Hoovervilles: An Architectural and Cultural Analysis of Squatter Housing in the 1930s
Tompkins Square Park, Manhattan

The economic depression of the 1930s brought severe challenges to the American populace. Squatter housing in New York’s public sites became one of the most visible manifestations of these hardships, and accordingly were given the term “Hooverville” to deride the president who’s inaction allegedly caused the conditions. These encampments were created by piecing together salvaged parts to create ad-hoc residential structures that showed the inhabitants’ dauntlessness, but can also be seen as places of social protest in the way that the occupants of these shacks were directly rejecting shelters and other public services offered to the homeless. This talk will analyze this fascinating phenomenon through an architectural analysis of these ephemeral structures in an attempt to better understand the social implications of this economic crisis.

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