810 Guadalupe St, Austin, 78701
Austin, Texas 78701

The Austin History Center’s new exhibit, Relief, Recovery & Progress: The Great Depression and the New Deal in Austin opens on Tuesday, February 16 and runs through July 11, 2010. This exhibit explores 1930s Austin, how the Depression had a lasting impact on our community, and what lessons can be learned as the country grapples with the current economic woes. It is on display in the lobby and Grand Hallway at the AHC, 810 Guadalupe St.
The economic recession gripping the United States has many eerie similarities to the Great Depression. Each coincided or began with a precipitous moment: the 1929 Stock Market crash “began” the Great Depression and the mortgage crisis was the defining moment of the current recession. Both began during a Republican Administration (Hoover, Bush) that would be replaced by a Democratic Administration in the next Presidential election (Roosevelt, Obama). Both incoming Democratic administrations addressed the economy with massive federal spending initiatives (New Deal legislation, American Recovery & Reinvestment Act). These apparent similarities between that time and ours seem to pose the question “How did Austin survive the Great Depression?”
Not only did Austin survive the Depression, in some ways it can be said that Austin came out ahead. Austin was able to take advantage of the New Deal dollars flowing out of Washington DC. In fact, Austin received more federal dollars for unemployment relief and public works than any other Texas city. This influx of dollars resulted in many lasting and iconic changes to Austin and its built environment. The “alphabet soup” agencies such as the CCC and the WPA that grew out of Roosevelt’s New Deal became a bulwark against a slide into more dire circumstances. The buildings and bridges, dams and domiciles, streets and signature improvements accomplished during those years became critical to Austin’s continued flourishing. Experiencing the impact of the 1930s on our city may leave us wondering what Austin will be like when our current economic troubles also pass into history.

Official Website: http://www.austinhistorycenter.org

Added by ahc_staff on January 29, 2010

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