Herbert H. Lehman and New York's Little New Deal

By Robert P. Ingalls | Go to book overview

II
EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

Herbert H. Lehman took overas governor in the midst of the worst crisis that ever hit the Empire State. By January 1933, after three years of the Depression, more than 1,500,000 New Yorkers, one-quarter of the labor force, were unemployed, and 23 percent of the state's male wage earners worked only part-time. Over 250,000 families and single persons, almost 10 percent of the state's population, depended on public relief which often proved inadequate. 1

Behind the mounting data indicating the severity of the Depression stood New Yorkers who suffered as they never had before. The report of one social worker described the typical case of an unemployed, longshoreman living with two sons on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

He was In a terrible financial position. With no one working, he had only 34 to his name. He was in fear of being dispossessed, and the gas bill was unpaid. . . . The only food in the house consisted of a few tomatoes. 2

Forced to leave their homes when they fell too far behind in rent, many families throughout the state doubled up with friends or relatives, but they needed more than a roof over their heads during the particularly harsh winter of 1932-33. 3"The cold felt on the streets," concluded an observer, "can scarcely be less than in homes heated by furnaces for which there is no coal and stoves for which there is no wood, lighted by candles and furnished with beds for which there are few if any blankets."4 After months, even years, of idleness, the unemployed lost more than wages. In December 1932, many applicants for relief in New York City showed symptoms of nervous and emotional disorders due to the "lack of vacation with pay, need of new clothes, sleeplessness from

-31-

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Herbert H. Lehman and New York's Little New Deal
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xi
  • Contents xiii
  • Illustrations xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Notes xix
  • I- from Wall Street to State Street 1
  • Notes 24
  • II- Emergency Unemployment Relief 31
  • Notes 42
  • III- From Emergency Relief to the Welfare State 48
  • Notes 66
  • IV- The Search for Security 71
  • Notes 94
  • V- Defending the Defenseless 102
  • Notes 123
  • VI- Lending Labor a Hand 131
  • VII- The Promise of Parity 148
  • Notes 172
  • VIII- The Advent of Public Housing 182
  • IX- Battling the Utilities 210
  • Notes 226
  • X- The End of an Era 231
  • Notes 244
  • Notes 255
  • Bibliography 257
  • Index 275
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