Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Larissa Stover- Exploration 7: Hoovervilles

While I was actively reading through The Grapes of Wrath, a historical event that was mentioned in the text caught my attention. Steinbeck mentioned "Hoovervilles" in his writing. This word and it's possible meanings interested me. I wanted to know more about these villages during the Great Depression so I researched the topic for our Exploration Seven.

Hoovervilles were unofficial towns within bigger city limits during the Great Depression. These areas were made up of tiny, one-room houses made from scraps, or anything the owners of these shacks could find to build them. Those who resided in the Hoovervilles were homeless. They were families who were forced off of their lands during the Dust Bowl and migrated to California looking for work. However, if there was no work to be found then there was no way to pay for a house so the migrants made their own. The villages also had residents who had always lived in the area but lost their jobs and homes due to the economic scare in the country during this time. The makeshift villages were called Hoovervilles sarcastically. The residents wanted to make it known that the reason why so many American Citizens were homeless, jobless, and living in shacks was because of President Herbert Hoover and his other government officials. During the Depression, there were around a dozen Hoovervilles in the state of Washington and hundreds of them across the country. Washington, however, was home to the biggest shanty-town of all during this time period. The largest Hooverville in the state of Washington housed 1,200 residents and covered nine acres of land. A fact I found to be very interesting about this specific village was that it was not only the biggest but also the longest standing Hooverville in the country, housing homeless families from 1931 until 1941. The Hoovervilles even had their own form of government including their own mayors.

Today the thought of having Hoovervilles around the country is unthinkable in our society. We can not imagine a country with such great poverty that it ultimately, unfortunately forces American citizens to sleep in shacks in the streets. However, many Americans are not aware of how close some areas of our great nation truly are to becoming Hoovervilles. In our society today, Seattle, Washington houses homeless people in their own towns called tent cities. I find it interesting that the largest Hoovervilles during the Great Depression could be found in Washington and today the tent cities of the homeless can also be found in the state of Washington. Those who are aware of this sad reality have often compared the cities to the Hoovervilles of the 1930's. Foreclosures upon many American homes have resulted in the unfortunate growth of tent cities. The tent city I read about in Seattle houses 200 people in the parking lot of a church. However these cities are not just limited to Washington, they are spreading throughout the country- all the way from Washington to Georgia. Homelessness is still an issue in our society today and the tent cities show exactly how widespread the issue is sadly becoming. Seeing the homelessness and those living in tents while I am sitting in my warm living room typing on my MacBook computer saddens me. I feel bad that I am in Ohio, going to school, and being perfectly well off and taken care of while some of my fellow Americans are living in a tent, freezing and perhaps even starving. I feel sad for them and I want to help, but I do not know how. Isn't that always the issue? During the Depression, no one helped the families living in Hoovervilles because the situation was unfamiliar and those who could help were unsure of how to do so. As sad as it is to say, this trend is still appearing in our society today and we, as Americans who are able to help, should change that.

The families of the Great Depression had to result to building shacks for homes when they became homeless during the economic crisis of the 1930's. Many families would build shacks next to each other and these growing communities became known as "Hoovervilles".

Today families across the United States are going homeless due to lack of jobs, job cuts, and foreclosures on their homes. Many homeless citizens have resulted to living in tents on public land. These growing communities today have become known as "Tent Cities".

Gregory, James. "Hoovervilles and Homelessness." Hoovervilles and Homelessness. N.p., 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.

Jacob, Daniel. "Another Transmission from The Re." Another Transmission from The Re. Reconnections, Inc., 2009. Web. 11 Oct. 2012. <>.


  1. Good job on connecting the past "Hoovervilles" to today's society.

  2. Hoovervilles make me think of how bad Detroit and other parts of our country are. I don't think they are as bad but they are getting close.

  3. I can tell you put a lot of thought into this. Job well done. I also agree with you on how there should be more we can do to help citizens who aren't living up to the standards most of us are.

  4. This is a problem that needs to be recognized and I believe that you did a great job in helping us connect our past to our present. Many people think that just because the facts in our textbooks happened a long time before we were even thought of means that these problems no longer exist. They do! Everywhere you go. This is not only a national problem it is a global one. I think that because this problem is so large that people are unsure of where to start. However, this is something that needs to be solved because everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy life.

  5. I thought it was interesting how you connect the past with the present. The image you chose made a lot of sense and illustrated your point. Good job!


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