During the first three decades of the 20th century, California’s economy and population continued to grow apace. Between 1900 and 1930 the state’s population increased from 1,485,053 to 5,677,251. The rate of growth was most rapid in southern California, especially around Los Angeles. Huge irrigation projects and mechanized farming methods dramatically increased agricultural production.
Industrial production also increased in the same three decades. In 1907 oil surpassed gold as California’s most economically valuable natural resource, and between 1900 and 1936, California became one of the principal oil-producing states in the nation. The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 greatly shortened the sea route between California and the East Coast of the United States. At the same time, a deepwater harbor was built at Los Angeles.
In April 1906 San Francisco was seriously damaged by an earthquake, which caused a fire that burned for three days. Most of San Francisco’s downtown and residential areas were destroyed. However, the city was rebuilt quickly, with many improved facilities, including a better port. Many highways were built in California in the 1920s, and a number of automobile-assembly plants were built, primarily near San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the 1920s and 1930s the Los Angeles area became an important center for the U.S. aircraft industry. Also in the 1920s, the new motion-picture industry grew at Hollywood in southern California.
The stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed caused high unemployment, many business failures, and farm foreclosures in California throughout the 1930s.
The state’s social and economic problems were also aggravated by the influx of thousands of homeless farmers and farm workers from drought-ridden Oklahoma and Arkansas, called Okies and Arkies, as well as emigrants from Kansas, Texas, and other states.
The economic distress of the 1930s was partially eased by construction on a number of water projects in the state. These included Boulder Dam (renamed Hoover Dam in 1947), Imperial Dam, and Parker Dam, on the lower Colorado River, as well as major canals and aqueducts linking the dams with the Los Angeles area and the Imperial Valley. Work was also begun during the 1930s on a vast project to bring water to the Central Valley. "USA" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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