Unlike many areas of the nation, San Diego did not experience the immediate effects of the 1929 stock market crash. The city’s economic decline produced no abrupt change, but occurred more gradually, largely due to the fact that San Diego did not have a strong industrial base. In fact, its major new industry, aviation, actually expanded during the Depression. Only a year after the crash, many business leaders predicted the low point of the Depression had already passed. This optimistic forecast proved to be incorrect as real estate sales dropped, development projects came to a halt and population growth leveled out. Businesses suffered and bankruptcies were common.
Fortunately, state and federal government relief programs funded jobs for the unemployed and a number of projects which eased economic difficulties in the 1930s. Encouraged by the response to the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, San Diegans continued to promote tourism, but a sign of the times, however, could be found in the fine print of most promotional brochures. Visitors to San Diego were warned not to seek employment because the area’s natural attractions had already drawn so many capable and experienced people that present job demands had been more than satisfied.