New York City during the Great Depression with Gotham Center’s Suzanne Wasserman

A few weeks ago Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center for New York City History, joined me on The Forget-Me-Not Hour to discuss how New York City fared during the Great Depression of the 1930s. I had heard Suzanne speak on the topic at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in February in an all-day conference on the then soon-to-be released 1940 U.S. census.

The impact of the Great Depression on NYC was astonishing, as you will hear. Breadlines became the norm. Hoovervilles (tent cities) sprang up throughout the city. New York City received 1/7th of all federal funds during the Depression. Many federal documents were produced from this era which genealogists can use to research their ancestors who lived in New York City during this time.

Another result of the Depression was that the traditional family dynamic was upended when husbands found themselves out of work, and wives found themselves having to find work to support their families.  I always thought that women going to work began with WWII and the Rosie the Riveters. Not so — women unwilling had to support their families, and they were ashamed because of that.

Find the Gotham Center

Find out more from Suzanne in the most listened-to Forget-Me-Not Hour yet, right here.

New York City during the Great Depression with Suzanne Wasserman

Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center for New York City History

New York City during the Great Depression

Lower East Side of New York City during the Great Depression. Photograph by Rebecca Lepkoff.

Posted on by Jane Wilcox


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