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1929's stock market crash, which led to the Great Depression, was just one of a number of unfortunate events that struck Tacoma during the winter of 1929-30. Tacoma was hit hard by one of the coldest winters ever recorded. Major power supply dams were shut down and power supplies stopped. This left the city without heat and power. During the 30-day power outage in winter 1929-30, the USS Lexington's engines provided electricity to Tacoma.
The combination of a new city constitution and a power grid outage - which was designed to limit political power to a single entity like the railroad – caused a halt in the ability to support the local economy. The sudden suspension of loans slowed expansion and provided funds for maintenance renewals, which led to foreclosures. As breadwinners tried to provide for their families, the economic depression had a devastating effect on the city's families. As the destitute sought leadership to maintain peace, shanty-town politics developed.