Castles of the Great Depression

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{1929-1939}

To most, the depression era was a time of struggle and grave poverty characterized by the loss of one’s home, land and community. Most of America had fallen to economic ruin, leaving once prosperous towns and villages to resemble third world nations. Depression-era America was a place of crisis, leading many to question the core of the American ideal: capitalism.

Still, in this land of ruin, there remained a glimmer of hope, for which the majority were forbidden, even though it lay just beyond their fingertips. It wasn’t simply due to a lack of mobility. People had no trouble fleeing their hometown with the promise of work, even if these promises turned out to be as empty as their pursuit of the American dream. But there was so much that people didn’t know about the world around them. Little did they know that somewhere out there, miles and miles away, land was being developed and castles were being built – all in the midst of the nation’s worst economic crisis.

All around, in every direction, streets lined in homes built of brick and stone were creeping in. They weren’t just any brick homes, they were tiny castles, appearing almost as if someone had shrunk a 1890s Queen Anne and placed it on a factory conveyor belt, only to be later duplicated and placed in tiny rows that would soon be known as streets. It wasn’t long before they began to form a ring around the city, east to west. They weren’t as grand as mansions, but with it being the depression-era they might as well have been.

It seems almost unimaginable. The stock market had crashed and the banks were all out of money. Faced with unemployment and homelessness, people wandered across the country, often without ever finding what they were looking for. The idea of constructing new homes or purchasing one was simply out of the question. Yet, rows of elaborate structures forged out of brick and stone were appearing all over the landscape in cities like Detroit, Michigan, leaving generations to wonder how and why they ever came into existence in the first place.

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