Hooverville/Central Park

By Thomas Hanson and Brian Jensen

Intro: What is a Hoovervile?

A Hooverville is a small shanty town built by the many homeless people, often built out of cardboard and other cruel building materials


When the government failed to provide relief, President Herbert Hoover (1874-1964) was blamed for the intolerable economic and social conditions, and the shantytowns that cropped up across the nation, primarily on the outskirts of major cities, became known as Hoovervilles. The highly unpopular Hoover, a Republican, was defeated in the 1932 presidential election by Democrat Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945), whose New Deal recovery programs eventually helped lift the U.S. out of the Depression.


During the Great Depression, which began in 1929 and lasted approximately a decade, shantytowns appeared across the U.S. as unemployed people were evicted from their homes. As the Depression worsened in the 1930s, causing severe hardships for millions of Americans, many looked to the federal government for assistance. In the early 1940s, most remaining Hoovervilles were torn down.


  • One of the largest Hoovervilles was built in St.Louis
  • It gets the name of Hoover because Herbert Hoover was the president during the worst years of the shanty towns
  • Garbage cans were a very important part of homeless living, because you could cook on the bottom, flatten it to make part of a house, or even, in some cases, sleep inside of it.
Cinderella Man - Hooverville Scene


Not only were these people living in bad conditions, but it was demoralizing not owning a house because you couldn't pay your rent. More so for the men because they were supposed to be the providers for the family. Living in "Hoovervilles" was very hard and stressful.