Link to the
and The New Deal
Although there was an economic
boom in Florida during the early 1920s, the economy went downhill as the
decade came to an end. Two severe hurricanes damaged a large portion of
South Florida. The first one hit the Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas in
the middle of the night, which came as a surprise to many people including
tourists. Severe flooding and wind damage crippled the community. The
second one hit the Palm Beach area, which caused Lake Okeechobee to flood
and drown over 2,000 people in nearby communities.
The next disaster
occurred when there was an outbreak of the Mediterranean fruit fly in a
grapefruit grove near Orlando. These insects quickly spread across the
state and killed off most of the citrus crop. Because of a quarantine
imposed on all remaining citrus, this was another blow to Florida's
economy. These two hurricanes, the crop destruction, and an attempt to
recover from the previous wars put a financial burden on Florida.
All across the
United States, people were facing economic difficulties. By 1929, our
country was facing a depression, which is a situation when there isn't any
money and there are very few jobs open to the public. "The Great
Depression" began when the stock market fell. This was called the Great
Stock Market Crash of 1929. People who invested their money in stocks
began to lose all of their money. They couldn't pay their bank loans or
In 1931, the Florida
State Legislature created a State Racing Commission which legalized
betting at both horse and dog racing tracks and at all Jai Alai frontons.
When people won money from betting, a tax was taken out of the money. This
partially aided the state, but not as much as the legislature planned.
After all, people did not have enough money to bet! This idea that the
Legislature hoped would pull Florida out of the depression did not work.
affected the nation's banks as well. By 1932, many banks had closed their
doors. This meant that people lost their savings. Without money, families
could not afford a place to live or adequate food to eat. They also
couldn't buy goods and services, which meant most businesses had to close
as well. Over 12 million people across the U.S. were unemployed at the
peak of the depression. In Florida, there were over 90,000 families
affected by the depression.
During the first
years of the Great Depression, Florida's government did little to help
people. But the federal government gave help by providing Floridians with
financial aid called relief. One fourth of the people who lived in Florida
were on relief.
Florida's economy a little during the winter months. Many people drove to
Florida to enjoy the warm climate. Because Floridians were facing economic
difficulties, however, Florida State Police were stationed at Florida's
border; if people did not have enough money or a job to support them, they
were not allowed to enter the state. Florida was having a hard enough time
supporting residents without increasing the extra number of people who
wanted to live in a year-round warm state but who didn't have the means to
take care of themselves or their family.
The New Deal
In 1933, Franklin D.
Roosevelt became President of the United States. His presidency became
known as the "New Deal" because of the promises that he made to Americans.
This deal consisted of ideas to get the country and people back on their
feet. Soon, millions of Americans were working again. One of the programs
was called the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. Young men from all
over the country lived in work camps. About 40,000 Floridians participated
in the CCC. They received food and clothing and their paychecks were sent
home to their families. Some of the work in Florida consisted of cutting
down millions of trees to build fire lines. The CCC also planted 13
million trees in Florida and created many of the state parks and wildlife
preserves. Other New Deal workers built federal buildings and schools.
The CCC also rebuilt
the Overseas Railroad connecting Miami to Key West, originally built by
Henry Flagler, but destroyed in 1935 by a hurricane. The reconstruction
finished in 1938 and the railroad was opened once again. It helped bring
tourism to Key West. It is 100 miles long and has more than 40 bridges.
Florida owns many of its conservation projects, parks, and preserves
thanks to President Roosevelt's CCC.
Another New Deal
program was called the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. This program
gave jobs to researchers, writers, and editors. One Floridian writer, Zora
Neale Hurston, became a very well known African American author who wrote
about growing up in Florida.
Through the New Deal
era, many Florida businesses began to redevelop. Industries grew and
Florida's banking business was becoming stronger. Alfred Du Pont, a
wealthy businessman, took control of a few Florida banks and reestablished
them. He bought forestland and used it to start the paper industry in
Florida. Paper mills sprang up all around the state.
The citrus industry
began to ship fruit to other parts of the country, and by 1939, three
airlines scheduled flights into Florida. Because of new roads, businesses,
and air flights, tourism started to flourish. The United States was coming
out of the depression by the end of the 1930s. Once again, people were
able to find jobs and take care of their families.