock Exchange (Wall Street) is experiencing a major stock market crash: more than 13 million shares are put up for sale and their value drops immediately: there are no buyers.

The country is entering the most serious crisis of its history.


Did you know?

In one of the seasons of the famous series, the Peaky Blinders invested their money on the NEw York Stock Exchange.

At the Shelby's, tranquility only finds refuge in a time bomb... They almost lost everything they owned when season 5 opened, and the Wall Street crash occurred in 1929.

All that was left for them was perfectly illegal trafficking to safeguard their status as "the new rich."


(by Sarah C., TG3)


LIfe in the city

by Dounia B. and Anna G. (TG2)

Central Park, 1933

Unemployed men queued outside a soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 1931

New York Movie, 1939 by Edward Hopper


In the foreground, we can see a Hooverville where we can see the poverty, the unsanitary living conditions they had to deal with, and a lot of poor kids.

It’s the result of a great migration of people from the countryside to the city, hoping to find word but, because of a lack of housing and space in general, they ended up in Hoovervilles, or shantytowns.



We can see that the cinema is almost empty, there is only one lady who is well dressed, thoughtful (= lost in her thoughts). She is most probably an employee. She’s looking at the theater because she’s probably afraid that the theater might close because of the lack of customers.

Unlike in his other painting Gas (see Route 66) where we could see a seemingly infinite line, Hooper shows us a closed place without long lines, showing that the city has no future, it is stuck in the crisis.



Indeed, on the other photograph, there is a long line of men queuing to eat (free soup). They have no money left to buy food, so they line up for hours in the city. The line seems infinite, so as to show that an unbelievable amount of people are waiting for free soup and it shows us the troubles of the city.

Quite logically, there were fewer people who could afford to watch a movie, and who could think about relaxing in a cinema.

Did you know?

Hoovervilles got their name through the popular mocking of the president at the time (31st president of the USA) Herbert Hoover who could not reduce unemployment and misery during his mandate.


Did you know?

Al Capone was an Italian businessman in the mafia. He was well-known in the 20th century for alcohol trafficking, anti-gang, corruption and assassination. His business has nevertheless contributed a great deal to help Chicago citizens during this period, especially through his opening of depression soup kitchens.

Did you know?

The Empire State Building was built on May 1, 1931 (largest building for a long time!). It was a source of pride for the USA, as they had invested heavily in its construction rather than investing in enhancing the country’s economy.

The DUSt

bowl

by Adèle C. (TG2)

and Holly G. (TG3)

The huge Black Sunday storm strikes the Church of Good in Ulysses, Kansas, 1935.

Buried farm machinery in Dallas, South Dakota during the Dust Bowl in 1936.

(United States Department of Agriculture)

As you can see on this map, the most severed regions were states from the Great Plains, including Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico or Oklahoma.

With the development of new technologies, a lot more farming machines were used in agriculture.

It reduced the number of workers, so unemployed people headed West in hope of finding a new job. Besides, the soil wasn't made for those new machines , which would dry the earth and create a lot of dust.

In the 1930s, people from the Midwest , and especially in an area called "the Dust Bowl" suffered from severe drought and strong winds.


Nothing would grow anymore, so farmers had to leave, in order to find a new job in California...

Even if they were made in the same year, both of these paintings present very opposite visions of the USA. They show how industrialization was changing the country, and the entire world.


Fall Plowing, by Grant Wood in 1931
Classic Landscape, by Charles Sheeler in 1931


On the first one, there are fields as far as the eye can see, and the landscape is very round, uncontrolled by man, pleasing to look at.

The lines on the second one are much straighter, all of the elements are man-made, with cold colours, making it feel dead. The first picture reveals American nostalgia of an agricultural land, whereas the second one depicts America as a future industrial country.

In Modern Times, famous actor Charlie Chaplin plays a man looking for a job. He ends up working in a factory where he does the same thing again and again. This movie depicts the beginning of industrialization and the creation of assembly-line work.


Click HERE to watch an extract from the movie!

ROUTE 66

by Taliby K.,

Noha M.,
Alisher M. (TG1),
Ilham B. (TG2),
and Madavy N. (TG3)

Ditched, Stalled and Stranded, (San Joaquin Valley, California) 1936 Dorothea Lange

Gas, by Edward Hopper in 1940

Migrant Mother, (Nipomo, California) 1936 — Dorothea Lange

The Road West, (New Mexico) 1938 — Dorothea Lange

Stretching over 2,448 miles (= 3,940 kms), Route 66 started in Chicago and led to Los Angeles. Americans farmers took it in the 30s. They wanted to build a new life because of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 that led to a huge economic crisis and also because of the Dust Bowl.



This route was their only chance to “survive” and that’s why Route 66 was called “The Mother Road”. Even though their faith to have a new life was strong, Los Angeles was not as big as they thought at the time, and not all of them were sure to get a job. There wasn’t much place to welcome all poor farmers.

On the Road to Los Angeles, (California) 1937 — Dorothea Lange

"66 is the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership [...]. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight."


Cover of The Grapes of Wrath, novel by John Steinbeck, 1939.


The Grapes of Wrath is a novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The story takes place during The Great Depression (from 1929 to 1939).

In this book, we follow a family of "Oakies" (farmers from Oklahoma), the Joads, who were living and working in a farm before being forced to leave Oklahoma because of the Dust Bowl (+ economic difficulties).

Thus, they choose to take on the Route 66, towards California, in hopes to find work.

In the 20th century, it was at the 10th place of the 100 best English novels.



"Highway 66 is the main migrant road. [...]

66 is the Mother Road, the road of flight."

The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, 1939

Did you know?

A few facts about the movie adaptation of Steinbeck's novel

=> Henry Fonda, the actor playing Tom Joad is the 6th "greatest screen legend"


=> It won the award of best film for National Board of Review and Critics Circle in 1940


=> The USSR thought that the film displayed the idea of capitalism very well and let it go in cinemas


=> Steven Spielberg announced in 2013 that he wanted to do a remake of The Grapes Of Wrath, but it never came to be done

On the Road to Los Angeles, (California) 1937 — Dorothea Lange

Advertising board

Did you know? At that time, it was the beginning of trains’ construction in the country. It’s kind of ironic because trains used to be expensive so farmers couldn’t take them: that’s why they’re walking. Relaxing was their only dream at that time...

The farmers

Because of the economic crisis of the Great Depression, a lot of farmers left their farms to find a new job that would lead to a better life.

We can also notice that they only have one suitcase each: maybe their car broke down along the road, or maybe that was their only belonging at the time...

The road

This the famous Route 66.

Here we can see how, thanks to the technique used by the photographer to play on the perspective of the photograph, the road seems truly endless.

Dorothea Lange

During the Great Depression, Dorothea Lange was a famous photographer who used to take pictures of the migrants that were forced to leave their home.

She worked for the F.S.A., an organization created by F.D. Roosevelt in order to try to help farmers. The goal of photographers was to document the life of poor farmers, to try and raise funds to help them.

Thank you for coming!

This marks the end of our exhibition.

We really hope that you liked it!

Feel free to go test your memory on our quiz, or to just share this project!