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[Detail] See America. Alexander Dux

4. Urban Housing

The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 established the Public Works Administration (PWA) and allocated $3.3 billion to construction projects across the United States. Four years later, the National Housing Act required that whenever new low-income housing was constructed, nearby substandard housing was to be demolished. This legislation was intended to improve the quality of available low-income housing without influencing the real estate market.

A search on the term, planned housing, yields posters presenting new housing developments as a means to reduce social problems such as fires, juvenile delinquency, infant mortality, crime, and disease. Pieces such as "Eliminate Crime in the Slums Through Housing" and " Better Housing: The Solution to Infant Mortality in the Slums" represent the effort to promote these projects.

Many of the housing developments were based on European designs that optimized sunlight and ventilation and featured landscaped parks. A search on the term, rent, yields renditions by four artists of apartment complexes from the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority.

  • What types of images and colors are used to depict the slums?
  • How do these images representing existing housing projects compared to the images of new low-income housing?
  • How did posters promoting the notion of planned housing attempt to influence the public? What motivations did the posters provide the public for supporting planned housing?
  • How do these posters compare to posters that advertised specific developments such as the program from the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority?
  • Do you think that new housing could combat some of the social ills of the city, as advertising suggested?
  • What other types of programs do you think might have improved the living conditions in these parts of a city?
  • How do these efforts compare to the building of high-rise housing projects during the second half of the twentieth century?