Asheville History: 1930 - 1940
On the 20th of November in 1930 the boom of the 20s was abruptly brought to a screeching halt when the Central Bank and Trust company went bankrupt. Being the major holder of the county’s funds, this plunge ushered in the Great Depression and Buncombe County’s holdings did a nose-dive from nearly $180 million to $80 million dollars in a mere 6 years. By 1933 massive debt was ever present for Asheville, and institutions such as schools were dispossessed of much needed funds. Asheville, amazingly enough, retained the highest per capita debt of any city in the country (approx. $54 million). However, the proud city officials vowed to pay every single cent of the depression bonds that the city owed. Holding to their word, and much to the chagrin of county inhabitants, creditors received their payments and Asheville held its honor. It wasn’t until 1976 that the city finally finished recuperation from effects of financial and psychological devastation and a bond burning celebration was held in front of City Hall.
Civilian Conservation Corps & the Blue Ridge Parkway
Franklin D Roosevelt’s administration, in an attempt to alleviate the depression strain on the area’s inhabitants, founded the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC not only gave work to many young men but also successfully saw the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway constructed, eventually making Asheville a prime tourist destination who’s reputation would be heard throughout the world. In fact, Asheville has become one of the most visited recreational areas in the nation.
Despite the hardships that Asheville suffered as a result of the Great Depression, the Land of the Sky obtained supreme architectural benefits from the slump. In the second half of this century, cities across the country began to institute revitalization efforts, to modernize and rebuild metropolitan areas. However, because of the decision to pay back all Depression Bonds, Asheville didn’t have the resources to bulldoze and rebuild. This “Insect in Amber” effect was fortuitous for the survival of such beautiful architecture and is why our historic fabric was not bulldozed. While the rest of the country began to trade sensuality and passion for convenience and cheapness, Asheville was frozen in time.