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The Farm Crisis of the 1920s in Colorado

Authors: Katherine Johnson*, University of Northern Colorado
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Historical Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: housing crisis, urbanization, homested,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the effect of the protracted farm crisis of the 1920s on contemporary patterns of urbanization along Colorado’s Front Range. Though the crisis was national in scope, Colorado was not spared. USDA data shows sharp decreases in commodity prices and land values as well as a large overhang of debt that was just beginning to wind down when the rest of the economy collapsed after 1929. There were other conditions, however, that could have mitigated the severity of the farm crisis in Colorado, including: (1) strong ties to the Republican leadership in Washington, which had enacted limited credit reforms; (2) favorable policies at the state level, including the extensive development of rural roads; and (3) the early embrace by small towns of new authorities to regulate the use of land. The paper will explore the extent to which these conditions in Colorado contributed to the more extensive reforms of the New Deal and helped lay the groundwork for the explosion of suburban development after World War II.

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