Chapter

The New Deal on Main Street

in Modernizing Main Street

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226218007
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226218021 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226218021.003.0003
The New Deal on Main Street

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In March 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt returned to Gainesville, Georgia. It was nearly two years since a devastating tornado destroyed most of downtown. Now, instead of the destruction and debris that greeted him in 1936, Roosevelt found the town to be almost entirely rebuilt, with a new civic center and courthouse, new schools, and new utilities. All this became possible despite the Great Depression, thanks to Roosevelt's decision to make the reconstruction effort a showcase of New Deal programs, including those of the Public Works Administration, the Works Progress Administration, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, and the National Emergency Council. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) helped Gainesville rebuild its “businesses houses.” Among New Deal efforts to assist small business, the FHA's program was unique. While its ends were the same as price regulation and market intervention—to stimulate the economy and encourage consumer spending—its means were far more tangible in a real and physical way as it promoted the modernization of Main Street storefronts.

Keywords: Gainesville; New Deal; Franklin D. Roosevelt; storefronts; modernization; Main Street; Federal Housing Administration; reconstruction; small business; Public Works Administration

Chapter.  15529 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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