During the Great Depression shantytowns sprouted up all over America. Thousands of families, unable to pay their mortgages, lost their homes and were forced to find alternate forms of shelter. These encampments made of cardboard, canvas and any other materials that could be scavenged were originally thought to be temporary, but, in many cases, existed throughout the depression. The large shantytown in Seattle, for example, continued until 1941 when a “shack elimination” program was put into effect and it was torn down.
Of course, we remember these shantytowns by the name given them by their bitter inhabitants, “Hoovervilles”. The photo above is of one of the largest Hoovervilles on the west coast along the bank of the American River in Sacramento, California.
Fast forward to today. As more and more economists are flirting with the “D” word to describe the current economic crisis, the rest of us see the more obvious parallels between then and now unfolding daily. Last Friday Sacramento’s local CBS affiliate reported that a tent city has developed in the bank of the American River. When the main stream media picked up the story, the tent city was already being described as a “Bushville.”