Endings and Beginnings.
The 1930s were fundamentally and irrevocably shaped by the stock-market crash on 29 October 1929. As the decade began, Americans still had not recognized the full extent of the economic disaster. Auto magnate Henry Ford was still playing by the old rules when he tried to bolster the economy by lowering prices on his popular Model A and raising his employees' daily pay by one dollar. But even Ford could not prop up the sagging market: by 1933 the country was mired in the worst depression in its history. Wall Street bulls such as Ford and William Durant, both heavy hitters in automobiles, the nation's proudest industry, conceded defeat and started their painful readjustment to the new game of austerity, cutbacks, and shutdowns.
Adjusting to Austerity.
In the realm of fashion and design—clothing, architecture, interior design, and automobiles—the new reigning philosophy was "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." French fashions were suddenly too expensive for middle-class customers. Classic clothes that could be worn for many seasons became popular. American designers found a new niche for themselves, as Paris originals became too expensive for all but the richest consumers. Automobile owners patched their old cars with spare parts, nursing them along until better times returned. A lucrative...
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