1932 Olympics

Shanghai Daily July 16, 2016

Olympic Games Los Angeles 1932: Sport amid Great Depression

The 10th Olympic Games returned to the United States in 1932 after spending 28 years in Europe. However, the fact that the Great Depression was affecting the host country and the rest of the world, meant a significant reduction in the number of participating countries and athletes.

The Games of the X Olympiad, as it is officially known, were held in Los Angeles from July 30 to August 14 with 1,334 athletes (126 women) competing from 37 countries in 117 events. In comparison, in the previous Games in Amsterdam in 1928, 2,883 athletes participated from 46 countries.

There were great technical advances. For example, the so-called “photo-finish” appeared for the first time as photographs were taken in line with the finish line to establish the winner in a race. Also, a three-tiered podium was used for the first time during the awards ceremonies.

The length of these Games was also a novelty. The competitions were carried out over 16 days for the first time in the 20th century. Since then, every Summer Olympics have taken place over a period of 15 to 18 days.

Despite the absence of many countries and the soccer tournament being cancelled due to lack of sufficient teams, the Games’ competitive level increased. This is shown in the fact that 18 world records were matched or broken. Also, around 100,000 people attended the Opening Ceremony, a record number at the time.

Mildred “Babe” Didrikson from the United States, set world records in all three events that she participated in, winning the javelin throw and the 80 meters hurdle and coming second in the high jump. She was only 18-years-old.

File photo, Babe Didrikson Zaharias

File photo, Babe Didrikson Zaharias


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Didrikson could have won more medals as she had qualified for five events but, at the time, the IOC only allowed women to compete in three individual events in athletics. Read more


“Babe” Didrikson later in life

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Read more.

John Dillinger

John Dillinger

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(CN) — A lit cigarette ignited table cloths in the basement of Tucson’s Hotel Congress on Jan. 22, 1934, causing a fire that eventually engulfed the third floor. Guests ran into the street, many still in their underwear. Two men reportedly bribed firefighters to retrieve their luggage.

Later recognizing the men as members of John Dillinger’s gang, the firefighters tipped off the police — resulting in a stakeout that nabbed the infamous bank robber and his men.

“In a space of five hours, without firing a single shot, the police of small-town Tucson had done what the combined forces of several states and the FBI had failed to accomplish,”  Source Courthouse News Service July 15, 2016

AZ Congress Night

The Hotel Congress is a historic building located in downtown Tucson, Arizona. It was built in 1918 designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm William and Alexander Curlett as part of an expansion of congress street and in conjunction with the theatrical venue Rialto Theatre, which sits north of Congress street. The rear of the building faces the historic Amtrak Southern Pacific train station, built by Southern Pacific in 1907. In addition to being a hotel, the Hotel Congress building also houses a restaurant, bar and music venue.

The Hotel is known for being the site of the capture of bank robber John Dillinger in 1934. After a series of bank robberies, the Dillinger Gang arrived in Tucson to hide out. On January 22, 1934, a fire started in the basement and spread up to the third floor, where the gang resided under aliases. After the desk clerk contacted them through the switchboard the gang escaped by aerial ladders. On the request of the gang, two firemen retrieved their luggage, identifying who they were. After being transferred to a jail in Crown Point, Indiana, Dillinger escaped again and was eventually shot down in Chicago, Illinois. Source Wikipedia.

Read more.

Footnote: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 5K reward for Dillinger in 1934 would be worth $89,935.55 in 2016; the 10K reward $179,879.10; and the 20K reward $359,758.21.

1930: Tariffs and Walls

Reed Smoot and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, 1930

Jeffrey D. Nichols
History Blazer, April 1995

During the 1930s the economies of all of the industrialized nations suffered dramatic declines in production, trade, and employment levels. Already weakened by the human and economic toll of World War I, war debt repayment, and trade imbalances with the United States, foreign nations were confronted in 1930 with the highest tariff barriers in U. S. history. The chief architect of the American protectionist legislation was Utah’s Senator Reed Smoot.

When Smoot entered Congress in 1903 the nation was operating under the Dingley Tariff of 1897, at the time the highest in the nation’s history. Smoot, appointed to the Senate Finance Committee in 1908, quickly became an expert on tariff issues, mastering the complex and arcane tariff schedules on a variety of goods and becoming a firm and unyielding advocate of high duties. The Utahn was particularly concerned throughout his political career with the tariffs on sugar and wool, two major Utah products that competed with imports. While Republicans held power they were able to keep the tariff relatively high. When Democrats took the presidency and both houses of Congress in 1912, tariffs were sharply reduced.

 The return of Republicans to national power in 1920 led to a resumption of protectionist legislation. By now a power in the Senate, Smoot was a close economic adviser to Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. In 1923 the Fordney-McCumber Tariff raised rates again, including those on Cuban sugar, a direct competitor with Utah’s beet sugar industry. With Smoot’s ascension to the chairmanship of the Finance Committee even higher rates were assured. In 1930 President Hoover signed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which boosted average duties on imports to 53 percent, the highest in American history.

In retaliation, some twenty-five nations raised their duties, making American goods more expensive.

Here's what happened following the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff act. (Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

Here’s what happened following the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff act. (Image: Bank of America Merrill Lynch)

Smoot never fully acknowledged the unintended consequences of his legislation. In fact, he argued in the depths of the depression that the rate might not be high enough. 

Sources: James B. Allen, “The Great Protectionist: Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly 45 (1977); Mary Beth Norton et al., A People and a Nation (Boston, 1990). READ MORE


That was yesterday’s news – now let’s see what is happening today.

The Depressing 1930s chart shows what happened the last time we had Trump-like trade policy

Does Donald Trump really want to implement a 1930s-style protectionist trade policy? READ MORE

Article by Sam Ro May 29, 2016 

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