Photos: Depression-era billboards sold and celebrated the “American way”
Meanwhile, homeless families huddled under their shadows
Americans didn’t have a whole lot of money to spend in the 1930s. Great Depression and all. Nevertheless, people weren’t without wants, and advertising persisted as all manner of products were peddled to struggling folks desperate for something to hold on to. Like cigarettes.
Billboards were one high-visibility mode by which companies could market their wares, and though they weren’t the ubiquitous interstate litter we love to hate today, signage in the 1930s functioned as a shared spectacle for street-level eyeballs. It also served as a means for delivering other kinds of political messaging at a time when poverty had the nation questioning its future and big government was winning hearts and minds through massive public works and reform measures.