America: The Story of Us (2010) s01e09 Episode Script

Bust

America boom But now, it's bust.
The Great Depression explodes across America Social upheaval, poverty, draught It's time for America to fight back The American spirit is forged in the fires of the great depression.
We are pioneersand trailblazers.
We fight for freedom.
We transform our dreams into the truth, Our struggles will become a nation America: The Story of Us Episode 9: Bust The 1920s is boom time in America Money flows and oil wells explode.
Though farmers are struggling, cities expand.
Skyscrapers go higher than the stock market Aspirations run wild for cars And suburban housing projects like Hollywoodland.
By 1929, more money is spent on advertising than on education.
We got a little carried away with consumerism and capitalism And it bite us in the butt The boom is built on credit In 1929, 6 billion dollars of goods are bought on credit.
But 80% of Americans have no savings at all.
Some stocks are valued at 50 times what they're really worth.
A giant bubble just ready to burst By October 1929 the inevitable happens.
The stock market loses 12 times more money in 3 weeks The US government uses in a year The entire country could've gone down, And almost did, from an economic point of view For a year after the stock market crash, America's economy teeters on the edge of the abyss, December 1930.
The streets of New York are quiet.
It's been a year since the stock market crash of 1929 With only 2% of the population own stocks.
The other 98% get on with their lives Until today This man is about to shake America's confidence in its banks To it's very core.
He's put his money in his local bank, the Bank of the United States.
This is the moment that begins a chain reaction That will shake the whole country's economy Yet we don't even know the man's name But his story was recorded by "The New York Times".
"A small merchant in the Bronx went to a branch of the bank of United States And asked bank officials to dispose of this stock in the institution.
Good day, sir, how may I help you? Yes, I'd like to withdraw my shares from the bank I beg your pardon, sir? Bank regulations are virtually nonexistent at the time Bad real-estate investments mean the bank has only kept itself afloat By cooking the books Good day, sir, how may I be of assistance? I'd like to sell my shares.
Well the stock is a good investment, sir I would advise against the sale I want my money.
The last thing the bank needs is to hand out all its cash We almost witnessed that fairly recently And I've seen what can go on, and I've seen travesty.
He departed and apparently spread a false report That the bank had refused to sell his stock.
By mid-afternoon, a considerable crowd had gathered outside the bank Estimated at between 20,000 and 25,000 persons This is the day worry turns to panic Would the banks go the same way as the market? Hysteria spreads like wildfire 2 million dollars are withdrawn from this branch alone.
Even though all anxious depositors who Asked for their money before closing time were given it, The crowd became restless A squad of police were sent to control them The troubles spread to other branches.
By the next morning, the Bank of United States has collapsed Confidence in US banks disintegrates In the last 60 days of 1930, 600 banks shut.
Banks close in wave after wave across the country By 1933, there are 28 states without a single bank open.
Unlike today, the federal government does not bail out the banks.
Unemployment goes from 4 million in 1930 To 12 million in 1932.
Every day, 1,000 homes are repossessed.
200,000 vagrant children wander the country 34 million Americans have no source of income.
It was an American tragedy, the Depression was, And it took American ingenuity to lift America out of it The fightback("½Œ‚) starts here Vast building projects, publicly funded Privately built it This is Frank "Hurry Up" Crowe.
He's already built six dams on time and under budget Now he has his eye on something even bigger The Colorado River.
"I was wild to build this dam, "That biggest dam ever built by anyone, anywhere.
" The Colorado River is one of the most powerful rivers in the world.
Every second, twice as much water tears through these canyons than Goes over Niagara Falls.
Frank Crowe's plan is to harness it.
The water and hydroelectrity will transform the whole of the Southwest.
March 4, 1931.
The government gives the go-ahead to build the Hoover Dam.
The Hoover Dam, Even before they started building it, it became a metaphor, People saw it as a statement of The America's fortitude, of our ingenuity, Of our talent for hard work And for our willingness to transform the environment around us.
The Hoover Dam will cost nearly one billion dollars in today's money Frank Crowe is offered a 2.
5% cut of the dam's profits If he gets the job done quickly.
It should take six years to build, but Frank says it can be done in 4 42,000 men come from across the country Looking for jobs on the biggest construction site in America Frank Crowe takes 5,000 men Willing to work harder and faster than anyone else.
The survival of the fittest Men are ready to do anything for work.
There's a large can-do attitude in the United States And it comes from the fact that over the centuries, There has been a lot of adversity, And we have usually triumphed.
First was the triumph of developing this whole vast continent, Putting in railroad lines, Putting in all the civil engineering to support it, putting in Hoover Dam.
They were all incredible challenges.
There are two stages to building the dam.
First divert the river around the worksites.
Second, build the colossal wall.
To divert the raging Colorado, 4 massive tunnels are drilled through 3 miles of solid rock Each tunnel is as wide as a 4-lane highway And is tall as a 5-story building.
A million and a half gallons of water flow through here every second.
The Hoover Dam was a statement about what America is all about Nothing is too big to take on.
We are going to change this country If Frank Crowe was in a hurry before, now the pressure is double.
Time and money.
The Tunnels tunnels can only be dug when the river is low.
That's only 4 months in a year, And the money, There is a 3,000 dollar fine for every day the project falls behind the schedule.
The clock is ticking.
Frank's answer is as bold as he is.
Gigantic mobile drilling rigs.
4 stories of scaffolding mounted on the backs of trucks.
Up to 30 men drill into the rock around the clock, 24 hours a day.
They move 10 times faster than normal drilling.
Temperatures hit 140 degrees in the tunnels.
Frank just pushes harder.
The drilling crews compete against each other Which will drill the furthest every day As drill man Marion Allen puts it: "It didn't make any difference what you did, But you had to beat that other crew.
" Deadly fumes pump out of the trucks They build up in the tunnels.
They get into the men's lungs, into their blood.
You men, get him out of here Carbon Monoxide Poisoning claims hundreds of men.
I went to work down there one night, and there was 17 men in my crew.
"The next morning, myself and three others was all that was left.
"All the rest was taken out of sick.
"It was rough.
" Crowe has only one working rule.
"To hell with excuses - get results.
" But the drive to get results quickly, will have deadly consequences.
Men desperate to keep their jobs make mistakes, Like trying to clear rubble before the blasting is finished.
You are having to dynamite areas and you have to dig out.
There's machinery, but you are still using a lot of pick and shovel.
Treacherous work.
A miner's wife remembers One worker, desperate to keep his job.
"Everyone was trying to work in the tunnels.
"This man was so anxious to work "That he just went into tunnel too quick "Just as he put his shovel in, there was a delayed blasth The company says 96 men died.
The workers claim it's hundreds.
The tunnels are finished 11 months ahead of time But that's just the beginning of the Hoover Dam.
The hardest job is yet to come Building the biggest concrete structures on earth.
Frank Crowe is driving ahead the building of the Hoover Dam, The biggest engineering project America has ever seen.
He's driving his men hard.
The crews worked day and night A sea of concrete rises in the canyon, As thick as two football fields laid end to end.
5,000 men, 50,000 machines and tools, The best engineers alive Enough materials to fill a train a 1000 Miles long This is the 1930s' equivalent of putting a man on the moon 6.
6 million tons of concrete have to be poured That's enough to lay a 4-foot-wide sidewalk Around the Earth.
How to pour that much concrete and get it where it's needed? Frank Crowe designs the most sophisticated cable system ever built Giant bottom-opening buckets.
They pour the concrete into molds exactly where it is wanted.
Concrete was invented by the Romans 2,000 Years ago, But the Hoover Dam is the first large concrete dam in history.
Today, virtually all dams are made of concrete.
It's malleable and it's strong.
It's the world's favorite building material for any structure.
Frank is up against the clock, and he has a big problem.
The curing concrete generates heat.
If the dam constructed in a single, continuous pour, It would put out enough heat to bake Half a million loaves of bread every day for 3 years.
But worse, the dam would take 125 Years to harden.
Frank Crowe's got no time for that.
Backs against the wall, We figured out who we were.
We worked our way out of that Depression.
The secret of cooling the concrete lies within the dam itself.
582 miles of 1-inch pipes Carry ice-cold water from the very river the dam is taming.
No one had ever thought of this before, And those pipes are still in the Hoover Dam today.
Frank "Hurry Up" Crowe lives up to his name.
The Hoover Dam is completed on September 30, 1935 2 years ahead of schedule Frank receives a bonus worth over 4 million dollars in today's money.
For those workers to have built Something as monumental and challenging as the Hoover Dam was, It was an astonishing feat of construction And I think it gave us all a sense of the possible.
The Hoover Dam is the largest hydroelectric power-producing Facility in the world.
Each of the 17 generators weighs more than 4 jumbo jets.
Together, they can supply power to 750,000 people In booming cities like Los Angeles.
The dam creates Lake Mead, The biggest reservoir in America, Big enough to flood the entire state of New York Under a foot of water.
It helps California produce more food, for the United States Than any other state.
The Hoover Dam workers make something else boom as well.
A little town 30 miles away where they go to drink and gamble.
Its name: Las Vegas.
As the wife of one Hoover Dam workers puts it: "When men work in such dangerous surroundings, "You couldn't blame a lot of fellas for sort of letting their hair down.
" "They were having fun.
" 5,000 people live in Las Vegas Then the dam workers arrive.
Then the tourists.
Then the gambling.
Now, over 37 million people come every year to party in Las Vegas.
After 70 years, Hoover Dam still supplies power To the people of Nevada, Arizona and California.
One Las Vegas hotel has the biggest flashlight on earth, 40 billion candle power.
You can read a newspaper 10 miles out in space by its light.
Darkness falls across America.
The worst environmental disaster in American history.
Dust storms hit New York, Chicago and Boston.
In Manhattan the street lights come on at midday.
A monstrous dust storm 1800 miles wide, From the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean The air turns to earth.
The storm carries 3 tons of dust for every American alive Should stop off the Eastern Seaboard Not sure what is happening.
The cloud reminds the captain of the ship 'The Deutschland' Of the sands of the Sahara blowing out to sea But now the clouds are devouring the Statue of Liberty.
Dust storms were born out of a 100 million-acre dead zone 2,000 miles away in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Colorado.
The Great Plains had once been the most fertile grassland on earth.
The top soil was 6 feet deep, But it has been plowed up and used up by 4 generations of farmers.
Now the sun has dried it up.
What really did the farmers in Was an environmental cataclysm That involved an extended drought, high winds, And the loss of millions and millions of tons of topsoil.
It was almost through the heavens themselves Had turned against the farmers.
By 1930 the rains virtually stop.
The lighter organic matter, the best soil, Is literally gone with the wind.
The tiny particles of soil are suspended in the air.
Then a freakish phenomenon happens.
Static electricity builds between the earth and dust.
Like a magnet, static electricity sucks up more and more dust, Feeding itself, growing in size and power.
A monster is created.
The dust lifted up to 10,000 feet.
Powered by high-altitude winds, The monster rips across the country looking for prey.
April 14, 1935.
Lamar, Colorado.
Louise Walton, once a Broadway dancer and actress.
She gives up the glamour to breathe the clean, dry air of prairies.
The doctor says her lungs need it.
Louise thrives on the Southern Plains, And so did her 6-year-old daughter Jeanne Until recently.
Their rural dream has becomes a nightmare.
49 dust storms in the last 3 months.
But today the air is crisp and clear.
Jeanne just got out of hospital With respiratory problems because of the dust storms.
Early That morning, 600 miles north, a cold front from Canada Had hit a warm high-pressure front Perfect conditions to create the winds for a dust storm.
But this is not just any duster.
By the time it passes Bismarck, North Dakota, Is the biggest, strongest dust storm ever seen in America.
The cold front drives the storm south across the prairies.
It' strictly heading Louise and Jeanne's place at 65 miles per hour.
It grows more and more powerful.
It produces enough static electricity to power New York City.
By the time the storm reaches Lamar, Colorado, it is 200 miles wide.
The temperature plunges.
2:40 PM.
Jeanne finds herself looking into the heart of the storm.
Mommy! Jeannie! "It was like I was caught in a whirlpool.
"All of a sudden, it got completely dark.
I couldn't see a thing.
" Mommy! The dust clouds contain over 300,000 tons Of Great Plains topsoil.
People tie themselves to ropes Before going to a barn just a few hundred feet away.
Cattle die, and when they are cut open, Their stomachs are full of sand.
There are these memories of people that go for days and days and days Hold up inside of their little ranched houses, and they never see the light of day Because the dust is so severe and it's so thick, over hundreds of miles.
For days, they don't see light.
The tiny dust particles drill into the child's lungs.
She comes down with dust pneumonia, the brown plague.
The Red Cross set up 6 emergency hospitals in Kansas, Colorado and Texas to deal with the rise of respiratory infections.
Louise Walton had come to Colorado for the air, And now doctor tell her that little girl could die of it.
There is an Exodus of Biblical proportions Underway on the Great Plains.
By 1936, farmers are losing $25 million a day.
Farming is no longer a possibility.
The Great Depression takes hold.
Their mortgages come due, they can't pay it, they're not growing crops.
They lose the family farm, they lose their identity.
A century before a half million people had gone west, On these same trails looking for hope.
Now 250,000 of them are fleeing the "Dust Bowl" in despair.
But not everyone has the choice to leave.
Jeanne and Louise survive 'Black Sunday' and stay put.
2/3 of 'Dust Bowlers' stick it out.
They have nothing left but their determination and will.
Radio is one of the few things to bring comfort to those who stay.
It connects them to the rest the country.
By 1935, a network of stations with 10,000-watts transmitters Links the country together.
The same voice can be heard from coast to coast.
Radios become the country's most popular household item.
By 1934, there are over 18 million radio sets.
40% of Americans live in isolated rural communities, But now they can get local news and weather, farm prices, And can be part of national events.
America was built for the Introduction of radio.
This is a vast land.
It has a lot of different layers to it as you go across the country.
America was learning about itself Through news from across the country and around the world.
"Germany is rearming.
" Bring international events straight Into American homes.
Little do Americans realize that news from so far away will Change America foreverwill tie Hitler's ambition The struggle against the Great Depression continues.
The American people will not give up.
The French gave America the Statue of Liberty.
Now America builds her own monument to its people's tenacity.
Blasted out of solid rock, Mount Rushmore is created.
"The blasting of Washington's chin "And the first world's largest monuments is finished.
" It began in 1927, desolate corner of South Dakota, As a way to attract tourists.
Now it's a is a federally funded project, Part of President Roosevelt's New Deal, to revitalize the country.
"Soon they'll you start on Jefferson, then Lincoln and Roosevelt.
"The heads alone will be 60 feet high and Washington's nose is 19 feet long, "As big as the head of the Sphinx in Egypt.
"You can get a good idea of the size of the monument "By these men playing leapfrog along the nose of the father of his country.
"It's a grand undertaking.
" They were, in a way, our pyramids.
We were building something that would last And be a statement about who we were.
The 500-feet cliff is being sculpted by dynamite A dangerous way to make a living for drillers like Bill Reynolds.
Below Bill are 20 charges of dynamite Able to blast 3 tons of solid rock.
Above him is 60 feet of sheer cliff Where the detonator and the hoist man are.
Take them up Drillers always move up To stay above any charges, Just in case they should accidentally go off.
Up! The charges are due to be set off at 4:00 p.
m.
That's good! It's only as 3:34, so Bill's not worried.
But behind him, a mighty Midwestern storm is brewing.
He has no idea what is happening 5 miles away.
The electrical charge runs straight down the power lines Into Mount Rushmore and the detonator.
Bill Reynolds survives with a burst eardrum and his boots blow off.
He's back on the job the very next day.
Mount Rushmore becomes a symbol of pride for the whole country.
Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson's portraits Join George Washington's.
Ordinary men of the same proportions Would stand as high as 40-stories buildings And could wade the Mississippi River without even getting their knees wet.
3 extra inches of granite cover the presidents' faces To allow for erosion by wind and rain.
It takes 10,000 years to wear away an inch of granite.
Mount Rushmore has been designed to wear back to its ideal form Within 30,000 years.
It is a symbol of America's faith in its future as well as its past.
By 1936, one in 6 workers is still out of a job.
Despite the government's public work programs, There is little economic recovery.
Public works aren't working.
Free enterprises are stagnating.
It will take World War II to pull America out of its economic slump.
"Louis in front of the ring, Schmeling with his back to me" June 19, 1936.
America is already at war with Germany in Yankee Stadium.
American Joe Louis fight with German Max Schmeling, To be the number-one contender for the Heavyweight Championship of the world.
"And there was a hard lefth With a record of 24 straight wins, Joe is the 10:1 favorite.
"Indeed Louis, a terrific right hand to the jaw" 57 million people listen to the fight on the radio.
" while Louis is following it up with good short rights and a lefts.
" It's the 12th and last round.
Joe Louis is taking a beating.
"Schmeling's cut back and shot a hard right hand to Louis's jaw.
" The grandson of slaves, His family driven out of Alabama by the Ku Klux Klan.
The Depression takes his family's job.
Unemployment amongst urban African-Americans is up to 50%.
Joe keeps his family alive by boxing.
Within 3 years, he's fought his way to the top.
These are only just two boxers, They're symbols of totalitarianism against democracy, Supremacy against a nonracial kind of society.
America sees Schmeling as old.
He's 30, Joe's 22.
"Schmeling gets over two more hard right to Louis' jaw.
"He has puffed up Louis' left cheek.
"And Louis is down!" But tonight, Joe has underestimated his much older German opponent.
"And Louis is down! "Hanging through the ropes, hanging badly.
"He is very tired fighter.
"He is blinking his eye, shaking his head.
"The count is done, the fight is over "The fight is over!" Schmeling wins against all the odds.
"Schmeling is the winner.
"Louis is completely out.
" Germany is on the rise.
America is on its knees.
But not for long.
America will get its revenge In the most politically charged fight of all time.
Boxer Joe Louis knocked out by Max Schmeling.
Germany is triumphant.
America is in shock.
It's a publicity dream for the Nazis.
Adolf Hitler calls Schmeling an Aryan superman.
Hitler considers Americans a mongrel race, Doomed to the trash heap of history.
Hitler says their "mistake" was freeing their slaves.
"I had been humiliated "And I had to prove that I was the best heavyweight around.
" A rematch is arranged, but this time, It'll be the fight that involved the whole world.
Through attacked in the press, Joe just keeps training.
In Germany, the Nazis expand their power.
They build their army and prepare to attack their neighbors.
The second Joe Louis - Max Schmeling fight took on A proportion far greater than any other fight in the history of boxing.
This is the feature attraction, 15 rounds This fight cemented the unity of the people of the United States vis-a-vis Nazi Germany.
"Weighing 193, Max Schmeling.
" And for one of the first times, if not the first in American history, America symbolically was being represented by a black man.
"Wearing black trunks, the famous 'Detroit Brown Bomber' Joe Louis.
" June 22, 1938.
The rematch finally takes place.
The hype is a fever pitch, 70,000 people pour into Yankee Stadium to watch the fight live.
"Joe Louis in his corner, prancing and" 70 million people tune in via radio across the country.
Over 100 million listen in around the world, The biggest audience to date for anything, anywhere.
"Max Schmeling standing calmly, getting last word from Doc Casey.
" For Joe Louis, I can only imagine the immense pressure That he was under to go out there and perform Because he had the whole -- almost the world on his back.
The fight is no longer just about boxing.
It's a battle of ideologies, as Joe Louis knew all too well.
"Schmeling represented everything that Americans disliked, "And they wanted him beat and beat good.
" "And they're ready with the bell just about to ring.
"And there we are, and they got to the ring.
"And Joe Louis is in the center of the ring, Max going around.
"Joe Louis with two strait lefts to the chin.
"Not too hard And Louis does not connect the Left " to the jaw.
"And, again, a right to the body.
"And Louis hooks a left to Max's head quickly.
"And shoots over a high right to Max's head.
"Louis, a left Max's jaw, a right to his head.
"Max shoots a hard right " Schmeling is stunned by the ferocity of Louis's attack.
"He's landed more blows in this one round "Than he landed in his 5 rounds with the other fights.
" " Schmeling's going down.
"And Schmeling is down! "The count is 4.
"And Louis, right and left to the heads, "Left to the jaw, a right to the head.
" "And German is watching carefully.
"Right to the body " "And Schmeling is down.
"Schmeling is down.
"The count at five "Five, six, seven, eight.
"The fight is over " The second-shortest heavyweight title fight in history Is over in only 124 seconds.
"Max Schmeling is beaten in one round! "The first time in a world heavyweight championship "Ends in one round.
In less than one round.
" "I'm sure enough champion now.
" At the end of the fight, Joe Louis, this inferior, This former slave's child, defeats the master race.
Schmeling knows what this defeat will mean to the Nazis.
"After this defeat, I no longer existed for Hitler.
"My name is simply disappeared from the newspapers.
" Joe Louis is America's hero again.
His victory is the comeback the whole country needs.
Look, something's gonna knock you down, but you can't stay down.
You got to get back up and plow on.
You can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself, And you certainly can't look back and reminisce about the good old times.
You just got to keep on going forward and reinventing things.
And I also believe that that is going to get us through The crisis that we're facing right now.
The American spirit is forged in the fires of the Great Depression.
But an even harder fight with Germany and her allies is still to come.
The United States of America will be attacked.
Over 400,000 Americans will die.
The battle will be for survival.
For America.
For the World.
World War II will transform America into the greatest power on Earth.
Nothing would ever be the same again.