Trying to Escape the Great Depression



The great national excesses of the Roaring Twenties came crashing down on October 24, 1929. This small, intimate section focuses on the stories of those who arrived in the 1930s from the Dust Bowl stricken states of the Great Plains to make a new home on the West Coast. They sought a chance to work, to feed their families, to simply survive. Many became an entire generation of new Californians.


Beginning with this section, and continuing into World War II, the dire weight of events was expressed by suggesting an editorial tone of the nation's headlines. Titles are set in a variant of Times Gothic, digitized from the 1923 American Type Founders specimen book. Spanish is set in Colwell, from the same source. The face was often seen in silent movie title cards of the time, and has a more provincial flair.

In NO PLACE TO LIVE, visitors learn about "Pipe City," the Bay Area's largest shantytown that was along Oakland's waterfront. I was able to step out of normal role as designer to record the voice of a vagrant one hears when sitting in the pipe. Hand painted type based on period samples declares this hovel to be "Joe's house."

HOW DO YOU FIX A BROKEN SYSTEM? prompts visitor responses with questions that frame the Great Depression in terms of present-day economic struggles. Type is set in Metro, again from the 1923 American Type Founders specimen book, which is in the style of New Deal WPA project posters and ephemera.