American History

The end is nigh!

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The year was 1944, and nations worldwide had their sites set and hopes pegged on the end of the second World War. As our men at the front battled bravely, civic counterparts on the home front frantically planned improvements that would both honor our past and herald our future.

In Chicago, citizens championed Victory Gardens. Previously vacant plots of city land, these Victory Gardens, often decorated with a large “V”, popped up seemingly overnight through the joint efforts of local government and its citizenry. The gardens’ yields both beautified the city and assisted the war effort in a time of rationing and mounting food costs.

While Chicago started gardening, cities like Greenfield, Mass., Indianapolis, Ind., and Detroit, Mich., were aiding the effort with post-war planning. In Greenfield, voters approved $180,000 in war bonds for post-war plans, which included provisions for the sewage treatment plant, the fire station, and the community center. In Indianapolis, investiture was made in public transit to ensure expedient, inexpensive travel at a time when gas rationing was imperative. In Detroit, the city was one of several to pioneer inexpensive and effective road resurfacing techniques, a necessity as the Motor City was a heavy-traffic area for war industries.

Elsewhere, local governments focused on employing returning soldiers. The Chambers of Commerce for Birmingham, Ala. and Watertown, N.Y., both established placement programs for homeward-bound troops.

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