Herbert Hoover’s name was mud.
By 1930, the Great Depression was in full swing. Fortunes had been lost, savings had been wiped out, and four million Americans were unemployed (a rate of nearly nine percent). President Hoover was widely perceived as being tone-deaf to both the gravity of the economic catastrophe and the suffering of average Americans.
A lot of things got named for Herbert Hoover. “Hoovervilles” were the shanty towns built on the outskirts of cities where homeless unemployed men and their families lived. There was a big one right in New York’s Central Park. The nation’s largest Hooverville, in St. Louis, had an unofficial mayor and built its own churches and other institutions.
There were also “Hoover blankets” (sheets of old newspaper used as blankets), “Hoover flags (empty pockets turned out), “Hoover leather” (cardboard placed in the soles of shoes to cover the holes) and “Hoover wagons” (automobiles hooked to teams of horses, their engines removed).
There was also, awkwardly enough, Hoover Dam.
For more stories like this, check out The History's Trainwrecks Podcast at the links below and this episode in the embedded players:
For a great historical novel about the Hoover Dam, take a look at Ragtown by Kelly Stone Gamble. The first three episodes are free on Kindle Vella:
American Experience, “The Controversial Naming of the Dam.” Retrieved August 22, 2021 from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/hoover-controversy/
Gamble, Kelly Stone. “Ragtown.” Retrieved September 19, 2021 from https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B094DXDLTC
Wikipedia, “Herbert Hoover.” Retrieved August 22, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover
Wikipedia, “Hoover Dam.” Retrieved August 22, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoover_Dam
Wikipedia, “Hooverville.” Retrieved August 22, 2021 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooverville
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